The major question posed by many: Can you eat eggs on a plant based diet? I think the key words, in this case, are plant based diet. Eggs are not usually included in a plant-based diet. But they were also never alive, technically, if unfertilized. So that puts eggs in a strange position because some people feel like they can eat eggs without necessarily taking a life. That seems to satisfy a moral dilemma amongst many striving towards a whole food plant based diet.
On the other end of the spectrum eggs are an animal protein so there is no separating from that fact. Many people who eat eggs while largely engaging in a plant-based diet do it to gain essential nutrients and proteins which are deemed scarcely available in plants, such as vitamins B12, B6, and protein. Others do it for the simple satisfaction and enjoyment of eating eggs.
Eggs are Ubiquitous (Huh?)
Eggs are somewhat hard to escape in the American Diet. They are everywhere. Even if you avoid eating them directly, the ingredient tends to show up in many of the foods we eat every day. From dairy products to baked goods eggs are a staple food. The ingredients table on food packages will have eggs listed as the main ingredient on a large array of items. Many of us are eating eggs without being aware of it. To live a whole food plants based diet you have to be aware of the fact that eggs are in almost everything.
But none of these facts answer the question as to can we eat eggs on a plant-based diet. I was raised with a very health-conscious household. The vegetarian diet is an old adage. There are many parts of the world where vegetarianism is practiced. The Hindus of India revere the cow and do not eat meat. The Chinese culture has mastered soy-based cuisines as a meat replacement. Tofu scramble is a great egg replacement. You can replicate the taste and texture quite closely.
With all that being said, you can typically eat eggs on a vegetarian diet (if you’re Lacto-Ovo). A vegan diet has a strict no meat no dairy protocol. You cannot eat eggs and still call yourself a vegan. You can not drink milk or eat any amount of dairy. So if you are looking to be strict with your plant-based diet the answer will be no. Why is the answer no on this diet? The reason why the answer is a big no when it comes to veganism is because eggs come out of an animal. Animal Husbandry is what facilitates the handling of all eggs that get to your plate.
The factory farming, animal husbandry industry has developed a bad reputation. Many people who engage in the whole food plant-based diet tend to reject what goes on in the farming industry for moralistic and ethical issues. Social media and word of mouth has been very hard on the meat and dairy industry and especially factory farming. Factory farming is when thousands and even millions of animals are crowded into unsanitary conditions for mass slaughter. Many of these animals are pumped full of antibiotics to keep them from getting diseases while being kept in small cramped spaces amongst other animals waiting for slaughter.
Most eggs that end up on your plate are a product of factory farming, as well as the egg ingredients that you see in packaged goods or dairy products. The abuse of animals in factory farm conditions is usually a great incentive for people to stop eating eggs. The male eggs that are hatched are usually killed in grinders while they are still alive and healthy. Factory farms are also an epicenter for the contagion. H1N1 is a Bird Flu that can be passed from chickens to Humans.
Currently, we are experiencing the Corona Virus or Sars COVID-19. This deadly disease ravaging humanity at the moment is said the have been passed from animal to a Human through the consumption of Bat meat. The person either caught the virus while handling and butchering the bat or consuming uncooked bat meat. So there is always a risk of a potentially deadly outbreak when it comes to factory farming and animal husbandry. It’s a scary thought to think that another COVID-19 can come from eating eggs.
But what does disease have to do with those who want to choose a whole food plant based diet? Many vegetarians choose these diets to lower their likelihood of catching or developing a disease that you may acquire when you are consuming a largely animal-based diet which would include eggs. Animal-based diets are said to increase inflammation, increase cholesterol, and increase the chances of developing cancers.
Not eating eggs may also decrease your carbon footprint. The farming industry uses a lot of water and land for meat and egg production. We could make a tremendous environmental difference if people focused more on plant-based diets. This is because chickens, cows, and pigs all require feed. Millions of acres of land are used to grow the feed that these animals eat. Then, they are lead to slaughter, or produce dairy, or lay eggs. We could mitigate this destructive use of land by not eating eggs and gaining our nutrition directly from a whole food plant-based diet. The animal is only a conduit of nutrition, all of this nutrition can be gained get directly from plants.
But if these matters are not at the top of your list of importance. Then eating eggs as a vegetarian is a normal practice. People have them in the morning for breakfast, baked into their breads and cookies, mixed into their dairy products, etc… It is a traditional ingredient. But traditional does not necessarily mean healthy.
Are eggs healthy?
Are eggs inherently healthy or unhealthy? This debate has loomed on for decades. At one point in time it has been said that not more than 2-3 eggs a day are healthy. While today’s data indicates that eggs may be healthier than previously suggested. Eggs have a bad rap because they may increase cholesterol to dangerous levels. This may in turn increase the likelihood of heart disease. It seems like eggs have a healthier reputation these days.
Eggs also have a difference in Omega 3 as opposed to Omega 6 fatty acids depending on what the hens eat. Free-range organic eggs come from hens who have been able to eat a much more superior diet in comparison to their factory-farmed relatives. Exercise and a well rounded plant-based diet produces a healthier egg.
Vegetarians and those who eat a whole food plant-based diet tend to choose free-range and organic eggs. In recent years with the public becoming far more aware of the plights of factory farming these industries have seen a boom in recent years. Most supermarkets now have the option for you to choose between free-range, conventional, and organic eggs.
If you are a person who eats a plant-based diet you may not agree with anyone eating eggs who have chosen a whole food plant-based diet at all. Even though eggs are a whole food they do not fit into the vegan diet paradigm. A strict diet based on veganism requires that you get all of your essential vitamins, minerals and proteins from plants with no acceptions in the plant based diet.
Today there are a lot of options available to those who choose to get there protein and nutrition from exclusively plant-based products. If you are a baker, applesauce works as a great egg replacement. 1/4 cup of 65 grams replaces one egg. A smashed banana works as a great egg replacement as well and you will need to use 65 grams or 1/4th cup. But the downside to banana as an egg replacement will be that your recipe will take on a banana flavor if that wasn’t the intent, the same goes for the apple sauce. Ground Chia is also an excellent choice and you will only need 45 grams. The Chia seeds will also give you recipe a nut flavor. But you also have to be careful not to use too much because it will make your food product to dense.
Non-whole-food based, or processed plant proteins have also become very popular. One of the most popular makers of plant-based protein is Beyond Meat. Beyond Meat plant-based, meat products are a delicious and excellent alternative to eggs. They have a wide range of products that include a beyond burger, beyond sausages, meat crumbles, chicken strips, and other products in the works that are sure to hit the supermarkets in the future. Many established companies have followed the lead of beyond meat to create plant based proteins that taste very meat-like.
So can you eat eggs on a plant based diet? The answer is yes and no. That all depends on what plant-based diet you practice, (Veganism, Vegetarianism or Whole Food Plant Based ) while similar veganism bars all animal-based consumptions of any type including eggs and dairy. In the end it comes down to your preferences. It will always be totally up to you.
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