If you’re into doing your bit for the planet, you’ll know that reduction of animal protein is where it’s at. One way to lighten the load is to eat fewer eggs.
Don’t get me wrong, an egg is an absolutely beautiful thing. When sourced from an organic, free-range farm, an egg can be a nutrient-rich wholefood with silky, satisfying flavours. But our foodie culture has become rather – dare I say – egg-stravagant with our prolific use of eggs in everything.
But first, why egg alternatives?
The demand for inexpensive eggs – and therefore the growing need for poultry farming – has caused one of the many agricultural industries to leave its negative footprint on the planet.
While chicken is ranked the lowest meat impacter, it’s not without risk. According to a paper by Biological Diversity, “half of the emissions that come from chicken production are generated before slaughter”. Eggs are by no means innocent.
Just a few of the impacts of poultry farming:
- High susceptibility of disease outbreak (not just from chicken-to-human transmission but also due to the high volume of flies and mozzies attracted by the manure).
- The intensification of chicken feed production (soy and cereal) also requires cropland expansion and, therefore, deforestation.
- Pesticides used to control parasites and said diseases lead to groundwater pollution.
- Chicken manure might not release methane (one of the culprits in beef farming) but does release nitrous oxide. This GHG, more potent than methane, has more than 200 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over a 100-year stretch.
It’s easy to understand that if we ate fewer eggs, the chickens would be fewer and could integrate more organically into biodynamic agricultural practices.
Onwards to solutions!
Reduction – not elimination – is the name of the game
Like I said, I love a good egg every now and then. On a hike up the mountain, there is nothing quite like a hard-boiled egg with some salt. But there are ways to mitigate how voraciously we consume eggs for breakfast, lunch and supper, from baking to Béarnaise.
If we can align with egg alternatives for some culinary dishes, we can consume these golden gifts from our feathered friends in moderation.
To help you out on your path to eggy reduction, here’s a sampling of my favourite egg alternatives, backed up in popularity by peers in the Oceaneers plant-based community, and how to cook with them for egg-stra flavour (oh yes, I did!).
Cut out the egg in your scrambles
Egg alternative no. 1: Tofu
If you’ve had this once before and it was badly made, I can totally understand why you’d balk at ever trying it again. But let’s be honest, we’ve all cracked a vrot egg into a pan before and even after that nauseating experience, I’m willing to bet you went back to egg scrambles eventually.
Right so, for those keen on good scrambled tofu, try these tips:
- Make it yourself! Grocery store offerings are lean, dry and rubbery.
- Get the soft tofu, also known as silken tofu (better from an Asian grocer), versus the harder tofu.
- Drain it! Rest it on a paper towel for 10 minutes before frying.
- Add fried garlic, crispy onions, paprika, turmeric, cumin, salt and pepper (just like you would to make regular eggs taste epic).
- Other popular flavour winners are vegetarian oyster sauce and liquid smoke.
Preclude the egg in your flapjacks
Egg alternative no. 2: Banana or applesauce and Maizena
When making your next stack of flapjacks, give this eggless version a go:
- Add 1 Tbsp of unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana to your batter in lieu of the egg.
- Add in a ¼ tsp of cornstarch (Maizena).
- Whip it well and begin your frying and flipping.
Reduce the egg in your baking
Egg alternative no. 3: Chia or flax seeds
In baking, the egg proteins act as a binder. Both chia and flax seeds are rich in plant-based omega 3 and will give a similar effect by creating a gelatinous binder when combined with water. They may make your baking a bit denser and nuttier however, so to get the best of both worlds, do this:
- In recipes that call for 2 or more eggs, start by trying 1 egg and the rest as chia or flax seed substitutes.
- Grind your chia and flax seeds into a fine meal for a smoother substitute.
- Soak the seeds.
- Add 1 Tbsp of chia or flax seeds to 2-2.5 Tbsp of water.
This works well in banana breads, cakes, muffins, waffles and biscuits.
For complete egg omission in baking, try this wildcard egg alternative
Many egg alternatives, like arrowroot powder, can leave your baked muffins and breads very dense when used in isolation in the egg-reduction strategy mentioned above.
Soda water is said to improve the aeration of the batter without adding any flavour.
Egg alternative no. 4: Carbonated water
Replace ¼ cup of carbonated water for every large egg. Comment if you’ve tried this eggy hack!
Popular store-bought egg alternatives
- JUST Egg plant-based eggs – they offer a folded omelette-style product that can be toasted.
- Orgran No Egg substitute can be useful for baking.
- Oh My Cluck! eggs – our community says the dish at Vegan Streetfood hits the eggy craving.
Like I said, eggs aren’t the enemy. It’s the volume at which we’re consuming them that is causing the problem.
Climate change is no yolk! So, let’s eat less of them and eat more experimentally, and we’ll all eat and live better for it in the long run.
- The awesome tribe of plant-based humans that form the Oceaneers community
ALSO READ: How to eat less meat and what is climate-friendly diet?
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