The high school I went to was a small Catholic school in DC called St. Anselm’s Abbey School, which was run by Benedictine monks. Although it was pretty stressful academically—and kind of traumatizing that there were no girls there—the experience was one of the best of my life, in no small part because of the powerful example of wisdom and kindness that all of the monks provided, both in their teaching and in their daily life. (I also really liked the fact that we had a ping pong table in our senior lounge, but that’s a different story.) But the point here is, as those of you who have seen the huge breaking investigation on the front page of our website will have guessed, that my personal experience with the genuine compassion that’s a fundamental part of the Catholic monastic tradition has made it even more difficult for me to try to comprehend the tragic blindness to horrifying cruelty that is shown by the monks at the Mepkin Abbey, who run an egg factory farm to fund their South Carolina monastery.
One of the worst parts of this video for me is when a monk compares the process of forced molting to a fast that he and his brethren practice to show their devotion to God. The difference—for the benefit of any Mepkin Abbey monks who happen to be reading this—is that a fast is a voluntary religious practice, while forced molting is an excruciating torture in which chickens who are already crammed together in cages so small that they barely have room to spread their wings are starved for up to two weeks to shock their bodies into another laying cycle.
Before I get too carried away here, the point I want to make is that, while torturing birds is particularly reprehensible when you find out that the people who are doing it should damn well know better (because, for instance, they’re monks, for God’s sake), the truth is that most of the horrific practices documented in our investigation are industry standard. If you’re looking for something to give up this Lent, please think seriously about giving up eggs. You can always give up chocolate next year.