Should you add eggs to your vegan diet?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA vegan diet is not without inherent nutritional problems.  B12, vitamin D, choline and long chain omega-3 fats come to mind.  Then there’s zinc, calcium and iron.  You can find those minerals in plant foods, but they’re typically in a different chemical form and harder to absorb than from animal-source foods.  Being vegan 40 or 50 years ago may have been a recipe for nutritional problems.  Sure we knew about B12, and there were supplements.  But vitamin D was not even on the radar screen, because the assumption was you get it from the sun. And no one was talking at all about omega-3 fatty acids.  A healthier vegan diet is possible now thanks in no small part to food processing and the supplement industry.  B12 is added to (highly processed) vegan burgers; vitamin D and calcium are added to plant “milk”.

Then there’s the protein question.  Vegans still have to be especially careful to include high protein plant foods at all meals to insure an adequate daily intake, because so few foods are high protein.  And how much tofu or isolated soy protein can you eat every single day, realistically?

But what if your vegan diet wasn’t so strict?  In my opinion, a plant-based vegan diet could be enormously improved by one simple addition: eggs.

Why Eggs?

  • Eggs are our highest quality source of protein.  Including a couple of eggs a day, or even every other day, in your otherwise vegan diet would boost quality protein, which improves the usefulness of the plant proteins you’re eating
  • Eggs are good sources of B12, vitamin D, iron, choline and zinc, among other things.  Aside from beef liver, which vegans won’t be eating, egg yolks are our best source of choline.  Even meat eaters would benefit from eating eggs.
  • Eggs are delicious, particularly free range/organic/farm fresh eggs.
  • Eggs are versatile: whip up a quick omelet for dinner, loaded with vegetables.  Or have a soft boiled egg with breakfast, or make egg salad or use scrambled egg in a burrito or put sliced boiled eggs on a green salad. etc.
  • You’d be able to add lots of other foods that are made with eggs.  Cake and cookies come to mind, although those might not be the best examples.  One benefit: you can make home-made bean burgers with egg, instead of with chia gel.  The burgers will hold together better, and protein quality will be boosted.
  • But they come from animals.
  • Yes it’s true, chickens and other birds lay eggs.  They lay them whether or not we gather them up.  While you can certainly object to industrial egg production, with chickens in little cages, eating locally eggs from locally raised chickens is good for local business as well as for you.

What do we call this new diet?

Ah ha!  I have the perfect name: Veggan.  A person who eats a plant-based diet with eggs.  Otherwise no meat, fish or dairy.  So if you’ve been thinking about expanding your vegan food choices, adding eggs makes nutritional sense.  Plus your new diet would have a catchy name.

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