Hens roaming freely on big green field to make pasture-raised eggs at Handsome Brook Farms.

Pasture-Raised Egg Brands: Humane Eggs Directory (2021)

If you care about animal welfare, finding out the most humane egg brands is essential. I have done research and reached out to some pasture-raised egg brands to compile this Humane Eggs Directory that you can refer to when looking for kinder, healthier eggs. Some of these awesome companies even collaborated with us and provided a statement about their humane practices.

*Feature Photo Courtesy of Handsome Brook Farms. Thanks, you guys are awesome!


1. Happy Hens Pasture Raised

Pasture-Raised | Certified-Humane | Non-GMO | USDA Organic

Website

Why we love them:

Happy Hens eggs come from hens raised in small flocks with lots of room to roam and live a natural life. All eggs at the farm 100 percent pasture-raised and the hens are fed organic food, free of corn and soy. Plus, they are top-rated by Cornucopia Institute as being the #1 organic egg farm in the nation. The farmers have a commitment to bring consumers eggs in the most humane and sustainable way possible from their Southern California pastures. I actually live in San Diego and eat their eggs frequently.

Statement from Happy Hens:

“We are a TRULY OUTDOOR, Pasture Raised, Family Owned and Operated Egg Ranch in the picturesque mountain of San Diego. We produce not only Certified Organic, NON-GMO Verified + Certified Humane eggs but also have been rated #1 in the NATION in regard to our practices in regard to raising our hens and lifestyle we provide for them!  Unlike most pasture raised farms, our hens actually live in small numbers with mobile barns that we continually rotate through our Pastures creating a biodynamic environment where we get to harsh nature and work with it to REGENERATE the land we steward!”  


2. Handsome Brook Farms

Pasture Raised | American Humane Certified | USDA Organic | Kosher

Website

Why we love them:

Handsome Brook Farms takes the welfare of their hens seriously. All the girls are allowed to roam free on pastures and are fed organic food with no pesticides or GMOs. They are doing a lot of great work to change the system and help shift society away from industrial, numbers-based egg production, to small farms working together with animal welfare and sustainability at the forefront.

Q&A with Handsome Brook Farms:
  • Living conditions for your hens: All of our hens are Pasture Raised (108+ sq feet of outdoor space per hen) on small family farms and fed a 100% organic diet. 
  • Your relationship with the hens: Our choices of how to treat our hens—what to plant on farm, what not to spray, what to feed and how to care for our hens—is at the foundation of Handsome Brook Farms. Our farmers are true stewards of the land and believe that organic pasture raising is the most sustainable and humane way to produce eggs. As part of a regional group, each farm is supported by farm supervisors and experts, to create a community of mutual support, education and logistics.
  • Your location: Handsome Brook Farms was founded in upstate NY and our headquarters is now in New York City. Our network of just over 80 family farms spans three regions of the country: Northeast, Central, and MOARK. 
  • Your philosophy: At Handsome Brook Farms, we strive to act Handsomely in all that we do. This means treating our farmers and animals with dignity and the land with respect, while helping consumers access clean, responsibly-raised protein. Being Handsome means working hard to ensure personal, public, and planetary health are prioritized at every turn. With this at our core, we feel well-positioned to…bring the most sustainable eggs from our coops to your carton. 

3. Vital Farms

Pasture-Rasied | Certfied Humane | Organic Option | Non-GMO Option

Website

Why we love them:

Vital Farms is so easy to find in just about every major grocery store, and the company is committed to making pasture-raised eggs available to all. My favorite thing about them is each egg carton is stamped with the exact farm where those particular eggs are from. You can then go to their website and see a webcam feed of the hens roaming freely on the pastures! So adorable and A+ for transparency and traceability.

Statement from Vital Farms:

In 2007, we started with 20 Rhode Island red hens, a small plot of land, and a strong belief in ethics, from ensuring animals have the freedom to roam on open pasture and supporting small family farms to building a business that prioritizes the long-term benefits of its stakeholders.  More info can be found on our About Us and Instagram page.


4. Carol’s Pasture Raised Eggs

Pasture-Raised | Certified Humane | USDA Organic

Website

Why we love them:

Carol’s Pasture Raised Eggs come from hens in Virginia who are allowed to roam the pastures all day long and return to their warm, safe barns at night. The company offers pasture-raised eggs, organic pasture-raised eggs and free-range heirloom eggs. I have tried their Pasture-Raised eggs after finding them at Trader Joe’s, and the yolks were some of the deepest orange I’ve personally seen — they were delicious!

Statement from Carol’s Eggs:

We’re so grateful that you reached out to us here at Carol’s Eggs. We’re proud to be Certified Humane. This means our lovely chickens spend their days outside on plentiful grassy pastures or in their spacious barns where they have unlimited access to food and water and we work hard to maintain certain standards for animal welfare in accordance to Certified Humane’s standards. You can find out more about these standards via their website: https://certifiedhumane.org/

We have a few different offerings of our eggs:

  • Our heirloom hens enjoy nutritionally balanced feed that contains whole cereal grains like corn, soybeans, marigold petals, alfalfa grasses, and naturally omega-3-rich flaxseed. They have access to clean, fresh, filtered water whenever they need it. And finally, they can forage for insects, flowers, and other delights in the pasture.
  • Our organic pasture-raised hens are similar, but also Certified Organic. The hens also forage on organic pasture daily, so they also get a nutritious boost from the plants, bugs, worms, and grubs they find there. 
  • We also offer non-organic pasture-raised eggs. The feed has the same rich mix of nutrition as all our hens get but the corn, soy, and other grains are not Certified Organic or GMO free. This helps lower the cost to consumers while still providing them an excellent egg.

Regarding our farm locations and being pasture raised, our pasture-raised flocks are primarily located in Virginia, so nearly year-round they can enjoy their very spacious pastures all day long. 


5. Utopihen Farms

Pasture-Raised | Certified Humane | Organic Option | Soy-Free Option

Website

WHY WE LOVE THEM

We love Utopihen, not only for their cute name, but their firm sustainability and hen welfare practices. Each of their pasture-raised hens enjoy a vibrant life outdoors with sunshine and 110 square feet per hen of open pasture (exceeding the industry requirement of 108 square feet). The hens enjoy a natural diet of plants and insects, and never receive hormones or antibiotics. The company has both pasture-raised chicken and duck eggs available, and is located in New Holland, Pennsylvania with family farms partners scattered about Central PA.. 

Q&A with Utopihen Farms
  • Living Conditions of Hens. Our Certified Humane Pasture Raised hens have access to the pasture for at least 6 hours every day (weather permitting). They are kept indoors at night for protection against predators and for a safe place to lay their eggs. Animal Care Standards for Pasture Raised requires 108 square feet of pasture per hen. We exceed the industry standards by giving our hens 110 square feet per hen — that’s a lot of open space! They can forage, run, perch, bathe and socialize as much or as little as they choose. Essentially, they can just be chickens. Our hens fill their diet with lots of grass, bugs, worms and anything else they can find in the dirt. This diet is supplemented by a healthy feed specific to whether the hen is organic, soy-free, or original.
  • Your relationship with the hens. All our hens are raised on family-owned farms. This means, that the farmer owns the hens, and can spend lots of time lovingly caring for them and his farm. This model is better for the farmer and the hens, providing both with more independence.
  • Your philosophy. At Utopihen Farms the future is bright. Not because we see it through rose-colored glasses, but because we work on making it so — and we know you do too. It’s why we’re committed to sustainable farming, the humane treatment of animals and bringing you pasture raised eggs. We hope you will join us on the journey to create a better world. After all, there is no Planet B … and there’s no time like now.

6. Alexandre Kids

Pasture-Raised | Certified Humane | USDA Organic

Website

Why we love them

These eggs that hail from California are pasture-raised, certified humane, and USDA organic. The hens that spend their days clucking and preening and stretching their feathers and legs on the lush green grass. They are free to forage all they want outside and go inside to their nest in the coop to lay eggs. They live a natural life as hens should.


7. Blue Sky Family Farms

Pasture Raised | American Humane Certified

Website

Why we love them

Blue Sky Farms is named as such because their hens get to roam freely beneath the beautiful blue skies. All the chickens are able to do all the things that make them happy, like perching, dust bathing, scratching the ground, and roaming the pasture for a healthy dose of fresh and and vitamin D.


8. Born Free Eggs

Pasture-Raised | Certified Humane | American Humane Certified | Organic Option

Website

Why we love them

As the name suggests, we love these eggs because the hens are “Born Free.” They are born free to roam grassy pastures and live a healthy, happy life. The pasture-raised egg brand is a leader when it comes to adopting humane farming practices and animal care. Plus we love their eco-friendly and 100 percent recyclable packaging.


9. NestFresh

Pasture-Raised | Certified Humane | Organic Option | Non-GMO Option | Soy-Free Option

Website

Why we love them

NestFresh gets their nutritious eggs from hens on small family farms across the country. They have a range of Pasture Raised Egg products in addition to their free range offerings. Pasture raised options include non-GMO, organic, and soy-free organic options, appealing to people with many different lifestyle and food preferences. They also have adorable blue and brown heirloom eggs that are pasture-raised as well.


10. Chino Valley Ranchers

Pasture-Raised Option | American Humane Certified | Kosher

Website

Why we love them

This is the brand that I find at my local Sprouts in San Diego and I love them! Not only for the taste of course, but this company is committed to providing hens with a beautiful life full of sunshine, fresh air and water on family farms. The hens are free to forage for seeds, bugs and grass.


House-Brand Pasture-raised eggs

Many supermarkets carry their own house-brand of pasture-raised eggs. Grocery chains get their eggs from various pasture-raised, Certified Humane or American Humane Certified farms across the country. Being house-brand, they typically have a lower price than name brand and are so easy to find. It is amazing to see some supermarkets offering pasture-raised eggs as the norm.

  • Natural Grocer’s House Brand Pasture-Raised
  • Kirkland House Brand Pasture Raised (Costco)
  • 365 House Brand Pasture-Raised (Whole Foods)

The purpose of this Humane Egg Directory is to allow consumers to make more ethical choices when shopping for groceries. By choosing pasture-raised egg brands, you support a more humane economy where hens can live happy, natural lives rather than torturous lives in cages. Keep a lookout for these brands next time your shopping for eggs.

Please note this page about pasture-raised egg brands is continuously under construction. Last updated November 19, 2021. To learn more about pasture-raised eggs, click here.

Hands full of cacao beans to supply fair trade chocolate brands.

14 Fair Trade Chocolate Brands: Humane Chocolate Directory

If you love chocolate, you should make sure your enjoyment is not at the expense of someone’s freedom. Many of the most popular chocolate brands out there, like Hershey’s, Nestle and Mars, have cacao beans from sources that are known to use child and slave labor. I’ve done a lot of research and luckily, there are many delicious fair trade chocolate brands to choose from instead. By choosing fair trade, you help ensure that your chocolate is free of human suffering.

If we want to see a better world, we need vote with our money. Being conscious consumers means making purchases that are aligned with our values. In other words, not supporting heartless chocolate companies that have modern day slavery built into their business model. We can help improve this world one fair trade chocolate bar at a time.

Contents

The Problem With Chocolate

The vast majority of cacao beans (aka cocoa beans) used in mainstream chocolate come from the Ivory Coast and Ghana. Unfortunately, the chocolate industry there is highly unregulated, with unthinkably inhumane practices in place to keep prices competitive. Farmers are paid slave wages at a mere $1 per day. This means they don’t have the funds to hire workers to keep up with the demand, so children are forced to work. Children are actually taken from their families in Mali and other nearby countries, smuggled across the border to Ghana and Ivory Coast, and sold to work the cacao plantations. Some children are as young as 5 years old, and conditions are very dangerous.

What do the big chocolate corporations do? They turn a blind eye. They say “I haven’t seen it so I can’t be responsible for it, but if it’s happening that’s unacceptable.” However, they know very well that they are paying slave wages to the farmers, and they know the desperate conditions are directly linked to their refusal to pay fair wages. And though they deny it, they do know about the issues of child labor, but refuse to take responsibility. But no matter how they ignore or deny it, they are responsible for the source of the ingredients in their chocolate bars. Period. And how do chocolate companies get away with it? Us. We buy the chocolate.

If the companies won’t change, we as consumers are fully responsible for boycotting those companies that produce chocolate by way of slave wages and child labor.

Conditions on Chocolate Plantations

The conditions on cacao plantations are harsh for an adult let alone a child. First off, the work is demanding. Children have to carry extremely heavy loads, climb tall trees, use sharp and dangerous tools, and be exposed to hazardous levels of pesticides. The work hours are long and many of them are paid absolutely nothing, despite the promise of money during the initial capture from their home. Instead of being in school, they work the plantations, often in a state of slavery, to keep chocolate affordable for privileged children around the world. See the documentary The Dark Side of Chocolate for heartbreaking insight on the production of chocolate from child’s home capture to plantation to chocolate bar.

What does fair trade mean?

Fair trade chocolate means that the farmers are paid fair, living wages and that there was no child labor involved in the production of the chocolate. Fair trade chocolate brands have a set of standards that they must adhere to to keep their certification. Look for these labels when choosing chocolate:

Five labels to look for when purchasing fair trade chocolate.

Here’s a video from Equal Exchange about what Fair Trade is and why it matters:

Fair Trade Chocolate Brands

Here are some common fair trade chocolate brands that you can find easily at your local Whole Foods, Sprouts or health food store. Even some major mainstream supermarket chains and pharmacies are starting to carry some of these brands, making ethical chocolate choices even more effortless. Some of the brands provided an exclusive statement about fair trade for this blog, which I’m super grateful for:

Theo

Fair for Life | USDA Organic | Non-GMO | Kosher | Vegan options

Website

Endangered Species Chocolate

Fair Trade | Non-GMO | vegan options

Website

Equal Exchange

USDA Organic | Fair Trade Federation Member | Worker-Owned Cooperative | Equal Exchange | Green America Certified Business | Vegan options
Statement from Equal Exchange:

“In 1986, Equal Exchange was founded to challenge the existing trade model, which favors large plantations, agri-business, and multi-national corporations; support small farmers; and connect consumers and producers through information, education, and the exchange of products in the marketplace. With our founding, we joined a growing movement of small farmers, alternative traders (ATOs), religious organizations, and non-profits throughout the world with like-minded principles and objectives. Underlying our work is the belief that only through organization, can small farmers survive and thrive. The cooperative model has been essential for building this model of change.”

Website

Alter Eco

USDA Organic | Fair Trade Certified | Climate Neutral Certified | Forest Stewardship Council | vegan options

Website

Divine Chocolate

Fair Trade | Owned By Cacao Farmers | Organic Options | Vegan Options

Website

Chocolove

Rainforest Alliance Certified | Fair Trade Certified | USDA Organic | Non-GMO

Website

UnReal

Fair Trade Certified Ingredients | Non-GMO | vegan options
Statement from UnReal Chocolate:

UNREAL knows that the best tasting chocolate snacks can be made with clean, responsible ingredients for the good of our health, the planet, and the farmers. It’s essential that the farmers who grow our cocoa have safe working conditions, sustainable wages, and access to the Fair Trade premiums, which are used to invest in community development. We’re proud to say that all of our products are fair trade certified.

Website

Tcho

Fair Trade Certified Ingredients | USDA Organic | vegan options

Website

Lake Champlain

Fair Trade Certified Ingredients | USDA Organic | Non-GMO

Website

Vegan Chocolate

If you want to ensure that your chocolate is free of animal suffering as well, it’s important to choose brands that are fair trade AND vegan. Humans suffer in the production, so fair trade is essential to make sure you are boycotting those practices. However, dairy cows also suffer tremendously and are kept in horrifying, torturous conditions to produce the milk in milk chocolate. If you want a chocolate bar that is truly humane, it needs to be both fair trade and dairy-free (vegan).

All of the Fair Trade Chocolate Brands listed above have excellent vegan options available. Here are some brands that are Fair Trade and 100 percent vegan.

Evolved

Vegan | Fair Trade Ingredients | Rainforest Alliance Certified | USDA Organic

Website

Beyond Good

Vegan | Direct Trade | USDA Organic
Statement from beyond good:

“It’s always been our mission to create high quality chocolate that not only taste good, but is good for you and everyone involved. That process begins with making sure our raw materials are sourced from farms using sustainable practices that also enforce NO child labor, monkey labor or slave labor.”

Website

Lulu’s Chocolate

Vegan | Fair Trade Ecuadorian Chocolate | USDA Organic
Statement from the founder, Lulu:

Beyond it being the right thing to do according to the Golden Rule, there are also energetic reasons to go Fair Trade.  We believe that food carries energetic imprints, which affect the consumer.  We want only good energy going into our cacao…this means from the time the cacao pods are taken from the tree (nature is always good vibes of course) until our product lands in your hand.  This means we have to take care of the farmers and every single person who has a hand in the work that goes into our product.  We want the farmers to be thriving and happy to do what they do.  That goes into the cacao.  We believe this not only serves Love & Unity consciousness, but also makes the chocolate feel and taste even better!”

Website

Taza Chocolate

Vegan | Direct Trade | USDA Organic | Non-GMO

Website

Go Max GO

Vegan | Fair Trade Cocoa | Ethically SourceD Palm Oil | Non-GMO

Website

Opt for these fair trade chocolate brands next time you are craving some chocolatey goodness. With these amazing options, there is no excuse whatsoever to support companies that use slaves and children to produce their chocolate.

Is your chocolate brand fair trade but you don’t see it listed? Email me at theethicalveggan@gmail.com and I’ll be sure to add you!

Women with brown hair and tan shirt holding bunches of spinach and herbs in front of her face.

Why I Turned Veggan After 16 Years of Being Vegan

Why in the world did I become veggan — a vegan who eats eggs — after 16 years of being vegan? First, I turned vegan for ethical reasons in 2004, when I was just 14 years old. I couldn’t bear the thought of contributing to animal suffering, and so I gave up all animal products. For 16 wonderful years, I indulged fully in the vegan diet trying all the vegan ice creams, cheeses, mock meats, chocolates and baked goods in existence. There wasn’t a vegan restaurant in New York that I hadn’t tried (Peacefood Cafe is my fav, btw). However, dealing with various health issues that affected my quality of life, I made the difficult decision to become veggan in 2020.

Why veggan?

The reason I became veggan was due to health reasons. First off, I want to say I believe it is absolutely possible to be 100 percent healthy on a vegan diet, and I am so happy for those who are. However, every body is different! We need to recognize this. For me, being 100 percent vegan meant that the whites of my eyes weren’t white, my hair was losing volume and I was chronically fatigued. I couldn’t make it through a day without feeling absolutely exhausted.

And I was not a “junk-food vegan” — I always ate tons of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, quinoa, beans, legumes, seeds, whole proteins like seitan and tofu, healthy oils like olive and coconut, and superfood powders like spirulina, maca, hemp and more. That’s not to say I didn’t gobble up vegan donuts and fried chik’n every now and again, but my every day diet was clean, healthy, colorful and balanced.

Supplements

Vegans might be thinking, well what about supplements? Trust me, I tried! 16 years is a very significant amount of time to experiment with supplements. I got my blood tests and saw my nutrient levels, and was low in iron, D and B vitamins. I tried many different brands of B12, D3, chia and flax oil, iron, biotin, zinc, and multis at the recommended doses in the recommended ratios for years at a time to no avail. It helped but it certainly was not eliminating my issues. I will say Garden of Life has my favorite B12 and D3 (which I still take). But, it was very frustrating to try and spend all this time and money with minimal results. I was getting very upset and, though I didn’t want to believe it, I knew I needed to take another step.

How I took the leap to veggan

It wasn’t until 2016, 12 years of veganism, that I started to debate adding eggs to my diet. When I did research about foods for hair health and energy, eggs kept coming at the top. It made sense, since what I lacked (biotin, protein, B12, D and more) eggs contained in significant quantities in a super bioavailable form. However, I was stubborn and absolutely hated the thoughts of adding eggs to my diet.

For 4 years, I kept going back and forth in my mind about whether or not to add eggs. Sometimes I’d think to myself, “Gina, just STFU and deal with it and continue being vegan.” And other times I’d think “but you’re physical and emotional wellness, G! Eat eggs!” I thought I was being superficial and petty by adding eggs just because of feeling tired and not looking the way I wanted. But, it was starting to affect my mood and quality of life.

Ultimately, I decided my health and happiness matters and in 2020 found a brand of local, humane, pasture-raised eggs, hard boiled them, said a prayer of acknowledgment and gratitude and ate two. Though I cried hysterically the first several times eating eggs, I knew I was making the right decision. And now I can say I’m rarely tired, the whites of my eyes are white as can be, and my hair has regained its strength and volume.

How I maintain ethical standards as a veggan

Choosing eggs. The number one thing I make sure of when choosing eggs is that they are humanely-sourced. I eat only pasture-raised eggs (108 sq feet of pasture per bird) that have either a Certified Humane of American Humane Certified label. Plus, I prefer organic and non-GMO where possible as well. I also trust the Certified Humane label more than the American Humane Certified so I opt for those wherever possible. There are many pasture-raised egg brands I trust, and I always opt for ones that are local when possible. I also contact/call the farm when in doubt. I avoid caged (conventional), cage-free and free range as they do not meet my ethical criteria. That being said, I do know there are some trustworthy free range brands out there but be sure to do your research.

Consuming eggs. When it comes to consuming eggs, I make them only at home (so I know that they are humane eggs), and only in whole form. I primarily eat them hard-boiled tho occasionally consume in other ways (like veggan omelets and scrambles). Because I eat eggs for health reasons only, I do not use eggs in any baked goods or for binding. It is extremely easy to bake vegan so in my opinion there is no excuse to use eggs for baking — I consider that to fall under overconsumption and unnecessary consumption. I eat only the amount I need for health reasons, which is 1-2 every day or every other day.

Takeaway

As I mentioned, everyone is different. Some people can be totally healthy as a vegan and others can’t. However, this is not an excuse to mindlessly eat animal products. Eat only what you need at the frequency and in the portions appropriate for your body. Overconsumption is the real tragedy of this society, so we want to steer clear of that in all areas of our diet and life.

It was a very difficult and emotional decision for me to add eggs. But I had to honor my body. I still sometimes hate myself and feel like a bad person for eating eggs, but I know I do so as mindfully and humanely possible. And my body so needs and appreciates every last pasture-raised, humane-certified egg I consume. You need to ask yourself, what is the very least amount of harm I can do to the animals and the planet, while providing the most health benefit to myself?

Being an ethical veggan was an amazing solution for my health challenges with veganism. For you, the solution may be different. But I thought it was important to share my story. Be mindful, know your body, and eat as humanely as possible considering both your health and the wellbeing of all sentient beings.

Brown hen wandering freely on green grass with yellow flowers in the background, conditions for pasture-raised eggs.

What are Pasture Raised Eggs? Benefits and Standards

If you are trying to live a more conscious and ethical lifestyle, you’ve probably wondered to yourself, what are pasture raised eggs? Is there a real difference? Am I wasting my money? First off, no, you are not wasting your money. You can’t put a price tag on animal suffering, and anyone who cares about animal welfare would agree that a couple dollars more for eggs that are humanely produced is worth every penny. And, actually, many brands can be found quite affordably – you just need to know where to look. 

Also, yes, there is a major difference between pasture, conventional, cage-free and free-range eggs. So before you make your next omelet, learn about what sets the pasture raised above the rest. 

What are pasture raised eggs? 

Pasture raised eggs come from hens who are free to roam pastures, grasslands and forests, pecking for insects, seeds and grasses (their natural food) during the day. At night, they retreat to their hen houses to roost, nest and lay eggs (this also protects them against predators). While pasture-raised is not a specific certification in and of itself, it does imply that the eggs come from small family farms with large pastures for egg-laying hens.

Certified Humane and American Humane Certified, on the other hand, are official certifications that comes with a list of requirements for the production of pasture-raised eggs. To receive the Certified Humane or American Humane Certified label, the hens must be kept on a pasture 12 months of the year and there must be 2.5 acres per 1000 birds, or 108 sq. feet per bird. At night, as outlined above, the hens are kept inside. Pasture raised are the most humane of all the egg types.

Many brands have the Certified Humane or American Certified Humane label. If they don’t, it may be a smaller, local family farm that has not yet applied for this certification. If ever in doubt about the conditions of the hens at the farm you get your pasture-raised eggs from, you can always call them and ask directly for more information about the conditions for their hens. Usually, they will be thrilled to provide this information and maybe even invite you for a visit.

Pasture-raised eggs in hay with one of them cracked open to expose orange yolk.

Are pasture-raised eggs healthier? 

Yes, according to research, pasture-raised eggs are healthier than conventional eggs. In fact, a study by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences has shown that pasture-raised eggs contain double the vitamin E and omega-3s. Folic acid and B12 is 70 percent more, and vitamin A is over 30 percent more in pasture raised. Plus, chickens who have had exposure to sunlight lay eggs that contain three-to-four times more vitamin D.

All these nutrients provide much-needed nourishment to the body. Omega 3’s lower blood pressure, preserve hair and skin health, improve mobility of the muscles and joints and support healthy brain function. Vitamin D strengthens the bones and muscles, boosts immunity, and helps prevent diabetes and hypertension. Vitamin B12 is essential for anemia prevention, higher energy levels and healthy hair. So, as you can see, they provide way more nutrients than conventional, which preserves whole body wellness and beauty.

Soft boiled pasture-raised eggs on toast with avocado and pomegranate.

Free range vs. pasture-raised eggs

Pasture raised 

Pasture raised eggs come from hens that are free to roam on grassy pastures year-round eating their natural diet of bugs, grasses and seeds. The hens retreat to hen houses at night for warmth and protection from predators. According to Certified Humane and American Humane Certified standards for pasture raised, hens must have 108 square feet of pasture per bird.

Free-range

Free range eggs come from hens that have approximately 2 square feet of outdoor space each for around 6 hours per day. The space usually contains a large flock of birds in an open air warehouse. The ground does not need to be comprised of living vegetation and is often dirt or concrete.

Cage-free

Cage-free eggs come from hens with no access to the outdoors. Cage free simply means, as it sounds, that they are not in cages. They are in a crowded room, building or enclosed area, with approximately 1.25 square feet of space per bird.

Caged

Caged eggs come from hens who live the entirety of their lives inside large, enclosed warehouses in battery cages that measure no more than a sheet of paper. They are unable to move or flap their wings, and there are usually multiple hens stuffed into each cage, which can cause extreme anxiety, pain and frustration.

Where to buy them

Know where to look for affordable pasture-raised eggs. You may notice if you go to your local supermarket, pasture-raised eggs are actually more expensive than in major health food stores. Conventional supermarkets price gauge a bit because there is no house brand and not much competition between pasture-raised egg brands. If you go to a place like Whole Foods, Trader Joes or even Costco, you can find a variety of brands (or at least a house-brand) and for that reason, more reasonable pricing. Here are some common stores where you can find pasture-raised eggs: 

  • Costco. Costco carries Kirkland Pasture-Raised Eggs (their house-brand) 24 for just $8.99*
  • Whole Foods. Whole Foods has their house brand 365 eggs at $4.99 a dozen. They also sell other brands like Vital Farms for $5.99 a dozen*
  • Trader Joes. Trader Joes sells them for $3.99 a dozen. My local Trader Joe’s was selling Carol’s Pasture Raised Eggs.
  • Sprouts. Sprouts sells house-brand pasture raised eggs for $4.99 a dozen*
  • Local Farmer’s Market. Head to your local weekly Farmer’s Market where farmers of the region come to sell their eggs. Prices vary but it’s great to be able to purchase right from the farmer. You can even visit a local farm.

*Prices and pasture-raised egg supplier may vary according to region and time of year. Pricing as of Winter 2021.

Hen in the hen house on hay laying pasture-raised eggs.

Conclusion

Pasture-raised eggs are most definitely the most humane and healthy egg option at the market. However, since this is not an official certification in and of itself, you are going to want to do your research to ensure the farm is meeting your ethical standards. The easy way to identify this is via the Certified Humane and American Humane Certified labels. However, you can always go a step further and contact the farm directly if you have additional questions about their practices.

Person eating a veggan meal of 1 sunnyside up egg, avocado, and 2 slices of whole-grain toast.

What is a Veggan? Vegans Who Eat Eggs

Vegganism is a dietary preference that is gaining popularity. Essentially, a veggan is an ethical vegan who eats eggs due to health or other reasons. It is a diet that can be adopted by vegans needing an extra boost of nutrients, vegetarians looking to make the next step for animals, or even meat eaters wanting to say goodbye to animal cruelty but not sure they can be entirely vegan yet.

Typically, since veganism and animal ethics is at the heart of this diet, a veggan will opt for humane-certified or pasture-raised eggs, as they are more ethical than conventional, cage-free and free range. Veggan is not an official term so it is still being shaped by the people who follow this diet. I feel I am one of those people wanting to give a voice to veggans and a structure to the veggan lifestyle, and so I think it is important to lay out not only what it is, but what it can be. 

What is the difference between vegan and veggan? 

VEGAN

A vegan is someone who eats no animal products whatsoever, or in other words, plant-based products only. Vegans do not eat meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, dairy products, honey or other animal byproducts in any form. They also typically do not wear leather, suede, fur, wool, silk or other materials made from animals. People are vegan due to ethical, health and/or environmental reasons. They may also just be vegan out of general preference or distaste for animal products. 

VEGGAN

A veggan follows the same rules as vegan, however they do eat eggs. So, in other words, veggans do not eat meat, poulty, fish, milk, dairy products (ice cream, yogurt, cheese, etc), honey or other animal byproducts, but they do eat eggs. 

While some may say veggans eat eggs in any form as long as there are no other animal products, I hold that a veggan specifically and consciously eats eggs with ethical impact in mind. For that reason, a veggan would restrict themselves to pasture-raised and humane-certified eggs only, doing their research to ensure the farms they get their eggs from treat their hens with respect.

Veggan vs. Ovo-Vegetarian

Not all eggs are created equal

You might be thinking, okay, so a veggan is the same as an ovo-vegetarian. This is the distinction that I think should be made. We need to keep in mind that not all eggs are created equal. Some eggs come as a result of some of the most horrific animal torture in the industry, and others come from family farm pastures where hens can roam and live a happy life. This is an extremely important distinction to make.

Ovo-vegetarian is the general term for a person who follows a plant-based diet but eats eggs of any kind (conventional, cage free, free range, pasture raised) in any form (baked goods, restaurant omelets, etc), without regard to where and how they were produced. A veggan would ensure that their eggs are coming from humane sources, and likely be very picky and avoid eating products that contain eggs, opting for the whole eggs to be prepared at home or by a trusted source.

Since veggan is a fairly new term, again I don’t want to claim this is the law of what veggan is. But it is what I feel and sense that veggan should be. It’s the avenue that vegans who are having health issues, or vegetarians who want to take an extra stop for animal rights, are looking for.  Ethics and love for animals and their wellbeing is at the heart and soul of vegganism.

Why be veggan?

For people who are vegan, the primary reason to switch to a veggan diet is health reasons. Though not at all impossible, it can be very difficult to get all the nutrients you need on a vegan diet. Egg is sort of that miracle superfood that fills in all the gaps in an otherwise plant-based diet. Eggs contains lots of nutrients that can be a bit tricky for vegans to get enough of (vitamin D, b12, protein, iron and more).

For people who are vegetarian, vegganism is an incredible step toward better health and more conscious choices for the planet. Vegetarians are often such for animal ethics, but unfortunately the milk and dairy industry is one of the cruelest in the nation. Not only that, vegetarians tend to lean their diet heavily on cheese, milk, and other dairy products, which are actually pretty bad for your health. Going from vegetarian to veggan is a huge step to make for yourself and for the animals.

Conclusion

If you can be vegan, of course that is the ultimate. I still 100% condone a vegan diet to all and everyone. This is the least harm you can do to animals and by far the most humane decision you can make. However, for some people for whatever reason it can be difficult to give up all animal products. Vegganism is the next best thing when keeping both your health and animal welfare in mind.

I myself was vegan for 16 years and mentally, spiritually and emotionally it’s the best I ever felt. Unfortunately, physically I was not doing as well — I was losing hair, I was always tired, and overall I just didn’t look or feel healthy. Vegganism has really helped my health and I feel and look like myself again.