Chicken eggs are the perfect food…for the chick embryo developing inside them. Not so much for humans. There are many reasons to eliminate eggs from your diet. Here are a few:
- You don’t want to have a heart attack or stroke. Eggs are the highest cholesterol food known to man. An August 2012 headline from The Atlantic summed it up: Eggs Are Nearly as Bad for Your Arteries as Cigarettes. In a country where almost half of Americans ages 40 to 75 and nearly all men over 60 need cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, why wouldn’t we instead eliminate these little cholesterol bombs from our diets? Eggs are also high choline, and within 24 hours, gut bacteria can turn choline into a toxic substance called trimethylamine, which then gets oxidized in your liver to trimethylamine-n-oxide (TMAO), which then circulates throughout your bloodstream. TMAO may increase the buildup of cholesterol in the inflammatory cells in the atherosclerotic plaques in your arteries, increasing your risk of cardiac surgery, heart attack, stroke, and death.
- You don’t want cancer. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reports that eggs have been linked to increased risk of colon cancer, rectal cancer, and bladder cancer. “Eggs have zero dietary fiber, are devoid of cancer-fighting antioxidants, and about 60 percent of the calories in eggs are from fat—a big portion of which is saturated fat. They are also loaded with cholesterol—about 213 milligrams for an average-sized egg.” Several studies link egg consumption with ovarian cancer, including the Nurse’s Health Study, and studies published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, the American Journal of Epidemiology, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention. Eggs are high choline, and choline consumption is associated with developing prostate cancer, spreading it, and a significantly increased risk of dying from it. Men who consume one egg every three days (or more) have an 81% increased risk of lethal prostate cancer. Harvard researchers speculate that the TMAO from high dietary choline intake may increase inflammation and this may promote progression of prostate cancer to lethal disease.
- You don’t want to develop diabetes. Eggs increase the risk for not only heart disease and cancer, but also for diabetes (the leading cause of lower-limb amputations, kidney failure, and new cases of blindness), according to a meta-analysis published in Atherosclerosis. People who consumed the most eggs had a 68% increased risk for developing diabetes, compared with those who ate the fewest eggs. For those who already had diabetes, the risk for developing heart disease from eating the most eggs jumped by 83%. Even just a single egg a week may increase the risk of diabetes.
- You don’t want to make your family sick. Because conditions on egg farms are crowded, eggs are plagued with salmonella and other bacteria that lead to recalls and public health threats. Because of this, many egg farms rely heavily on antibiotics, contributing to the development of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
- You care about the health and working conditions of farm laborers. Egg farms stack hens on top of each other over manure pits so farmers don’t have to clean cages. The air in the barns is toxic for the animals and humans who enter. In 2009, four Department of Agriculture workers were incapacitated from entering the ammonia-filled barns of a Maine egg producer and had to treated by doctors for burned lungs. If such short exposure causes such distress, can you imagine working in one of these facilities, let alone being forced to spend your entire life there, as the hens are? After then-Labor Secretary Robert Reich toured an egg factory in 1996 he described “some of the most heinous workplace violations I’d seen. His workers had been forced to live in trailers infested with rats and handle manure and dead chickens with their bare hands. It was an agricultural sweatshop.”
- You don’t want to support cruelty. Shortly after birth, the male and female chicks are separated by workers on a conveyor belt. The males are either tossed into trash bags to suffocate or ground up alive in a machine called a macerator. Video at Hy-Line hatchery in Spencer, Iowa shows healthy male chicks peeping as they are fed live into rotating blades. About 200 million male chicks are killed by the egg industry every year. The female chicks have the ends of their beaks cut off with a hot blade so that they don’t hurt each other out of frustration during their intense confinement. It takes approximately 34 hours for a hen to produce an egg. To keep up with demand, 346 million hens are used by the egg industry every year. Five to 11 hens are crammed into tiny wire “battery” cages. On average, each hen’s living space is about the size of an iPad. The cages are often stacked on top of one another, which allows urine and feces to fall down onto birds in the lower cages. Large piles of feces below the cages are common on some egg farms. Because of the terrible living conditions, chickens often die in their cages. They are sometimes left to rot in the same space with living birds. After about two years, those who have survived are killed. At the slaughterhouse, some laying hens meet the same bloody end as that of chickens raised for their meat. They are shackled and hung upside down, they are electrocuted, their throats are cut, and they are often scalded to death. (Source, with pictures and video.) Other producers consider laying hens too cheap to spend money sending to a slaughterhouse. Undercover video documented “hens suffocating in garbage cans, twirled by their necks , kicked into manure pits to drown.” In 2003, 30,000 unwanted hens were fed live into a wood chipper at Ward Egg Ranch in San Diego County, California. Many hens die in fires, like one in Michigan in 2003 that killed 250,000 hens.
All right then. Now that you have decided to do the right thing and never purchase another egg, what do you scramble for breakfast? How do you bake? Here are some ideas:
Just about any recipe that calls for eggs can be made vegan, but there’s no single solution that fits all needs. Eggs perform different functions in different recipes. As a general rule, the fewer eggs a recipe calls for, the easier they will be to substitute. Also consider how the substitute will affect the overall taste of the finished dish. Bananas, for example, may add a welcome hint of fruity sweetness to pancakes and cookies, but if you are making a casserole or another savory dish, you will want to use something else.
Cake: In a cake, eggs serve as a leavening agent, helping to make the cake light and fluffy. Replace them with commercial egg replacer. Ener-G is a versatile and easy-to-use commercial egg replacer available in most health food stores and larger, well-stocked grocery stores. It contains Potato Starch, Tapioca Flour, Leavening (Calcium Lactate, Calcium Carbonate, Cream of Tartar), Cellulose Gum, and Modified Cellulose. Bob’s Red Mill Vegetarian Egg Replacer contains whole soy flour, wheat gluten, corn syrup solids, and algin (from algae). In a pinch, or with a good recipe, vinegar mixed with water or even plain run-of-the-mill soda can work as a decent egg replacer.
Cookies, muffins, pancakes, and quick breads: In baked goods such as cookies and muffins, the eggs add moisture and act as a binder, gluing all the other ingredients together. You can use the commercial egg replacers described above, or try flax eggs: 1 Tablespoon flax seeds plus 3 Tablespoons water replaces one egg. Finely grind 1 tablespoon whole flaxseeds in a blender or coffee grinder, or use 2 1/2 tablespoons pre-ground flaxseeds. Transfer to a bowl and beat in 3 tablespoons of water using a whisk or fork. It will become very gooey and gelatinous, much like an egg white. Chia seeds also work, and you need only about a teaspoon per tablespoon of water. You can also mash up or blend about a half a banana or 1/4 cup applesauce to use as an egg replacer in baked goods such as muffins, pancakes, or quick breads. Bananas and applesauce add the perfect amount of thick moisture, like eggs, but they won’t help your dishes rise or turn out light and fluffy, so be sure the recipe you are using includes a bit of baking powder or baking soda to help it rise if needed.
Brownies and bar cookies: Silken tofu is an appropriate egg substitute in brownies. To use, blend 1/4 cup silken tofu with liquid ingredients until tofu is smooth and creamy. While it won’t alter the flavor of a recipe, using tofu as an egg substitute will make baked goods a bit on the heavy and thick side. You can also try 1/4 cup of soy, rice, almond, or coconut yogurt.
Quiche, fritatta, scramble, egg-less salad, and mayonaise: In recipes where eggs are central to the finished product, you’ll probably need tofu to mimic the consistency of the eggs, while making other adjustments to the recipe as well to add flavor and body. The texture of silken tofu or crumbled regular tofu is similar to boiled or cooked eggs. You can add mustard, turmeric, and nutritional yeast to your dish to give it a yellow hue. Because other recipe adjustments are probably needed to make an egg-free fritatta, for example, its best to follow a recipe rather than just replacing the eggs with tofu.
Savory entrees: Commercial egg substitutes are relatively flavorless can be used to bind ingredients together in a vegan casserole or loaf. You can also try using 2-3 tablespoons of bread crumbs or oats.
This blog uses the latest nutritional data available from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), and the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration), as well as nutritional data provided by food growers and manufacturers about their products. We believe the information on this website to be accurate. However, we are not responsible for typographical or other errors. Nutrition information for recipes is calculated by Living Cookbook based on the ingredients in each recipe based on statistical averages. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, and other factors.
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