The plant-based movement is in full swing, and mimicry is key for the vegan food industry's growth. From almond milk-based Ben and Jerry’s to lab-grown meat, vegan food's resemblance to its non-plant-based counterparts have become more complex and intricate. Among them, are the many shapes and sizes of the egg substitution. A question remains though: what exactly is a vegan egg made of?
There’s most likely a bean in your vegan egg, somewhere.
Most vegan egg ingredients begin with protein derived from some sort of bean isolate. A protein isolate is the result of a protein that undergoes wet processing. This is when the insoluble portions of the bean, such as the fiber, is removed, so it can be converted into a dried powder for shelf storage, per ScienceDirect.
JUST Egg is one of the most popular egg substitutes, even receiving praise from popular recipe and culture magazine, Bon Appetit. The most popular JUST Egg product is their liquid egg bottle, with the first ingredients being water and mungbean protein isolate. The “egg” also includes things like canola oil, less than two percent of dehydrated onion, and natural color extractives.
Awarded five-star reviews on Amazon, JUST Egg customers generally seem to enjoy the product. Reviewer Henchmen4Hire, who gave four stars, stated: “Yes, this does have a vegetable taste, but it's not a weird aftertaste. It's mild, I like it. I'd replace all eggs with JUST Egg if I could afford it.”
The Follow Your Heart VeganEgg is also a popular alternative, and comes in the form of powder. The first ingredient listed is organic soybean powder, followed by modified cellulose — an additive that — according to the FDA, is generally considered safe. Simply Eggless, the vegan egg liquid mix sold by Simply Brand Foods, uses lupin bean protein concentrate, water, oil, and several additives.
Vegan eggs can also can be made from potatoes.
According to Runner’s World, egg replacers, specific to baking and in the form of powder, tend to be starchier and often sourced from potatoes or tapioca flour. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Egg Replacer is made from just potato starch, tapioca flour, baking soda, and psyllium husk. When mixed with water, it mimics the binding properties of eggs in baking.
Are vegan eggs healthy?
Aside from the resemblance and taste factor, vegan eggs are quite healthy and provide a concentrated and safe protein option for those with egg allergies. They come close to a regular egg’s six grams of protein, with JUST Egg containing five grams, per Healthline.
According to an article from Spain's Institute of Agriculture and Food Research and Technology (IRTA), vegan eggs also contain zero cholesterol. Although egg cholesterol has been proven fine in moderation, per The Mayo Clinic, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Dietary Guidelines for Americans still recommends consuming as little cholesterol as possible.
However, vegan eggs are ultra-processed. In order to properly mimic a real egg, they contain several color and flavor additives. This can be seen as a major drawback to the vegan egg, with processed foods being associated with heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure, per Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Like most foods, the vegan egg comes with benefits but also flaws. However, for the egg-lover out there, the alternatives seem to be fulfilling the craving.