Eggs are one of the most-loved breakfast meals in America (and around the world). If you walk into a breakfast diner-like Waffle House or IHOP, you’ll see that the menu is full of egg-based meals, like omelets, egg sandwiches, scrambled eggs, fried, eggs, boiled, eggs, and more.
Are eggs vegan, though?
By definition, eggs are NOT vegan. They’re a direct animal by-product and come right out of a hen. Although eggs aren’t an animal, they do come from animals. This is why eggs, like milk, are generally considered a non-vegan food.
Eggs aren’t really dairy and they’re not really poultry (meat). Since they fall into a weird “gray area,” a lot of vegans assume that they’re vegan-friendly food. Also, most vegetarians eat eggs as well, a diet that’s often confused with veganism.
Today’s post is all about eggs. I’ll explain exactly why eggs aren’t vegan and break down the animal cruelty that drives the egg industry.
Then, I’ll show you some of my favorite vegan egg substitutes for baking and eating!
Can Vegans Eat Eggs?
One of the most common questions I get asked by new vegans is, “Can I eat eggs on a vegan diet?”
Sadly, no – you can’t eat eggs and call yourself a vegan.
That being said, I get where the question comes from. First-time vegans often base their knowledge based on what they know about the vegetarian diet, which has been around for far longer and has been practiced for centuries by civilizations (most notably in India).
Although vegans and vegetarians share a lot in common, the two lifestyles and diets differ in their underlying philosophy:
Vegetarians eat some animal products, while vegans don’t eat any animal products.
By definition, vegans are people who completely abstain from any and all animal products.
Of course, this means no meat. However, it also means no honey, no dairy, no eggs, or anything else that’s made by an animal. It also includes animal by-products like wool, which sheep are exploited for.
The Poultry Industry: Why Eggs Are Inhumane
If you were to visit a large commercial egg farm, you’d be horrified by what you saw. Chickens are thrown together in large groups, where they’re fed corn and low-quality foods.
These low-quality foods barely provide the nutrients they need to survive, and as a result, diseases and illnesses are rampant. Your average chicken coup will almost always have a few dead or dying members laying around.
Most meat-producing chickens have been genetically modified through breeding to grow extra-large so that they produce more meat. Additionally, they may also be pumped full of artificial growth hormones to achieve the same result.
In short, today’s chickens are often so heavy and large that they can’t support their own weight by the time they’re full-grown. Of course, that doesn’t matter, because they’re slaughtered as soon as they reach maturity.
Are You Starting To Get The Picture?
Many farms pump their hens full of artificial hormones so that their bodies are constantly producing eggs. This, of course, puts a strain on them and results in a far shorter lifespan for the hen.
Most commercial farms also use genetically-modified hens that produce “stronger” eggs, so they don’t crack as often.
The poultry industry is full of death, starvation, and pain. Commercially farmed eggs are just a by-product of that industry. In some cases, where unplanned male chicken eggs hatch, the chicks are literally shredded:
Do you still think eggs are vegan?
Are Free-Range Eggs Vegan?
The egg industry can be incredibly misleading. If you walk into your local grocery store, you’ll see plenty of “free-range” eggs for sale. Usually, though, these eggs don’t actually have a free-range.
Instead, chickens are given a few small peepholes to roam around in a tiny outdoor yard (which is usually just mud and dirt).
Sure, it may be a slightly better life for the chickens, but it’s still a pretty poor quality of life.
Are Home-Raised Eggs Vegan?
Now, here’s an argument that some vegans actually consider…
If you’re ethically raising your own hens and have a chicken coup, then you’ll naturally get eggs. On average, a healthy, well-cared-for hen will produce around two hundred eggs per year.
Many of these eggs will eventually develop into maturity if they’re left alone. Others may be stolen by predators, such as raccoons, coyotes, and other small animals.
There’s no way that one person could care for that many baby chickens at once. So, it makes sense that some people would want to eat them before the unformed eggs turned into chickens that they couldn’t care for.
However, the fact still remains – eggs are an animal product. As such, vegans shouldn’t be raising chickens in the first place or eating their eggs.
Can Vegetarians Eat Eggs?
If you’re a vegetarian, then feel free to eat all the eggs you like. Vegetarians are allowed to consume animal products like eggs, dairy, and honey. However, as a vegan, I always encourage my vegetarian friends to be ethical about the animal products they consume:
- Try to eat eggs that have been farm-raised by local farmers.
- Try to limit the dairy you consume.
- Make sure the honey you’re getting comes from ethical farms that don’t slaughter their colonies once they’ve “outlived their use.”
Are Eggs A Dairy Product?
This is a random question that I’ve seen again and again on the internet, so I figured that I’d address it here.
Eggs are not dairy. By definition, dairy only includes products that come from cow’s milk, such as milk, cream, and yogurt. They’re also not poultry, either, since the eggs have yet to develop into a chicken. Eggs are in a class by themselves!
The Best Egg Substitutes For Vegans
If you’re craving some eggs with your breakfast, there are several great vegan egg substitutes that I recommend trying. These vegan “eggs” are great for omelets, scrambles, or a great-tasting vegan breakfast sandwich!
1) Just Egg (link)
Just Egg makes some of the most real-tasting vegan eggs that I’ve ever had. They’re made with a mung bean protein base mixed with water and canola oil.
Then, lots of different seasonings, flavorings, and salts are added to create a taste and texture that’s very similar to real eggs.
Just squirt it in a pan and fry yourself a scramble!
Just Egg also makes vegan egg patties if you’re looking for an easy-to-make vegan egg sandwich.
2) Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg (link)
Follow Your Heart makes another one of my favorite vegan egg patties. Instead of mung bean protein, Follow Your Heart vegan eggs are made with soy protein and nutritional yeast to create a flavorful, healthy vegan egg alternative.
The texture is very similar to Just Egg, but this product contains fewer artificial ingredients, which many of my readers prefer!
3) Scrambled Tofu
Vegan “eggs” are easy and taste great. However, they aren’t always the healthiest, as they contain preservatives and artificial flavors.
If you’re looking for an all-natural alternative to eggs, then I encourage you to try a tofu scramble sometime!
With the right seasoning, scrambled tofu can be made to taste very similar to real eggs. Plus, tofu is a lot more affordable than fake vegan eggs.
I like to make my tofu scramble with a bit of nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. If you put it on a slice of fresh toast, you’ll have an unforgettable homemade vegan breakfast sandwich!
Vegan Baking: How To Substitute Eggs In Baking
Eggs are a very common baking ingredient. Although they’re sometimes used for flavoring, they’re more often used to change the texture of the dough and act as an emulsifier.
Thankfully, eggs are very easy to replace in baking applications. Here are some of the best culinary egg substitutes that I use in my own baking!
4) Namaste Vegan Egg Replacer (link)
Namaste Vegan Egg Replacer isn’t meant for scrambling… However, it’s perfect for baking! It’s made with a base of tapioca starch, arrowroot powder, citrus powder, cream of tartar, and baking soda. When added to a recipe, it serves the same chemical function as eggs.
Applesauce is a cheap and affordable way to not only add flavor but also replace eggs in your recipes! I’m not sure exactly why it works, but it does. You’re supposed to use 1/4 cup of applesauce to replace one egg in baking.
6) Mashed Banana
Mashed banana is another common replacement for eggs in baking. The general rule of thumb is to use one small banana to replace one egg in baking.
The Verdict – Eggs From Chickens Aren’t Vegan
Eggs from chickens (or any other bird, for that matter) aren’t vegan.
They’re an animal by-product that’s almost always obtained through animal cruelty and commercial farming. Thankfully, there are several great-tasting replacements for eggs in both breakfast foods and baking.
If you enjoy vegan home baking, be sure to check out my list of the best vegan brownie mixes next!