Click on an image below to learn about the environmental impact of your food choices.
Many people try to buy local food to reduce fossil fuel usage by reducing "food miles," the distance food has to travel to get from farm to plate. A famous 2008 study from Carnagie Mellon University found that a single day without any animal products, including eggs, has more of an impact on decreasing fossil fuel usage than eating just locally sourced food every day of the week.
It takes at least five times as much water to produce an egg as it takes to produce a potato for roughly the same amount of calories. A potato even has slightly more protein than the egg! As an added benefit, the water that goes into producing potatos does not result in any water pollution.
Eggs come from female chickens (just like cows' milk comes from female cows). This is "feminized protein" or protein from the reproductive systems of female animals. You have to ask yourself, "What happens to all the male chicks?" They have no commercial value and don't grow into animals that are used for food. The 50% of hatched animals who are male are destroyed in horrible ways; sometimes, their powdered remains are fed to other herbivore animals.
Many people eat eggs because they think eggs are a good source of protein. However, few people know the cost of that protein in terms of fossil fuel. The U.N. reported in 2006 that producing one calorie of animal protein takes ten times the amount of fossil fuel as one calorie of plant protein. Ten times the amount of fossil fuel! Animal protein also produces ten times the amount of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. If you are looking for protein, you would be better off eating a potato than an egg. Surprisingly, a potato has slightly more protein than an egg ... many people have lived healthfully their entire lives on just the simple potato.
Michael Gregor, MD, produces many videos on many nutriton topics. He often exposes sham science, research in medical journals supported by industry dollars. One recent video clearly explained how eating eggs have a big effect on raising blood cholesterol levels after a meal - when most heart attacks occur. Here is what he said:
The cholesterol in eggs not only worsens the effects of saturated fat, but has a dramatic effect on the level of cholesterol and fat circulating in our bloodstream during the day.
Doctors are so used to testing fasting cholesterol levels to monitor the effects of drugs, they too often fall for those egg industry tactics hook, line, and sinker.
You can view the video on Gregor's website, NutritionFacts.org.
Why does it take so much water to produce animal foods, including eggs? According to Waterfootprint.org, animals drink only about 1% of the water used. The remaining 99% of the water used is to grow feed for the animals to eat - a water-intensive way of getting anmial flesh and secretions such as eggs.
Of course, all that feed is processed by the animals and then excreted. Who do you think produces more waste products in the United States: all the people who live here or all the animals and their secretions used for food? Surprisingly, the animals used for food produce 130 times the amount of waste as people (this statistic is from WorldWatch Institute and the World Health Organization). There are strict regulations on how human waste is processed, which is one of the major reasons so many deadly diseases are a thing of the past. However, animal waste does not have all those regulations and most ends up in fresh water supplies, affecting many people's drinking water and killing lakes and streams.
On their website, the Natural Resources Defense Council outlined some of the issues surrounding chicken waste:
Occasionally, some folks can chickens running free on an open field, happily being chickens and doing chicken things such as scratching for food, flapping and spreading their wings, taking dust baths to remove debris and insects from their feathers, and bonding with their young and other members of their flock. Female chickens lay eggs in nests. We like to think that these are the chickens providing the eggs that we eat for breakfast. We think, "No harm comes to the chickens who lay our eggs, so why not eat eggs?" However, it is a myth that we treat chickens well and the reality is disturbing. Here are some facts from the 2013 book "Meatonomics" by David Robinson Simon: