Why Do Vegans Not Eat Eggs?

by Alena

The internet has made a lot of things more awesome than they were before. We’re now able to order wonderful items from all around the world in just a few clicks, stay in touch with family from across the country, and look up any burning questions we might have within a few minutes.

But it has also brought along quite some confusion since everyone is free to just state their opinion online. That’s probably why we sometimes get questions like “Yeah, but why do vegans not eat eggs?”

Do Vegans Eat Eggs?

The short answer to this, of course, is: No. We don’t. As per definition, a vegan is someone who’s in it for the ethics and it’s clear that the egg industry is objectifying, harming and killing animals.

Although there are different reasons why people go vegan, there should always be this basic understanding of avoiding exploitation as much as possible. Veganism isn’t just a diet, though many people are interested in it for that exact reason.

Someone who consumes a plant-based diet but also eats eggs can be referred to as “ovo-vegetarian” but not as a vegan.

Vegan vs Vegetarian Diet

That’s why plant-based diets have become pretty popular over the last few years. We have seen that eating mostly or exclusively plants is great for our overall health, waistline, and happiness.

But if someone isn’t an ethical vegan, there’s a big chance they might “cheat” on their vegan diet here and there, mainly when eating out, and don’t think it’s a big deal to let an egg slip in. After all, what’s the harm?

With this article, we don’t intend to shame anyone into becoming a full-blown vegan. Transitioning to a vegan diet at a pace that’s suitable to the individual is usually the best way to go!

We are aware of the fact that there are a lot of misconceptions and even lies that are spread about the importance or even safety of animal products.

Did you know that the egg industry has paid professionals to set up studies so the outcome would be in their favor?

Reasons To Go Vegan

Out of six studies in the medical literature that fail to demonstrate a significant blood cholesterol level with the consumption of whole eggs, 3 were paid for by the American Egg Board, one by the Missouri Egg Merchandising Council, and one by the Egg Program of the California Department of Agriculture.

Support for the sixth paper was not identified. So, this should give you an idea.

Then, there’s also the disgraceful fact that it’s not legal for the egg industry to advertise their products as a “protein-rich food”, “healthful” or that they “contribute healthful components”.

The scariest part of this is that they are not even allowed to claim eggs are “good for you”, an “important part of well-balanced, healthy diet”, or even “safe”. The outcome has been that eggs are now advertised as “can reduce hunger”.

The Vegan Food Pyramid

How can it be that they are still such a controversial topic, then? Well, in 2015 the egg industry paid food bloggers as much as $2,500 in order to write online recipes or articles about the benefits of eggs, repeating lobbyist “key messages” they were supposed to use.

The truth is that with every food we consume, we’re getting the whole package, not just a few nutrients.

So, even though it might be the case that eggs have some beneficial vitamins or minerals, the harmful components far outweigh them. But let’s take a look at the whole picture!

11 Reasons Why Vegans Don’t Eat Eggs

We understand that it’s not easy to get through a list of horrible things that happen behind closed doors and that we have supported with our money for most of our lives.

Please consider the individual victims that exist because human beings want to eat eggs and what consequences this has in all different areas.

do vegans eat eggs

1. Conditions in Factory Farming

Nobody would argue that today’s large farms offer good conditions for the animals (or the workers there, mind you).

Female chickens are held there in tiny cages, unable to spread their wings, giant warehouses holding hundreds of thousands of birds. Neither their basic biological nor behavioral needs are being met.

The birds are crammed so closely together that although normally clean animals, they are forced to urinate and defecate on one another.

Little hens will get the tip of their beaks cut off (which is done with a hot blade, without painkiller, a procedure comparable to a human being amputated) to avoid picking each other.

Many birds die of shock on the spot of the procedure. In order to maximize their egg production, hens are being starved and exposed to artificial light for many hours per day.

The bad conditions and huge amount of eggs the hens have to produce (300 eggs per year as compared to 10-15 eggs they would lay in the wild) leads to many diseases and early death.

Surviving birds are often forced to live with their dead and dying cagemates, who are sometimes left to rot. 

2. High Fat and Cholesterol Content

Eggs are about 70 percent fat, a big portion of which is saturated. Saturated fat leads to higher cholesterol levels and is a huge risk factor for heart disease and diabetes (amongst others).

Like all animal products, they contain zero dietary fiber which most people could use a lot more of. The biggest problem, though, is the huge load of cholesterol: 213 milligrams in an average-sized egg.

Any dietary cholesterol is too much cholesterol for us, we already produce all we need. Especially people with diabetes or cardiovascular disease should consume fewer than 200 milligrams of cholesterol each day – and one egg is already above this limit. Not to mention all the dairy and meat people usually consume.

Each egg holds every piece of the puzzle needed to produce a new life: the capacity to make feathers, eyes, a beak, heart, brain and so much more. No wonder it is so rich!

3. Heart Disease and Diabetes

Eggs raise your risk of getting detrimental chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. A review of fourteen studies published in the journal Atherosclerosis showed that people who consumed the most eggs increased their risk of getting diabetes by 69 percent, compared with those who ate the fewest.

And the risk of death for participants of the Physicians’ Health Study I who already had diabetes and ate one egg per day was twice as high compared to those eating the least amount of eggs.

Where cholesterol levels are concerned, the risk of getting or dying from heart disease is just around the corner, too.

Untainted research from high-quality studies shows that adding one egg to the daily diet of the average “healthy” person, already eating 200 mg of cholesterol from other sources, will increase their serum cholesterol by about 4%, which translates into an 8% increase in their risk of heart disease¹. 

Two eggs would mean 12% more heart disease over the next 5 to 10 years or 30% more coronary heart disease over the course of a lifetime². 

And when 11,000 people were studied over the course of 13 years, those eating eggs more than 6 times per week had a 2.47 times greater risk of dying³ of heart disease compared to those eating less than one egg a week.

And then, there’s this 2012 study which found that people who ate at least 3 eggs per week had as much as two-thirds the risk for atherosclerosis as those who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 40 years or more. There’s just no getting around this one.

man with heart ache

4. Protein & Methionine

You might understand the problem with cholesterol and saturated fat, both of which are mainly found in the egg yolk.

But aren’t eggs a good source of protein? Should you even skip the egg whites?

Yes, even they mean trouble, because they are essentially 100% animal-based protein.

Egg protein is a common source of allergy in infants, children, and adults, producing problems from hives to asthma.

Since adults don’t need more than 10% of their calories coming from protein, you are in for quite some excess of this macronutrient here. It places burdens on your liver, kidneys and metabolism.

Egg whites are also high in the troublesome sulfur-containing amino acid methionine. It gets metabolized into homocysteine which is a risk factor associated with heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s, and depression⁴. 

Unfortunately, the sulfur also feeds cancerous tumors and is known to be toxic to the tissues of the intestines⁵.

5. Baby Chicks are being Killed

Male chicks are useless to the egg industry since they cannot lay eggs. It wouldn’t be worth the money to provide them with food, shelter and water, letting them grow into full-sized chickens.

The breeds that are used in the egg industry don’t provide much meat, so they just get killed right after they are born.

This comes down to 200,000,000 (yes, two hundred million) male chicks every year in the United States alone.

They are either thrown in a dumpster and left to die, tossed in garbage bags and suffocated, being ground up alive in meat grinders, or killed in little gas chambers.

why vegans don't eat eggs chick on hands

6. Higher Cancer Risk

In addition to other chronic diseases, egg consumption can increase the risk of developing cancer.

According to a 1992 analysis published in the International Journal of Cancer, people who just consume 1.5 eggs per week were found to have nearly five times the risk for colon cancer compared with those who consumed hardly any (meaning fewer than 11 per year).

And in 2011, the National Institutes of Health could show that men who ate 2.5 eggs per week increased their risk for a deadly form of prostate cancer by more than 80%.

This is in part due to the methionine in eggs, which is beneficial to cancer cell metabolism and accelerates their growth⁵.

7. Laying Hens are Slaughtered

After just 2 miserable years of being confined, starved, and exploited, the female chickens are being sent to slaughter.

During transport, chickens are roughly stuffed into crates and suffer broken legs and wings, lacerations, hemorrhage, dehydration, heatstroke, hypothermia, and heart failure; millions die before reaching the slaughterhouse

And their death in the slaughterhouse isn’t quick or painless, either – most are still conscious when their throats are slit or when plunged into the scalding tank for feather removal.

After a lifetime of abuse, their bodies are so wasted and emaciated that they can only be “used” in soups or as pet food. If you don’t like or support the meat industry, you have to step away from dairy and eggs, as well. They are one and the same.

chicken black background

8. Salmonella & other Contamination

Not only are the saturated fat and cholesterol content pretty awful to human health, but there’s also a bunch of bacteria and environmental chemical contamination found in eggs.

All animal products accumulate the toxins from herbicides and pesticides they have eaten over the course of their lives, which means that animal products have a higher concentration of these harmful chemicals.

There’s also salmonella, and anyone who has eaten raw cookie dough made with eggs in the past, probably knows what that means. The food poisoning called salmonellosis gives rise to cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, chills, and fever.

This is one of the reasons why the egg industry isn’t allowed to market their products as “safe”, since more than 100,000 Americans are poisoned by salmonella from eggs each year.

It’s the leading cause of food poisoning in the U.S.  And then, there’s also dioxin, a highly poisonous chemical that is oftentimes discovered in poultry and eggs.

It can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, diabetes, and much more. 

9. Backyard Chickens Issue

The ethical issue with confinement and exploitation isn’t really solved just because chickens are being kept in smaller numbers in your own personal backyard.

Though this sounds very nice and romantic to some people, please think again.

When you consider that hens in good conditions can live for around 8-10 years and that they will be more likely to get sick when they are older, racking up medical expenses… it’s highly unlikely that anyone would look after a hen into old age, let alone once she has stopped laying eggs.

They will probably be killed at some point, too. There is no ethical way to run an egg business because it requires interfering with the bird’s natural cycle of birth, reproduction and death.

The more ethical you want this to be, the less profitable it becomes. If you only want to consume these eggs yourself, without selling them, this won’t be too much of an issue.

But where exactly did you get these hens?

You probably bought them from a farm, giving money to the egg industry. And if you have a rescued chicken at home, your relationship is probably not very symbiotic.

In exchange for good treatment, people expect eggs as a reward, the animal is defined by what it produces. Many hens would actually pick and eat their own eggs to replace all the nutrients lost while producing it! You should even encourage them to do so.

Living vegan “except for backyard hen’s eggs” opens a door to more exceptions. You identify as an egg eater and are more likely to consume eggs when eating out or switch over to organic eggs.

If your backyard chicken really doesn’t want to eat its own egg, give it away to someone who would otherwise buy eggs at the store in order to reduce at least some harm.

eggs in nature

10. Free-Range & Organic Labels are Myths

Most chickens in these types of operations go through almost the same standard procedures. The labels exist to give the consumer a better feeling about buying these products (along with the happy, free chicken on the package).

They are still debeaked, kept in filthy conditions, often not able to see or be in the sun, often fed the same food conventionally raised chickens eat (a feed that has disturbing ingredients that include rendered chickens), and they are still sent to the same slaughterhouses at the end of their short miserable lives.

The food part doesn’t apply to “organic eggs”, of course, but this only very slightly improves the quality of the end result. It doesn’t mean anything to the laying hen.

Cage-free operations allow producers to confine thousands of birds inside crowded sheds and “free-range” chickens only have to have potential access to a small outdoor area, which is often as small as a back porch.

11. Chickens are Sentient & Intelligent

According to recent scientific studies, newborn chicks are more intelligent, alert, and aware of their environment than human toddlers.

Many traits that were previously thought to be exclusive to human communication, cognition and social behavior have now been discovered in chickens.

It might be the case that people can sympathize more with a cow than a chicken because these animals are more closely related to the human species, but that doesn’t say a thing about a chicken’s ability to suffer or feel pain.

Chickens can feel one another’s pain, showing a clear physiological and behavioral response when their chicks are mildly distressed. They also possess underestimated cognitive complexity, have distinct personalities, and social relationships. 


¹ Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Rimm EB, Manson JE, Ascherio A, Colditz GA, Rosner BA, Spiegelman D, Speizer FE, Sacks FM, Hennekens CH, Willett WC.A prospective study of egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. JAMA. 1999 Apr 21;281(15):1387-94.

² Stamler J, Greenland P, Van Horn L, Grundy SM. Dietary cholesterol, serum cholesterol, and risks of cardiovascular and noncardiovascular diseases. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Mar;67(3):488-92.

³ Appleby PN, Thorogood M, Mann JI, Key TJ. The Oxford Vegetarian Study: an overview. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Sep;70(3 Suppl):525S-531S.

⁴ Troen AM. The atherogenic effect of excess methionine intake. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Dec 9; 100(25): 15089-94.

⁵ Cellarier E. Methionine dependency and cancer treatment. Cancer Treat Rev. 2003 Dec; 29(6): 489-99.

More Vegan Guides

Are you still eating eggs? What are your reasons for doing so and have you learned anything new in this article that makes you want to stop eating them? Let us know in the comments below.

Alena sitting in a cafe with a bowl of fresh plant-based food and a glass of coffee in front of her

About Alena Handwritten FontAlena Schowalter is a Certified Vegan Nutritionist who has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with her husband, she founded nutriciously in 2015 and has been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages towards a healthy plant-based diet. She’s received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy and social work. Alena enjoys discussions around vegan ethics, walks through nature and creating new recipes.

15 thoughts on “Why Do Vegans Not Eat Eggs?”

    • Hi Magda,
      the Forks Over Knives article was one of our resources here and it’s very thorough which is why you can find some similarities. After all, there are only so many facts and studies on eggs! I linked to the article for reference/credit in my piece and used it as one source. Nothing wrong with this as I see it! If the original author wouldn’t like us doing that, I’d be happy to rephrase.
      Hope this clears things up x

  1. Hi Alena,
    While I completely respect the right for an individual to avoid eating eggs for ethical or allergy-related reasons, the body of nutrition research as a whole does not substantially support the claims you make in this article about eggs alone causing or even significantly increasing a person’s risk for chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The articles you cited were not double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, which are largely the ones depended upon to draw conclusions about cause-and-effect relationships. At best, the epidemiological studies cited (like the Physicians’ Health Study) can suggest a correlation between eggs and certain diseases, but not a causation. Furthermore, the research cited about methionine fails to mention that it is also an essential amino acid, meaning that the body cannot make it on its own and needs to consume it from foods to avoid nutrient deficiency. My main purpose in writing this message is not to stir up strife or start a massive internet debate, but rather to highlight nutrition misinformation. As a Registered Dietitian practicing in oncology, every day I have to guide individuals making major life decisions about their health, so it is important that I do my homework to make them as informed about nutrition as possible. I hope you take the points I made above (regarding the strength of different types of research and correlation/causation) into consideration in writing future articles. All in all, thank you for writing this blog because I think your recipes look delicious, and I appreciate those who value nutrition and want to educate others, but I also care very deeply about not misleading the public.

    • Dear Lindsay,
      I really appreciate your comment. I think we have a lot in common and I’m always open to anyone pointing out errors in what I wrote! It’s the only way we can learn and evolve. Since I am not an RD myself, I suppose you are better at interpreting research and working on these subjects every day. All I can do is look for the most trusted, unbiased sources and then share them here in a well-structured way. Honestly, I don’t want to talk down on any more foods than is necessary but I deeply trust the research’s findings that eggs have lots of cholesterol and therefore promote CVD. Dr. Michael Greger goes through tons of nutritional research with his team every day and presents the findings on his website… just like these videos:
      Thanks for helping out so many people in your job and I do try to write correct articles all the time. I appreciate your input and would love to know your opinion on Greger’s work.
      Best wishes,

  2. Thank you so much for this article. I’ve been looking for good resources to add to my list of vegan resources on my recipe blog. I have been vegan for a year and am not too good at explaining things to non-vegans without going full preachy, so am making list of article links on various aspects of veganism. I would like to include this post in that list. If you aren’t comfortable with this please let me know. Great article, thanks again, Hannah

  3. Thank you for this article ! As a new vegan I’m still trying to figure out how to have the best well balanced diet. Althought eggs yolks are high in cholesterol, i wonder if the egg white is a better option. I live on a farm where we have true free-range chickens and wonder if only consuming the eggwhite has any disadvantages though i can’t seem to find that answer?

    Thanks for the help!

  4. When considering nutrition, there are hundreds of thousands of nutrients and minerals which are found in plants which don’t even exist in meat/eggs/dairy. All essential amino acids (dietary proteins) come from plants (not animals, as stated by the supposed nutritionist above). They come from nitrogen in our air, converted by plants into amino acids – all the other proteins, we make for ourselves. As for the cholesterol debate, there is ZERO dietary cholesterol in a vegan diet (cholesterol is an animal hormone and comes only from animals) – humans make their own cholesterol to demand – any dietary cholesterol from eggs/meat/dairy is an excess.

    For people trying to argue that there’s no evidence that veganism is healthier, there are 3 main things to consider:

    1 – The china study, the largest peer-reviewed independent study into nutrition and disease concluded that ALL of the leading major human diseases (today’s top 15 leading killers) are preventable and reversible with a wholefood plant-based diet. It also concluded that consuming animal proteins and hormones is extremely detrimental to human health and massively increases ones risk of death from major diseases. The worlds top University studies also agree that: “the optimal amount of animal protein in the human diet is precisely zero.” Plant-based Doctors, researchers and nutritionists are consistently finding that meat, eggs and dairy are harmful to humans and the only diet EVER to consistently reverse the leading cause of human disease is a wholefood plant-based diet.

    3- Legislation: It is now illegal in UK, Europe and some parts of America for companies and health professionals (such as doctors or nutritionists) to list meat, eggs and dairy as “Healthy”, Wholesome” “Nutritious” or “Part of a healthy balance diet”. Meat and eggs and milk are now also more prevalently being regarded and labelled with warnings such as “carcinogenic”, “class 1 carcinogen” and “not safe for human consumption.” The major body of research and evidence (past and present) completely supports these finding.

  5. Thank you. This article has “changed my heart” and I will not consciously eat eggs anymore. If not for health reasons, then at least for the sake of those chickens who enjoyed their freedom so much. I was sobbing!

  6. wow, all this about eggs is shocking.
    very curious where are you studying to become a vegan nutritionist? very interesting as I am a nutrition coach myself and I would love to go this way.. thanks!

    • Thanks for the comment! Have you looked into what the label ‘humane’ means and what the life of this chicken actually looks like? Here’s a good video I just watched today (non-graphic): https://youtu.be/7DxopX9co74?t=487
      We personally think that eggs belong to the chicken who laid them and are not ours to take, most sanctuaries who allow to let the chickens live out their lives actually feed the eggs back to them instead of eating them.
      The question is why would someone need to eat the occasional egg when there are good plant-based alternatives?
      Hope this helps — ultimately it’s everyone’s own decision they need to make but sure, there are bad and really bad conditions.

  7. This, “The more ethical you want this to be, the less profitable it becomes.” regarding backyard eggs feels very true to me! I’ve been vegan for 35 years, but I adopted rescue ducks 6 years so and I take care of them as precious pets. I’ve spent over 40,000 on their medical bills alone. They were, sadly, selectively bred to produce massive amounts of eggs and so they have painful reproductive issues. I don’t eat their eggs. But we joke that they are worth $100 each. I don’t see how any eggs can be produced ethically for profit.


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