What are egg side effects and benefits every ethical consumer must know? Here are egg pros and cons and how buying them will impact your health, the environment, animals and laborers.
Food is something we consume every day. If you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on egg benefits and side effects.
You are going to learn all about egg benefits and side effects. This will include egg benefits for your health and potential risks, egg water footprint and carbon footprint, sustainability, if eggs are vegan or impact animals in other ways, and much more.
After learning if eggs are good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.
This post is all about egg benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.
Top Egg Side Effects And Benefits (If Any)
Energy: eggs are bad for / increase the risk of osteoporosis, kidney stones, food poisoning, salmonella and bacteria contamination
Longevity: eggs are bad for / increase the risk of antibiotic, artificial hormone, dioxin and pesticide ingestion, cardiovascular disease, clogged arteries, colorectal cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol levels, kidney disease, prostate cancer, stroke
Appearance: eggs are good for / help hair growth | eggs are bad for / increase the risk of weight gain, worsening eczema
Water footprint: moderate, 3,265 liters of water used to produce 1 kilogram of eggs / 391 gallons of water used to produce 1 pound of eggs
Carbon footprint: high, 4.8 CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of eggs, a car driving equivalent of 11 miles or 17.75 kilometers
Destruction: high, egg production is relatively destructive, solid waste (excrement/manure) runoff into soil and freshwater, deforestation for feed crops, animal agriculture leading cause of: species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction, responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction
Kills: male chicks, chick culling is the process of killing newly hatched male chicks, worthless to the egg industry since they cannot lay eggs, occurring in all egg production whether free range, organic, etc., they are suffocated or thrown into high-speed grinders, called “macerators,” while still alive
Harms: hens, hens are shoved into tiny wire “battery” cages, unable to lift wings, crammed so closely they are forced to urinate and defecate on one another, the stench of ammonia and feces hangs heavy in the air, disease runs rampant in the filthy, cramped sheds, many chickens die, survivors often forced to live with their dead and dying cage-mates, who are sometimes left to rot, light in the sheds is constantly on to maximize egg production, once they can no longer lay eggs they are shipped to slaughterhouses, their bodies so damaged the quality of their meat can only be used for pet food, 51% of eggs produced come from chickens in battery cages
Indirectly kills or harms: wildlife and ecosystems, surrounding wildlife (fox, coyote, bobcat, hawk, or owl and more) may be killed to prevent predation on livestock, chickens’ wastewater, runoff and leakages negatively affect aquatic ecosystems, pesticides used to control pests and predators cause pollution to ecosystems once they enter groundwater and surface waters, the impact of such waste and chemical pollution on sensitive ecosystems results in biodiversity loss, ecosystems are contaminated via ammonia deposition, drug residues and hormones, additionally, intensive feed production for poultry livestock contributes to biodiversity loss via land use, land-use change and modification of natural ecosystems and habitats, excretion of hormones from poultry is cited to be a possible cause of endocrine disruption in wildlife, steroid levels are high enough to cause endocrine disruption on runoff from fields where poultry manure has been applied, resulting in reproductive disorders and disease transmission to a variety of wildlife populations
- Not Vegan
- Harmful to wildlife and ecosystems
Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible
Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation
Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits
- Laborer issues, human rights concerns
Where do most eggs come from?
The world’s top chicken egg producing country is China, followed by the USA and India. In the United States the top five egg-producing states are Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. The world’s top chicken egg exporting country is Netherlands, followed by Germany, USA, Spain, China, Poland, Japan, Belgium, Malaysia and Latvia.
Are eggs nutritious?
Eggs are high in protein, vitamin B2, selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper but also high in cholesterol and contain saturated fat, antibiotics and growth hormones.
eggs are acidic.
Are eggs alkaline or acidic? Eggs are acidic. What is the pH level of eggs? Eggs have a 6.5 pH level once digested.
When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.
Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List
eggs are gluten free.
Are eggs gluten free? Yes, eggs are gluten free. Eggs do not contain gluten but some eggs served at restaurants put pancake batter in scrambled eggs and omelets which would not be gluten free. Eggs are a naturally gluten free food.
While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…
Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:
- recurring abdominal pain
- chronic diarrhea
- numbness in hands and feet
- chronic fatigue
- joint pain
- unexplained infertility
- low bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.
Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List
eggs are a common food allergen.
Are eggs a common food allergen? Yes, eggs are a common food allergen. Many people experience allergic reactions to eggs.
A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:
- crustacean shellfish
- tree nuts
These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.
Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.
Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.
Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List
eggs have a low-fodmap food.
Are eggs FODMAP friendly?
Yes. Eggs are a low-FODMAP food and ok to eat while on a low-FODMAP diet.
A low FODMAP diet may help those with bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
It’s all about knowing your body. Observe what works and what doesn’t. You body might even react negatively to a low-FODMAP food simply due to intolerance. Everyone is different! Be mindful and patient. Take time to get to know what’s best for your physical health and overall wellbeing.
See this High-FODMAP and Low-FODMAP List of Food
eggs have a moderate water footprint.
Do eggs have a high or low water footprint? Eggs has a relatively moderate water footprint compared to other foods.
What is the water footprint of eggs? It takes 3,265 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of eggs / 391 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of eggs.
Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?
We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake….quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.
How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?
We need to be aware of “water footprints”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.
Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List
eggs have a high carbon footprint.
Do eggs have a high or low carbon footprint? Eggs have a relatively high carbon footprint compared to other foods.
What is the carbon footprint of cabbage? It takes around 4.8 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of eggs, a car driving equivalent of 11 miles or 17.75 kilometers.
Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.
When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…
- farm equipment
- animal feed production
- hothouses (greenhouses)
- food processing
- package waste and more
There are a number of steps we can take to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.
But that’s not all!
It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:
- shopping locally reduces transportation emissions
- food without packaging reduces waste as well as the carbon footprint
- refrigerated and frozen foods increase carbon emissions
- seasonal foods reduce carbon emissions from hothouses (greenhouses)
- growing plant-based foods at home is the most environmentally sustainable method with zero carbon footprint
Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List
eggs are unsustainable.
Overall, are eggs eco friendly? Are eggs sustainable?
Egg production is relatively unsustainable.
A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.
Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.
A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.
Read more about ‘What Makes Food Sustainable Or Unsustainable?’
eggs are not vegan.
Are eggs vegan? No, eggs are not vegan. Eggs are the byproduct of chicken (most commonly), therefore making it an animal derived food. A female chicken, or hen, must be used in order to produce eggs.
Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.
Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.
Go vegan for animals!
It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.
Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List
eggs have labor issues and human rights concerns.
Are eggs a product with laborer concerns? Yes. At this time there are concerns with egg production. It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.
Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized.
Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death!
Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation.
Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards.
We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade.
Be sure to read up on this list of ‘Foods You Should Always Buy Fair Trade‘
This post was all about egg side effects.
Harvard, The Nutrition Source, Eggs
Agriculture resource marketing center: eggs
Animal Production and Health Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Poultry production and the environment
RSPCA: Laying hens – farming (egg production)
Eggs | Food and Nutrition Information Center | NAL | USDA