The truth about caged chickens: Actor Aidee Walker on why she won't eat eggs

By Sarah Daniell

Aidee Walker.
Aidee Walker.

The more I talk about eggs the more they actually gross me out. Eeuuh. I'm opting for smoothies. I've been having a lot of smoothies this week.

I bought those Palace Poultry ones. I thought, "Oh great, they're not spending any money on the pretty pictures" - it was simple packaging. It was just yellow, basic. Oh great! Then, no. Not great.

I thought about all the cafes that claim to be free-range but because they have to buy so many, they'd be buying the cheaper free-range ones (and who knows - possibly the Palace poultry ones) still in rather bad conditions. It's pretty terrible.

I didn't know how small the cages were before we shot the SAFE ad, and I didn't know about the different personalities of the chickens - the introverts that may never move from that spot in the cage and it's bascially like a slowly dying animal. Some of them die and it's not even noticed. You just want to trust there are good farms out there.

If we all actually saw how it was for these chickens, we might change. When I saw rescue chickens for the ad, they had no feathers at all. None. They looked like the most emaciated little creatures. It's crazy. Eggs are thought to be a source of nutrition but these chickens were on death's door. And they were the ones that were actually doing all right. They'd been rescued.

I think we trust packaging too much. When I saw the [Countdown] story this week, I thought, "Shit, we really believe the packaging." Even the term free-range is really misleading. You trust what the companies are saying to you. We have this image of a bunch of chickens running around in a paddock. But all it means is there's a hole where they can go out and walk around a bit.

I did this bike ride up New Zealand for a mental health charity and I was a complete vegan and I was easily one of the the fittest in the group - I remember that argument that you need protein, you need eggs. I wasn't eating any.

There's a lot of animal cruelty issues but I felt with this one there could be change.

When I was a kid, eggs represented comfort food. Poached eggs on toast from a storybook farm, where chickens were happy.

My meat-eating boyfriend and I try to find vegetarian options that he likes so we can eat the same thing, and so we make fake chicken burgers. Fake chicken patties. It's just silly really. But you still have to enjoy your food. In terms of vices, I eat too much chocolate and drink too much coffee.

If someone starts getting on a bandwagon about coffee I'm like, "Shut up." I'm not going to stop drinking coffee.

We are all activists now. Like all those who said, "I'm going on a women's march." Everyone's woken up a bit. I'm more of an activist than I thought. And doing this commercial makes me an animal activist.

As a white female I'm in a situation of privilege where I can get away with more. My boyfriend is Maori and it's made me even more aware of my privilege. He has to be super by the rule book because he's been questioned walking home from a party at midnight, and the cops asked to check his bag. That would never happen to me. We really underestimate our privilege.

Aidee Walker features in SAFE's commercial asking Countdown to ban all cage eggs, on air from April 2. Catch a sneak peek at campaigns.safe.org.nz/tvad

- Canvas

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