Last Updated on August 31, 2021 by Guillermina
Following a vegan diet can be difficult at times because it’s not always clear what foods are considered vegan-friendly. Conventional eggs are not considered vegan but are one of those foods that may be vegetarian, depending on the definition. This article breaks down why vegans don’t eat eggs and offers a guide to vegan-friendly eggs you can use and enjoy.
Why Don’t Vegans Eat Eggs?
Vegans do not eat animals or animal by-products including meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. Eggs of any kind are an animal byproduct, thus, are not vegan. For the sake of this article, we will be focused on eggs from chickens.
Eggs are produced by hens, oftentimes in an unethical factory farm setting. Hens are kept in a crowded environment, unable to go outside, and are prematurely killed when they are “retired” and no longer lay eggs. Aside from being an animal product, the animal abuse that takes place in factory farms to maximize production and profit of eggs is viewed as unethical by vegans.
Can Vegans Eat Egg Whites?
No. Egg whites are still part of an egg, which is an animal byproduct. They are not vegan, even though they are distinct from the yolk.
What are “Veggans”?
The definition of vegan varies depending on the individual. Some vegans may feel comfortable eating some animal byproducts, especially if they are ethically produced. There has been a more recent trend of vegans making an exception to the rules and adding eggs into their diets, which is sometimes referred to as ‘veggan‘.
There are a few variations outside of factory farms that eggs are produced. While these choices may be ethically better, reading egg labels can get confusing.
- Cage-free eggs – hens are able to roam freely in an enclosed building.
- Free-range eggs – hens are able to roam freely in an enclosed building and have limited access to outside space.
- Pasture-raised eggs – hens have unlimited access to roam outside.
Nutritional Benefits to Eggs
There are some nutritional benefits to incorporating conventional eggs in a vegan diet. Eggs contain vitamin B12, which is an essential vitamin that many vegans and vegetarians can become deficient in. Vitamin B12 plays a key role in the health of hair, skin, nails, and the nervous system.
Eggs also have vitamin D, another vitamin that can be hard to get in foods outside of animal products. Many people are not getting enough vitamin D, especially those following a vegan diet.
The ‘veggan’ categorization of vegan is not accepted by all vegans, since eating eggs does not align with the basic definition of vegan. Ovo-vegetarian is a similar term that means not eating meat but allows eggs in the diet. In this case, including eggs would align with the ovo-vegetarian definition.
Vegan-friendly Egg Substitutes
There are so many vegan egg replacements that are commonly used and widely available. Conventional eggs are used in cooking and baking as a binder, to provide protein, and work as a thickener. Because of these different roles eggs are used for, the type of egg replacement boils down to what you need the egg to do in a recipe.
One of the most well-known vegan egg substitutes for binding is by using flaxseed, sometimes referred to as a flax egg. For one egg, use one tablespoon of ground flaxseed and three tablespoons water mixed together, then let it sit for five minutes. Chia seeds can also be used if flaxseed is not available. This substitute may create a chewier texture than if using a regular egg, but it should not change the overall flavor.
There are a couple of easy options for adding moisture to a recipe. Use ¼ cup applesauce or ½ cup mashed banana to replace one egg. These replacements work great for recipes with a chewy texture, as the overall product may become denser when using this method.
Aquafaba, or the liquid in canned chickpeas, makes an incredible vegan substitute for meringue. It can be whipped with an electric mixer into a fluffy texture.
If you’re just looking to whip up some scrambled eggs, using silken tofu is quick and easy. The texture of silken tofu is very soft and similar to eggs. Add some turmeric or nutritional yeast, along with your favorite spices and veggies, for a yellow egg-like color.
Shopping for Vegan Egg Substitutes
Instead of using an egg replacement listed above, there are many vegan egg replacements on the market. These are easy to use and don’t disrupt the outcome of what you’re trying to make. Here are a few brands that carry vegan-friendly egg substitutes:
JUST Egg is a liquid plant-based egg replacement made from mung bean protein. The original, uncooked egg is non-GMO Project Verified and can be used for cooking and baking. It can be found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, along with their pre-made egg fold and sous vide egg bites that are ready to heat and eat.
Follow Your Heart VeganEgg
The VeganEgg is a soy-based, powdered egg substitute that is packaged in a small carton similar to eggs. It is shelf-stable and can be used for both cooking and baking. This item is Non-GMO Project Verified, Certified Plant-based, and Certified USDA Organic.
Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer
This vegan egg replacer is a shelf-stable powder made with only four ingredients: potato starch, tapioca flour, baking soda, and psyllium husk fiber. This option is best for baking and is Non-GMO Project Verified and Kosher. Bob’s Red Mill also offers a gluten-free vegan egg replacement.
Peggs is a powder-based, egg replacement made from chickpeas, potato, and flaxseeds. This option can be used for both cooking or baking. This option is sustainable and shelf-stable.
Health benefits of Vegan Eggs
Using vegan egg substitutes are healthy and make a great sustainable swap for eggs. Vegan eggs are naturally cholesterol-free and ideal for those looking to lower their cholesterol intake. Additionally, many alternatives are lower in calories and fats because they are made from plants.
Conventional eggs and egg whites are not considered vegan because they are produced from animals. Some vegans, or “veggans”, choose to include ethically produced eggs into their diets. There are many vegan egg substitutes available for both cooking and baking, which are healthy for both you and the planet!