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By Nellie's Kindness Crew
We want to preface the answer to this frequently asked question by noting that every individual’s diet is a very personal decision for both health and philosophical reasons. So while we can speak to the issues around this question, we cannot answer it definitively for any single person. What we can say is that many—probably most—vegetarians do include eggs in their diet.
There are a few different types:
Flexitarian or Semi-Vegetarian: These individuals choose to eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but with occasional meat consumption. There are no restrictions on egg consumption.
Pescatarian: These are people who avoid all animal meat except fish. Some pescatarians will eat eggs while others will not.
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: This is the most common form of vegetarianism, and avoids consumption of any animal flesh, but does allow consumption of dairy and eggs.
Vegan: Vegans avoid any animal derived products, including dairy and eggs.
To help explain why anyone who fits into these categories may or may not eat eggs, it's important to take a step back and explore some of the reasons why people choose a vegetarian diet in the first place. For each concern, there are reasons that many vegetarians will still find eggs an acceptable food:
Many vegetarians believe that humans were evolved to eat a primarily plant-based diet, or at least believe that such a diet is generally healthier in terms of providing an abundance of nutrients and vitamins without a lot of empty calories.
Why eggs? They're one of the healthiest and nutrient dense foods found in nature. Just one egg is an excellent source of protein, which can otherwise be challenging to find in abundance on a vegetarian diet.
Some vegetarians feel that animals, and mammals in particular, should not be harvested as food because it is simply inhumane to do so.
Why eggs? When eggs are produced on Certified Humane free range farms like ours, a hen is not harmed by laying an egg. This is not the case with the more common factory farms however, where hens are still kept in tiny cages with no room to move or get outside. If animal welfare is important to you, avoid "cage-free" or conventional (ie: caged) eggs, and instead look for the Certified Humane seal. (To learn more about this third-party certification, visit our Certified Humane page)
Raising meat animals, and beef in particular, is a fairly significant contributor to climate change as it requires a substantial carbon footprint per calorie produced. As a result, some vegetarians choose not to consume meat – especially if it has been factory farmed.
Why eggs? Our free range farms are small and family-owned. Unlike factory farms, they're efficient when it comes to converting natural resources like water, feed grain and pasture into nutritious eggs, without a substantial amount of carbon impact to go along with it.
If you are a vegetarian and include eggs in your diet, please share the reasons why in the comments.
Thanks for explaining all of this. I try to avoid meat products because of all the cruelty so many animals raised for meat suffer during their lives, they are filled with antibiotics and chemicals to make them grow faster (I am convinced that contributes to our own weight problems!), their bodies and the areas they are in are sprayed with poisonous chemicals to keep the insects and vermin down, horrible factory farming where they live lives of quiet desperation, and they are bad for the environment - and our bodies! I look for the humanely raised label. It is worth it to pay a little extra to know I am not supporting cruelty - and when on sale I point out to other shoppers that they can have cruelty free healthier eggs for nearly the same price - and they put down the eggs they were considering and buy Nellies. Hopefully, they will be more aware and opt for humanely raised in their future choices.
Hi Irene, we're so glad to hear you've put such thought and intention behind the decisions you make in the grocery aisle! We agree that humanely raised eggs are the best way to go - after all, happy hens lay the most delicious eggs!
Do you have a recipe that goes with the photo of. Can vegetarians eat eggs? It looks really yummy. Thank you
Hi Theresa! Absolutely. You can find this delicious recipe here: https://www.nelliesfreerange.com/egg-recipes/mexican-breakfast-salad We hope you enjoy it!
I am on a lectin free diet so if your hens consume grain there will be lectin in the eggs which I cannot have. Do your hens receive grain to supplement their diet?
Great question, Linda. Although our hens do forage for insects and grubs, they cannot subsist solely on what they find in the pasture. For that reason, we provide them with a nutritional chicken feed consisting of corn and soy. When our hens consume this supplemental feed, their bodies metabolize its nutrients, changing the protein structure into a form that is usable for them. By the time the eggs are formed, the presence of soy phytoestrogens has declined. That being said, it's best to consult your doctor if you have any concerns about the passage of lectin from hen to egg. Please don't hesitate to send us an email at [email protected] if we can answer any follow-up questions.
I am a vegetarian I have been since I've been 7 years old and I am now 49. I just started eating eggs when I found out about Farms such as yours. I hate anything that involves animal cruelty and I so appreciate what y'all are doing. Is absolutely wonderful.
We're so glad that you found us, Sharon. Thank you for caring and supporting our happy hens!
Are Eggs Dairy?