Do Vegetarians Eat Eggs? The answer is really weird!
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Simplest answer: it usually depends where you are. Most vegetarians in the US, UK, Europe and Australia will eat eggs. In India, many will not.
To find out why, read on!
Are eggs vegetarian?
Eggs have long been a topic of debate among vegetarians.
In fact, on this very site we have had HUNDREDS of comments (and bickering) between readers and so I would like to clear the argument up.
See for yourself:
While some vegetarians do include eggs in their diet, others choose to abstain from consuming them.
The decision largely depends on cultural and personal beliefs, and it often comes down to the ‘Western World’ version of vegetarianism and the Indian/Hindi version. I personally do eat eggs and I am a vegetarian.
West vs East
The exclusion of eggs in India is usually due to religious and ethical reasons. In Hinduism, for example, eggs are often considered non-vegetarian because they are seen as a form of potential life.
However, even that is pretty well debated as you can see on this Quora post on eggs.
Many of the anti-egg readers on our site call themselves ‘pure’ vegetarian (as opposed to ‘regular’ vegetarian) and this difference is what sets them apart from egg-eaters.
This type of vegetarian is also often known as ‘lacto-vegetarian’. That means they dairy products but no eggs.
The counter argument in favour of eating eggs from Americans, Brits, Europeans and Australians is that eggs bought for consumption have not been and never will be fertilized.
That means they can never become an animal, and so they will not become animal flesh (meat).
This type of vegetarian is called an ‘ovo-vegetarian’. There are many more types of vegetarian (I didn’t say it was easy) and I’ll come to those in a moment.
So is an egg really vegetarian?
I personally think it is fine to eat eggs as a vegetarian. My reasoning is that no animal will die to become my food.
However, animal welfare is also very important to me, so I will only eat eggs when I know they come from sources that meet my expectations. I do not eat eggs from caged hens or from battery farms.
Eggs are a rich source of quality protein (6-7 grams of protein per large egg), vitamins, and minerals such as vitamin B12 and iron and they health benefits can be great. They also contain all essential amino acids.
They can provide essential nutrients that might be lacking in a vegetarian diet that excludes meat, fish or dairy.
Overall eggs are a well-balanced source of both macronutrients and micronutrients for human consumption.
What about egg health concerns?
If you have (or are at a high risk of) cardiovascular disease or diabetes, the current recommendation is to limit your intake to no more than one egg per day.
Currently, there isn’t an established “recommended upper limit” for egg consumption any more, and there is insufficient data to be used as guidance beyond one egg per day—positively or negatively.
I recommend exercising caution and keeping it to 2-3 eggs per day for safety.
Why don’t vegans eat eggs?
Vegans (or those on a vegan diet) eat no animal products at all. This goes for meat, cheese, milk, fish, honey and yep, you guessed it, egg.
Those following a strict vegan lifestyle will also abstain from using animal products in general – for example leather or wool are also off-limits.
So which vegetarians really eat eggs then?
Ok, ok. Time to break it down and look at the different forms of vegetarianism.
Here we go:
Eggitarian is a slang word for a vegetarian who eats fish (so either an ovo or ovo-lacto vegetarian.
Veggan is a slang term for a vegan who has decided to eat eggs, usually for their nutritional value.
The bottom line
Look, it’s really up to you if you eat eggs or not. They are not and never will be a live animal.
However, if animal welfare is important to you (and personally I think we should all be mindful of other’s lives) then this could be a good reason to skip eggs, or at least do your homework on where you’re sourcing them from.
Eggs also have an environmental impact – though less than meat products, so that’s something to be aware of. Although plant foods generally have the least impact, it is of course up to individual to decide what works best for them.
How to eat eggs
Right, if you’re still reading and have decided to eat eggs – then here are some awesome ways to do it!
I’ve been experimenting with egg-based recipes for as long as I remember (in fact I think an omelette was the first thing I ever cooked).