Vegetarian eggs?

My wife is a vegetarian, but she will eat eggs.

The eggs she buys, though, which cost about a zillion dollars a dozen, trumpet that they’re “vegetarian - the chickens are fed all-vegetarian diets,” and that the chickens are not confined.

Is this just hype, or are most chickens fed non-vegetarian diets?

What are they fed?

Has Mad Cow Disease taught us nothing?

Couldn’t tell you about the chickens themselves (though I don’t think chickens are generally known for their carnivorous habits), but if it comes from an animal, it ain’t “vegetarian”.

Does that mean milk isnt’s vegetarian? That comes from an animal.

Eggs that are sold by most retailers aren’t fertilized. So you have only half of a potential animal. On that note, I’d tend to think that they would count as vegetarian.

Of course, neither eggs nor milk are vegan fare.

I also buy cage free organic eggs which are excellent tasting and will never buy plain ol 89cent / dozen eggs again
I also buy organic butter and milk.
I would think that chickens are naturally herbivores. Though it is acceptable ag culture to feed farm animals a diet that is also derived from animal caracasses.

There are different types of vegans too…

Darwin’s Finch - there are a significant amount of people, including me, who classify themselves as “ovo-lacto vegetarians” meaning they eat eggs and milk products. So more correctly, if it comes from an animal it ain’t “vegan.”

Now I’m not sure what % of laying hens are fed vegetarian vs. non-vegetarian diets, but some rations do have animal products in them. Their energy requirements are supplied mainly by cereal grains but can also be supplied by things such as animal fats. Their protein requirements can also be plant derived (i.e. soybean meal, cottonseed meal, etc.) or animal derived (i.e. fish meal, meat by-products, blood meal, feather meal, tankage, etc.).

I also only purchase the kind of eggs you speak of, but for me, it is because they come from free range laying hens. While in school for my animal science major, we took a trip to a laying hen facility and I was absolutely horrified. I’d seen pictures in textbooks, but there’s nothing like seeing in real life all those hens crammed in hundreds off tiny cages all stacked up on top of one another.

bup, do you have a farmer’s market or any co-ops near you? The free range eggs they sell there are usually cheaper than the ones found in the grocery store.

In my experience, vegetarian most commonly refers to someone who will eat milk and eggs, but not meat. Sure, some types will eat fish as well. When you start cutting eggs and/or dairy out of your diet, the term I see used most often is vegan or lacto vegan or ovo vegan, in which case vegetarian refers most often (in my experience) to a lacto-ovo vegan. It’s really a matter of the public trying to place an easy label on a lifestyle that can vary widely from person to person. As always (or not always), generalizations are easy to use, but not often correct.

I don’t doubt that the chickens are vegetarian. The eggs, however, are not. They are animal products. You (in a generic sense, not aimed at anyone in particular) may well be a vegetarian if you eat them, since a vegetarian need not be confined to solely plant matter for food. Chicken eggs, however, are not plants, regardless what the chicken was fed. There is nothing that makes you more or less vegetarian by eating eggs from a vegetarian chicken as opposed to one that may have feasted on animals. Eggs is eggs.

Chickens, by and large, are totally indiscriminate in regard to their diet. Anyone who has spent time on a farm will tell you that they happily consume bugs, dirt, rocks, grain, grass, feces of all types and origins, each other, and basically anything they happen across which is small enough to swallow or soft enough to be pecked to pieces. I have seen chickens peck to shreds and consume the dead body of another chicken. They are omnivores in the broadest sense of the word, as well as cannibals and coprophages. In short, they everything BUT vegetarian. In fact, factory feeding with vegetarian food can’t guarantee that the chicken’s diet is free from meat, especially because they’ll happily eat the carcasses of their fellows.

Doesn’t stop me from eating them, in any case.

As I child I was taught different people have very different views of the world and as an example I was told about worms who divide animals into two classes: those who are peacefull and non-agressive, like the lion, and those who are vicious and aggressive, like the chicken.

So, if you ask a worm, I think it would not consider a chicken a vegetarian.

Eggs from chickens that are allowed to scratch about and eat invertebrates and weeds and the like simply taste better; I’m convinced I’d easily be able to tell the difference blindfolded.

I’ve had ‘fourgrain eggs’ - from chickens that have been fed entirely vegetarian grain-based diets and they are nice, better than battery eggs from fowl fed on fish meal but not as tasty as free-range.