Are Egg Whites Vegetarian?

This article answers the question, “Are Egg Whites Vegetarian?” with details about different types of vegetarianism, why some vegetarians avoid eggs and others do not as well as substitute food for egg white.

Are Egg Whites Vegetarian?

Yes, egg whites are vegetarian. It contains no creature cell henceforth, egg whites are vegan. And all items containing egg whites are also vegetarian. 

Recent polls indicate that approximately 8% of Canadians and 3% of US Americans identify as vegetarian. Additional polls estimate rates of 3% in the UK, 1–2% in New Zealand, and 3% in Australia, with markedly higher rates of 6% in Ireland, 9% in Germany, 8.5% in Israel, and 40% in India (1).

Eggs contain three sections, the shell, the egg whites, white, and the yolk. The egg white is a suspension of the protein called albumin, in water. 

The egg white is a gel-like structure that lacks lipids and is composed mainly of water (about 88%), fibrous structural proteins (ovomucin), glycoproteins (ovalbumin, protease inhibitors), antibacterial proteins (lysozyme) and peptides. The average volume of egg white is estimated to be 30 mL and protein concentration is about 110 mg/mL of egg white (2).

Vegetarian Not Vegan

Although egg whites are vegetarian but not vegan. That means vegetarians can enjoy egg whites and the foods in which egg white is used but vegans cannot eat egg whites or such products. That is because vegans are supposed to avoid all products produced by animals or animal exploitations.

Vegans believe that in the farms the reproductive system of hens is manipulated for productive gains. Hens are raised under poor circumstances while they lay eggs. When hens start laying fewer eggs they are slaughtered and sold as chicken.

Vegans believe that it is morally wrong to raise animals to produce meat, dairy products, most eggs (a possible exception we discuss is eggs from pet chickens) and most other animal food products. Turning animals into food, and using them for their byproducts, causes serious harm to animals that are morally unjustified (3).

Vegetarianism And Its Types

A vegan diet is characterized as a routine wherein individuals avoid eating meat, fish, and poultry. Some of them might keep away from meat and fish in any structure incorporating dishes made with chicken stock.

According to a study, there are six categories of vegetarians: Type I vegetarians, those who consider themselves vegetarian, yet occasionally eat red meat or poultry, typically resulting from the temporary unavailability of vegetarian food options, or from the desire to avoid embarrassment in social settings where meat is being served. Type II vegetarians avoid consuming meat and poultry, Type III vegetarians also avoid fish, Type IV also exclude eggs, and Type V exclude dairy products produced with rennet (enzymes extracted from the stomach of young calves). At the opposite end of the spectrum are Type VI vegetarians, or vegans, who consume only vegetable-derived foods, avoiding all animal-derived food products (1).

Cheddar made with flesh rennet, food sources made with fish sauce and confections, or desserts made with gelatin. For other individuals, items like milk and eggs fall inside a vegan diet.

However, there is still much debate about how to be a vegetarian properly, especially for beginners. And one of the common concerns is whether eating eggs is vegetarian or not.

Types Of Vegetarianism

So it’s important to understand different types of vegetarians (1).

Flexitarian or semi-vegetarian

Most of their diet is vegetarian but they do consume meat occasionally. They consume eggs without restrictions.

Pescatarian

These people abstain from all animal meat but fish eggs are okay with some Pescatarian. While they are completely omitted by others.

Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian

This is considered the most common form of vegetarianism in which people avoid animal flesh but allow consumption of dairy and eggs.

Vegan

Vegans don’t consume any animal-derived products including dairy and eggs.

Why Do Some Vegetarians Avoid Egg?

To help explain why anyone who fits into these categories may or may not eat eggs. It’s important to take a step back and explore some of the reasons why people choose a vegetarian diet in the first place.

For each concern, there are reasons that many vegetarians still find eggs as an acceptable food. Although some may say that eggs are vegetarian they are not vegan.

Indians consider eggs as meat and some vegetarians will remove them from their diets. Religious practice affects this concern too. However, the consumption of eggs and poultry has increased in India in the last few years. Between 1985 and 2005 poultry meat and egg production grew by about 12 and 5 percent per year, compared to an annual growth rate of 1.5 to 2.0 percent for beef, milk and mutton and lamb. At present, with an average annual consumption of 1.5 kg of poultry meat and 1.8 kg of eggs (35-40 eggs) per person, exclusive of milk though, poultry meat and eggs contribute almost 50 percent to the per capita consumption of animal protein (4).

Vegan Hindus and the people who have come to vegetarianism from a Hindu foundation consider eggs to be meat. They do not eat them while most Westerners believe that eggs are vegetarian.

Many Easterners do not agree with the view that eggs come from chickens and how they can be vegetarian.

Why Are Eggs Considered Vegetarian?

The principal clarification is that hens and other female fowl can lay eggs that are fertilized and unfertilized eggs. A few vegans have moral issues with eating eggs since they accept that this annihilates the existence of a developing creature.

In reality, egg-laying hens are kept separate from roosters of all times; this almost eliminates the possibility that the roosters will impregnate the hens.

As such practically all commercially sold eggs are unfertilized and thus are vegetarian. Then again going vegetarian is to try not to devour butchered animals. Chickens don’t have to die to lay eggs. So eating them is okay for vegetarians. Likewise, some vegetarians find veganism overly restrictive and difficult, viewing vegetarianism as a more practical way to reduce animal suffering (1).

What About Health Concerns?

If you are taking up a vegetarian diet to reduce your fat consumption or lower your cholesterol, eating too many eggs isn’t a good idea. According to the American Heart Association, adults should eat one egg (or two egg whites) per day, as part of a healthy diet.no more than four eggs per week.

A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that eating at least 12 eggs a week for three months did not increase cardiovascular risk factors for people with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes. That result went hand-in-hand with a healthy diet designed to help study participants lose weight (5).

While the Australian Heart Foundation recommends they can consume up to six eggs per week. But if you want to reduce your fat or cholesterol intake you should cut down on eggs in your daily meals.

Vegans ought to acquire protein from plant sources including vegetables, soy items, grains, nuts, and seeds. Eggs and dairy items likewise be a protein source for those who are on a Lacto-Ovo vegan diet.

Eggs are of particular interest from a nutritional point of view, gathering essential lipids, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, while offering a moderate calorie source (about 140 kcal/100 g), great culinary potential, and low economic cost. Indeed, eggs have been identified to represent the lowest-cost animal source for proteins, vitamin A, iron, vitamin B12, riboflavin, choline, and the second lowest-cost source for zinc and calcium (2).

Egg Substitute For Vegans

Vegan eggs can be formulated by one plant-based ingredient or a combination of ingredients to recreate the functionality of eggs Pulses are ingredients rich in proteins, starches, and fibers, as well several health beneficial ingredients. Proteins deriving from pea, lentil, lupine, and chickpea can confer in their native and modified forms interesting functionalities, such as gelling, emulsification, and foaming for formulating vegan eggs (6).

There are commercial egg substitutes, vegan milk replacements, and dairy substitutes available in many convenience stores. They even offer vegan Easter egg substitutes as well. Aquafaba, the best egg white substitute.

As aquafaba is the only right substitute for vegan. In fact, by opting for aquafaba you’ll be helping to reduce food waste. Aquafaba is obtained from cooked chickpea, and has good foaming, emulsifying, thickening, and gelling properties. Studies show that aquafaba can be successfully used in vegan mayonnaise and cakes substituting eggs (6).

Other FAQs about Eggs that you may be interested in.

What can you substitute for eggs?

Can you get sick from eating raw eggs?

What can I use instead of eggs?

Conclusion

In this short article, we have answered the question, “Are egg whites vegetarian?”  with details about different types of vegetarianism, why some vegetarians avoid eggs and others do not as well as substitute food for egg white.

References

  1. Ruby, Matthew B. Vegetarianism. A blossoming field of study. Appetite, 2012, 58, 141-150. 
  2. Réhault-Godbert S, Guyot N, Nys Y. The Golden Egg: Nutritional Value, Bioactivities, and Emerging Benefits for Human Health. Nutrients. 2019  11, 684.  
  3. Hooley, Dan, and Nathan Nobis. A moral argument for veganism. Philosophy comes to dinner. Routledge, 2015. 92-108.
  4. Pica-Ciamarra, U., and J. Otte. Poultry, food security and poverty in India: looking beyond the farm-gate. World’s Poult Sci J, 2010, 66, 309-320.
  5. Fuller, Nicholas R., et al. Effect of a high-egg diet on cardiometabolic risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes: the Diabetes and Egg (DIABEGG) Study—randomized weight-loss and follow-up phase]. Am J Clin Nutr, 2018, 107, 921-931.
  6. Boukid, Fatma, and Mohammed Gagaoua. Vegan egg: a future-proof food ingredient?. Foods, 2022, 11, 161.