Are you not sure if vegans eat eggs? Despite the increasing popularity and prevalence of veganism as a way of life in recent years, there still remains a lot of confusion about whether certain food items are vegan or not.
One such item is eggs; many people (even people who aspire to become vegan themselves) do not know the true answer to the common question “Do vegans eat eggs?”.
(The answer, in case you are wondering, is “No” in most cases.)
With that in mind, I have put together this article explaining why vegans should not eat eggs (for both ethical reasons and health reasons), and also included some information about good egg alternatives for vegans.
I hope that you find the information we provide for you here helpful in understanding why most vegans do not eat eggs.
Eating Eggs Is Not Necessary
While eggs are admittedly a good source for certain nutrients (such as iron, lutein, zeaxanthin, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B2, selenium, phosphorus, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, Vitamin B6, calcium, Vitamin K, and zinc), it is possible to get the majority of these nutrients and vitamins from other non-egg sources.
Many vegetables can serve as alternative sources for these important nutrients. Broccoli, cabbage, and spinach are all excellent sources of selenium, for example, as are Brazil nuts. Meanwhile, Vitamin K can be found in many leafy greens, such as kale, chard, and spinach, and Vitamin A can be found in bell peppers, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, and even certain types of melons.
Calcium, likewise, can be found in natural non-animal sources such as broccoli, kelp, spinach, bok choy, okra, Swiss chard, turnip greens, collard greens, and more.
There are also additional options in the form of fortified cereals and grain products that contain important nutrients and vitamins added in artificially.
Health Concerns To Worry About
While there is no denying the fact that eggs can be quite delicious and can also be an excellent source of nutrients, it is also an incontrovertible fact that eggs are also high in fat and cholesterol.
Did you know that one egg has more cholesterol than your body needs? As a matter of fact, we do not even need any added dietary cholesterol because our bodies already produce more than the amount we require.
Too much cholesterol can cause heart disease. According to a 2010 study in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, people who consume the most eggs have a 19 percent increased risk for cardiovascular problems.
While there are certainly other food items that contain more cholesterol and are subsequently worse for you, if you are someone who is truly concerned about your cholesterol levels it is probably a good idea to cut back on eggs (or even remove them entirely from your diet).
Even if you are eating a healthy diet without any added dietary cholesterol, eggs can still cause a myriad of health issues besides heart disease. Recent studies in Atherosclerosis and the International Journal of Cancer show that egg consumption can even cause stroke, diabetes and cancer.
According to an SFGate article on healthy eating, there are also concerns connected to the high levels of calories found in eggs, which can lead to weight gain over time if eggs are consumed with a high frequency.
And with obesity on the rise all around the world (in tandem with all the assorted health issues that accompany it), it is important to cut back on weight gain whenever possible, even if that means cutting back on eggs.
The Truth About Eggs
Some facts about eggs:
1. Eggs are the leading source of cholesterol in the American diet.
2. Sixty percent of eggs’ calories are from fat.
3. One egg contains more cholesterol than a Big Mac.
4. In 2014, the American Egg Board spent $1.5 million shelling out bad advice through nutrition programs.
5. A 2013 review suggested that high-cholesterol foods have only a modest effect on blood cholesterol. Of the 12 studies it relied on, 11 were industry-funded.
6. Eggs can increase diabetes risk by 68 percent.
7. Eggs can increase heart disease risk by 19 percent.
8. Eggs can increase lethal prostate cancer risk by 81 percent.
9. Eggs can increase heart disease risk in people with diabetes by 83 percent.
10. More than 140,000 illnesses each year are caused by consuming eggs contaminated with salmonella.
11. Eggs can increase gestational diabetes risk by 165 percent.
12. Consuming just 1.5 eggs per week can increase colon cancer risk nearly five times.
Ethical Concerns You Can't Ignore
When trying to answer the question of “Do vegans eat eggs?” and subsequently understand the answer of “No, they do not,” it is important to take the time to learn of the ethical concerns that plague the egg industry, because it is often these moral issues that drive many vegans to abstain from consuming eggs.
According to The Vegan Society, veganism is defined as “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
This definition directly relates to why many vegans will not consume eggs or any products containing eggs, on account of the fact that in many cases chickens used for egg production are exploited and treated cruelly (and in some cases even killed).
There are a slew of issues associated with egg-laying hens and their treatment, but according to an article on VeganMotivation.com there are three truly serious issues that make eggs a non-vegan-friendly food item.
This process is called “chick culling”, and has been a common practice in the poultry industry for many years, for both the egg production industry and the meat production industry (different types of chickens are used for each type of industry, which is why male chicks from the egg industry cannot be transferred to the meat industry).
Different egg farms use different methods for killing these unneeded male chicks, but it is safe to say that none of them are even remotely humane.
According to the RSPCA, one such method involves gassing these infant chickens with carbon dioxide; this method of execution can leave the chicks gasping for breath and shaking for up to two whole minutes before they finally expire, making it quite obvious that it is cruel way to end their barely-started lives.
Another truly horrifying method of chick disposal is called “maceration”. This method involves sending the chicks through a high speed grinder. And if that was not horrible enough, these chicks are fully conscious as they are sent to their deaths.
While some people argue that maceration is more humane than gassing (since maceration takes only about a second if done quickly), most people agree that neither of these methods are humane at all.
According to Humane Facts, approximately two hundred and sixty million male chicks are killed every single year in the United States alone. According to FreeFromHarm.com, it is even worse globally: about six billion unwanted chicks are slaughtered every year.
It is also important to note that it is not just the male chicks that are killed; even female chicks are culled, if they are deemed too weak or not healthy enough.
A second major issues that vegans have with eggs is that once an egg-laying hen begins to become older and less productive (similar to many other mammalian species, the reproductive capabilities of chickens decreases as they age) she is killed, since she is deemed to be no longer useful and/or profitable.
And even before they become too old to be considered “useful” these hens are still treated poorly; not only do they have to suffer through awful living conditions (which we will discuss more in-depth momentarily) but many farms also employ a practice called “debeaking”, which involves grinding off part of a hen’s beak.
Chickens’ beaks are incredibly sensitive, so this practice is indisputably cruel, especially since most chickens will experience chronic pain for the rest of their lives because of it.
And finally, a major issue with the egg industry is the living conditions of the hens. In most circumstances, these chickens live in small cages or barns, all of them squashed together with little to no room for free movement.
In fact, according to PETA, “free-range” currently just means that the hens are allowed access to the outdoors; there are no laws or regulations specifying that they be allowed a certain amount of time outdoors (or even how much outdoor space they should be given).
Most of the time, they are crammed together in factory-like operations. As a result, many egg farms (even the ones claiming to be free-range) still keep their chickens in appalling living conditions.
Why Do Some Vegans Eat Eggs?
As mentioned previously, while most vegans abstain from eggs not all of them do. Often calling themselves “veggans” (a portmanteau of vegans and eggs), their reasons for still consuming eggs vary.
Some people simply like the taste of eggs, while others eat them a a means of getting enough nutrients in their diet (such as B12 and iron, two substances that are hard to come by in non-animal food products).
Whatever their reasons for still eating eggs, however, one thing that remains consistent is their standards for buying eggs.
These egg-eating vegans will only buy eggs from sources that they know for sure are treating their chickens well; in many cases, they will buy their eggs directly from a neighbor or local farmer who they know personally.
Some of these aspects include giving the chickens good living conditions and treating them well, as well as not taking all their eggs simply as a means of prompting them to lay more (which often counts as exploitation).
It is also important for many of these vegans to support the purchase of eggs laid by chickens that do not come from inhumane hatcheries or farms.
Egg Substitute Products For Vegans
Even if the answer to the question of “Do vegans eat eggs?” is “No,” there are still plenty of egg substitutes that vegans can consume instead.
The appropriate substitutes can vary depending on the type of cooking that you are doing (stove top cooking versus baking, for example), but rest assured that there are many more vegan-friendly egg alternatives out in the world than most people realize.
Some viable egg substitutes are as follows:
1. Flax Seeds:
2. Chia Seeds:
4. Instant Mashed Potatoes:
5. Egg Replacer:
Before we conclude, watch the short second video above which also explains why eating eggs is unhealthy.
As you can see, the subject of vegans eating eggs can sometimes be a complex one, with many multifaceted layers involving not just the various health concerns about cholesterol levels and getting sufficient nutrients, but also moral and ethical issues as well (particularly when it comes to the treatment of the innocent chickens who provide those eggs).
Ultimately, we hope that you have found this article helpful and informative in regards to answering the question of “Do vegans eat eggs?” and that you can take the knowledge we have shared with you today about eggs and veganism and use that information to improve your own life and the lives of those around you.
Have you giving up eggs yet? What is your favorite alternative to eggs? Let me know on the comment section below. And don’t forget to share this article in your favorite social media platform!