Many people who care about animals go vegetarian because they believe it is wrong to harm animals for food when we have no biological need to consume their flesh, and can easily thrive on a plant-based diet. But people often continue to eat eggs and dairy products in the mistaken belief that these foods do not inflict violence or suffering on animals. In fact, egg and dairy production entail arguably even more suffering than meat production, and animals used for eggs and dairy are also slaughtered after a brief, miserable life. Additionally, more than six billion (6,000,000,000) male chicks born into the egg industry are brutally killed at birth every single year simply because they cannot lay eggs. To learn more about the hidden harms inherent in the consumption of eggs from even so-called humane egg farms, and from backyard hens, please see our features: Eggs: What Are you Really Eating? and Backyard Chickens: Expanding Our Understanding of Harm.
Tofu v. Chickpea Flour
Thankfully, it’s easy to eliminate eggs from your diet, and there are delicious plant-based versions for every egg dish and egg function in cooking and baking. Many of these eggless egg dishes rely on (organic, non-GMO) tofu, of which we’re big fans at Free from Harm (see our popular page debunking soy misinformation), but for those with soy allergies, chickpea flour is another excellent replicator of egg texture and flavor. Also known as garbanzo flour, gram flour and besan, chickpea flour is made from dried, ground chickpeas, and is a staple of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladesh cuisines. Because it is made from dried rather than soaked or cooked chickpeas, the flour tastes nothing like the flavor we traditionally associate with chickpeas; when cooked, it becomes rather eggy in taste and texture. It is not difficult to find vegan scramble, quiche, omelet, etc. recipes that use chickpea flour instead of tofu. We’ve included some of these as well in our roundup below!
June 2020 Update: The new Folded Vegan Egg Patty from JUST foods is also soy-free, made from mung beans, and IS AMAZING. In the few weeks since I discovered these mouthwatering patties, I can’t seem to stop eating vegan egg sandwiches. The same thing happened to my Mom and Dad, who are much newer to vegan diets and very picky. They can’t stop eating them. Thankfully, these patties are healthy, cholesterol-free, low carb, and high in protein, so our obsession is probably okay. My favorite way to eat them is toasted on a bagel with a little Vegenaise and a Tofurky deli slice. If I’m being indulgent, I’ll add a slice of Violife cheese. Can’t recommend these enough.
Vegan Fried Eggs, or Sunny Side Ups
I didn’t struggle to give up eggs the way I did with cheese when I went vegan, but the one egg dish I really used to love in my pre-vegan days was fried eggs, sunny side up, over toast. I’ve only tried one recipe for vegan sunny side ups and the result was so incredible, and so indistinguishable from the real thing, that I truly would not have known the difference in a blind taste test. The recipe I use is super simple and is included in the revolutionary Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook by The Gentle Chef, Skye Michael Conroy. (Update: Chef Skye has posted this recipe for free on his blog!)
The uncannily eggy flavor in this recipe (and in many others in this feature) is achieved via kala namak salt, a highly sulfurous rock salt that tastes and smells just like eggs. The vegan egg white is accomplished with silken tofu, which, weirdly, fries up just like egg whites — crispy brown edges and all — and, sprinkled with a dash of kala namak and black pepper, you could truly believe you were eating pan-fried eggs. Top with the ingenious No-Yolks sauce, which looks and tastes exactly like egg yolks, and you’ll be scraping up the leftovers with a spoon.
If you’re not ready to commit to a cookbook purchase (though this one will change your life!), this free recipe for Vegan Sunny Side Ups from Mouthwatering Vegan Recipes has received near-unanimous rave reviews; the photo speaks for itself. This recipe also uses silken tofu, so here’s a tip about that. In supermarkets, silken tofu is sometimes sold and shelved separately from water-packed tofu, which requires refrigeration. Silken tofu, also called soft, silk or Japanese-style tofu, has a softer and more slippery texture than regular tofu. Silken tofu and regular (or “bean curd”) tofu are not interchangeable in recipes. The silken kind really mimics the texture and mouth-feel of egg whites.
Soy-free vegan fried eggs: Sorry, I couldn’t find a soy-free recipe since few things mimic cooked egg whites as well as tofu does. But! I did find a chickpea flour-based Vegan Eggs Benedict recipe that looks positively scrumptious. Head on over to Keepin’ It Kind for amazing photos and instructions.
Eggless Scrambled Eggs
Looks just like scrambled eggs, doesn’t it. And guess what? It tastes just like them too. Vegan scramble is one of the easiest vegan eggs dishes on the planet. There are heaps of tofu scramble recipes online, so have a look and take your pick. (But for a truly eggy flavor, my tip, as always, is to substitute kala namak salt for regular salt in any recipe that only calls for plain salt. More about kala namak in the section after this one.)
Another great tip comes from The Gentle Chef, perfecter of all things vegan-egg-and-dairy related. Chef Skye writes:
“I’m always looking for ways to improve the texture of certain plant-based foods and basic tofu scramble has been one of them. When scrambled eggs are made with real eggs, as the mixture begins to cook and set, the spatula scrapes the cooked egg into thin curds to create the scrambled texture. So rather than crumble the tofu (which always resembles crumbled tofu rather than scrambled eggs), simply slice the tofu into thin sheets before “scrambling”. Simply glide a sharp knife through the tofu to scrape ultra-thin layers. This takes a couple more minutes than just crumbling, but the texture is remarkable.
The other secret to a velvety scramble is to avoid pressing all the water out of the tofu. Use soft to firm water-packed block tofu and not silken tofu for this technique. You’ll want to press the excess liquid, but some liquid is essential for a moist scramble. When cooking, push and turn the slices to coat with the seasoning mixture – avoid mashing. Perfect results every time. The full recipe, including my new eggless “yolk” seasoning, is available in my Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook.”
You can also try this wonderful tofu scramble recipe from The Vegan Dad for free.
Soy-free vegan scramble:
This soy-free, chickpea flour vegan scramble is hardy, nutritious, eggy and easy. Get the recipe at Connoisseurus Veg. Also check out this besan scramble recipe (besan, again, is just another word for chickpea flour) from Bonzai Aphrodite.
The Secret Ingredient: Kala Namak
The miracle ingredient in many of these vegan eggs recipes is kala namak salt, also called Himalayan Black Salt — which is misleading as the salt is actually pink, and not to be confused with Himalayan Pink Salt! It’s a sulfurous salt that smells and tastes just like eggs and is wonderful in tofu scrambles, quiches, omelets, and many other eggless egg dishes. You can find kala namak for one or two bucks at your local Indian Foods Market, and it’s also available at many natural or specialty food stores, and online.
Chef Chloe Coscarelli, creator of this thoroughly substantial yet fluffy frittata, writes: “Gather the last of your summer produce and herbs, and toss it all into a delicious frittata. This egg-free frittata makes a healthy breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and can be made using any veggies you have on hand.” The result is a hearty meal with flavor galore. Get the recipe here.
Soy-free vegan frittata:
Eggless Egg Salad
You can google “eggless egg salad” to find several variations of this delightful veganized classic. I’m sharing my own tried and true version here. Also check out the delectable version (pictured left) over at thekitchn.com. (As with all vegan egg dish recipes, I recommend subbing kala namak salt for regular salt to get that truly eggy flavor.)
Eggless egg salad is so delicious spread on toast or for a quick cold sandwich with lettuce and tomato. And you can make it in five minutes!
1 block extra firm tofu
half cup Vegenaise vegan mayonnaise
1 tsp kala namak salt
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/8 or 1/4 tsp curry powder, your preference
1 Tbsp mustard
1/2 tsp cayenne
ground black pepper
Use extra firm tofu and either press/drain tofu for 3 to 4 hours or overnight to remove water; or, in a pinch, as long as it’s extra firm tofu, you can just squeeze it with some paper towels a few times. With my awesome Tofu Xpress (thanks, Dad!), tofu is drained and ready in an hour or two. Before the Xpress, I usually pressed a block of tofu overnight, in a colander in the sink, with a gallon of water or a jar of quarters on top of a plate, on top of the tofu.
With clean hands, thoroughly squish and crumble the tofu into a bowl so it resembles the consistency of scrambled eggs. Add the Vegenaise and spices and stir with a spoon until all ingredients are equally dispersed. If you like chives, add 1/4 cup chopped chives. Et voila!
This delicious vegan omelet recipe from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen takes just minutes to prepare and goes with the filling of your choice. It’s also packed with protein. There are tons of great vegan omelet recipes online, so don’t be shy about searching. This one uses silken tofu, but if you’re looking for soy-free, or just want to try another delicious, protein-packed omelet, check out the next two recipes made from chickpea flour.
Soy-free vegan omelets:
Whoa. But wait, there’s more!
Double whoa. Seriously! The folks over at Goodness Green write, “This contains over 25 grams of protein, yep, that is more than your average pork chop or even a 4 egg omelette. Plants are so cool. This is a complete meal and an ideal lunch, especially when served with wholegrain wraps and a salad.” I’d say the proof is in the pudla. (Sorry, can’t resist an esoteric pun. Fortunately that means more amazing recipes for you.)
Poached Vegan Eggs
I have to admit, even in my pre-vegan days I never had a poached egg, and I’ve never had the vegan version either. But this photo looks super delicious, and the accompanying recipe for eggless poached eggs from The Airy Way gets rave reviews, and is super quick and easy. Wanna try it? Go here.
Vegan Egg Patty Breakfast Sandwich
The Vegg is a 100% plant-based egg company that uses all natural, vegan ingredients to create products that simulate the taste, texture and function of eggs for use in your favorite egg-based dishes, all for about the same cost as real eggs. Their two main products are the vegan egg yolk mix, and the vegan baking mix. Here the vegan egg yolk mix has been used to create fluffy, scrumptious egg patties for a savory breakfast sandwich that packs all the flavor of your favorite fast food version, but without the cholesterol and cruelty to animals. Recipe here.
This savory, fluffy, Vegan Mushroom, Onion and Swiss Cheese Quiche is filled with a blend of silken tofu custard, shredded Alpine Swiss cheese from The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook, and sautéed mushrooms and onions. Check out those air bubbles! Perfection.
Also recommended is this gorgeous vegan quiche recipe (free) from The Wicked Good Vegan.
Soy-free vegan quiche: For those with soy allergy, check out this mouthwatering vegan quiche recipe from The Gourmet Vegan, made with “chickpea tofu.”
Vegan French Toast
If you’re anything like me, French Toast is one of those flavors you don’t forget no matter how long it’s been since you tasted it. Warm syrup and powdered sugar sweeten a spongy, eggy bread that’s almost custard-like in spots. As unlikely as it may sound to the uninitiated, the trick to getting that eggy French toast flavor and consistency is chickpea flour, which, when cooked, tastes nothing like chickpeas and makes this vegan French Toast recipe divine.
Vegan Crème Brûlée
The best thing about this crème brûlée is that it’s both vegan and absolutely delectable. The second best thing is you can easily make it at home, even without a brulée torch. Discover the magical alchemy whereby chickpea flour, cooked, transforms a sweet crème base into an exquisitely eggy custard just waiting to spill through delicate layers of crackled, sugary glaze. Prepare for your tastebuds to be amazed. Get The Sweet Life recipe here.
Egg Substitutes for Baking
It’s simple to replicate eggs in vegan baking; you just need to familiarize yourself with the different plant-based options for each egg functionality in cooking. In addition to the guide above, check out Happy Herbivore’s excellent Egg Substitute Cheat Sheet and also visit the comprehensive site, veganbaking.net.
Now that you know how to veganize your favorite egg dishes, please learn a bit more about why by perusing some of our pages on egg production:
Eggs: What Are You Really Eating?
12 Egg Facts the Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know
Backyard Chickens: Expanding Our Understanding of Harm
Debeaking Video Shows Standard Practice on Free Range Egg Farms
If you are thinking of going vegan and you enjoyed this guide to eggless eating, please also check out our Guide to Going Dairy-Free, for tips on delicious plant-based milks, creams, cheeses and more.