When I went vegan at 19, I thought I would never be able to live without cheese. And in fairness, that was—and continues to be—a very daunting part of the diet. Full disclosure: This is coming from an Italian woman who was raised on creamy pasta sauces, stuffed shells, and baked ziti.
But what was far more challenging, and took a whole lot more getting used to, was figuring out replacements for eggs. I’d already seen all the animal rights videos and knew I didn’t want to support large-scale egg production. But I also didn’t want to feel like my diet was totally restrictive. So after months and months of ordering dry, whole-wheat toast at brunch outings with friends, foregoing cookies and other baked treats, and missing the mayo I loved on my sandwiches, I started looking into creative ways to be vegan without feeling starved of one of the most universal ingredients in the world.
Non-vegan foods are actually easy to replace. This is in no short order due to the insane accessibility of faux meats, plant-based milks, and the technological advances of companies like Hampton Creek and Memphis Meats. But when it comes to eggs, there are simple ingredients that can do all the heavy lifting without relating back to factory farms.
Even if you haven’t gone strictly vegan, any of these easy replacements might help you scale back on your store-bought egg consumption. And that’s good for your health, the health of the planet, and the health of battery hens everywhere.
Egg-free baked goods
Depending on what you’re making, different egg replacers can be used as binders, sources of moisture, and may also make add a boost of flavor to your baked goods. Use any of the following to replace one egg:
- 1 tablespoon of ground flax meal
- 3 to 4 tablespoons of the liquid from canned beans
- 1/4 cup mashed bananas
- 1/4 cup tablespoons applesauce
- 1/4 cup silken tofu
- 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
- Egg replacer, as directed on the package. I’m a big fan of Ener-G, but you can also make your own with potato starch, tapioca starch, baking powder and baking soda.
Egg-free breakfast dishes
Once I discovered the art of the tofu scramble, my breakfasts were saved. All it takes is a brick of extra-firm tofu. Dress it with your favorite veggies and spices for a dish that is just as filling as eggs. These days you can also just buy products like the Vegan Egg to make your own egg-free scrambles, omelets, and quiches that are strikingly close to the real thing.
This one’s been making waves on the Internet recently, but the liquid from canned beans (called aquafaba) mimics meringue exactly. Just use three tablespoons of aquafaba to replace one egg.
I’ve been a religious Just Mayo buyer since it hit the market and ate Veganaise before that—but you can make your own very easily for next-to-nothing with sunflower oil, apple cider vinegar, and sea salt.
Just as extra-firm tofu saves the day for breakfast scrambles, it works double duty for a delicious, egg-free egg salad. Combine the tofu with vegan mayo, apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and scallions for a delicious lunch.