One night during our recent Western Cape cycle tour we slept at a stunningly beautiful farm guest house in the Overberg. I am not going to mention the name because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or show ingratitude to our lovely host. But watching the activities there on a sublime Saturday morning helpes me to understand why our carnist culture prevails.
We were lazing in bed at about 8 o’clock when we heard a noise outside. A group of moms and dads and their young kids had gathered by a gate to the animal enclosure. The moms were wearing shiny new designer wellies and their kids had matching versions and the girls wore pretty little sunhats. They were preparing to enter the pen where there were geese, ducks and some sheep. The kids had little baskets of seed and were going to feed these birds. As they entered the enclosure the sheep, who were sheltering from the sun under the only tree, fled. Some of the children chased after them and threw seed at them. The parents said nothing at first. Eventually, one adult called out to her son and told him to stop.
I grabbed my Vegan is Love T-shirt and pulled it on and went outside. The next adventure for the curious humans was to visit the hen house and steal some eggs. Sven and I followed so we could watch what happened. About 12 kids and adults crowded inside the tiny hen house where some of the hens were still sitting on their eggs. The kids were encouraged to go and fetch 2 eggs each from the nests. The hens were panicked and began flying and flapping and squawking but two stubborn and protective hens stayed put, determined not to leave their eggs unguarded.
Eventually each child had filled their basket with at least two eggs each, some of them snatched from underneath the hens. At the end of the raid they were all corralled for a proud group photo. “Say ‘eggs’ kids.”
After they left, one traumatised hen was still stubbornly sitting in her empty nest. Sven stroked her and comforted her.
I often have conversations with people about veganism and many times they have said that they understand everything I believe in, but what is wrong with keeping hens and eating their eggs? Well just think about it for a minute. The eggs belong to the hens and taking their eggs is theft. Maybe it doesn’t seem like a grand crime compared to the horrors that are perpetrated daily on this planet. But just think about it from the hens’ perspective for just a moment… and you just might change your mind.