If you pick up a health and diet magazine, you’ll see a number of athletes and models talking about how healthy egg whites are.
They’re often included in low-calorie and low-fat meal plans as they’re low-calorie, low-fat, and super-high in protein. In short, egg whites are the healthiest part of the egg!
However, are egg whites vegan?
Egg whites are, by nature, eggs, which makes them a non-vegan animal product. The only thing that makes egg whites different from eggs is that the fatty yellow yolk has been separated.
Experienced vegans know very well that any and all animal products aren’t vegan. This applies to eggs, honey, beeswax, and even sheep’s wool. Although these products may not be “as bad” as consuming meat, they’re still obtained by exploiting animals.
In today’s post, I’m going to explain exactly why the egg industry is inhumane, answer some of the most common vegan-related questions regarding eggs, and show you the best vegan egg substitutes to try instead!
Can You Eat Egg Whites While Vegan?
Vegans follow a fairly simple rule that determines everything they consume and purchase:
“Do no harm.”
Of course, the most obvious interpretation of this is that vegans shouldn’t eat meat or wear leather, as these products were obtained by unnecessarily killing animals for human consumers.
However, this ideology also means that vegans shouldn’t eat or buy anything that harms animals, humans, or the environment.
Sadly, there’s nothing harmless about the way that our eggs are commercially produced on mass farms today. Eggs are the product of a substantial amount of cruelty and exploitation. All of this goes to prove that egg whites are NOT vegan.
Eating egg whites isn’t any different than consuming meat or honey. They’re all animal products that we have no right to consume.
Are Eggs Considered Vegan?
Eggs are, by definition, potential life. Sure, the egg isn’t alive while you’re eating it. However, the industry itself is very cruel and often involves the wholesale slaughter of baby chickens that are unintentionally hatched.
In short, by consuming eggs (or egg whites), you’re supporting the slaughter and abuse of captive chickens.
So, no eggs are NOT considered vegan.
Can Vegetarians Eat Egg Whites?
Vegetarians are distinctly different from vegans in several ways. Although both diets are centered around plant-based eating, vegetarians can consume a wider variety of foods than vegans. Although vegetarians don’t eat meat, they eat a variety of other animal products, such as:
- Whey Protein
- Egg Whites
- … and more.
Most vegetarians choose their diet for health or religious reasons, while most vegans choose the lifestyle for ethical reasons.
Vegetarians aren’t very concerned about the ethics (or lack thereof) behind animal products like eggs, dairy, and honey. Therefore, vegetarians regularly consume eggs and egg whites.
Understanding The Egg Industry: Why It’s Inhumane
By now, hopefully, you have a better understanding of why eggs and egg whites aren’t vegan. However, if you’re new to the vegan diet, then you’re likely looking for a more involved answer.
Before most people stop consuming one of their favorite foods altogether, they want a detailed explanation as to why they should stop.
As always, I’m not here to judge anybody; I just want to give you reliable answers to help you make the best decisions for yourself, your body, and your ethics.
So, with that in mind, here’s a quick breakdown of the egg industry and why it’s so inhumane.
1) Chickens Are Tightly Packed Together
To start with, chickens in commercial chicken farms are tightly packed together in huge groups.
When most people think of a chicken farm, they think of a few friendly chickens strutting around a caged chicken coup, eating food, and pecking about. While this might be true of friendly backyard farms, it’s not true of commercial farms.
Instead, tens of thousands of chickens are tightly packed together with barely any room to breathe.
The huge number of living creatures packed so tightly together dramatically increases the temperature of an already hot farm. This often becomes deadly during the hot summer months, and thousands of chickens die from heatstroke, exhaustion, stress, and lack of air.
Often, when the chickens fall down or pass out of heatstroke, they’re trampled to death by the chickens surrounding them. In some cases, where the chickens aren’t fed properly, their fellow chickens will start to eat them!
As you can see, we’re already off to a disappointing start…
2) Female Chickens Are Artificially Inseminated
Since we’re on a roll, let’s jump to the next point – female chickens are literally raped on a regular basis. This keeps their bodies in a continual state of egg production, which increases the farm’s yield and garners them higher profits.
Naturally, roosters and hens regularly mate. On a typical egg farm, roosters will inseminate multiple females multiple times per day. It’s all consensual and natural, though.
Commercial farms don’t have time to sit around and wait for chickens to naturally do their thing, though. So instead, they control the situation by artificially inseminating chickens. This not only is sexually invasive but it’s unnatural.
Although female hens naturally produce one egg per day, they may take breaks periodically to allow their bodies to recover. This recovery period is never granted to captive hens, and they’re forced to pop eggs out until they’re incapable of doing so. Then, they’re slaughtered for meat.
3) Disease Is Rampant In Chicken Farms
Due to the massive amount of chickens packed together on commercial poultry and egg farms, the disease is a big problem.
Any time you put that many living creatures in close proximity, bacteria, viruses, and parasites run rampant. The disease is often one of the main causes of premature chicken deaths.
To combat this, farms often spray their chickens down with harsh chemicals and antibiotic agents. While this can prevent the disease from spreading, these harsh chemicals often cause damage to the chicken’s skin.
Keep in mind that none of this would be a problem in the first place if the chickens weren’t cruelly and irresponsibly packed together!
4) Hatchlings Are Often Slaughtered
Here’s where things get even more messed up…
Many hatcheries shred (yes, with a giant meat grinder) baby chicks.
This happens in hatcheries that are specifically trying to produce female chickens for egg production. So, whenever male chickens are born, the official company policy is to treat them as “waste.”
Within a few hours of being born, these male chicks are inhumanely slaughtered and thrown into a meat grinder. Don’t believe me? Look at this horrifying video for proof:
5) Chickens Are Genetically Modified
Here’s another reason to not support the poultry and egg industry. Most of the chickens used by commercial farms have been so genetically modified that they’re nowhere close to a natural chicken.
Take male chickens, for instance, which are purely bred for their meat. The biggest part of all chickens is the breast, which is the largest piece of meat in their bodies.
To make them produce more meat, though, today’s chickens have been genetically modified to have extra-large breasts. This allows commercial farms to double their profits when they slaughter a chicken.
Here’s where it’s even more messed up, though… By the time most of these genetically-modified chickens reach adulthood, their bodies are so heavy that they can no longer support their own weight. Unable to walk or stand, they often collapse, and must slowly crawl anywhere they go.
6) “Free-Range” Chickens Aren’t Actually Free Range
If you go to your local grocery store, you’ll see the generic white eggs next to “free-range” eggs that are usually brown and look more natural. Egg companies may include images of happy chickens running around a large grass farm, free as can be.
This is totally deceptive.
The only difference between free-range chickens (or eggs) and non-free-range chickens is that free-range chickens are given a small hole in the wall to walk outside.
That’s all that’s legally required of farms before they’re allowed to stamp the attractive “free-range” term on their products and charge an extra $2 per carton.
The reality is that most “free-range” chickens don’t ever actually get to experience going outdoors. They’re so packed together, that most of the chickens never make it to the small opening that leads out to a muddy yard that’s just as small and packed as the inside.
If you’ve ever tried to shove your way through a nightclub crowd to reach the bathroom, then you understand exactly what I’m talking about.
7) Chickens Are Often Beaten
Last but not least, chickens are often beaten and abused by farm employees. If you do a quick search on YouTube, you’ll find countless videos showing chickens being thrown, kicked, strangled, and even having their limbs ripped off by irritated, underpaid employees.
Still, think this isn’t an absolutely evil industry?
Why Are Eggs White?
One of the biggest misconceptions about eggs is that brown eggs are somehow more humanely produced and are more “natural.” This simply isn’t the case and is just a misconception that’s pushed by clever food marketing techniques.
The only difference between a white egg and a brown egg is the breed of chicken that they come from. White eggs typically come from genetically modified chickens that are designed to only produce white eggs.
That being said, white eggs aren’t any more natural, vegan, or healthy than brown eggs.
6 Great Vegan Egg Substitutes To Try Instead Of Egg Whites
Undoubtedly, you’ll encounter a few recipes that call for eggs or egg whites. Thankfully, there are plenty of vegan egg and egg white substitutes that you can use for baking purposes. Here are some of my favorites:
Keep in mind that these egg replacements are just for baking purposes. That being said, there are a few great-tasting vegan egg patties that can take the place of egg whites for your breakfast:
The Verdict – Egg Whites Are Never Vegan
Even though eggs aren’t exactly living animals, a substantial amount of cruel and unjust treatment goes into producing every egg or egg white that you consume. That being said, egg whites are NOT (and will never be) vegan.
If you’re looking for a healthier, all-natural breakfast alternative, then take a look at my list of the best vegan breakfast cereals instead!