Eggs, not all they’re cracked up to be

Posted by on Aug 11, 2010 in Animals & the Law | 1 comment

If you have a carton of eggs in the fridge, take a look at the packaging.  Does it say the eggs are cage-free?  That the chickens were 100% vegetarian-fedHumanely raised?  Is there a picture of a happy-looking hen, or a quaint little farmhouse? Is there a logo that says your eggs are UEP (United Egg Producers) certified?  And if it does bear the UEP-certified label, what does that really mean anyway?  Wait a second… aren’t all hens vegetarians?  What does “humanely” mean, and who decided what it meant?  The companies who make the eggs?  Aren’t all eggs, which come from animals — namely, the hens — all-natural?   How would it be possible to have a 95% “natural” egg?  Welcome to Confuse-the-Consumer 101…

If you’re looking to make some initial changes, choosing cage-free or free-range is commendable, but it’s important to know the facts so that you are actually buying what you think you’re buying.  Here in the US, we’re a little behind the times: in the European Union, it’s required by law that eggs are labeled on the cartons as well as the eggs themselves as “Free Range,” “Barn Eggs” (Cage Free), or “Eggs from Caged Hens.” Here, it’s a little trickier to make sure you’re not being duped; the egg industry remains unregulated, and only a few states have imposed bans on the use of battery cages.  A friend of mine buys her eggs from a local farmer with a free-range setting for the hens.  Difference between cage-free and free-range? Free-range hens have access to the outdoors; “cage-free” means the hens are not in battery cages but potentially are still jam-packed in poultry houses. Also, the cage-free label does not mean antibiotics-free or that the hens are given pesticide-free meals. OK, so free-range wins, right?  But note that I said free-range hens have access to outside.  Does that mean they actually are out there, all happy and free?

When so many people have managed to reduce, if not altogether eliminate, their consumption of eggs because of allergies or because they’re managing cholesterol levels, why not the rest of us, too?  It might be difficult to ensure that a product made with eggs never passes your lips again, but I can tell you that the switches we’ve made at home were pretty easy for us, and we’re constantly discovering new dairy-free, egg-free foods that are simply delicious.

Suggestions to help break the egg habit:

For breakfast
I know plenty of people who swear by scrambled tofu.  I’m just as happy with a plate of non-dairy pancakes or a waffle for breakfast.  A newly-discovered fave at the house is mochi drizzled with brown rice syrup.  The pups, Galileo and Otis, who once upon a time had a Sunday breakfast of scrambled cage-free egg whites and veggie bacon, now look forward to either organic O’s with rice milk or bagel pieces with Tofutti non-dairy cream cheese. (Yes, I’ve been told I spoil them.  My reply: Galileo says I spoil them just right.)

For baking
Though I love to cook, I’m not a baker.  When it comes to non-dairy desserts, I’ve had plenty, though, thanks to friends and some wonderful restaurants and bakeries.  Even bakeries that do not “specialize” in vegan desserts often have a couple of non-dairy options.  Cupcakes, cakes, cookies — you name it, there’s a scrumptious non-dairy option out there.  A bakery in my neighborhood recently made a vegan wedding cake for a couple, and their guests absolutely raved about it.

So, what’s the trick to baking without eggs?  Some easy substitutes (each the equivalent of one egg):

  • ¼ cup applesauce + 1 teaspoon. baking powder
  • ½ banana, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons water + 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • ½ cup tofu, blended
  • Ener-G Egg Replacer (directions on box)
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Compassion Over Killing (the internship)

Posted by on Aug 2, 2010 in Animals & the Law | 1 comment

Vegan Birthday Cupcakes

Birthday Cupcakes

Hens and hogs and cows – oh my! Since mid-June, I’ve had the extraordinary experience of working as a legal intern at Compassion Over Killing, a D.C.-based organization whose mission is to end cruelty to animals in agriculture.  The sheer numbers are staggering: more than a million animals are killed for consumption every hour, animals that can and do feel pain.  There are few laws in place to protect any animals, and in most states farm animals are exempt from even those protections.  But the good news is that this is changing: people are becoming more aware of the suffering that factory farming causes and, as a result, consumers and laws are changing their ways.  What an inspiration to be part of a team spending their days trying to help all these animals who cannot defend themselves, to witness their dedication on a daily basis and the intelligence and creativity they bring to their jobs.

Some highlights of my time with CoK:

  • All the firsts, as a 1L/Rising 2L: first real-world memo; first visit to a prosecutor’s office; first meetings on Capitol Hill; first phone calls to federal agencies, etc.
  • Discussing HR 5566, the bill to stop the production and distribution of animal crush videos, at the offices of Congresswoman Giffords and Senators McCain and Kyl, just days before the House voted on it — and approved it by a landslide!
  • Vegan cupcakes from Sticky Fingers Bakery on my milestone birthday
  • A beautiful drive along the Maryland coast with Cheryl, on the way to meet with the state’s attorney.  When she pointed out a battery-cage facility, I said a little prayer for the caged hens inside.
  • Serving up non-dairy Caesar salad at City Hall with CoK’s outreach volunteers
  • The Animal Rights Conference in Alexandria, VA and tabling for CoK
  • HSUS’s Taking Action for Animals conference weekend
  • Visiting Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary for rescued farm animals
  • Working and learning each day with legal interns, Lisa, Rory and Mel.  It was great getting to you know you guys!  Lots of laughs in between navigating the swampy roads of Westlaw…
Legal Interns at Compassion Over Killing

Legal Interns

My eternal gratitude to Cheryl, Erica (Wonder Woman!), Christina, Francesca, Max, Frank, Lisa, Rory, Mel, Lauren, Doba, Boru, Hermione, and all the volunteers who came into the office each week.  A special shout-out to fourteen year-old Katya, a young fiery spirit who I know will do wonders on behalf of the animals — you’re awesome!

Although, as a general rule, I don’t dwell on negative images and stories related to animal abuses, it’s impossible to completely avoid them; sometimes, the suffering seems so much, and what needs to be done so much… it’s overwhelming.  In those moments that I know we all have, I will picture my CoK friends at the office, making the phone calls, searching through piles of documents, handing out veggie hot dogs on a corner, leafleting on the streets of DC…  all the stuff of a routine day at CoK.  And I’ll be reminded that there are so many, many people who care about these animals, who have compassion, and who — together — are a brilliant force at work in the universe each day.

Erica and Mel

Erica and Mel

Thank you for the privilege of being part of your team, for providing me with a learning ground, for sharing your journeys with me, and for becoming an integral part of my own journey.  Six weeks, in a way, lasts forever.

(Special thanks to Josh Balk, for suggesting that I call Cheryl in the first place!)

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