Going ‘veggan’ is a new trend in plant-based eating.
The term describes a person who eats a vegan diet except they still have eggs.
It’s being adopted by some people who recognise how good a vegan diet can be for health, but they just like the taste of eggs.
Or, more commonly, by people who say they benefit from the extra protein content in eggs.
But is there really any need to eat eggs to get sufficient protein in your diet?
Let’s look at it.
Each egg contains 13g of protein, which is 24% of the RDA for women.
Their high cholesterol content is no longer considered a worry and they’re a good source of selenium, iodine, and vitamins D and B12. Unlike dairy and some meat, eggs are being recommended by health authorities.
Being veggan comes in a different forms depending on whether the diet is adopted on ethical or health grounds.
Vicky Hadley, who is lifestyle features writer for Healthista, says: ‘I like the veggan diet as I prefer healthier plant-based natural food. However I will eat organic free-range eggs to get an added boost of protein.’
Nutritionist Rick Hay is also veggan for health reasons, with some ethics thrown in. He told the Telegraph: ‘I like the philosophy and health benefits of veganism, but I like to add extra protein into my diet, so I choose organic, free-range eggs.’
Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, meanwhile, is an ethical veggan who admitted in 2012 that while she follows a mainly vegan diet, she eats the eggs of her neighbour’s backyard hen.
This does mean she is not a vegan, according to The Vegan Society, but she could still be considered an ethical eater as the eggs are cruelty-free.
But, if you eat eggs from the shops – even free range, organic ones – you can’t make the same claim.
Along with the heavy industrialisation of egg production necessary to keep up with demand, the brutal nature of the egg industry also means millions of male chicks are killed each year.
According to the egg industry they are a useless by-product because they do not lay eggs and do not grow quickly enough to be sold for meat.
So they are culled – gassed or minced – within a day of hatching to be used as feed for reptiles and other animals.
This is standard practice in the UK and abroad – regardless of how ethical, bio or ‘happy’ the farm is that they come from.
Veganism is defined as: ‘Abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals.’
A spokesperson for Animal Aid said the practice is ‘appalling’ and told the Independent: ‘That their few short hours of life are ended in a gas chamber or minced alive in an industrial macerator is beyond cruel.
‘Consumers should be aware that this is what they are paying for when they buy eggs, regardless of whether they are from caged or free-range hens.’
The practice of culling male chicks is as old as the industry, but the cruelty doesn’t end there.
Female chicks will have their beaks trimmed so they ‘don’t peck at each other’ and are slaughtered by 18 months of age (their life expectancy is 8+ years).
As for backyard rescue hens, Jimmy Pierce, spokesperson for The Vegan Society, says: ‘Rescuing battery hens is a wonderfully compassionate practice that The Vegan Society absolutely endorses, but we ask people to show their support with time or donations rather than buying the eggs to eat.
‘Veganism is all about avoiding the exploitation of animals. Buying eggs from any source reinforces the perception that eggs are desirable and should feature in our diets, which is not the case: eggs are not ours to take, hens can’t give their consent, and nutritionally we don’t need to eat them.
‘In fact much of the peer-reviewed evidence suggests we are much healthier without eggs. A balanced vegan diet contains all the essential nutrients we need for optimum health at any age.’
What do nutritionists say?
Hala El-Shafie is an expert nutritionist who has worked in the NHS, private and corporate sectors for 15 years.
‘If a vegan is eating eggs they’re vegetarian, or the correctly termed ovo-lacto vegetarian (or lacto-ovo vegetarian) i.e. a vegetarian who does not eat any meat or fish. A typical ovo-lacto vegetarian diet includes fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy, and eggs.
‘From a health perspective eggs are an excellent and cost effective source of high quality protein. The egg white is where the protein is found, along with vitamin B2 and lower amounts of fat and cholesterol than the yolk. Egg whites are also rich sources of selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper.
‘It’s excellent health-wise if someone wants to eat a mainly plant-based diet and incorporate eggs but bottom line is they’re vegetarian not a vegan!’
Julie Silver is an independent nutritional therapist and author of a book called Food Awakening.
‘Vegans can get adequate protein without adding eggs but hey need to be a lot more aware of what they’re eating, nutritionally.
‘You would need to especially go for algae type products like chlorella and marine phytoplankton, and have enough proper healthy proteins such as beans and lentils . A dish like beans with brown rice contains some good amino acids. Chick peas and tahini are a complete protein. Fermented soya products are good – for example, a well cooked tempeh with seaweed will provide a good source of protein. Try to avoid processed foods and keep foods as natural as possible.
‘If you’re missing the heaviness and saltiness of animal products, tempeh with tamari sauce is an ideal dish. Nutritional yeast flakes are good for providing B12. Nuts naturally contain enzyme inhibitors so you need to soak them overnight for 6-8 hours with salt. Then rinse them and dry them in a low oven you can put your hand in to. Other good sources of vegan protein are pea protein powder, hemp protein powder and pumpkin seed powder.’
My cheesy vegan scrambled ‘eggs’ recipe
This tastes like indulgent scrambled eggs with a nice cheesy flavour. Thanks to the nutritional yeast and the mashed up tofu the texture is similar to that of scrambled eggs, plus the Kala Namak salt (or Himalayan Black salt) adds a sulphuric eggy taste to the dish. Coconut oil adds even more flavour and the necessary fat factor. The tofu has 8g protein per 100g so it’s almost on par with an egg.
Make sure you buy the nutritional yeast fortified with B12 (also found in eggs) for a vitamin boost.
200g of firm tofu
Kala Namak salt (you can get this from Sous Chef UK for about 75p)
Wrap tofu in kitchen roll or a towel and press between two chopping boards. Put a weight on top and leave for 15 minutes or so until the tofu is very firm and dry.
Mash it up in a bowl with nutritional yeast to taste (which makes it cheesy), Kala Namak salt (which adds sulphuric egg taste) and pepper.
Heat up a tablespoon or two of coconut oil in a pan.
Fry off the tofu.
Goes perfectly with a vegan fry-up / on some nice seeded rye bread, but I’ve just put it with some random vegetables in the pic below.
Other variations on the theme
Normally I love having osts, fruits or banana icecream in the morning but sometimes I want something more hearty like fresh orange juice and "scrambled eggs" ... For the eggs you need: 200g of smoked tofu some cherry tomatoes half of an onion some cress pumpkin seeds spices: Pepper, turmeric, kala namak Kala namak is a himalayan black salt, that makes the tofu taste like eggs. Just mix all ingedients except of the cress in a pan and roast gently for 5-10 minutes. Put the cress on top. And your hearty egg free scrambled eggs are ready! 🌱👌🏻 #heartybreakfast #eggfreebreakfast #eggfree #orangejuice #kalanamak