This harmless-looking little guy has worn many hats over the years. It started as humble staple of baking and hearty breakfasts for decades - until we hit the fat-free craze of the 80’s, when it was vilified by the fad diet of the day. It came back into favor recently as an efficient protein source rich in nutrients, and now that it is touted as a smart addition to a well-balanced diet, conscientious consumers across the country have brought it back into high demand.
Enter the 2014-15 Avian Flu outbreak. The largest one ever in the United States. But everything was going so well! The egg industry had grown to such epic proportions that it was hard to fathom ever running out of eggs.
Yet, beginning just six months ago in December 2014, birds - especially hens - began to get sick with H5 flu. Fast. In an effort to keep it localized, producers started to kill their flocks in large numbers. By early June, the total number of birds lost to avian flu was approaching 50 million, and prices had already risen. Bakeries in particular were feeling the effects of an increasingly dwindling supply of eggs, and emergency measures were taken to potentially allow imports of eggs from Europe to cushion the blow.
In a world where factory farming unfortunately still remains de rigeur, where animals are kept in unsanitary conditions ripe for the accelerated transmission of disease, a world in which eggs become a rare commodity remains a possibility. So, what will we do if and when that time comes?
Plenty! Thankfully, with the growth of the plant-based movement, supported by vegetarians, vegans, environmentalists and like-minded concerned citizens, there are many available alternatives to eggs in everyday baking and cooking. From specialty mixes to plain old tofu, there is an egg substitute for everyone! Here are some of our favorites (and, best of all, they’re all just as easy to use as a regular egg!):
The flax egg, as we highlighted in our recent blog about veggie burgers, is a super-quick binding agent to use in everything from pancakes to cookies to, yes, veggie burgers (and regular burgers). One tablespoon finely ground flaxseed meal to 3 tbsps water, whisked vigorously and allowed to set for a few minutes, equals about one egg, and does the trick quite nicely!
Ener-G egg replacer is best for baking, and one of the smartest choices for those with many food sensitivities and/or allergies. It’s also been around for years, and is thus readily available in most larger supermarkets and health-food stores.
Tofu. Amazingly versatile and rich in plant protein, tofu when blended makes for a delicious replacement for eggs in quiche and casserole recipes, and its mild taste is easily altered to more closely mimic that of eggs. Check out this link for a variety of tasty tofu frittata recipes, and some tips for how to use tofu in the most beloved baked goods!
Okay, so we have several options for egg-free baking - but what about just a good old plate of scrambled eggs? Or a couple of them sunny-side up? Well, one of the newest options on the egg-free scene is The Vegg, which is designed to cover all our egg alternative bases. The Vegg carries products perfect for scrambling, for French toast, and even has an egg-free yolk that looks like the real thing.
As we can see, many advancements have been made in recent years in plant-based cuisine, and thank goodness for that! Should egg shortages become a common part of life, we’ll all be prepared. In fact, why wait? Next time there’s a brunch, family dinner or community potluck, get experimental and give one of the above alternatives a try.
Happy egg-free baking and cooking!
Hayley Lutz, Communications and Accounts Coordinator