Spring is in the air. A time of celebrating rebirth, as nature emerges from winter, trees bud, birds nest and free-living animals give birth to their young. Eggs are a popular social and religious symbol this time of year. For birds, though, eggs have a relevance all their own. And that's why, at Friends of Animals, we recommend the use of artificial eggs for games such as the “Easter Egg Roll” or Easter egg hunts.

plastic eggs

Modern-day chickens are descendants of wild birds of Asia, and they still retain some of their natural tendencies despite centuries of selective breeding. Instead of dust-bathing, pecking for food or simply enjoying the warmth of sunlight, chickens used by the egg industry live in ways that maximize production or profit.

Hens bred for laying eggs are usually kept in small cages made of hard, metal wiring which rubs and cuts them in close confinement. The birds undergo “debeaking,” a mutilation that cuts off a sensitive portion of their beaks. The shock of this process kills many birds. So-called “cage-free” eggs are taken from hens living in sheds –without any guarantee of more space than allotted to caged birds. Birds in factories or even on family farms are slaughtered when their productivity wanes. For every hen hatched on a farm a rooster is also hatched. As roosters don't lay eggs, they aren't valued by egg operations of any size — be it backyard, free-range, or factory farm. Most male chicks are deemed disposable and are killed once their sex has been determined.

Celebrate Life With a Plant-based Diet

There are many ways to peacefully celebrate the arrival of springtime. Visit a craft store to find creative options in artifical eggs that can be used year after year. The wooden and plastic versions can hidden, painted, stickered or rolled on the lawn. Children will find it more exciting to search for plastic eggs with treats inside. It's easier than ever to avoid eggs and commit to a plant-based diet. Bakers' substitutes for eggs can be found on the shelves of mainstream grocery stores such as Safeway or Giant. For an egg-free mayonaisse replacement, you can try Nayonnaise or Vegenaise. Ener-G Egg Replacer is a potato starch that works wonderfully for baking. According to Priscilla Feral, author of the popular egg-free cookbook “Dining with Friends: The Art of North American Vegan Cuisine,” the use of eggs in baked goods only became commonplace after household refrigeration was available. Thus, many traditional wedding and holiday cake recipes originally did not call for eggs. “Dining with Friends” is a great way to explore cooking without eggs, with outstanding breakfast recipes, an eggless salad sandwich, an exquisite German chocolate cake, and much more. Interested in exploring the benefits of vegetarian lifestyle? We're here to help. Write to the address below for copies of Friends of Animals' Vegan Restaurant Guide to Washington, D.C., or to request a Vegan Starter Guide. Copies of “Dining with Friends: The Art of North American Vegan Cuisine are available on our Web site.