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What is a vegan egg alternative and why would you want to use one? We’re answering these questions and more.
If you’re like me, you grew up eating eggs regularly for breakfast and maybe even taking one hard-boiled in your school lunch. I remember getting an Egg McMuffin on road trips and helping my mom make sure no eggs in the carton were cracked at the grocery store.
Maybe these things are still parts of your normal life but you’ve noticed plant-based egg alternatives popping up.
I haven’t eaten eggs in over 10 years. And as you’ve also seen, a lot of things have changed in our food system over the last decade, including the expansion of vegan eggs and other alternative proteins.
What are Vegan Egg Alternatives?
In a time when veggie burgers are mimicking beef burgers to the point that they “bleed” when cooked and smell meaty, you’re probably wondering how vegan egg alternatives stack up to the real thing.
Well, don’t expect vegan eggs to come in an oblong shell holding together a runny inside. We’re not quite there (yet).
Instead, think of today’s vegan egg alternatives as coming in two main categories:
Egg alternatives that mimic eggs when cooked: In this category, you generally have liquid products that are to be poured into a skillet and cooked with veggies and cheese. They can also be used to pour into a quiche pan and bake. There are also vegan frozen folded egg omelets and mini-quiche products.
Egg alternatives that mimic what eggs provide in baking: These are simply alternatives that you use in baking to provide the characteristics you would normally get from a conventional egg. For instance, they can help provide structure, leavening, moisture, and emulsification in recipes. What they won’t do is provide the look, flavor, or color of eggs.
Egg alternatives are generally made with ingredients like:
- Soybeans (tofu)
- Mung beans
- Lupini beans
- Pea protein
- Chickpeas (whole, aquafaba, or flour)
- Red lentils
- and are generally seasoned with things like nutritional yeast, garlic and onion powder, turmeric, and others.
Benefits of Vegan Egg Alternatives
Listen, conventional eggs are a nutritious food (in moderation) and I’m not trying to argue that they’ve got nothing to offer. They’re a good source of protein (around 6 grams each), and provide other important nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and choline (essential for your nervous system, DNA synthesis, and cellular health).
For me personally, eating eggs just doesn’t align with my personal ethics anymore. Others might choose to eat vegan eggs due to an egg allergy or simply out of curiosity.
Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter. Vegan egg alternatives have lots to offer anyone interested in giving them a try. And I’m confident that they’re here to stay as we continue moving toward a less animal-dominated food system.
Why Try Vegan Eggs?
They’re more ethical. Plain and simple, vegan egg alternatives are made using 100% plant-derived ingredients with no animals harmed in their making. Did you know that chickens on industrialized farms are among the most abused animals on the planet? We won’t get into that now, but you can read more about the concerns here.
They contain zero cholesterol and minimal (if any) saturated fat. I know, I know. Eggs have been a central aspect of the heart health debate. But the fact is that while they have some good stuff in them too, eating a sh*t ton of eggs just isn’t great for your heart. Vegan eggs contain primarily unsaturated fats unless they rely heavily on coconut or palm oil (which are mostly saturated fats). This is a nice option for those looking to reduce their intake of cholesterol and saturated fat but still want an egg-like product in their lives.
They have a smaller environmental footprint. Again, chicken farms aren’t so great – for the animals or the planet. Chicken farms have a significant environmental impact, which includes massive pollution of air, water, and soil by way of manure waste and chemicals. Vegan eggs? Not so much.
Best Vegan Egg Alternatives
The plant-based food industry is constantly expanding and my guess is that we will one day have mainstream vegan egg alternatives that go even further to mimic their conventional counterparts.
But today, here are some of the best vegan egg alternatives, based on the two categories I outlined above.
For an egg-like texture, flavor, and appearance:
- Just Egg: This is a liquid product that comes in a bottle (but they also make folded eggs). It’s made primarily of mung beans and provides 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of unsaturated fats per 3 Tbsp. Just pour it onto your heated, oiled skillet and cook it using a spatula with veggies of your choice. You can also use it in baking, with 3-4 Tbsp to replace 1 conventional egg.
- Extra-firm tofu: Remove a block from its packaging, wrap it in a towel to press out excess moisture, and then crumble it into your skillet. Cook it with a spatula along with the veggies and seasoning you like. (Pro tip: add a dash of Indian Kala Namak Black Salt to add an eggy, sulfury smell).
- Simply Eggless Egg Bites: Made with Lupin beans, this product is available as a liquid, patty, bite, and omelet.
- WunderEggs: These are the world’s first fully plant-based hard-boiled egg. They are sold exclusively at Whole Foods and are made primarily with Almonds, Cashews, and Coconut Milk.
- Hodo Vegan All-Day Egg Scramble: Exactly what it sounds like, this is a soy-based scramble ready to eat and seasoned to perfection.
Keep in mind that there are other vegan egg alternatives out there that you might find in restaurants or specialty stores that just haven’t made the mainstream quite yet. If you find one you love, leave us a comment!
For egg-like characteristics in a recipe:
- Flax egg: Gently mix together 1 Tbsp ground (not whole) flax seed with 2 Tbsp water. This equates to 1 egg. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes to create a gel. Add your mixture to a recipe like muffins, waffles, or cake in place of eggs.
- Chia egg: Same approach as a flax egg, but using chia seeds (whole or ground are okay).
- Egg replacer powder: This is a powder designed to provide the properties of an egg when baking. Just follow the directions on the box and add it to your recipe. Examples include Ener-G® Egg Replacer™ and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Egg Replacer.
- Arrowroot powder or corn starch: Combine 1 Tbsp arrowroot powder or corn starch with 3 Tbsp of water to replace 1 egg.
- Nut butter: Use ~3 Tbsp of peanut, almond, or cashew butter to replace 1 egg. Just note that this may change the flavor of your recipe.
- Aquafaba: This is the liquid leftover you find in canned chickpeas. It provides the consistency of raw egg whites and can be whipped. Use 3 Tbsp of aquafaba to replace 1 egg. This works well for meringues and macaroons.
- Applesauce: Use 1/4 cup in place of 1 egg
- Pumpkin puree: Use 1/4 cup in place of 1 egg
- Mashed banana: Use 1/4 cup in place of 1 egg
- Mashed avocado: Use 1/4 cup in place of 1 egg
- Carbonated water: Use 1/4 cup of carbonated water in place of 1 egg as a leavening agent in cakes and cupcakes.
- Pureed silken tofu: The creaminess of silken tofu is from its high water content. Use 1/4 cup to replace 1 egg in a recipe.
Vegan egg alternatives continue to change and expand. Whether you’re looking for something to replace conventional eggs in your breakfast scramble, omelet, or to use in a muffin recipe, there are plenty of options. Keep in mind that egg alternatives don’t have the same nutritional profile as conventional eggs, for better or for worse. But they sure to make for a great stand-in when you need one.