Eggs are so versatile, and universally-loved, that they’re hard to replace. Lots of people are up to the challenge, however. Replacing the eggs in vegan baking is simple. My personal favorite is ground flax seeds mixed with water, but depending on the function of the eggs in a recipe, cupboard staples like bananas or a can of chickpeas (specifically, the liquid known as aquafaba) could work wonders. Even delicate items like meringues are doable for vegans and people with egg allergies.
Non-baked eggy dishes, however, are harder to replicate, as the flavor, not just the texture, needs to pass muster. Food companies keep trying to best each other when it comes to producing more advanced and realistic egg simulacra. For years, Clara Foods has been working on a chickenless egg white derived from bioengineered yeast. Another much-hyped product is Hampton Creek’s Just Scramble, which, unlike the conventional powder-based options, will come in liquid form. Its launch has been delayed by several years, and the company has been beset by food safety and ethics controversies. Follow Your Heart, the company behind the VeganEgg, is planning to launch a liquid version within the next few months, to be found in a store’s refrigerated section.
Follow Your Heart’s CEO, Bob Goldberg, explained to me some of the challenges of creating plant-based egg products. One is getting it to look and feel realistic. “We always operated from the assumption that a vegan egg should exactly replicate as many of the properties of a chicken egg as possible, such as scrambling, binding, and baking. Unlike a veggie burger, where many people are turned off by something which resembles meat too closely, we felt that VeganEgg needed to come across as very authentic so that it could easily replace eggs in most situations.” It took over a decade for the VeganEgg to come to market.
But Goldberg thinks that this market is set to grow. He says, “I suspect that we will see a steady reduction in the use of actual eggs in products, much like the replacement of milk by the many alternatives to dairy products.”
With this in mind, I tried out some of the mainstays of the vegan egg world. I tested the following products in a classic dish where the faux eggs would be front and center: humble scrambled eggs, with red pepper, red onion, and chives. The results were... well, not hugely inspiring. Of course, these are my opinions only; your mileage may vary.
The Egg-Free Omelett, followed by the VeganEgg, is the best of the bunch: easy to prepare and pleasant-tasting (though not mind-blowingly so). The Eggz Essentials might be enjoyable for a person who likes experimenting, as the e-book is loaded with techniques and next-level vegan dishes, such as Eggz Foo Yung. Not Your Parents’ Tofu Scramble, though, is not one I recommend.
Another option is the humble tofu scramble, which is endlessly customizable, gives a nice chew, and is cheap and easy. Playing around with innovative products can be fun, but at the moment, the plant-based classics are satisfying enough.
Vegans: What are your favorite ways to replace eggs? Let us know in the comments!
The Food52 Vegan Cookbook is here! With this book from Gena Hamshaw, anyone can learn how to eat more plants (and along the way, how to cook with and love cashew cheese, tofu, and nutritional yeast).Order now