Life Without Eggs


Hens’ eggs are an original convenience food for human consumers, and they seem to be an almost irreplaceable ingredient, as the white or yolk or both, in cooking and in manufactured commodities. However, there are alternatives and replacers.

Much of the egg white (albumen) used in manufactured commodities – it seems almost as widely used as gelatin – derives from “seconds”, many of which eggs are imported, more in the spirit of free trade than free range.

However, recent events have dealt the egg industry severe blows. Consumption of shell eggs in the UK has been falling over the last decade and only beginning to respond to efforts by the trade at rescue. Changes to other convenience foods have introduced new competition, and the industry’s plight is illustrated by the need of prime TV time for Delia Smith to instruct the nation on the boiling of the egg.



Customers seeking replacements have aversions of various types. Vegans and earnest vegetarians can’t brook the conditions inflicted on the avian egg-laying machines and are not duped by the (very) free-ranging assurances that persist on labels purporting to represent farm-fresh, freedom, and organic produce on sale in the shops and markets. Other customers have an intolerance to eggs and their derivatives that denotes what might be nearer to a rejection defined as a gut feeling. Purchasers will have new names to choose from – free roaming and freeganic premium and superpremium, for example (the latter not claiming to be organic), from suppliers introducing a new vegetarian sandwich filling in an easy-to-handle introduction for serving at coffee bars.

Hospitals cater for patients who require egg-free diets. Rite Diet egg-white replacer is a cellulose (carbohydrate) derivative (E465), “suitable for gluten-free, wheat-free, lactose-free, egg-free, and soya-free diets”. It doesn’t come cost-free, but can be ordered through any pharmacy from SHS International Limited, 100 Wavertree Boulevard, Liverpool, L7 9PT (Phone 0151.228.8161; Fax 0151.228.2650).

SHS sell (also by mail order) their LoProfin egg replacer and provide a selection of recipes for “people who omit eggs from their diet”. This product contains maize starch as one ingredient. To date this is derived from non-GM maize (corn). (Maize starch is used as a source of alternatives for gelatin, e.g. in capsules for dietary supplements.) The SHS Advice Line is (0151) 228 8161. Most of their products are suitable for vegans.

These replacers are not nutritionally equivalent to ingredients derived from hens’ eggs, but in many uses this difference could be neglected.

Isle of Wight Vegetarians and Vegans publish in their Meals Without Squeals booklets and in other sources further guidance on applications of egg replacers, even to the creation of meringues. Check out their website for more recipes...

Some health food stores sell egg replacers with suggestions for recipes. For many purposes, e.g. making cakes and nut roasts, lecithin derived from soya serves to provide the required binding properties.



Tofu can be turned to nutritional account in forms resembling scrambled eggs in appearance and use in the diet. An IoW booklet gives a recipe, and Leah Leneman’s The Single Vegan (Thorsons, ISBN 0-7225-1454-9) offers another, a further version of which is offered for two people by Stella Collier, as follows:-

Scrambled Tofu on Toast

1 packet tofu (285g) mashed
2 fluid ounces Plamil Concentrated Soya Milk (or any other if not available).
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 Shallots chopped
4 ½ t.phpoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon Shoyu sauce
½ t.phpoon turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste.

Sauté shallots in oil and add mashed tofu and remaining ingredients. Stir well over high heat. Serve on wholemeal toast.

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