LAST UPDATED: 1 December 2020
Chickens are remarkably intelligent and social animals, each with a distinct personality. Like any animal, they deserve a life free from cruelty. You can help change the lives of these sensitive animals by eating fewer eggs or simply going egg-free — and choosing not to support an industry that still confines most of its laying hens to battery cages, and sentences millions of unwanted male chicks to a cruel death every year.
Why go egg-free?
Cage egg sales are in decline as more and more caring consumers realise that battery hens endure lives of suffering. With less space per bird than one A4-sized piece of paper, a laying hen is forced to stand on wire 24 hours a day and cannot even stretch her wings. Truly free range and organic egg farms afford birds more space and some access to the outdoors — which is essential to their wellbeing. However, hens in all commercial egg systems are sent to slaughter when their egg production wanes at about 18 months of age (their natural lifespan would be about 10 years).
To replace 'spent' hens, millions of chicks are hatched yearly, of which only half, the females, will grow up to lay eggs. The other half — approximately 12 million economically 'worthless' day-old male chicks — are either gassed to death or ground up alive. Sadly, these baby animals face being discarded regardless of the 'production system' they were born into — cage, barn or free range.
Our demand for eggs has inadvertently created this industrial-scale system. So, fortunately, the power also lies in our hands to reduce that demand and ultimately change the system.
Easy egg-free cooking
And there's good news on that front: cooking and baking your favourite dishes without eggs is a cinch — whether you're making cupcakes, pancakes, meringues, or your classic breakfast scramble! You can bookmark this handy egg-swap guide for lots of ways to make a recipe work without eggs. And if you just need a little convincing that life is delicious without eggs, here are nine of our favourite recipes...
To be honest, it's easy to find recipes for egg-free cupcakes online nowadays, but we're putting this chai-spiced raspberry one front and centre because it's a tried and tested recipe for a soft, fluffy little cake-in-a-cup with a bit more pizzazz than your classic chocolate or vanilla variety.
This is perhaps one of the more surprising treats to make our list — because if you've never heard of aquafaba, you may not realise there's another way to achieve that crunchy, airy, whipped sweetness we associate with meringues and pavlovas! Gone are the days of beating eggs, and so begin your days of saving chickpea water, AKA aquafaba. There's a reason this obscure egg-alternative seemed to take the internet by storm a few years back — as this fun and simple recipe by Lazy Cat Kitchen demonstrates, the resulting treat is indistinguishable from its egg-borne counterpart.
A lot of egg-free pancake recipes simply omit the eggs from your 'standard' recipe, and honestly? You'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference. This recipe incorporates a touch of cornflour to give them a hint of crumbly cakey-ness. If you can get your hands on a commercially-produced 'egg replacer' product, give these spiced pumpkin ones a go, too!
That's right, it's the most moist. It's the moistest. This banana bread from Oh She Glows is a crowd favourite, always. It calls for a couple tablespoons of ground flaxseed which is a popular way to help bind your egg-free baked goods — but full disclosure, we can confirm this recipe is just as big a hit with friends and family when that little ingredient is forgotten!
A sinfully rich, fudgy chocolate cake like this will have you questioning whether it was all a big hoax that we ever needed eggs for baking! If you're looking for a healthy cake, well, this is not it. But if you're looking to treat yourself to something decadent or send shockwaves through the birthday party — this is your guy.
A savoury muffin might be just what you need for a quick bite in the morning or a little afternoon pick-me-up. This one calls for precisely zero eggs, and tastes like a warm Italian summer day, herbed and salted to perfection!
Another morning classic that doesn't need the eggs — this artichoke and olive quiche is heartier than its eggy counterpart, using beans and cashews to make it rich and nutritious, while leeks and spring onions infuse it with savoury flavours that will insist you reach for seconds.
For many people, it's the classic eggs-on-toast meal that they can't imagine living without. But we have many a kitchen experimenter to thank for the invention of the now ubiquitous tofu scramble. The texture of tofu, gently crumbled, perfectly mimics the feel of scrambled eggs. And there's a lot more room to play with different flavours when you're working with a blank slate like tofu — start with this basic spinach scramble, and then try mixing it up with other spice combos or your favourite sauces.
Ever heard the expression, "you eat with your eyes first"? It's incredible the tricks we can play on our own minds just by simulating particular smells and visuals. Similarly to how you can add liquid smoke to a veggie burger to give it that hot-off-the-grill taste, you can also simulate the experience of a fried egg by making tofu and sauce look and feel like a fried egg... If it sounds far-fetched, just try this sausage and egg 'mock muffin' recipe and see for yourself!
Adapting your favourite recipes
Naturally, sometimes you'll just want to make a familiar dish but swap out the one ingredient you're trying to avoid — there are hacks for this. For a quick no-fuss egg substitute, look out for Orgran's 'Vegan Easy Egg' — found at most Coles locations, many specialty shops, and online. It's great for scrambled eggs, quiches, and omelettes. If you don't have access to this product, then tofu or some kind of bean is likely to make a fabulous egg replacement in most savoury egg-centric dishes. The internet is your friend here, and whatever you are craving has probably already been made egg-free!
Orgran makes a second product called 'No-Egg Egg Replacer' which is specifically optimised for baking — and that packet contains the equivalent of 66 eggs! But conveniently, there are abundant options for egg replacements in baked goods, depending on your tastes, what you're baking, and perhaps what you've already got on hand. Here are the most tried and tested swaps:
Bananas or apples make perfect replacements for egg in sweet baked goods — simply stir through half a mashed banana, or a 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce to replace each egg and this will act as a binding agent with a nutritious bonus. Or add 1 tablespoon of white or apple cider vinegar along with your liquid ingredients, and sift 1 teaspoon of baking soda into the dry mixture — these two react to help create super fluffy muffins and cupcakes! Another option you might have in the fridge already: a 1/4 cup dairy-free soy or coconut yoghurt adds a delicious tang and airiness to baked goods.
For wholesome, nutrition-rich muffins, cookies, slices and cakes, try ground flax/linseed or chia seeds — soaked in 3 tablespoons of water per 1 tablespoon of seeds, the resulting mix will thicken to a gelantinous consistency, which will bind your other ingredients when stirred through.
And most magical of all, you can use aquafaba to make fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth meringues!
Enjoying learning about egg-free eating? This is just the tip of the iceberg! It's easier than ever to eat plant-based, and there are heaps of resources out there to help you do so. You may like to start by ordering your free Veg Starter Kit — it's packed with handy tips, inspiration, and recipes to guide you through the world of animal-friendly food choices.