The public is becoming more aware of the daily horror that hens endure on conventional factory farms. In response, the egg industry has created labels that sound appealing, such as “cage-free,” “free-range,” “free-roaming,” and “organic” to attract more customers. But these labels are misleading. Here’s something that the egg industry doesn’t want you to know: “Cage-free” does not equal “cruelty-free.”

Even when chickens on “cage-free” factory farms aren’t kept inside dirty, cramped battery cages, that doesn’t mean that they’re allowed to roam free in green pastures or frolic in the sun. While “organic” labels are subject to government regulations, other labels don’t require factory farms to follow humane practices. This means that they can use a term like “cage-free” and still employ the same inhumane methods found on conventional farms.

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Hens on both small- and large-scale commercial cage-free farms still have short, painful lives. They are confined to filthy sheds and often aren’t allowed to see sunlight, go outdoors, or socialize in a natural setting. When they are given outdoor access, it’s often just a hole cut in a shed wall that leads to a muddy pen—and typically for only very short periods of time.

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When they’re chicks, part of their tender beak is cut off with a hot blade—without any pain relief.

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They sustain painful lung lesions, breast blisters, and ammonia burns from sitting on unsanitary floors covered with urine and feces. And male chicks are often ground up alive or thrown in the trash to suffocate or be crushed to death, since they don’t lay eggs and are considered useless to the farms.

What You Can Do to Help

The egg industry uses over 300 million hens each year for egg production. It doesn’t want customers to find out about its extremely cruel practices because they’d stop buying eggs if they knew the truth.

The only way to reduce chickens’ suffering is to stop supporting the egg industry by not eating eggs. Fortunately, there are a number of delicious, satisfying, vegan egg alternatives that you can easily add to your diet. Check out our favorite egg-free options.