Can vegetarians eat eggs? Some vegetarians include eggs in their diet, and some don't, depending on the type of vegetarian diet they adopt. Learn more about the many ins and outs of vegetarianism below.
Everyone who adopts a vegetarian diet has to decide what animal products they choose to or not to eat.
While no one following a proper vegetarian diet eats the flesh of animals, like meat or fish, there are some grey areas around animal-based products, like dairy, eggs, honey, and more. That's why there are further classifications under the broad umbrella of vegetarianism.
We're here to explain more about the role of eggs in a vegetarian diet.
Are eggs part of a vegetarian diet?
4 Types of Vegetarians
There are four basic vegetarian diet types with slightly different guidelines about what is and isn't acceptable to eat.
- Vegan: Excludes all animal products, by-products, and animal flesh.
- Lacto Vegetarian: Excludes all meat and animal products except dairy-based food.
- Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: Excludes all meat and animal products except dairy and eggs.
- Ovo Vegetarian: Excludes all meat and animal products except eggs.
Can you eat eggs if you are vegetarian?
The short answer is yes. Eating eggs isn't un-vegetarian, but it's not for everyone. While vegans and lacto vegetarians choose not to consume eggs, a vegetarian who eats eggs can follow a ovo or lacto-ovo diet.
Why are eggs vegetarian?
Many consider eggs vegetarian because we don't harm chickens to obtain them, but these beliefs differ depending on ethics and culture.
Hinduism, an Eastern religious practice, considers eggs to be meat, so vegetarian followers do not consume any eggs, whereas most westerners believe the opposite is true; eggs are animal products, not meat.
Factory farming makes the thought process a little more complicated. Now, eating eggs becomes a matter of ethics - if chickens are harmed or killed at factory egg farms, should a vegetarian eat them? The answer isn't exactly clear cut for everyone.
What are vegetarian eggs?
The other consideration about egg consumption is fertilization, or an egg's ability to become a chicken.
Fertilized Egg vs. Unfertilized Egg
A hen will lay eggs her entire adult life, whether mating occurs (fertilization) or not. Unfertilized eggs will never become a chicken, no matter how long a hen sits on them.
Fertilized eggs, on the other hand, can hatch chicks under the right circumstances.
Whether a rooster fertilizes an egg or not, it will not develop into a chick if a hen does not sit on it.
Can you eat fertilized eggs?
Again, this decision comes down to a matter of personal preference. An undeveloped fertilized egg is almost identical to an unfertilized one and is still suitable to eat.
Eating fertilized eggs is something most vegetarians won't need to worry about considering. Most commercial chicken farms don't expose hens to roosters, so there is zero chance that the egg becomes fertilized.
Vegetarian Protein Sources
No matter the vegetarian or vegan diet you choose to follow, there are plenty of protein sources available to keep your diet healthy. Here are a few of our favorite animal-free proteins that you can include in any vegan or vegetarian diet.
Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are exceptionally high in protein and fiber and are suitable for almost any vegetarian dish. This inexpensive vegan protein is one of the best foods to include in a vegetarian diet of any kind, as they also contain a ton of vitamins and minerals, especially B vitamins.
Use them to make a pot of hearty chili, refried bean tacos, and homemade bean burgers that will knock your socks off.
Tofu is made from soybean curds but has a very different texture than other beans, keeping a vegetarian diet from getting too monotonous. The texture of tofu makes it excellent for cooking - bake, fry, or grill this light-tasting protein source, and it will take on the flavor of the marinade and sauce with which you serve it. Traditional Asian recipes often include tofu; pad thai, bibimbap, and ramen are some of our favorite tofu dinners to make.
The carbs in tofu are significantly lower than those in beans and legumes, so feel free to eat up often if you're eating a low-carb diet.
Nuts and Seeds
Both seeds and nuts of all kinds are high in protein and in healthy fats that help keep our brains and bodies functioning optimally. Nuts and seeds make a tasty homemade trail mix and can be blended into many vegan recipes to produce a "cream" sauce that doesn't contain any cream at all.
Final Notes: Do Vegetarians Eat Eggs?
Is egg vegetarian? Eggs are unquestionably nutritious, and many vegetarians include them as a regular part of their diet.
It's up to you to determine if eggs are the right choice for you. Consider your values to decide whether it feels right for you to include eggs in your vegetarian diet.
Either way, there are plenty of protein options in a vegetarian diet.