The Incredible Inedible Egg

 


The whole universe including sun, moon, planets, and galaxies was all inside the egg…

Vayu Purana 4.74-75

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Today is my  first sucessful day of vegetarianism! 

The Devil, who just read that last sentence over my shoulder, pointed out that technically this is my 13th first successful day as a vegetarian.  Actually, it’s my 14th first day, thanks. Now, get thee behind me Satan…and quit reading over my shoulder!

Hmph.

My extremist egg position has aroused a little controversy it seems.  Did a little bite of coleslaw containing mayo (containing egg) really warrant starting over? 

Yes. 

Why?

Because this is my personal quest and my rule is no eggs and no eggs means no eggs.

So, why am I being such a fanatic about eggs when nothing is killed, especially if they’re not fertilized?

I hope you aren’t expecting a defense-or even a rational explanation.  As I have said before, I’m not trying to recruit, convert, or persuade anyone over to my way of thinking and I don’t plan to defend or argue my actions here.  That’s not what this is all about for me.  And my intent is certainly not to judge you for what you eat or drink. You do what you need to do.  This quest is what I’m doing and sharing at the moment.

All that said, I will now share the chain of events that lead to my radical egg position in case you’d like some insight into my decision.  While my story starts at the beginning of the universe, I’ll only take you back as far as last November. Strange things happened in November.  My very foundation began to shake in November. Literally. In November, earthquakes began en masse in my little piece of Arkansas. Over 800 small earthquakes have happened since then. The earthquakes (followed by 1000 dead birds falling out of the sky a few weeks later) are a long interrelated story, but here I will limit the story to the eggs.

In November I read The Possibility of Everything by Hope Edelman. This book was part memoir, part travelogue, and part…I don’t know what. If I was forced at gunpoint to write a tabloid headline summarizing the book’s  plot in 10 words or less I would say, “Privileged Couple Travels to Belize to Exorcise Child’s Imaginary Friend!”  because that’s pretty much what they did.  Within that context, Edelman explores the ideas of parenting and partnering, rational thinking vs. spiritual searching, comparisons between cultures, etc.  While I liked the bits about culture and travel, the rest didn’t do much for me.  I didn’t find it “wise and riveting” as the cover suggests, nor did it keep me “gasping and turning pages.”  When I finished it I was like “huh, so that’s what rich people do with their lives.” This may explain why you don’t see my reviews on book covers at Barnes & Noble. 

Back to the main point: eggs. In one scene in the book, the cook-maid-nanny, Carmen, a Nicaraguan and “believer in all things magical,” tells Edelman to roll an unbroken egg over the arms and legs of Edelman’s  3-year-old daughter, Maya. The point of this is strange ritual was to capture the child’s evil spirit (i.e., imaginary friend). Edelman actually did this, which struck me as incredibly odd. It prompted me to do some additional research about eggs to verify that people actually believe such things. In the process I learned all sorts of fascinating egg facts:

  • Unbroken eggs are used in limpia, or spiritual cleansing, in many cultures.  Shaman in Meso-American traditions use them to rid the body, mind, and soul of negativity.
  • In Christianity, eggs are associated with Easter. They are a symbol of resurrection and renewal.
  • For centuries eggs were a forbidden food during Lent.
  • In addition to the Hindus, Egyptians, Persians, and Phoenicians have creation stories in which the universe began as an enormous egg.
  • For the Anglo-Saxons, eggs symbolized rebirth and were associated with the goddess of dawn, Eostre (also known as Austron, Ausos, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Ostare, Ostara, Ostern).
  • Egg color (brown vs. white) is correlated with the color of the hen’s feathers and earlobes.
  • Chickens have earlobes!
  • The label “free range eggs” does not necessarily mean that the hen who laid the egg ever saw the light of day because the USDA does not regulate this claim on eggs (see Consumer Reports).

Shortly after my dabblings in egg research, my dad randomly mentioned a lawsuit against Tyson in Oklahoma that was aimed at protecting the watershed from chicken pollution at one of their industrial chicken growing sites. I did a little more research on that and discovered all sorts of things I really didn’t want to know.  I’ll spare you from those gory details. A couple weeks later, I was out of town sitting in a treehouse hot tub with The Supreme Master Ching Hai’s words about eggs:

“Egg…involves of half-killing, even though it’s infertile. And also it has kind of quality to have a tendency to attract negative power.  That’s why many people of the black and white magicians field, or many voodoo people–so-called voodoo–they use eggs to draw some of the entities from possessed persons.”

“Some say that commercially available eggs are unfertilized, so eating them is not killing living things.  This is only seemingly correct.  An egg remains unfertilized only because the appropriate circumstances for its fertilization have been withheld, so the egg cannot complete its natural purpose of developing into a chicken.  Even though this development has not occurred, it still contains the innate life force needed for this.  We know that eggs have innate life force; otherwise, why is it that ova are the only type of cells which can be fertilized? Some point out that egg contain the essential nutrients, protein and phosphorus, essential for human bodies.  But protein is available from bean curd, and phosphorus from many kinds of vegetables such as potatoes…Furthermore, egg yolks contain a lot of cholesterol, which is a major cause of cardiovascular disorders, the number one killer in Formosa and America. No wonder we see that most patients are egg eaters!”

After reading her words, I did not have any great epiphany. Light didn’t shine down from heaven.  I wasn’t suddenly enlightened with solutions to all of humanity’s problems.  I didn’t decide right then and there that I was going to actually do anything (or not do anything) different. I just sat there eating my discount breadsticks and thought some about what I’d read. I found her arguments about vegetarianism compelling, but I admit I was a little dismissive of her radical egg stance.

We took a different route home from the weird town where The Supreme Master Ching Hai’s weird pamphlet found me. The circuitous mountainy road snaked around beautiful landscape. After descending into a flat valley and rounding a bend in the road, we came across row upon row of shiny windowless metal buildings that stretched across the area for miles.  It was a chicken…farm? Farm isn’t the right word because that evokes images of picturesque pastoral scenes. No, farm is definitely not the right word. It could better be described as a chicken factory. A chicken plant.  I recognized it for what it was, not because I saw any visible sign of chickens (there were none), but because of the gruesome videos I’d watched during my egg research.  This was the sort of place chickens and eggs are produced and manufactured for the sole purpose of profit/consumption. It got me thinking about life, values, products, and consequences. I thought about the people who work at the chicken factory…the people who lived near there…the people (like me) who eat what was produced there. These were not happy feel-good thoughts.

All of these experiences combined prompted me to reexamine how my actions affect other lives, about my relationship with food, and how I want to participate in the world. There were changes that needed to be made to reduce the cognitive dissonance. So…here I am: day 1 again.

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