A more ethical egg (and alternatives) offers something for everyone, no matter what your diet. Just saying to people who eat battery eggs (don’t eat eggs!) is likely to send most people in the opposite direction. The fact is that most people do eat eggs. So this post covers how to eat more ethical eggs if you do eat them, and also offers ideas for plant-based alternatives to eggs, whether you would like to eat less of them, or not at all. Also see how to give battery hens a new home, if suitable conditions.
What’s Wrong with Eggs?
In truth, naturally not much. If you have a few hens and they live happy lives and lay infertile eggs that would otherwise go to waste, this is probably how most people see eggs. In reality, the truth is very different for most of the egg industry. Although supermarkets do sometimes now ban battery eggs from their own supplies, all of them still products made with eggs (quiche, eggs and lots of other items) made with eggs from battery hens. These poor birds live a hell on earth, spending their lives in dark factories pecking each other to death from stress, and never seeing daylight. At the end of their laying life, they are the killed (the egg industry is different from the broiler chicken industry). Even ‘enriched cages’ leave little room to move.
One of the main reasons that vegans don’t eat eggs is that (even in the free-range industry, where chickens do get a good quality of life with room to move, run, dust and bathe and socialise), most are still killed at the end of their egg-laying life. And the main reason is that when born, male chicks are literally ‘thrown in the a grinder’ or gassed, as they are of no financial value (can’t lay eggs). It’s estimated that up to 30 million baby chicks are killed each year, the process can take up to 2 minutes
So there are three solutions: find plant-based alternatives to eggs, find companies that not just sell free-range (but guarantee the male chicks are not killed, and older hens live out their lives in peace). Or if circumstances permit, you may be interested to give battery hens a new home (this requires land, expertise and fox-proof gardens).
Plant-Based Alternatives to Eggs
Plant-based alternatives to eggs used to be vile: funny-tasting powders that were sold in plastic bags and you would whizz up and then throw in the bin. But there are now some really good alternatives, let’s look at the best.
These are not real eggs, so don’t feed these scrambles to pets, as they contain toxic ingredients like garlic, onion, salt etc.
The most natural option is to make your own eggs. There are plenty of recipes to do this, though they often taste similar, but not exactly like eggs. Tofu scramble is popular (tofu has no taste, so just absorbs the flavours of what you make it with. The two secret ingredients are a pinch of turmeric (to make scrambles and omelettes yellow) and Kala Namak (a ‘black salt’, with a smoky sulphuric taste and smell).
To replace eggs in baking is not so difficult. Back in the war, people would just leave the egg out, and make banana bread which doesn’t need egg, as mashed banana makes a good egg replacer anyway. Learn how to make a flax egg. This is made by whizzing up 1 tablespoon of freshly ground flaxseeds (linseeds) with 2.5 tablespoons of water, to make a gummy mixture that replaces eggs in baked goods. This is best for wholefood recipes. You can also find other egg replacements including chickpeas, tofu, nondairy yoghurt, applesauce and aquafaba.
- Vegan Mediterranean Skillet Quiche (Full of Plants) starts with a batter made with silken tofu and chickpea flour, filled with courgettes, red peppers, tomatoes and garlic, topped with fresh basil.
- Polenta Eggs Benedict (Crowded Kitchen) is made with an Italian corn, serve with shiitake bacon.
- Vegan Egg Fried Rice (Sweet Simple Vegan)
- Vegan Egg McMuffin (Romy London) is made with tofu, salad or spinach, black salt and served with vegan cheese, vegan ham or bacon and ketchup in an English muffin.
- Vegan Boiled Eggs (WonderVegan) are made with black salt and tofu! Also try her Vegan Fried Eggs.
Vegan Egg Replacements
- CRACKD is made with pea protein. There are 8 ‘eggs’ in one bottle to make cake, frittata, muffins, scrambled egg or Yorkshire puddings. It has the same texture as beaten egg and cooks up the same. It takes a little longer so reduce the recipe temperature by 10 degrees and cook an extra 15 minutes in the oven. You can freeze it, but defrost for 12 hours before use. It lasts for a month unopened but use (in the fridge) within 7 days once opened. The egg is sold in 50% recycled plastic (you can recycle the whole packaging) and they are looking into other forms of packaging.
- Yes You Can is made with organic chia and rice flours with algal protein. Good for cakes, bread, muffins and pancakes, but not scrambled, boiled or poached. Each pack contains ’20 eggs’.
- Vegg is sold in various mixes for scrambles, baked goods, egg yolk and French toast mix. Plus The Vegg Cookbook, to show you how to use it.
- Or replace yolks with Vegane Golden Exx Egg Alternative (also in megga egg). Made from chickpea, amaranth, and cassava. Excellent for quiche, spanish tortilla, frittata, and Japanese tamagoyaki.
Vegan Alternatives to ‘hidden eggs’
Most battery egg items sold in England are in ‘hidden products’ like mayo, quiche, egg noodles, lemon curd and other commercial products. Sandwiches are one to look out for, especially when sold in supermarkets.
- Bonsan Breakfast Scramble is made with tofu and spices. This organic company has made it easy to make a breakfast scramble, also use in this vegan egg salad sandwich.
- Inspired Vegan offers a rich creamy hollandaise sauce for potato salad and asparagus, and can also be used to make tofu-based eggs benedict.
- Badger’s Egg Mayonnaise Alternative is sold fresh (you’ll have to recycle the packaging). It’s made with pasta, chickpeas, vegan mayo, turmeric, mustard, lemon juice and vinegar.
- Janda Lemon Curd is a plant-based alternative, to a popular condiment usually made with egg yolk.
More Ethical Egg Companies
As stated above, if you buy eggs always go for free-range and try to find companies that don’t gas baby chicks, nor kill older hens at the end of their egg-laying lives. This is already becoming the norm in Germany, a country with the highest ratio of vegans on earth.
In the wild, a hen will lay around 20 hens a year. But most egg-laying hens end up being slaughtered a tenth of the way into their natural lives, exhausted from laying around 500 eggs a year. Beak-trimming often routinely goes on in the battery egg industry, as bored and traumatised hens start pecking each other. You can imagine that the amount of hens means the coops are never cleaned out much either, so most hens live their lives in uncomfortable conditions.
A recent investigation found that one of the most popular free-range egg companies had miserable, bleeding and decomposing birds on the farm, and this has led to upcoming legal action on its advertising the eggs as ‘free pasture’, which they are not, as they don’t have access to over 8 acres with access to 2.5 acres per 1000 hens in a rotation system.
Our range, which comes in free-range, intensive and organic forms, is suitable for all kinds of uses in food production and food service. We’re particularly proud of our cracking range of scrambled, boiled and liquid egg products. Noble Foods (it seems that the ‘happy egg chickens’ are as miserable as the ‘happy cows’ from McDonald’s).
Eggs are usually unfertilised but if buying from somewhere that is not audited, occasionally some people have had that nightmare of cracking open an egg and finding a fertilised egg (baby chick) inside. One boy bought a box of eggs from Waitrose, and hatched a baby duckling in an incubator (after using a torch to see a ‘beating heart’ in the box)’.
Beep, Peep and Meep are three Braddock white ducklings that a woman from Hertfordshire hatched also an incubator, and named them after hearing a ‘beeping sound’ as the ducklings began to emerge from their shells. Waitrose and the egg producer acknowledged that it is not always difficult to identify the sex of white-feathered ducks, and it’s possible sometimes for the females to occasionally be left with a male duck.
Hen Nation is the first company in England producing eggs from free-range eggs, that are allowed to live out their natural lives. Also know your labels. Grade A hen eggs must say if they are free-range, organic, barn or cage, but liquid egg (and those laid by ducks, quail or geese) don’t have to. Ignore Red Tractor and Red Lion labels, these are nothing to do with welfare, just ‘British’.
Vegan baker Sara Kidd has an excellent post on the best 8 replacements. In summary:
Aquafaba replaces egg whites to make meringue, buttercream and marshmallows. It’s also good in sponge cakes and to make royal icing.
A flax egg is made by grounding up 1 tablespoon of flaxseed with 2 1/2 tablespoons of boiling water, to make an ‘egg’ that binds cakes, pancakes, cookies and brownies. Chia seeds need more water but should not be used for children or people with swallowing difficulties, and must always be mixed with water.
Cornstarch is finely ground corn, and can thicken sauces and custards,
Silken tofu is good to thicken any baked dishes like quiche.
Banana is a good binder to any recipe, and years ago was made to use banana bread during rationing, when there were not any eggs around.
Xantham gum is a polysaccharide that is often used in gluten-free baked goods.
Vinegar and baking soda together can help cakes and muffins to rise, and you’ll often find these two ingredients in vegan baking recipes.
Psylliumh usk is a plant binder but don’t use too much, as Sara says this will make your cakes ‘gluggy!’
This 5-minute vegan flax egg (Simple Vegan Blog) is just one way that you can replace eggs in vegan baked goods and puddings. All you do is blend up flax seeds with water (pre-blended is better) then mix up with a fork in a bowl. Neutral in flavour, these ‘eggs’ are ideal in baked goods, especially wholefood recipes.
If you like this recipe, check out the blogger’s lovely e-book bundle of 30 simple vegan meals and 30 vegan smoothies. A bargain and each of the recipes has a colour photo and gluten-free options.
Deviled Eggs (Planticize) is a unique recipe from Sweden. This is not the simplest of recipes, but ideal if you’re feeling ambitious. The ‘veggs’ are made with soy cream, silken tofu and vegan sour cream, set with seaweed setting agent agar. The ‘egg’ flavour and scent comes from black salt (sulphur). Served with a tasty tofu mayonnaise and pickled red onions.
There are quite a few vegan eggs on the market, some are better than others. A popular one is Vegg, which comes in several varieties to make scrambles, French toast, or there’s also a vegan egg yolk and baking mix.
Where to Buy a Vegan Egg!
Would you like to know where to buy a vegan egg? You’ve come to the right place! On this site, there is heaps of info on how to make vegan omelettes, quiche and scrambles, without having to use anything ‘fake’. But there is a market out there to replace the billions of factory-farmed eggs, for those who want something ready-made. Nothing’s perfect (recycle any packaging with household waste or at supermarket bag recycling bins). But here are some of the best vegan egg replacements on the market, which don’t taste like chalk or leave a weird aftertaste. Keep these (or foods made with them) away from pets, as they may be good for us, but not for furry friends!
WunderEggs is the world’s first commercial vegan boiled egg! Designed to help the 50 billion chickens that are slaughtered for food each year (and the 250 male chicks killed yearly, often because they can’t lay eggs), this product follows on the heels of the founder’s WonderNuggets.
So why do vegans avoid eggs? In truth, eating non-fertilised eggs from rescued battery hens is not really the issue. The issue is that billions of chickens (a different industry to broiler meat chickens) live lives of misery, not being able to turn around. The male chicks are usually killed at birth (no profit) and the egg-laying chicks produce until they are too old, then they are killed too. So even with most free-range eggs, it still involves death. So now you know, it’s up to you. But if you fancy trying some vegan eggs, here are some good ones!
Did you know that some eggs do indeed hatch? The sexing process is so fast in factories, that sometimes they get it wrong. One woman took home some duck eggs from Waitrose. After hearing a noise during furlough, she hatched them using her experience, into ducklings: and named them Beep, Peep and Meep! Waitrose admitted that sometimes ‘rogues get through’.
The Main Players
Oggs (UK) is a main brand of egg replacement, which you can now find in most stores. Made from the leftover brine from canned chickpeas, this aquafaba (Latin for ‘bean water’) is the perfect tool to bake, whip or wihsk. It works to make cakes, cookies, brownies, muffins and dressings. One carton gives 4 ‘eggs’, and this company has already been saving chickens galore with their company.
The Vegg (worldwide) is a tasty egg substitute, that gives the same eggy taste, without the egg. There are various packs to make scrambles, French toast, an ‘egg yolk’ and a baking mix. Made with natural ingredients, this is a nutritious alternative, there is even a company cookbook, to show you how to use it in recipes.
Crack’d (UK) is the new no-egg egg! Sold in stores nationwide, this award-winning product is good make pancakes, Yorkshire puddings and cake, and also good for anyone allergic to eggs (as long as they are not allergic to the ingredients in this). One pack makes 8 ‘eggs’ that you can use to make scrambles or bake with (you may have to adjust the temperature and cooking times, instructions on site).
JUST Egg (US) is a well-known brand, that can be found in the egg aisle of supermarkets. The company was founded by a young entrpreneur who got taken to court by a mayo company who said he could not call his brand ‘mayo’ as it had no eggs!’ They lost, he got lots of free publicity to launch other products – and the mayo company has since launched its own vegan mayo – without eggs! The company has already sold equal to 100 million eggs.
Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer (US) may not be as fancy, but it’s healthy and gluten-free. Made with four simple ingredients, it’s good for pancakes, muffins, quick breads, cookies and cakes. One pack makes 34 eggs.
Smaller Eggless Startups
Eggcitables (image) is a new brand of vegan egg that is making waves. Also in garlic and chipotle flavours, this product (derived from problems with an allergy) is made with natural ingredients, mostly sold by Canadian farmers. It’s based around chickpeas, for lots of protein too.
Nabati Plant Eggz (Canada) are made from pea protein and lupin beans, so as long as you don’t have a lupin allergy, could become your new egg of choice. Available at local stores.
La Papondu Egg (France) has launched in the most surprising of countries. Already on sale in Paris restaurants, it’s based on legumes and once cracked out of the shell, looks just like a real egg, it even has a separating egg and yolk. Mon Dieu!
PlantMade (India) is the country’s first vegan egg. In powder or liquid form, it’s made from moong dal and chickpeas – good for eggs on toast, fried rice, wraps, brownies and bhurji. Also in India, Piper Leaf has recently launched the ‘eggish’ egg, also made from mung beans.
Perfeggt (Germany) is the new ‘egg without the chicken’, developed in the world’s most vegan-friendly country. Made from fava beans, this is designed to saturate the European market, when launched. It’s similar in composition to the USA’s Just Egg, but for a different market. Image: Patrycia Lukaszewicz
- Evo World (India, image) is a a revolutionary plant-based egg that’s high in vitamins and is causing a media storm. Made from lentils, this Mumbai business is already in talks with restaurants to launch wholesale, and intends to roll out worldwide soon.
- Every Egg and Every Egg White have recently been created, as the world’s first identical options. Between them, they can give a protein boost to ready-made foods or replicate egg whites in baked goods and desserts.
- Zero Egg is a new plant-based egg from Israel that promises to ‘do it all’. It scrambles, bakes, binds, spreads and fluffs, just like an ordinary egg. It also uses over 90% less land and water, creates 59% less greenhouse emissions and uses 93% less energy. It’s made from soy, potato, chickpeas and peas.
- Cultured Foods Veggs (Poland) shows that vegan eggs are taking over the world. Ready in 3 minutes, these are ideal for cooking and baking, and sold across Europe. Made from tapioca flour and potato starch, plus a few other binding ingredients. These are mostly to bind rather than to make end products.
- Onlyeg (Asia) is the continent’s first egg alternative, so you can imagine the connotations for this: in the land of vegan fried rice. 74% of eggs eaten in Singapore are imported, so this even helps to bring food more local, keeping profits within the country.
AcreMade (US) is a new brand of plant-based egg, made from upcycled peas! Whether you are vegan, trying to reduce your cholesterol or have an allergy to eggs, this may suit. Peas have one of the lowest carbon footprints of any crops, and the peas used for this plant egg are domestically sourced, to keep carbon footprint low. Free of the top 9 allergens, use this for cooking or baking. Just mix with water and scramble on a skillet, make omelettes, bites or quiches, or add to batter to make cakes, muffins, pancakes, cookies or breads (keep fresh dough away from pets). Or make vegan ‘egg’ noodles. Recycle packaging at supermarket bag bins.
Each pack includes 12 ‘eggs’ and the company sell wholesale to stores. Peas are high in protein, so a great way to get your nutrition, and be kind to chickens at the same time! The peas used are from growers who don’t use certain chemicals (they are also GM-free).