Finding new and exciting vegan-friendly recipes isn’t always the most straightforward task. Fortunately, thanks to the growing community of vegans across the globe, vegan alternatives for staple foods are becoming more and more common all the time. And foods don’t get much more staple than eggs.
Unfortunately, being essentially unborn animals, eggs are about as far from vegan-friendly as it gets but don’t despair, there are vegan alternatives.
Using turmeric and mung bean protein, it is possible to create a food with convincingly egg-like flavour and texture, but without having to use any animal products. To be clear, we are talking specifically about chicken eggs the most common kind of egg that is consumed. But let’s take a closer look; what is a vegan egg?
What is a Vegan Egg?
Firstly, there are two different approaches to vegan eggs. There are vegan alternatives to egg-based recipes, where an ingredient is used as a stand-in for eggs. One example of such a food is omelettes, which can be made with plenty of vegan-friendly ingredients, but the egg is a fairly critical part of it. With an egg substitute, entirely vegan-friendly omelettes can be made.
However, this post is more concerned with products like Just Egg, which endeavour to create a vegan alternative to eggs themselves. There are plenty of meals that call for little more than an egg and perhaps some seasoning boiled eggs, fried eggs, scrambled eggs.
With this kind of vegan egg, great lengths have been taken to find a combination of ingredients that are not only egg-like in taste and texture, but also in nutritional value. Of course, there are compromises. For example, an egg has approximately six grams of protein, whereas the vegan alternative we mentioned Just Egg only has five grams of protein. Other nutrients are missing from vegan eggs, but, unfortunately, there is no way to recreate the exact attributes of a food without using the exact ingredients of that food.
Can Vegan Eggs Replace Real Eggs? And Should They?
For vegans, the question of whether vegan eggs are worth the hassle is an easy one vegans will not eat regular chicken eggs, so for them, it is a vegan alternative or nothing. But what about non-vegans? There are plenty of reasons to have more vegan practices in your diet besides personal beliefs, such as the positive effects on the environment of eating less meat. So, for those people who don’t feel compelled to eat vegan, can vegan eggs replace the real thing?
Unfortunately, probably not. The full list of ingredients for making a vegan egg replacement is complicated and, as we mentioned above, the end result is not a true replacement for a real egg in a nutritional sense. And, while the missing nutrients can be made up with other ingredients or nutritional supplements, it represents a lot more work than simply boiling or scrambling a chicken egg.
This is a significant hurdle for non-vegans. Everyone’s lives are becoming busier all the time and, with the prevalence of fast food and other less healthy, low effort options in the supermarket, many people already struggle to stick to a healthy, nutritional diet without adding the additional complexity of making vegan alternatives to the simpler meals that are already deemed too much effort.
It is an unavoidable reality that the majority of people simply don’t have strong enough feelings about their diets to switch to a more difficult system. On the plus side, the fact that the majority of people are not ideological about what they eat means there is always the possibility that they could be swayed over to a vegan diet if an easier or more convenient vegan alternative was developed.
Egg Substitutes in Recipes
Knowing that there is no like-for-like substitute that could realistically convince a typical non-vegan to ditch an egg, what about substitutes for eggs in other recipes? We touched on the fact that it is easier to substitute egg in a recipe than it is to replicate egg by itself, so let’s explore that option.
The first thing to note is that, much like the above egg replacement, there is no real way to substitute an egg for the exact same taste and nutritional value. However, it is far easier to come up with something that is both nutritious and tasty when you are dealing with multiple ingredients. And, while you might not be able to replicate the egg exactly, you may find that the resulting meal is more delicious than the egg-based original.
As you might expect, it is much easier to substitute an ingredient in meals where that ingredient plays a smaller role. For example, if you are making an omelette with mushrooms and red pepper, replacing the pepper won’t make an enormous difference to the final taste. Substituting the egg, however, will make a significant difference, because the egg is the primary ingredient. With that in mind, we are going to focus on foods where an egg is not a primary ingredient, as they provide the best opportunity for a seamless substitute.
One such example is pancakes. Eggs are traditionally part of the recipe for making pancakes, but it is possible to substitute the egg for a vegan-friendly alternative such as flax seeds. By mixing flax seeds with baking powder and some water, it creates an ingredient that is an excellent nutritional substitute for eggs, while also adding an earthy, nutty taste to your pancakes. If flax seeds are not your thing, chia seeds can also work in much the same way, though they give a different flavour to the final product.
Of course, any practising vegan will be aware of the versatile nature of tofu. This hard-working vegan-friendly foodstuff is just as effective in the world of egg substitutes as it is elsewhere.
The important thing to consider about egg as an ingredient is its various roles in the meal. While you may prefer the look of a nicely fried egg, it won’t affect your eating experience if a vegan-friendly substitute doesn’t look the same as a real fried egg. However, in the case of pancakes (or most other kinds of baking), the egg also serves as a binding for the mixture. In those cases, any vegan alternative must be able to act in the same capacity.