Can vegetarians eat eggs?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can vegetarians eat eggs?” and will discuss what types of vegetarians can eat eggs and what types cannot

Can vegetarians eat eggs?

Yes, vegetarians can eat eggs. Veganism, on the other hand, is defined as the consumption of no animal products (the tissue, muscles, or meat of an animal). As a result, the simple egg may be consumed by vegetarians without a problem.

As an excellent source of nutrients that vegetarians may lack due to their diet, eggs may be very beneficial to them. These nutrients include small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and iron, all of which are deficient in the vegetarian diet (1).

Even though they don’t consume animal meat or fish, many vegetarians still eat eggs. Lacto-ovo vegetarians consume both eggs and dairy products, whereas ovo-vegetarians do not. Some vegetarians, however, choose not to consume eggs due to ethical, religious, or health reasons (2).

Global hen egg production increased by 24.4% over the past decade, bringing  production to close to 76.8 million tons in 2018, which is expected to increase further in the future, as the demand for animal protein increases. About 35% of the amount of eggs produced globally originates from China. In addition, a significant amount of eggs is produced in the U.S. (6.5 million tons) and India (5.2 million tons). The top three countries account for nearly 53% of world egg production (3).

Vegetarians consume eggs for a variety of reasons  

Eating eggs has several advantages for vegetarians. Because they don’t consume meat, they must make up for the lack of protein in their diet by consuming other sources of the amino acids necessary for cell development and repair.

Studies reported that the fruit, diary, and egg diets, but not vegetable or meat diets, were associated with decreased blood pressure in women. The histidine in egg proteins has been reported to reduce blood pressure, probably by its angiotensin-I converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitory activity. Blockade of ACE enzyme decreases the formation of angiotensin II (a potent vasoconstrictor) and metabolism of bradykinin (a vasodilator), leading to systemic vasodilation and decreased blood pressure. In addition, histidine is converted to histamine, which causes vasodilatation by its binding to histamine H1 receptors on the endothelial cells, activating nitric oxide synthase, and increasing nitric oxide production (4).

 When compared to other vegetarian protein sources like soy and tofu, eggs are the greatest option for vegetarians. There are just over 6 grams of good quality protein in a medium-sized egg, making it an excellent addition to salads and vegetarian dishes alike. Eggs are a wonderful post-workout meal because of their high protein content and low-calorie count.

Eating eggs may help you maintain a balanced diet and lifestyle by providing additional nutrients in addition to protein. Vegetarians may obtain a lot of nourishment from eggs since they include many necessary vitamins, minerals, and lipids. Vitamin B2 and B12, as well as Vitamin D, are particularly hard to come by for vegetarians without consuming meat (1).

Are eggs vegetarians?

Vegetarians eschew all animal products, including meat and dairy. As a result, even vegetarians who abstain from eating meat, poultry, or fish sometimes consume eggs. Even yet, there are many who argue that eggs aren’t a vegetarian-friendly ingredient. Vegetarians who reject eating animals may steer clear of eggs that were fertilized by the mating of a hen and a rooster.

On the other hand, if an egg was never fertilized and was never going to become an animal, it would be deemed vegetarian and regarded as an animal byproduct alongside milk and butter.

The vast majority of grocery store eggs are unfertilized. Eggs may not be entirely vegetarian in certain faiths, such as Hinduism and Jainism, which emphasize vegetarianism.

Nutritional considerations of vegetarians

A vegetarian’s choice to consume eggs may be influenced by more than just ethical or religious issues. With almost 6 grams of high-quality protein and other vitamins and minerals packed into a single big egg, eggs are an extraordinarily nutrient-dense meal. Indeed, egg yolks are a good source of choline, which is necessary for good health and optimal physical function.

When it comes to vegetarians, some prefer to use eggs as a source of critical nutrients or just to add more variety to their diet’s protein-rich items. Eating eggs might be considered harmful because of the high cholesterol they contain.

Even though the evidence is conflicting, several studies have connected higher blood cholesterol levels to dietary cholesterol consumption. Some research has shown no link between cholesterol intake and an increase in the risk of heart disease, however.

In 1968, the egg industry had to face American Heart Association recommendations that encouraged people to consume less than three whole eggs per week claiming that high dietary cholesterol equals high blood cholesterol and consequently higher cardiovascular disease risks. Half a century of research has now demonstrated that egg intake is not associated with increased health risk and that it is worth incorporating such a product in our diet with regard to its high nutrient content and its numerous bioactivities. Some recent research has highlighted the beneficial role of eggs for humans, including physically active people, and several authors have demonstrated that egg cholesterol was not well absorbed. Consequently, consuming eggs does not significantly impact blood cholesterol concentration (1).

Studies show that eating eggs doesn’t elevate cholesterol levels in the majority of people, but for those who are more sensitive to dietary cholesterol, it does lead to slight increases in total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Eggs may be avoided by some vegetarians because of conflicting data throughout the years, while others may use them as a healthy element of their diet.

Classes of vegetarianism 

People who are vegetarians but still consume eggs are still referred to as vegetarians. It’s important to know which labels are appropriate for vegetarians depending on whether or not they eat eggs or dairy products (2).

·         A Lacto-vegetarian is one that consumes dairy products rather than meat or eggs.

·         Ovo-vegetarians consume eggs and dairy products instead of meat, fish, and poultry.

·         Vegetarians who are Lacto-ovo vegetarians forgo meat and fish in favor of dairy and eggs.

·         Veganism is to abstain from all animal products and those produced from animals. This includes all types of meats, fish, eggs, and dairy products.

Vegetarians who eat eggs are referred to as ovo-vegetarians or Lacto-ovo vegetarians, depending on whether they consume dairy products.

Other FAQs about Eggs that you may be interested in.

How to Boil Eggs So They Peel Easily?

Can I feed my dog scrambled eggs?

Can you boil eggs for too long?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can vegetarians eat eggs?” and discussed what types of vegetarians can eat eggs and what types cannot.

References

  1. Réhault-Godbert, Sophie, Nicolas Guyot, and Yves Nys. The golden egg: nutritional value, bioactivities, and emerging benefits for human health. Nutrients, 2019, 11, 684.
  2.  Hargreaves, Shila Minari, et al. Vegetarian diet: an overview through the perspective of quality of life domains. Int j environ res public health, 2021, 18, 4067.
  3. Molnár, Szilvia, and László Szőllősi. Sustainability and quality aspects of different table egg production systems: a literature review. Sustainab, 2020, 12, 7884.  
  4. Ho, C. P., J. H. Yu, and T. J. F. Lee. Ovo-vegetarian diet is associated with lower systemic blood pressure in Taiwanese women. Public Health, 2017, 153, 70-77.