Call them birds of a feather. One by one, the country's major restaurant chains are promising to use only cage-free eggs.
Just this year, McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, Taco Bell and others have made this eggsemplary commitment, responding to consumer demand for farm animals to be treated better.
Cage-free isn't the same as, say, free-range. It just means that the hens have access to open indoor space and aren't kept in cages, though they do not necessarily get to spend time outdoors.
So, the cage-free life isn't ideal -- but it's certainly better than some of the alternatives. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals paints a grim portrait of what life is like for most of this country's nearly 300 million egg-laying hens.
In many places, as many as 10 birds are crammed into a single wire cage with barely enough room to move. The hens often have their beaks cut down to keep them from pecking each other to death.
Open Philanthropy's Lewis Bollard estimates that 2015's announcements alone will spell a better life for about 30 million hens.
Most of these changes will take a while to arrive. The timelines vary from company to company, but five to 10 years is a common estimate.
Still, animal advocates view this as progress -- no matter how slow -- toward the demise, someday, of battery hen farming, one of the industry's cruelest practices.
"Addressing animal welfare issues has gone from an option to a necessity for any corporation in the food industry," Josh Balk, senior director of food policy at the Humane Society of the United States, told The Huffington Post.
Here are 15 restaurant chains that have already committed to going entirely cage-free:
Get in touch with HuffPost's animal welfare editor at email@example.com.
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