06 Apr Egg Alternatives
Want an ethical, vegan alternative to eggs? We have a few!
If you had any doubts that egg farming was an unethical practice, I’d suggest strongly visiting a chicken rescue sanctuary.
The first time I encountered a rescue chicken was a truly humbling experience and one that changed my life and eating habits forever. I met these frail, darling little ISA browns and was surprised at how friendly they were, despite having up until their rescue, lived a life of abject torture and cruelty.
Their sweet little natures allowed me to have a cuddle and they seemed to have very little awareness that humans had caused their earlier misery.
It is ISA Browns like the ones that I met, that produce the majority of supermarket eggs. Typically, they spend 18 months as a “layer”, often in appalling conditions. Even if they are not caged, ‘free-range’ can mean they are squashed in a barn with thousands of other chickens and have no room to stretch their wings and never see sunlight (which means any eggs they produce will be lacking in vitamin D, so have little or no nutritional value anyway!). They also never get to forage and scratch in the dirt or to enjoy dust baths that are part of a chicken’s normal behaviour.
After about 18 months, they are routinely gassed, or worse, as their “production” value lessens. The little lasses I met had been saved from a terrible death and were being used to fertilize rather barren land in Dubbo, so they were finally able to live life as nature had intended. If we all kept rescue chickens, they would fertilize our gardens and still lay the odd egg that your dog could enjoy as either raw or a scrambled treat.
If you want to adopt a small chicken family, plan on a minimum of two, as they are very social birds. Animals Australia can direct you to a rescue group in your area: http://www.animalsaustralia.org/features/adopt-a-battery-hen.php
Sadly, consumer demand encourages the egg industry to use these intensive farming practices. Therefore these beautiful sentient beings continue to suffer. Unless of course, we change with our shopping choices.
Enter, egg substitutes, which work wonders for a vegan baker. One of the first challenges vegan bakers must consider is binding – obviously, we need to bind our recipes, so cakes are easy to eat and don’t crumble. The good news is that while binding in traditional baking has always been the job of the egg, there are plenty of vegan substitutes that work every bit as well (dare I say even better than) eggs!
1. Bobs Red Mills Egg Replacer
Readily available at Coles, IGA and many health food stores, this magic bullet comes in a powder form (from potato starch, tapioca flour, baking soda, psyllium husk fibre.) It is also gluten free. I use it constantly! If I am replacing one egg, my combination is two teaspoons (10 mls) of powder to one quarter cup of nut milk (my usual preference is unsweetened almond milk). This helps to create a lighter texture more in line with traditional cake recipes. Sometimes, I add a little extra almond milk. It is usually a little trial and error to get the batter right, so if you’re following your own recipes, you will need to check texture. All the recipes on Gently Vegan have been rigorously tested, so the amounts of almond milk to egg replacer work. It’s also worth noting that it already contains baking soda so be careful if your recipe does, too. You want to avoid a salty result. If your recipe already has baking soda, lower the amount you’re adding to compensate for this.
2. Chia Seeds
Brimming with Omega- 3 and fibre, I turn to these when I’m looking for a super-healthy option, such as a breakfast muffin. Chia seeds create a slightly denser result. The usual combination is one tablespoon of chia seeds to three tablespoons of water. Leave them for 10-15 minutes to swell and go gloopy, which is when they release their binding powers. I usually ensure chia seeds are blended with other moist products, such as banana or pureed apple, so the cakes are always moist.
3. Apple Puree
SPC sells this in packs of four cups, which make an ideal addition to any pantry – you will use them constantly. Apple Puree contains pectin, which is a natural gel and the setting agent in jams. I often put apples and chia seeds into the same recipe as they work well as a team. Replace one egg with around one quarter cup of apple puree.
4. Flaxseed Meal
This finely ground powder is created from flaxseeds, as the name suggests. Flaxseeds are among the richest sources of plant lignans (rich antioxidants). They’re also great sources of other nutrients and phytochemicals with cardio-protective effects, such as omega-3 fatty acids and fibre. The combination to stick to is one tablespoon flaxseed meal to three tablespoons of liquid (almond milk, etc.). Always give this combination around 10 minutes rest time, to allow it to expand and become gelatinous. I am a fan of flaxseeds when I’m baking slices that I am adding a second binding option, like rice or agave syrup.
Dates have an incredible binding ability when broken down into a syrupy paste. The combination is usually one cup of chopped up dates, one cup of boiling water and one teaspoon of baking soda. Combine all ingredients and leave to soak for an hour. The result is a wonderful mixture that has fantastic binding abilities. I also love to use chia seeds or flaxseed meal in combination with dates.
6. Agave Syrup and Rice syrup
These two sweet syrups work really well in biscuits and cakes. Both are quite sweet, so I’d suggest reducing the sugar in your original recipe when using either of these as a binding agent.
GV Founder Catherine Carr