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This Not-So-Ideal Bite Came Back Up

I normally admire what the Ideal Biters do—educate consumers about environmental issues and offer them small, nonthreatening ways in which they can be more friendly to the planet—but yesterday’s tidbit got my hackles up.

While the item—called “Wondering how vegetarians make it through the day without fainting?” (don’t get me started on the title)—did provide some useful information on getting the proper nutrition (even going so far as to mention tempeh) and pointed readers in the direction of a few good resources (like VegWeb and Happy Cow’s Vegetarian Guide to Restaurants & Health Food Stores), it contradicted the information it ultimately offered by making it seem like getting enough iron and protein on a vegetarian diet is a Herculean feat. And instead of sending people to a site where they can get no- or low-cost information, like PETA’s Free Vegetarian Starter Kit, it directed them to Becoming Vegetarian instead (while a good book—I own it—if someone is interested in forgoing meat just once or twice a week to help the environment, I don’t think she’ll be shelling out $13 for a book, never mind reading it).

One of the attendant factoids reads: “If 10,000 meat-eating Biters go vegan once a week, we’d save the same amount of CO2 that’s produced lighting 42 houses that week”—great, except that the authors never explain what being vegan means. And the kicker—the thing that really sent me into a tailspin—was their recommendation of “An egg a day.” I had literally just read the page in Erik Marcus’s Meat Market: Animals, Ethics, and Money where it said that one egg requires a hen to be confined to a battery cage for at least 24 hours (Meet Your Meat says 34 hours). At the end of the section, Marcus writes:

“Having visited both egg farms and veal farms, I personally believe that the average battery hen has it worse than the average veal calf. I think it’s probable that a forkful of egg comes at a cost of greater suffering than a forkful of veal. And there is no doubt in my mind that a bite of egg involves more animal suffering than a bite of hamburger or bacon. For people making a gradual switch to vegetarianism out of concern for animals, I therefore believe that the first food to give up should be, not meat, but eggs.”

I know Ideal Bite’s concern is the environment, not animals, and I know every meatless meal is a step in the right direction. But the longer I’m vegan and the more I learn, the angrier I get that the cruelty involved in eggs and dairy gets short shrift. One egg a day is one egg a day too many, period.

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