For vegans, the egg replacer is notoriously duplicitous. Kitchens are cramped with all sorts of powders, seeds, and magic potions because there’s no one egg substitute that does it all. That is, until now. I got my hands on Follow Your Heart’s new multipurpose VeganEgg, and now I know what all the clucking is about.
Eggs, of course, are kitchen mainstays. They bind. They emulsify. They bake, fry, poach, meringue, scramble. They Easter. Vegans do have alternatives: tofu works as a scramble and quiche base; but for, say, cookies or cakes, you might need to go with flax seeds, or chia seeds. Maybe some aquafaba or even a mashed banana.
Follow Your Heart, best known for its popular vegan mayonnaise Vegenaise (pronounced “Veh-juhn-aize”), has mastered a vegan multitasker egg product made with algal protein.
According to Follow Your Heart, it’s an ingredient derived from ocean algae native to the Netherlands. While that’s a rather vague description, the company explains that the algal protein and flour are high in healthy lipids, carbohydrates, and micronutrients. “These nutrient-dense microalgae also contain all essential amino acids and are a great source of dietary fiber,” the VeganEgg packaging claims. The product also contains carrageenan, a controversial ingredient that the Cornucopia Institute has come down on for being allowed in organic products (VeganEgg is not organic, but it is non-GMO). Carrageenan, which is used as an emulsifying agent, has loosely been linked to an increased risk of cancer as well as acute gastrointestinal issues. There's been such a backlash against the ingredient that numerous brands have begun removing it from their products.
Compared to a chicken egg, the VeganEgg clocks in at about half the calories, and only 1.5 grams of fat compared to about 5 grams in a chicken egg. A chicken egg contains about 6 grams of protein, the VeganEgg only provides one gram of protein. But unlike chicken eggs that don’t provide any fiber, you get four grams of fiber per VeganEgg servings. (If you haven't heard me ramble on about fiber before, give this a read. It might just be the most important macronutrient in our diet--not just because it makes pooping easier (it so does) but because it actually feeds our microbiome. And an unhealthy gut is a precursor to many ailments.)
Not only do chicken eggs force billions of egg-laying hens into horrific living conditions, Follow Your Heart says they’re putting a huge eggprint into the climate, too: Just one dozen eggs creates the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions as driving 6.6 miles, the company explains on its website. That amounts to 48 billion miles worth of greenhouse gas emissions per year. And one egg uses up more than 50 gallons of water—over 4.5 trillion gallons per year.
“That’s enough to provide drinking water to every person in the U.S. for 77 years,” says Follow Your Heart.
But the company doesn’t say what the total shellprint of the VeganEgg is, nor does it further explain where exactly the algae comes from aside from "The Netherlands", how it’s harvested, or how it’s processed--only that 100 VeganEggs can be made with the same water (52 gallons) as one chicken egg. Which is pretty impressive.
And a cruelty-free multitasker egg is every vegan’s dream come true.
Follow Your Heart sent me a few boxes of the VeganEgg to try out. I was excited. The product comes in a confusing but still cute cardboard egg carton. It opens to a bag of eggshelly colored powder. Each box makes about 12 servings.
As a child, I hated a lot of foods. Aside from my obsession with bologna sandwiches, I mostly hated animal products (thus the vegan diet for more than two decades). On the top of that list: Eggs.
There simply wasn’t any preparation of eggs I could stand, except hidden in a cake or cookie. And, eventually, I was able to taste them even when they were tucked deep into flour, sugar, and vanilla. I never even touched a quiche recipe until I could make it with tofu. So, I was nervous about whipping up these vegan eggs.
They scramble just like eggs—the color is identical and the texture is 100 percent eggy. As expected, I couldn’t stomach them precisely because they tasted too much like the real thing. I pawned them off on my baby daddy because he’s a longtime egg lover. He scarfed them down, saying the taste was “more flavorful than real eggs.” I assumed that was a compliment.
Next up: baking.
So, while I won’t be scrambling or quiching these VeganEggs up for myself again anytime soon, I will be using them to bake with. (And my baby daddy says he will be doing quite a bit of scrambling.)
They whip up easily into most any dessert recipe—and if you’re short on ideas, TheVeganEgg.com has a whole bunch of tasty recipes to try. We gave the lemon curd recipe a whirl as citrus is always a huge hit over here. We weren’t disappointed.
Just like chia seeds or flax seeds work in any baking recipe that call for eggs, you can use the VeganEgg instead. There’s no soaking or grinding like often necessary with flax and chia seeds. Just mix with cold water and use.
I checked out the reviews on Amazon, and the VeganEgg gets an overwhelming number of 5 star reviews. Rightfully so, people are freaking out--even those who aren’t vegan (eggs are also one of the most common food allergens).
The VeganEgg is revolutionary—it’s a one-size-fits-all egg replacer that the vegan community has been waiting decades for. No wonder it’s flying off of shelves. And even though the U.S. egg industry is rapidly moving toward making “cage-free” eggs the new industry norm, we’re also a culture rapidly becoming aware of just why that’s not going to solve the problem of keeping billions of animals suffering for our breakfasts.
The vegan diet is no longer fringe—it’s incredibly popular because it improves health, is better for the planet, and tastes amazing. And it’s literally life-changing for livestock animals. So, which one came first: the vegan or the VeganEgg? I’m guessing Follow Your Heart and billions of egg-laying chickens don’t think it matters, as long as you break out of your shell and make the switch.
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Scrambled eggs image via Shutterstock