3 Things that Meat/Egg-Eaters Need to Know

Posted on August 24, 2010


ANOTHER HUGE RECALL was announced this morning for 380,000 pounds of deli meat that has been tainted with listeria. It came from Zemco Industries in Buffalo, New York. So far, it is listed as only being sold in Walmart stores. This new incident, coupled with the recent massive egg recall gives us cause to worry. Although I am glad to see that the US agricultural practices are now in the spotlight as they were LONG OVERDUE, I also worry about the health of my non-vegan friends and loved ones, including their animal friends who are fed some of these food items as well.

Here are three things that meat and egg-eaters need to know:

1. Salmonella Enteritidis has changed over the years. It used to be spread by fecal matter either from birds, rodents or egg handlers that is on the outside of the egg surface. The problem was mostly alleviated in the 1970’s with the implementation of refrigeration and cleaning the egg shells. Currently, salmonella has another means of transition other than the exterior of the egg: it now gets transmitted through what is inside the egg. There are many infected birds carrying the disease in their uterus.

2. Not all recalls are due to negligence. Sometimes, recalls are caused by irresponsible management who do not follow the guidelines when it comes to sanitation and cleanliness, as with Wright County Egg, the company who is at the core of the recent egg recall. However, even with companies who follow the strictest adherence to Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HAACP) regulations, disease still manages to be transmitted and it is not for lack of trying. This is a constant battle for the animal products industries and they are forever seeking new ways of winning this losing war. You have probably heard of some of their methods, from irradiating food to putting vitamins in their packaging. The main problem lies with the massive number of animals that are sickly, fed antibiotics and packed together in cramped spaces, then slaughtered so rapidly as to make it nearly impossible to keep the fecal matter away from the meat. Most of this happens at smaller, local and organic farms, too.

3. Mother Nature does not like imbalance. Whenever you put too many of one species in a small area, disease will develop. Just as one sick passenger on a cruise ship filled with tourists can rapidly cause the vessel to become a floating quarantine unit, one sick bird, pig, fish or dairy cow trapped in a small space with other animals will enable disease to spread quickly. Excessive use of antibiotics – which is common practice in the meat, poultry, fish and dairy industries – enables disease to grow stronger. Many people think it will be safer if they switch to purchasing eggs, dairy and meat products from local or organic producers who describe their goods as coming from animals who are free range, grass fed, cage free, organic or simply labeled as “natural.” This is misguided thinking; small egg farms are not much better for humans, animals or the planet because imbalance occurs with smaller numbers in smaller spaces, as well.

Free Range Organic Brown Chickens in a Barn in Indiana. Photo by Sally Ryan for The New York Times

This photo is from a New York Times article on the recent egg recall. If you get a chance, you may want to show this picture of an organic free range barn to help enlighten your meat and egg-eating loved ones about what is considered “organic, free range.”

Of course, it would be best if we all would stop supporting unhealthy agricultural practices, but that is unlikely to happen overnight. In the meantime, although it may be tempting to want to persuade your meat-eating friends and loved ones to switch to a safer, plant based diet, it can be helpful to patiently explain to them how switching to cage free, organic animal products does not alleviate the spread of food-borne illness. If appropriate, offer suggestions for animal product replacements. In the effort to protect them from getting ill, you can tell your egg-eating friends and family about some super egg substitutes listed at VegCooking.com:

Tofu: Tofu is great for egg substitutions in recipes that call for a lot of eggs, like quiches or custards. To replace one egg in a recipe, purée 1/4 cup soft tofu. It is important to keep in mind that although tofu doesn’t fluff up like eggs, it does create a texture that is perfect for “eggy” dishes.

Tofu is also a great substitute for eggs in eggless egg salad and breakfast scrambles.

In Desserts and Sweet, Baked Goods: Try substituting one banana or 1/4 cup applesauce for each egg called for in a recipe for sweet, baked desserts. These will add some flavor to the recipe, so make sure bananas or apples are compatible with the other flavors in the dessert.

Other Egg Replacement Options

• 1 egg = 2 Tbsp. potato starch

• 1 egg = 1/4 cup mashed potatoes

• 1 egg = 1/4 cup canned pumpkin or squash

• 1 egg = 1/4 cup puréed prunes

• 1 egg = 2 Tbsp. water + 1 Tbsp. oil + 2 tsp. baking powder

• 1 egg = 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed simmered in 3 Tbsp. water

• 1 egg white = 1 Tbsp. plain agar powder dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water, whipped, chilled, and whipped again

© Jill Powers and The Feel Good Vegan 2010.



Photo courtesy of USDA