It can be unclear what exactly is on your plate when faux-animal products are involved. This is mostly because we tend to call vegan substitutes for non-vegan foods by the name of what they are mimicking rather than what’s actually in them, which can be confusing.
Dairy substitutes are probably the least so, as it’s pretty easy to guess the main ingredient of products like oat milk or almond milk. Veggie burgers, sausages, and other “meats” tend to get their protein from some type of beans or other legumes, so even if we don’t know what every single ingredient is, we always have a general idea of what’s in them.
Vegan eggs, however, are another story. They have yet to become popular in the mainstream in the same way that vegan meat and dairy products have, and the flavor and texture of eggs seem to be more difficult to replicate.
As a result, there is no standard way to make vegan eggs, and the options that do exist are all different from each other. To alleviate some of the uncertainty surrounding them, we’re going to discuss a few of the most popular vegan eggs currently available and what they are made from.
Homemade Vegan Eggs
This is the old school way to enjoy vegan eggs. It’s been around for decades and was a vegan breakfast staple long before plant-based eggs were sold in grocery stores.
Many of us tried homemade vegan eggs as one of our first attempts to be vegan home chefs, but if you’re new to the lifestyle or simply haven’t gotten around to this project before, then this is for you! We’re about to share what homemade vegan eggs are made from, and we think you’ll find that preparing them isn’t as complicated as it seems.
In order to be a convincing substitute, vegan eggs require a base with the right texture and seasonings with the right flavor. Companies may have a wide selection of ingredients and advanced production methods available to them to achieve this, but we’re a bit more limited when cooking at home.
Fortunately, many vegans before us tested out recipes and discovered the ingredients that are both easy to find and effective at producing an egg-like texture and flavor.
Virtually every vegan egg recipe starts off with a base of tofu, which provides the texture. (A few recipes offer alternatives for those with food sensitivities, but the consensus is that tofu is best as long as you’re able to eat it.) You may need to use firm tofu, silken tofu, or a mixture of both, depending on the type of prepared egg the recipe is trying to replicate.
The other critical component is black salt, which supplies the sulfurous scent and flavor. It’s also called Kala Namak, and it’s not usually black in color despite the colloquial name, so keep these things in mind when looking for it in stores or online.
And that’s it! Of course other ingredients will be in the recipe as well, to tailor it to the type of dish and to personal preference, but those are the two that allow homemade vegan eggs to really feel and taste like eggs.
They are both fairly easy to find, and most available recipes are quick and simple, so you can have vegan eggs at home whenever you want them.
The most common type of recipe is for vegan scrambled eggs or “tofu scrambles”. Typically, these involve frying the tofu in a pan with vegan butter and a combination of seasonings including black pepper. Nutritional yeast and turmeric are also commonly added.
Jen makes an amazing Tofu Scramble by the way. I would highly suggest going over and checking out her recipe for that!
Vegan fried eggs can be made in a few different ways, but they all involve using tofu and black salt, along with ingredients like cornstarch to modify the texture and different seasonings to distinguish between the two parts of the “egg”.
The “white” and “yolk” are prepared separately, and the yolk is added to the top or a hole cut from the middle of the white, to mimic the appearance of a real fried egg.
These are a bit more complicated to make, but it is possible to make vegan boiled eggs if that’s something you really miss. They have the same ingredients as the other recipes, with thickening agents of some sort added to get the right texture. You’ll also need an egg-shaped mold to set the mixture in.
This is probably the vegan egg that had the most hype surrounding its release (and, to some extent, the hype continues). The original JUST Egg became available in health food stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts two years ago, and it’s still the top search result on Google for “vegan eggs”.
The original product is a bottle of liquid “egg” that can be poured into a pan and scrambled or cooked as an omelet. It can also be used as an egg substitute for baking and cooking.
A pre-cooked patty, the JUST Egg Folded, was released a bit later. It comes frozen and can be heated in the microwave, toaster, or oven. JUST Egg Sous Vide hit the shelves in March, in four different flavors inspired by the cuisine of four different cultures.
All three JUST Egg products are based around two key ingredients: mung bean, for texture, and turmeric, for color. The protein content is similar to chicken eggs, but as a plant-based product, JUST Egg contains no cholesterol.
Other ingredients considered key by JUST Egg are the potatoes, bell peppers, and dill in Sous Vide America; the curry, broccoli, and coconut milk in Sous Vide India; the mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and furikake in Sous Vide Japan; and the poblano, chili powder, and black beans in Sous Vide Mexico.
Currently, JUST Egg uses production facilities where real egg products are manufactured, although they intend to move to their own dedicated facilities eventually, as they continue to expand.
They are very open about this fact and offer a chart that shows which products are made in the same facility as or on the same equipment as different allergens.
For our purposes, the most important things to note are that JUST Egg Folded and JUST Egg Sous Vide Japan share equipment with egg and dairy products, while the original JUST Egg shares equipment with fish. The company has strict cleaning requirements for this equipment to limit the chances of cross-contamination, but even this is not a guarantee.
The other three Sous Vide flavors do not share equipment with animal products, so the risk of contamination is lower.
Follow Your Heart VeganEgg
As the first widely available plant-based egg, Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg marked an important moment in vegan history, but they haven’t done much to keep up with the competition since then.
The VeganEgg is a powder that comes disguised in a small egg carton. It’s meant to be mixed with water and either scrambled or used as a baking substitute. Currently, the VeganEgg recipe uses soymilk powder for protein, black salt for taste, and beta carotene for color.
The other ingredients include modified cellulose, gellan gum, cellulose, calcium lactate, carrageenan, nutritional yeast, and natural flavors. Since Follow Your Heart has been committed to making plant-based foods “to contribute to the betterment of the Earth and all its inhabitants” for half a century, we trust their natural flavors to be plant-based as well.
The ingredient disparity among different vegan egg options can make it difficult to know what to expect, but it also leaves us with more options to choose from. We can buy or make vegan egg dishes with whatever plant protein we prefer the texture and taste of, and anyone with allergies to one is likely to be able to use another.
It’s still a growing industry, as well, so if you can’t quite find the perfect vegan egg for your tastes, don’t worry! We can expect more options to become available in the coming years as demand for vegan foods continues to grow.