Eggs are in the same category as flesh foods, since they are, of course, fowl in embryo. A fertilized egg is a fowl before it is born; an unfertilized egg is the product of a bird's sexual cycle.
Eggs from barnyard fowl (fertile eggs) are sometimes available in health food stores, and have some advantages over production-line eggs—but are hardly to be recommended as a food of optimal quality for humans. Even when the hens are allowed plenty of clean territory for running, adequate fresh, pure water, pure air and good grain—and cohabitation with the rooster—the resultant product (the egg) is apt to be less than optimal, even for non-vegetarians. The habits of the fowl are not clean— they will eat almost anything—eggs will sometimes taste of wild garlic which the hen has eaten.
On the other hand, production-line methods produce a particularly poor product, from the standpoint of nutrition and toxicity. Hens are fed arsenic to kill parasites and stimulate egg production.
About 95% of egg-laying hens are maintained in production plants. The routine conditions in egg production plants are certainly not conducive to producing eggs of high quality. Five fully grown hens in a twenty inch by twenty-four inch cage is routine in some hen batteries; some squeeze four hens into twelve inch by twelve inch cages. The hens cannot spread their wings or even turn around. Wire flooring often injures their feet, and hens have even "grown fast to their cages." (Victoria Moran, Ahimsa, April/June 1982, quoting from Poultry Tribune, February 1974)
Hens are de-beaked at one week and again at three to five months, to prevent featherpecking and cannibalism, brought on by the overcrowded conditions. Food and water are provided mechanically; conveyors remove eggs and waste. Fluorescent bulbs provide seventeen hours of artificial daylight to stimulate laying. The millions of eggs sold in supermarkets are the products of these "hen farms."
All eggs contain an excess of sulphur. Hereward Carrington (The Natural Food of Man, p. 173) says, "Persons who are subject to torpor of the liver would do well to refrain from the use of either eggs or butter; and those who have sound livers—and desire to keep them so—can take a hint."
Dr. Shelton, also, says that eggs should certainly never be eaten by one whose liver and kidneys are not in perfect condition. He says that children, invalids, inactive people and those inclined to constipation should especially avoid egg whites.
The raw albumen contains a toxic protein substance, avidin (a biotin antagonist). Biotin is one of the B-complex vitamins. Avidin is inactivated by one minute of cooking.
Dr. Shelton says that raw egg whites produce in some stomachs almost deadly acids. He says that Vernon, Hetin and others have shown that raw egg white hinders the digestion of other substances.
"Bayliss, Professor of Physiology, University of London (The Physiology of Food and Economy in Diet) says that raw egg white contains some substance which, even in small amounts, hinders the action of the digestive fluids. Lemoine, a French authority, after careful study, says raw egg white contains a poison which damages the kidneys." (Dr. Shelton, Volume II, page 170)
Boxers, marathon runners and other athletes sometimes use whole raw eggs (blended with fruit juices) as "high-protein training food," and may give the impression that whole raw egg is an optimal food. You now know better!
Raw egg yolks are sometimes prescribed by Hygienic professionals as a temporary source of protein for people who are having digestive or other problems with the use of nuts as a protein source. Even though raw egg yolks are relatively innocuous and easily digested, their use should be confined to temporary emergency use, for many reasons (some already discussed and some additional factors still to be considered).
Dr. Virginia Vetrano (Dr. Shelton's Hygienic Review, February 1977, p. 136) says: "Taking a raw egg yolk in orange juice is not the best way to take eggs, if one is going to eat them. Eggs, being an animal food, decompose very rapidly if not digested soon. Taking them with an acid fruit such as oranges or orange juice, inhibits the secretion of gastric juice, necessary for normal digestion, and predisposes to putrefaction."
With further reference to the preoccupation of athletes with "extra protein," the following interesting comment appeared in a 1978 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The Association's Department of Foods and Nutrition commented: "The ingestion of protein supplements by athletes who eat an otherwise well-balanced diet is of no use in body-building programs. Athletes need the same amount of protein foods as nonathletes. Protein does not increase strength. Indeed, it often takes greater energy to digest and metabolize the excess of protein. In addition, excess protein in the athlete can induce dehydration, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Athletes DO have an increased requirement for calories."
In Lesson 32, in the discussion of salmonellosis, I mentioned that, if you open and eat a raw egg, there is the risk of bacteria from the outside of the shell contaminating the egg. (Meat on the Menu, Who Needs It? Raymond H. Woolsey)
Since some Hygienic professionals sometimes prescribe raw egg yolks as a temporary protein source for some debilitated individuals who have problems with nut proteins, I once experimented with their use (three yolks per week), but abruptly discontinued the experiment when they produced a goodly crop of hives—some on my face. I mentioned this experience in a previous lesson.
In view of this evidence, it would seem that it would be best to avoid the use of eggs altogether, if at all possible.
If, for any reason, it is desired to use eggs sparingly or temporarily, the following precautions should be borne in mind:
Home > Lesson 33 - Why We Should Not Eat Animal Products In Any Form
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