Eggs are not only a breakfast favorite worldwide but also essential ingredients in many recipes, especially in the baking industry.
But what are eggs? Are they dairy? If eggs come from poultry, does that make eggs meat as well? How do we classify eggs, and why is this classification important?
Basically, eggs are not meat since they are not flesh or muscle tissue. Whether fertilized or not, eggs remain a separate and independent food group. It is important to know what food category eggs fall in to know whether to eat them when following different diets like vegan diets or when practicing certain religious beliefs.
Is Chicken Egg Considered Meat?
Chicken eggs are not meat simply because they are not made of animal flesh.
Scientifically speaking, meat is the edible muscle tissue in animals. Sometimes animal fat is also considered meat.
Eggs are made of three parts; the shell, the albumen, and the yolk.
The shell is made entirely of calcium, while the albumen and yolk are mostly water, proteins, lipids, and a small amount of carbohydrates.
None of these components are flesh or muscle tissue, so a chicken or bird egg is not meat.
Is Boiled Egg Meat?
Eggs are prepared in different ways, including frying, scrambling, and boiling.
Boiling eggs only changes the state of the albumen and yolk from liquid to solid. The chemical makeup of both, however, remains the same.
Hard-boiled eggs, therefore, are still not meat.
So what are Eggs Classified as?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), eggs are a self-standing food category. They do not fall under meat, dairy, or cereals.
However, eggs are considered high protein foods together with different types of meat and legumes such as beans.
Does Eating Eggs Count as Eating Meat?
Eggs are not similar or equal to meat.
Therefore when observing a diet, or spiritual food restriction against meat, in particular, you should not face any penalties for having eggs.
That said, eggs are animal by-products, and if you abstain from all animal-related foods, you should also exclude eggs.
Nutritionally, eggs can be compared to meat because they are both high-protein, animal-based foods.
If you cannot eat meat for allergic, spiritual, or dietary reasons but still require animal proteins, then eggs would be a great alternative.
Should Vegetarians Eat Eggs?
The vegetarian diet stipulates that its followers do not eat meat. All other food, including eggs, milk, and dairy products, is okay.
However, with time, different branches of vegetarianism developed, each having distinct rules and regulations. These branches include:
The main and basic version of vegetarianism encourages its subscribers to abstain from meat but still eat other animal products, including milk, honey, eggs, and dairy products. Beef, venison, deer, mutton, poultry, and seafood, are all eliminated.
The pescatarian vegetarian avoids all meat except fish and seafood. They also take dairy, eggs, and other animal by-products.
The third branch of vegetarianism consists of people that keep away from all meat and eggs (as they consider the eggs to carry life) but still take dairy. Most Hindus follow this type of vegetarianism.
Many lactose-intolerant vegetarians follow the ovo-vegetarianism diet, abstaining from all animal meat, dairy, or other animal-based products but still eating eggs.
Vegan vegetarians are a stricter group of the larger vegetarians who abstain from anything animal-based, whether meat or otherwise animal-derived.
They will not use leather, wool, or horn products even outside of their diet life. Most vegans follow this way of life to defend animal lives and rights.
Raw vegans are vegans that do not cook their plant-only-based foods. They believe nuts, vegetables, and fruits have a purer and higher nutritional value when eaten raw.
Some people argue that raw veganism is the healthiest branch of vegetarianism.
Flexitarians are vegetarians that believe in delay, not denial. They will generally abstain from meat and animal flesh, but whenever the craving arises, they will indulge.
Are Eggs Considered Meat by Catholics and Hindus?
Catholics keep away from meat during Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. During this time, the faithful Catholics use the time to do some introspection and prepare for the big festival at hand.
They abstain from all meat, including poultry and seafood, but still eat eggs, dairy, vegetables, and fruits.
In Hinduism, it is believed that all life is sacred, human or animal. Therefore, killing an animal to eat it is taboo.
That said, it is important to note that different individuals have differing opinions about eggs being meat or having life.
Scientifically, until an egg is fertilized and incubated, it does not have any life. The contents inside are simply water and protein.
Some Hindus subscribe to this way of thinking and thus eat eggs while abstaining from all meat.
However, some Hindus argue that since eggs can bring forth life, eating them is against the belief that all life is sacred.
They believe that whether the egg is fertilized or not, it is a source of life and should thus be treated with respect like all other lives.
Do Eggs Have Cholesterol? How Much?
Eggs are a great source of animal-based protein, especially for people who do not take meat or milk. However, eggs are also high in cholesterol, especially when cooked with fatty oil and butter.
According to recent research, a big egg has 186mg of cholesterol, which is above half the recommended daily intake (300mg).
However, some other studies also show that cholesterol from eggs is not as harmful as that from other sources like trans-fats.
Are Eggs Healthy or Bad for You?
Most researchers disagree on whether eggs are healthy or bad for you, especially for people with high cholesterol levels, diabetes, and heart complications.
Eggs, however, are a healthy source of protein, vitamins, and nutrients such as choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help with liver functioning, metabolism, and prevention of blindness.
Eggs also contain vitamin D, which is necessary for bone formation and growth.
When observing a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet, eggs are a good snack alternative that keeps you fuller for longer and helps fight sugar cravings.
Studies have shown that incorporating eggs into your daily diet can assist in weight loss and maintenance.
Eggs are indeed healthy foods despite their high cholesterol levels. In fact, most nutritionists insist that cholesterol is good and can even help lower your stroke chances.
However, if you are still skeptical about it since the cholesterol is mainly centralized in the yolk, you can still enjoy the many benefits of eggs by skipping the yolk and enjoying the egg whites.
So, next time you take a bite of that egg, take it with the confidence of a non-carnivore.