Leafy greens and an array of colorful root vegetables. Hearty whole grain dishes flavored with onions and mushrooms. Fruit salads bursting with sweetness. There are so many delicious ways to create vegetarian dishes, but what about eggs? If you’re leaning toward a vegetarian diet - or just making meals that fall under that category - can you include eggs on that list? Here’s what we know about how eggs and being vegetarian fit together.
What is a vegetarian diet
Generally speaking, a vegetarian diet is one that does not include any meat, fish or poultry. But even though eggs come from poultry, they are still usually included under the broad umbrella of what vegetarians eat. That’s because they don’t contain what’s considered the meat or muscle of an animal. An eggs’ protein and other nutrients are contained in a center yolk and its surrounding egg white.
Types of vegetarian diets
However, some vegetarians like to further classify themselves by other items that they eat - or won’t eat. Eggs factor into these categories. Some of these include:
- Ovo vegetarian: Will eat eggs, but will not consume dairy products
- Lacto vegetarian: Will eat dairy products, but will not eat eggs
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian: Will eat dairy products and eggs
- Vegan: Will not eat eggs, dairy or any animal by-product
- Flexitarian: Will follow a mostly vegetarian diet, but will also eat small amounts of meat, fish, dairy and eggs
Benefits of eggs
So, if you are already a vegetarian, or are considering making that lifestyle shift, the choice to include eggs in your diet is up to you. Before you make that decision, it’s good to understand the health benefits of eating eggs. They have a great nutritional profile. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one hard-boiled egg contains:
- 23% of the daily value of Vitamin B12
- 28% of the daily value of selenium
- 8% of the daily value of Vitamin A
- 6% of the daily value of folate
- 12% of the daily value of protein
Eggs also contain choline, which isn’t talked about a lot but it serves an important function. This nutrient is needed to build the membranes of our body’s cells.
Some people have described eggs as one of nature’s perfect foods because, despite an egg’s small size, it contains a wide range of nutrients, antioxidants and 6 grams of protein.
Tasty ways to eat eggs
Egg lovers will have their favorite recipes, but one of the great things about this food is it is so versatile. Some of our favorite ways to eat eggs include:
- Crack two eggs into a hot skillet and cook over-hard with fresh herbs, a little olive oil and feta cheese crumbles. Serve them on whole-grain toast.
- Scramble two eggs with mushrooms, fresh spinach and sunflower seeds.
- Hard-boil eggs and keep them in the refrigerator for an easy snack.
- Pickled eggs: Hard-boil a half-dozen eggs. Bring one cup water, three cups white vinegar, a third cup of sugar, one teaspoon of coarse salt and four teaspoons of pickling spices to a boil. Remove the shells from the hard-boiled eggs and drop them into a quart jar. Fill the jar with the pickled brine. Let cool, then store in the refrigerator for a couple days before eating the eggs, or using them on a charcuterie board.
- Frittatas: Sauté your favorite vegetables, onions and a little garlic in a skillet until the veggies start to turn soft. Whisk three eggs and a little shredded or crumbled cheese, and pour over the vegetables. Cook on medium heat until it’s set on one side, then flip to cook on the other side. Slide it onto a plate and cut into quarters to serve.