Are Eggs Vegetarian: Vegan Friend Or Foe?

Eggs: A blend of both fat and protein that increase the sense of fullness without adding much to the daily calorie bowl. What a wonderful delicacy dropped upon us by god, or a hen 😛

But since eggs do not have any animal flesh, they should be rendered safe to eat in a vegetarian diet right? That depends. Some vegetarians like to include eggs in their diet while some dietary naysayers steer clear of them. 

In short, yes you can eat eggs if you are vegetarian, but it also depends on the type of diet you are following. Let’s weigh in!

Why Are Eggs Vegetarian? 

Vegetarianism refers to the practice of avoiding animal flesh such as meat, skin and muscle. Non-vegetarian food is basically defined as any kind of food that contains animal flesh or any derivative of it. 

Even though eggs are cultivated from livestock, they do not contain any animal products within. Additionally, we do not harm any chickens in their pursuit. All these reasons sum up and help us conclude that eggs are indeed vegetarian.  

Then comes the ethical angle. Some religions such as Jainism and Hinduism are known to prohibit eggs. If one is a devotee of such a practice, then he/she might consider eggs as strictly non-vegetarian. 

Types of Vegetarianisms & Eggs 

Vegetarianism is divided into 4 broad categories outlining what is okay to eat and what’s not. Here’s what you should know: 

  • Vegan: This is a group of people who prohibit all the animal based products from their diet. This also includes other by-products such as dairy and flesh. 
  • Ovo Vegetarian: Ovo vegetarians are those who skip on all animal products and meat except eggs. These are the people who eat eggs and claim to be vegetarian. 
  • Lacto Vegetarian: Lacto refers to lactose which is a common constituent found in dairy. These people exclude all the animal-based products such as meat & fish except dairy-based food items. 
  • Lacto-Ovo: This refers to a class of people who do not eat meat but can include eggs and dairy in their diet. 

Thus, if you are a vegetarian who also happens to eat eggs, then you fall in the lacto-ovo or ovo vegetarian category. 

Fertilized vs Unfertilized Eggs: What to Pick

Fertilization is another important aspect to consider if you were to eat eggs as a vegetarian. Regardless of the fact whether mating happens or not, a hen lays eggs her whole adult life. Unfertilized eggs will never produce a chicken no matter how long a hen sits on them. 

Fertilized eggs on the flipside do produce offspring under the correct condition. Consider a scenario where the egg that you are going to eat is fertilized. This means that it might later turn into a chicken. In this case you  will have to avoid eating it. 

In case the egg isn’t fertilized, then there is no problem in consuming it as it will not become an animal in any case whatsoever. It is worth noting that most commercial eggs that you see in supermarkets and grocery stores are unfertilized. 

This is however, a matter of personal choice as a fertilised egg is identical to unfertilized one, unless it’s exposed to a rooster. 

Nutritional Aspect 

This factor might play a key role in deciding whether or not you should include eggs in your diet. Eggs, due to being formed of shell and shell membranes, are highly nutritious.

Thus, if your diet lacks a certain nutrient or you need something to increase your daily protein intake, you can include eggs in your diet. This is especially true for fitness enthusiasts. 

Note: You might sometimes (in rare cases), find a blood spot inside an egg. Do not consider this to be the blood of the chick that was going to be born. Instead, this is known as a meat spot which occurs when a hen’s artery is ruptured during egg yolk formation. 

Other Common Vegan Protein Sources

If you want to increase your protein intake but do not want to include eggs in your diet, you need not worry. Given below are some high protein substitutes that you can try: 

  • Beans and legumes, which are high in protein and fiber. They also have vitamin B and plenty of minerals.
  • Tofu, similar to cheese but harder, is loaded with protein. It tastes excellent when grilled or fried. 
  • Nuts and seeds are also a good source of protein. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you have gained some clarity on the kind of choice that you need to make, here are some relative questions that surround this topic. 

Do Vegetarians Live Longer? 

If you are a male, then being vegetarian can add about an extra 10 years to your life, while the same stat is at 6 years for women. This is a result of a study conducted by Loma Linda University in the US. Non-meat eaters are likely to have less health issues in the long run. 

Which Eggs are Cruelty Free? 

Brands such as Kirkland, Vital Farms and Safeway are known to produce cruelty free eggs. This is quite rare in case of eggs as even though the chickens are left free in farms, practices such as male chick maceration and debeaking are still quite common upto this day. 

Is Egg White Vegetarian? 

Egg white is devoid of any animal cell and is simply made of protein albumin and some water. Therefore, much like the rest of the egg, egg white can also be considered vegetarian.  

Are Brown Eggs Better Than White Eggs? 

Color is not necessarily an indicator of the quality of an egg. Brown eggs are preferred because they are fresh and sourced from local farmers. The nutritional difference between the two is negligible. 

Bottom Line 

Being a vegetarian, whether or not you eat eggs is totally up to you. Technically, eggs are vegetarian and are only rendered non-vegetarian by certain religions around the world. 

This small yet nutrient-dense item can be used in a variety of dishes and tastes quite amazing. Nonetheless, regardless of the choice you make, what matters at the end of the day is that you are taking a healthy diet. 

Thanks for reading.

Brett White
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