Eggs have long been the star of dinner tables worldwide. Bursting with protein, accessible, and often affordable: why would anyone choose vegan eggs instead?
The NHS recommends we eat them as part of a healthy, balanced diet. They’re the trusty glue to delicious breakfast baked goods, an eye-catching addition to salads or pizzas, and the beating heart of delicious dishes like shakshuka after all.
However, consuming eggs has ethical and environmental implications – from their cholesterol content to the cramped conditions chickens are kept in to produce them. Moreover, the antibiotics pumped into chicken feed can find their way into eggs as well.
So, in light of this – and the booming vegan movement – brands are scrambling to recreate the perfect egg both in texture and taste.
Alternatives are far-reaching, beyond crumbling tofu or draining a tin of chickpeas. Vegan eggs are here to stay, and are becoming more widespread.
In this article we discuss some of the ethical and environmental implications of eating eggs, as well as exploring their nutritional profile. We look at the controversy around cholesterol in eggs and what the evidence says about their health effects. Finally, we give options for vegan egg replacements and recipes to try.
What’s wrong with eggs?
Eggs are painted the villain or the answer to health – and rarely anything in-between. The debate over whether they’re healthy or unhealthy for you is widely documented.
However, the environmental impact of farming chickens as part of intensive animal agriculture systems is indisputable.
Mass-produced eggs may also contain antibiotics, hormones, and dyes. This is because antibiotics are often used in their feed as a way of maximizing growth and preventing disease in cramped conditions.
Symptoms can include diarrhea, fever, headaches, nausea, and vomiting, as well as a weakened immune system.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eggs can contain Salmonella which can make people sick. People should avoid eating raw or lightly cooked eggs, and store them correctly.
Symptoms of Salmonella can include diarrhea, fever, headaches, nausea, and vomiting, as well as a weakened immune system.
Eggs are a good source of some essential nutrients, and experts generally recommend that people include them as part of a healthy diet.
One medium (44 grams) whole raw egg has the following nutrition profile:
- 62.9 calories
- 5.54 protein
- 4.18g fat
- 129 miligrams (mg) choline
- minerals including selenium, magnesium, and calcium
- vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin D, and folate
- antioxidants including lutein and zeaxanthin
A medium egg contains 164mg of cholesterol, and most of this is in the yolk.
Are eggs healthy?
Health experts remain divided about the dangers of cholesterol in eggs and how many eggs people should consume.
The American Heart Association (AHA) advises that people should choose how many eggs they eat according to their risk factors. In general, people who have diabetes or a higher risk of heart disease should monitor the cholesterol in their diet.
The AHA suggests one whole egg or two egg whites per day for people who include them in their diet.
According to the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a host of studies link consuming eggs with a greater risk of developing both these conditions.
However, recent studies have highlighted the risks of dietary cholesterol in eggs.
A 2019 JAMA study suggested that people who consume more dietary cholesterol or eggs have a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.
Moreover, the egg industry continues to influence dietary guidelines, according to the PCRM.
In a news release, they claim that a member of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) was nominated by the United Egg Producers. The DGAC helps to put dietary guidelines together for Americans.
Other studies simply direct people to a whole-food plant-based diet to reduce chances of developing chronic disease and controlling cholesterol.
What are vegan eggs?
You can use ingredients such as flax or aquafaba to replace eggs in recipes or buy branded egg replacers, which manufacturers make from various ingredients.
The nutritional benefits of vegan eggs depends on the alternative. For example, tofu is a good source of protein, and flaxseeds provide fiber and essential fatty acids.
Because vegan eggs are plant-based they do not contain any dietary cholesterol.
Moreover, purchasing vegan eggs may also help the environment.
For example, leading vegan egg makers JUST use a landslide 98% less water than animal sources and claim to have a 93% smaller carbon footprint.
Types of vegan eggs
Here are some ingredients you can use as egg replacers.
Taking pride of place at a vegan fry-up is tofu scramble. It’s often made with silken tofu, as it’s softer and takes on the texture of scrambled eggs.
Silken tofu contains 6.9g of protein per 100g and all nine essential amino acids. Additionally, it is a source of calcium, iron, and magnesium.
Scrambled tofu recipes frequently involve sweating onions and garlic, then adding the tofu and cooking it all down. You can also add a pinch of salt, pepper, and turmeric for color, as well as nutritional yeast.
Flax eggs are made from ground flaxseeds and warm water. You can buy them pre-ground, or blitz them in a food processor.
When mixed and left to sit for a few minutes, the combination forms a sticky texture mimicking eggs.
People frequently use them in baking. Flax is a nutritious alternative too, as flaxseeds are a source of omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber.
Order flaxseeds online here
Despite its unusual name, aquafaba is simply the liquid found in tinned chickpeas. It’s often thrown away but when whipped creates a fluffy alternative to meringues.
Aquafaba is used in vegan cocktails to create a frothy texture.
To make a chia egg, combine one tablespoon of chia seeds with two and a half tablespoons of water.
They’re great for waffles and cookies, and like flaxseeds, chia seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Simply stir and leave it to rest for five minutes to thicken.
You can order chia seeds online here
Apples are a good source of fiber and polyphenols. Research suggests they may have benefits for the gut and cardiovascular health.
You can use ¼ cup or 32 grams of apple sauce as a substitute for one egg. The sweet nature of apple sauce lends itself well to baking vegan cupcakes and cookies.
And, you can make your own. Moreover, some come with added flavors of cinnamon and caramel.
Order apple sauce here
Lots of people have tried to recreate Just Foods’ JUST Egg using mung beans. Some recipes call for the beans to be soaked overnight before blitzing them with coconut milk and nutritional yeast.
The mixture can be fried and boasts a fluffy and ‘eggy’ result. You can check out a recipe for them below.
Vegan egg brands
More brands are emerging with vegan egg alternatives in different forms. They range from pourable yolks to whites, or both combined.
In order to emulate the effects of eggs in baking, many of these products contain a additives and processed ingredients.
Here are five top vegan egg brands and where you can buy them.
A mung bean protein isolate, JUST has a range of JUST Egg products and announced huge expansion last year.
Now, the company sells a host of products from a pourable mixture perfect for scrambled, as well as JUST Egg Folded, for toast and sandwiches. Moreover, the company is set to release its Sous Vide product this year.
It’s since sold the equivalent of 100 million vegan eggs.
JUST Egg contains a variety of ingredients and additives including transglutaminase. A 2020 study suggested that transglutaminase may have detrimental effects on the gut. It also claims this may be a potential health concern for people with celiac disease.
Made with pea protein, Crackd’s No Egg Egg is a low-calorie and low-fat alternative to eggs. Each bottle contains the equivalent to eight eggs and provides a solid source of B12.
3. Follow Your Heart VeganEgg
Complete in its own egg box, these vegan eggs are made with soymilk powder and black salt to mimic an egg flavor.
On the VeganEgg website, the nutrition facts detail that the product contains some vitamins and minerals that provide small amounts towards a person’s daily values.
Moreover, it contains calcium, iron, potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D.
Order yours from Follow Your Heart by using the store locator. They are often stocked at The Vegan Kind Supermarket but are currently unavailable.
To save yourself buying tins of chickpeas if they’re not your favorite pulse – Oggs sells the aquafaba without the added work.
The only ingredients are aquafaba, water, and chickpea extract – and the result is a protein-rich vegan egg alternative great for desserts.
Each pack contains the equivalent of four eggs.
You can order yours from The Vegan Kind Supermarket here
5. The Vegg Vegan Egg Yolk
The Vegg is one of a few brands selling an egg yolk alternative without the whites.
It has a higher price point at £12.76 but claims to provide almost 100 yolks, when the mixture is combined with water.
You can order the Vegg Vegan Egg Yolk online here
How to use vegan eggs: 5 recipes
Vegan eggs are versatile. As a result, you can use them to recreate all your favorite recipes.
Some are best used for specific styles – and thankfully there are plenty of helpful and delicious recipes to walk you through it.
We’ve compiled five top recipes utilizing different types of vegan eggs. They’re easy to make and full of flavor.
1. Fluffy Vegan Scrambled Eggs
The Minimalist Baker promises this Fluffy Vegan Scrambled Eggs recipe to be ‘more special’ than the tofu version. Plus, it’s more “eggy” in both texture and flavor.
Inspired by JUST Egg, it involves blitzed mung beans with black salt, rice flour, and onion powder.
You can follow the recipe here
2. Meringue Kisses
Lazy Cat Kitchen’s three-ingredient Meringue Kisses are an easy sweet snack. Simply juice a beetroot, beat your aquafaba, and add both sugar and a dash of red wine vinegar.
For the full recipe, visit Lazy Cat Kitchen here
3. Mini Chickpea Flour Frittatas
These fluffy mini frittatas are great for on-the-go lunches. To mimic an egg-like texture and taste, The Simple Veganista uses a combination of gram flour and water.
You can add it whatever vegetables are you’re favorites and store the muffins in the fridge for up to five days.
For the full recipe, visit The Simple Veganista blog here
4. Vegan Egg Salad Sandwich
If you love an egg sandwich but are lost on how to make it vegan, trusty tofu is the perfect alternative. To get the right color in the recipe, a combination of turmeric and dijon mustard is used.
Prepare the tofu by patting it dry, then combine the ingredients and assemble your sandwich.
You can find the recipe here
5. Hot Cross Bun French Toast
A sweet take for a showstopping breakfast, this french toast is served best with your favorite vegan ice cream. It uses OGGS aquafaba with your chosen plant milk and sprinkled pecans on top.
For the full recipe, visit OGGs here