Unless you are vegetarian or have someone very close to you who is vegetarian, you probably know vegetarian diets by the definition that they do not eat particular animal products. However, you do not likely know where most vegetarians draw the line.
Almost all vegetarians will avoid meat products, but where do eggs sit with vegetarians? Are they considered vegetarian?
Stick with us today while we elaborate on whether or not eggs are okay to eat on a vegetarian diet!
Are Eggs Vegetarian?
Vegetarian diets are typically defined by not eating animal flesh products, which include meat and muscle. So, many vegetarians will eat eggs even where fish, poultry, and red meat are excluded.
However, some people do not consider eggs to be vegetarian-friendly foods. Consider, if an egg was fertilized as a result of a hen and rooster mating then the egg would have the opportunity to become a chicken.
Some vegetarians, therefore, may also be oppositional to eating eggs as well.
On the other hand, if the egg was not fertilized by a rooster then the egg was never going to become a chicken. This would mean that the egg could then be considered a vegetarian product and considered a byproduct of animals, alongside butter and milk.
Most eggs which are commercially produced and sold at grocery stores are eggs that were never fertilized.
Another approach to this is that some religions encourage a vegetarian diet, Jainism and Hinduism are such examples. These religions may not view eggs as being vegetarians, and therefore they become prohibited from their vegetarian religious diets.
Considering Nutrition On A Vegetarian Diet With Eggs
Ethical and religious concerns are not the only aspects that can affect a person’s decision to eat or not eat eggs on a vegetarian diet, nutritional concerns can also play a part in this.
Eggs are very nutritious food. They contain 6 grams of quality protein, as well as minerals and vitamins, all in a single egg. Egg yolks are one of the best sources of choline which is an essential nutrient for normal bodily functioning.
Some vegetarians may decide to include eggs in their diets as an essential nutrient source, or simply to add more protein-rich food options into their diet.
However, eggs also get a bad rap for being high in cholesterol.
Although research is very mixed on this topic, there are plenty of studies that link cholesterol intake or blood cholesterol levels. Although dietary cholesterol is not significant statistically in major health concerns such as heart disease risk.
A single study showed that eating eggs did not raise cholesterol in 70% of individuals, but it did instead lead to mild increases in total and LDL cholesterol in people who respond stronger to dietary cholesterol.
So it would seem it is dependent on the individual.
Understanding Vegetarian & Vegan Diets & Eggs
Vegetarians who eat eggs are still seen as vegetarians, however, they often get a different name.
There are four overall labels for people who do not eat meat, and the labels are specific to those who consume eggs and dairy (see also: Are Eggs Dairy?)and those who do not.
- Lacto-vegetarianism: People who eat this diet will avoid meat, fish, and eggs, but they still indulge in dairy products.
- Ovo-vegetarianism: People who eat this diet will avoid meat, fish, and dairy products, but they will eat eggs.
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarianism: People on this diet will avoid meat and fish but will include eggs and dairy products (this is probably the most common of these three).
- Veganism: We must also consider veganism which avoids all animal and animal-derived products. This includes meat, fish, eggs, dairy, honey, and other items, although there are also types of vegans as well.
As you can see here, vegetarians who eat eggs are considered to be ovo-vegetarian, or lacto-ovo-vegetarians depending on their additional consumption of dairy products.
Why Do Vegetarians Eat Eggs?
Vegetarians benefit a lot from eating eggs. Due to them having a diet that lacks meat, there is a gap to be filled to ensure there is enough protein in their diet. Protein is extremely important to the growth and repair of cells in the body.
Eggs are, therefore, one of the best ways that a vegetarian can get the essential protein, in comparison to some alternatives (which vegans often turn to) such as tofu or soya.
Typically, a single medium-sized egg will contain 6 or more grams of quality protein, which makes them ideal for adding to salads and many other vegetarian dishes.
Eggs are also an ideal food for those who work out a lot or go to the gym, they are heavily packed with protein but are also very low in calories, so can make a good pre-gym snack or post-workout pick-me-up.
Not only are they high in protein, but they are also great nutritionally, they have so many other brilliant nutrients in them that help to support healthy lifestyles. They are packed with essential minerals, vitamins, and essential fats.
Vegetarians can get a lot of their essential nutrition just by including eggs in their diets.
Eggs are a specifically good source of Vitamin B2, Vitamin B12, and vitamin D.
It can be a bit trickier for vegetarians to obtain these from non-meat sources, and including eggs in their diet can actually help prevent them from being reliant on supplements for those instead.
Vegetarians can eat eggs, and in fact, a vast majority of vegetarians do. For those who are unfamiliar with plant-based lifestyles, vegetarians and vegans often get confused, and it is vegans who definitely do not eat eggs.
Vegetarians can eat eggs, and if they choose to do so it can be incredibly beneficial to their health to do so. Eating eggs has plenty of nutritional benefits for vegetarians, from protein to minerals, vitamins, and more!
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