Are Eggs Vegan? Everything You Need to Know
Are eggs vegan? Vegetarians sometimes include eggs as part of their diets, as do pescatarians, but what about vegans? Can they have eggs? This post will explain everything you need to know!
Before going vegan, I ate a few eggs a week, like most non-vegans I knew. As far as I was concerned, they were healthy sources of protein with some extra nutrients. I had absolutely no idea about how they were sourced or what kind of conditions the hens who laid them were living in.
Over the years, I slowly transitioned to being a vegetarian, then pescatarian and finally, vegan. That meant no meat, no fish, no dairy products, and no eggs!
At the beginning, a question I got asked *all the time* was ‘Are eggs vegan?’, with some people also questioning if backyard hen eggs were vegan or not. Let’s have a look at that.
Are eggs vegan?
Eggs are not vegan because they come from an animal. Although you’re not directly consuming the chicken, to be vegan means not to consume any animal or anything that comes from an animal, which would include eggs. The Oxford dictionary defines a vegan as ‘a person who does not eat any animal products such as meat, milk or eggs or use animal products such as leather or wool.’
Factory farmed eggs also contribute to a lot of animal cruelty. I don’t like to promote such sad content but if you’d like to find out more about this, you can find plenty of articles in a quick Google search.
What about backyard eggs?
Eggs from backyard eggs are not considered vegan either. Some might argue that the hens are being ethically raised and therefore it is OK to eat their eggs. But many vegans disagree and think that keeping hens just so you can use their eggs is still viewing the hen as a resource rather than a pet.
In Earthling Ed’s video, he uses the example of having a dog as a pet. You don’t expect anything from the dog, other than for it to become part of the family. The same is often not true for chickens. They’re usually seen as an egg provider first, a pet second (if at all).
If you own hens, a better way to use their eggs would be to feed them back to them. Eggs are a great source of calcium for hens, and they’ll often eat them instinctively if they are running low on nutrients. That includes the shell!
Are there any vegan alternatives?
There are a few different types of egg alternatives but the kind of egg replacement you use will depend on what you’re trying to make.
If you’re trying to replicate scrambled eggs, something like silken tofu or a liquid egg replacer such as Crackd would be best. And although I’ve never tried it myself, some people say that black salt is great to add to scrambled tofu because it gives that classic eggy taste.
For a vegan egg mayo sandwich filler, you can use mashed up tofu and seasonings for a similar texture and flavour. Try this recipe by Our Planted Based World.
When it comes to egg replacements for vegan baking, there are plenty of options. For cakes, muffins and other similar desserts, you can use dairy-free buttermilk, which will help to create soft, tall, fluffy bakes. It sounds weird but it works so well! This is also the one that gives the best texture in my opinion.
For delicate items like meringues, pavlova and macarons, aqua faba works really well. Aqua faba is the liquid that’s leftover from cooked (or canned) chickpeas. Again, it sounds weird but just trust me on this one! When you mix it with an acid such as cream of tartar and some sugar, it whips up smooth, thick and glossy, just like egg whites do!
What are vegan eggs made from?
A popular egg replacer in the UK is Orgran. This is a dry egg substitute that is made up of the following ingredients:
Potato Starch, Tapioca Starch, Calcium Carbonate, Acidity Regulator Citric Acid & Stabiliser (Vegetable Gum: Methylcellulose).
The ingredients in Crackd liquid egg replacer are:
Water, Pea Protein, Corn Oil, Methyl Cellulose, Pea Starch, Gellan Gum, Flavourings, Calcium Lactate, Dried Inactive Yeast, Lactic Acid, Black Salt, Potassium Bitartrate, Beta Carotene, Stabilisers (Calcium Carbonate, Guar Gum, Cellulose Gum), Vitamins (D & B12) & Dextrose.
Are vegan eggs healthy?
No. Ready-to-buy egg replacers are typically not very healthy and are often loaded with super processed oils, starches and gums. They are more for flavour and taste than they are for nutrition.
They’re a great substitute if you’re craving eggs or trying to bake a vegan dessert. But if you’re looking for healthier options, it’s best to use wholefood egg replacers such as chia seed eggs, flax eggs, buttermilk, tofu etc.
How to get the same nutrients without eggs
So if vegan egg replacers are not healthy, how can we replicate the nutrition from a hen egg in a plant-based way? Below I’ve listed a few of the top nutrients in eggs, alongside a small list of plant-based foods that will give you the same thing. Let’s take a look.
There’s around 5-6g of protein per egg. You can easily get this amount from any of the following wholefoods:
- 30g almonds
- 40g of oats
- 1 heaped tablespoon of peanut butter
- 40g edamame beans
Of course there are many other plant-based sources but these are just a few examples.
Plant-based B2 foods include:
- Nutritional yeast
B12 is one nutrient that is very hard to get from plants so it’s recommended that you consume fortified foods like plant-based milks and cereal or take a B12 supplement. The modern day vegan diet is not perfect and it’s SO important not to skip out on this nutrient, so make sure you’re getting enough.
A few vegan sources of selenium are:
- Brazil nuts
- Chia seeds and flax seeds
Choline can be obtained by eating the following foods:
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Peanut butter
So, are eggs vegan? No, eggs are not vegan-friendly because they come from an animal. Backyard hen eggs are not vegan either. Eggs are suitable for vegetarian and pescatarian diets but not a vegan diet. There are egg-free alternatives available for cooking and baking.