June 2

Do Vegans Eat Eggs? The ‘Veggan’ Diet Explained

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Those who adopt a vegan diet avoid eating any foods of animal origin.

Since eggs come from poultry, they seem like an obvious choice to eliminate.

However, there’s a trend among some vegans to incorporate certain types of eggs into their diet. It’s known as a “veggan” diet.

This article takes a look at the reasons behind this diet trend, and why some vegans eat eggs.

People choose to follow a vegan diet for various reasons. Often, the decision involves a combination of ethics, health, and environmental motivators (1).

Health benefits

Eating more plants and either cutting back on or eliminating animal-based foods can have health benefits, including a lower risk of chronic diseases, especially heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and cancer (2, 3).

In fact, a study in 15,000 vegans found that vegans had healthier weights, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, compared with omnivores. In addition, they had a 15% lower risk of cancer (3).

Advantages for the environment

Some opt for a vegan diet because they believe it’s more environmentally friendly.

However, an Italian study that compared the environmental impact of omnivores, egg- and dairy-eating vegetarians, and vegans, found the vegetarian diet had the most favorable effect on the environment, followed by the vegan diet (4).

Researchers suggested this was because vegan diets often include more processed plant-based meat and dairy substitutes. Also, vegans generally eat a greater quantity of food to meet their calorie needs (4).

Animal welfare concerns

Besides health and environmental motivations, strict vegans are also strongly in favor of animal welfare. They reject the use of animals for food or any other use, including clothing.

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Vegans argue that modern farming practices are harmful and cruel to animals, including hens.

For example, in commercial egg-producing poultry farms, it’s not uncommon for hens to live in small, indoor cages, have their beaks clipped, and undergo induced molting to regulate and increase their egg production (5, 6, 7).

summary

People who choose to eat a vegan diet are often motivated by a combination of health, environmental, and animal welfare beliefs. In general, vegans don’t eat eggs because they’re at odds with commercial poultry farming practices

Technically, a vegan diet that includes eggs isn’t truly vegan. Instead, it’s called ovo-vegetarian.

Still, some vegans are open to including eggs in their diet. After all, egg-laying is a natural process for hens and doesn’t harm them in any way.

When researchers interviewed 329 people who followed a vegan diet, 90% of them listed concern for animal welfare as their top motivator. However, one-third of them agreed that they would be open to some forms of animal foods if animal welfare standards were improved (1).

Those who follow a “veggan” diet are willing to include eggs from hens or poultry that they know are raised ethically, such as free-range hens or those kept as pets in a backyard farm.

One challenge of sticking to a vegan diet long term is that it’s quite strict. A study on 600 meat-eaters showed that taste, familiarity, convenience, and cost are common barriers to cutting out animal foods (8).

A flexible vegan diet that includes eggs solves many of these issues for people who want to adopt a vegan diet for health and animal welfare reasons but are worried about restrictions.

summary

“Veggan” is a term for flexible vegans who include eggs from ethically raised hens. Adding eggs helps some who are worried that a strict vegan diet might lack variety, familiarity, and convenience.

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With the exception of vitamin B12, which comes mainly from animal foods like meat or eggs, a vegan diet can cover most people’s nutritional needs (9).

However, it takes some planning to get enough of certain nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and iron (9).

Vegans who include eggs in their diet may have an easier time closing the gap on all of these nutrients. One large, whole egg provides small amounts of all of these nutrients, along with some high quality protein (10).

What’s more, a “veggan” diet can be helpful for certain vegan populations who are at a higher risk of nutritional deficiencies, such as children and pregnant or breastfeeding women (11, 12).

summary

A vegan diet may have some nutritional gaps if it’s not carefully planned. Children and pregnant or breastfeeding women who eat a vegan diet that includes eggs may have an easier time meeting their vitamin and mineral needs.

Strict vegans eliminate all animal foods, including eggs, for various reasons, but one of the major motivators is a concern for animal welfare.

However, there is a trend among some vegans to include eggs in their diet if they’re certain they come from hens that have been raised in an ethical manner.

Adding eggs to a vegan diet can provide extra nutrients, which can be helpful for everyone, most notably children and pregnant women.



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