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!
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 Chef Skye Michael Conroy.
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.
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.”
Ref. freefromharm org