This morning, PETA Foundation attorneys helped file a class-action lawsuit in Texas federal court against Austin-based Vital Farms, Inc., on behalf of consumers who were misled into buying eggs at a premium price because of the company’s false claims that it treats animals in an ethical and humane manner.
The lawsuit alleges that Vital Farms obtains hens from hatcheries that kill all male chicks at birth. Allegations also include that Vital Farms burns or cuts off hens’ highly sensitive beaks, an industry-standard practice performed on stressed, severely crowded, confined hens. The birds are allegedly kept in conditions that cause many of them to spend most or all of their time indoors—not in “pastures,” as Vital Farms claims in words and images.
“Every one of these eggs represents the pain and suffering of gentle hens who are confined, tormented, and ultimately killed,” says PETA Foundation Director of Litigation Asher Smith. “Vegan food is the only truly ethical choice, and PETA and compassionate consumers hope to see an end to this company’s malignant marketing gimmicks.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Vital Farms causes hens to lay far more eggs than they would naturally, taxing their bodies and leading to health issues such as osteoporosis. The lawsuit alleges—based on admissions of Vital Farms’ founder and executive chair, Matthew O’Hayer—that when hens stop laying enough eggs to be profitable, they’re sold to pet food companies and killed for cheap meat, likely right alongside their factory-farmed counterparts. Despite all this, Vital Farms deceptively touts its “humane treatment of farm animals” in every carton, alongside photos that misleadingly show hens free to roam on green grass.
The nine plaintiffs—including individuals from New York City; Los Angeles and Marina del Rey, California; Warren, Michigan; Crosby, Texas; and Cooper City, Florida—are also represented by Richard L. Stone of Blackner Stone & Associates and Jesse Weiss of Edmundson Shelton Weiss PLLC. O’Hayer along with Vital Farms’ CEO and chief marketing officer are also named as defendants.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.