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Eggs & Vegetarians

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Eggs & Vegetarians

As of 2018, some 2.5 million Australians (12.1% of the total population) follow a Vegetarian diet. With that figure seemingly on the rise, it's worth addressing the common puzzle around where eggs fit into that diet category. 

Can Vegetarians Eat Eggs?

A vegetarian diet is classified as not including the consumption of any meat or seafood. And while there are many variations to this, some people following a vegetarian diet may eat eggs and dairy foods, while others may avoid one or both.

Are Eggs Considered Vegetarian?

By definition, vegetarianism is classified as excluding any form of animal flesh (the tissue, muscles or meat of an animal). The humble egg doesn’t fall into this category and is therefore included in a vegetarian eating pattern.  Eggs can be particularly useful for vegetarians as they are a good source of some of the key nutrients that can otherwise be low in this type of diet, including  omega-3s, vitamin B12 and iron.  

The different types of vegetarian diets can be broken down as follows:

Ovo-vegetarian: avoids meat, fish, and dairy but includes eggs
Lacto-ovo vegetarian: avoids meat and fish but includes eggs and dairy
Lacto-vegetarian: avoids eggs, meat, and fish but includes dairy
Vegan: avoids all animal and animal-derived products, including meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and often other items such as honey

The Benefits of Eggs For Vegetarians

As vegetarian diets consist of predominantly plant-based foods, inadequately planned vegetarian diets can sometimes result in insufficient intakes of several key nutrients such as vitamin B12, iron, calcium and zinc in particular. Furthermore, while the average energy content of vegetarian diets is similar to non-vegetarian diets, like all diets, if food choices are not planned to be balanced, energy intake can become either too high, or too low. 

Here we've outlined some details of the nutrients that can be low in vegetarian diets, and how eggs can be an ideal way to boost intakes.
 

Nutrient Intake in Vegetarian Populations


Amount in 1 serve of eggs

[DI refers to recommended daily intake]

Benefits of Eggs
Protein Can be significantly lower than omnivore diets. Possible lower intakes of the amino acids methionine and lysine.  12.7g [25% DI] Protein from eggs is high-quality, highly-digestible and contains all essential amino acids for a healthy diet.
Long-Chain Essential Fatty Acids Vegetarian and vegan diets tend to be high in omega-6, with little to no omega-3 DHA and EPA. 114mg DHA and EPA
[71-127% AI]
Eggs contain naturally occurring DHA, making them are a simple and easily accessible Omega-3 boost.
Vitamin B12 Low serum levels of vitamin B12 have been reported in adults and children following vegan and vegetarian diets. 0.3µg [15% RDI] Eggs are one of the few food sources of vitamin B12 in an ovo-vegetarian diet.
Iron Low iron levels can be common, particularly in young Australian vegetarian and semi-vegetarian women. They have also been reported in some vegetarian children. 1.7mg [14% RDI] Eggs contain both heme and non-heme iron.


The active consumption of nutrient-dense foods such as eggs and dairy (for lacto-ovo vegetarians), nuts, seeds, legumes and green leafy vegetables are important for providing adequate vitamins, minerals and essential amino fatty acids.

Are Eggs Considered Meat?

In some parts of the world, eggs are customarily considered to be a form of meat, and some vegetarians will not eat them. Often, this is tied to religious practices, such as Hinduism. So, while most Westerners accept that eggs are a suitable inclusion in a vegetarian diet, many Eastern cultures don’t; pertaining to whether or not eggs are suitable  is reliant on cultural understanding and interpretation.

Can Vegans Eat Eggs?

In recent times, we've seen a growing trend towards flexi-vegan eating. Given the distinct health benefits of eggs, one form of popular eating on the rise is vegans who actively consume eggs – termed the “veggan”.

While eggs are included in a standard vegetarian diet they are excluded from a vegan diet, along with all animal-derived foods, like honey.

Can Eggs Replace Meat?

Yes. Eggs are indeed a superfood and in many instances are an easy and sustainable meat substitute. They are high in protein – with just one serving of eggs (2 eggs) containing 12.7 grams of protein, representing 20% of the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for men, 27% of the RDI for women and 33% of the RDI for children. Eggs also contain an abundance of essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids to create a complete dietary protein. 

When meal-planning, many consumers actively interchange meat with eggs for added variety and when looking to reduce overall intake of meat. 

While you’re at it, feel free to check out some of our exciting vegetarian egg recipes. 

The Role of Eggs In A Vegetarian Diet

Eggs can play a vital role in many vegetarian diets with their combination of high-quality protein, vitamin B12, iron and omega-3s – providing key nutrients that can be low and lacking in common vegetarian eating patterns.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Eggs Considered Vegetarian?

Yes. Many vegetarians include eggs in their diet, while still refraining from eating poultry, beef, pork, fish and other animal products. These diets are classified as ovo-vegetarian (excluding dairy) and lacto-ovo vegetarian (including dairy).

What Essential Vitamins Are Found In Eggs?

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), Vitamin B12, Vitamin A

Why Is Protein Important For Vegetarians?

Plant protein can often miss one or more of the essential amino acids that are needed by the body for daily functioning.  That means it’s important for vegetarians to eat a variety of foods that provide different types of amino acids to ensure all of their needs are met.  compared to meat.

Proteins are the building blocks of the body and a necessary part of our diet. A balanced diet should include a daily intake of around 0.75grams of protein for every kilo of body weight.

What Are The Benefits of Eggs For Vegetarians?

As vegetarian diets consist of predominantly plant-based foods, inadequately planned vegetarian diets can sometimes result in insufficient intakes of several key nutrients such as vitamin B12, iron, calcium and zinc in particular. Eggs can play a vital role in many vegetarian diets with their combination of high-quality protein, vitamin B12, iron and omega-3s – providing key nutrients that can otherwise be low or lacking.

Want to see what an egg farm looks like? Take this interactive 360 degree tour to see how eggs are produced in Australia.

Free range farm with two people