Ah, the egg. What a peculiar food item. Prized for its high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals, the egg has held a decades-long reign at breakfast tables around the world. Whether scrambled, poached, frittata’d, or made into omelets, eggs are beloved by millions. At least they were. According to a new report by Nielsen, unit sales of eggs has declined by 3.6 percent this year, a trend that has been occurring for the last three years.
So, why are people not buying as many eggs? After all, aren’t they still the same healthy superfoods as before? Well, no. While yes, eggs are pretty versatile, consumers have discovered there are plenty of other options, and healthier ones at that! Considering that all too often, eggy breakfast items are usually sandwiched between thick pieces of bread, drenched in cheese, and topped with bacon, Americans have realized that if they want to lead a healthy lifestyle, eating eggs is hardly the way to go about it.
Understandably, the egg industry is trying anything to stay relevant. A few years ago, they began touting egg whites as a healthier alternative to those looking to avoid the fatty egg yolk. Unfortunately for the egg industry, since egg yolks are used for mayonnaise, pasta, and ice cream, they could not possibly boost egg production solely for the purpose of egg white sales, and so it was back to the drawing board.
Seeing that people were starting to increasingly become concerned with animal welfare, the industry started boasting better conditions for chickens and soon restaurants and supermarkets everywhere began singing praises about the “humane” cage-free eggs they were selling. Well, as more people are becoming aware of, cage-free eggs are hardly a humane alternative. In fact, the title is depressingly literal, and chickens who have been “liberated from their cages” now are just clustered into tiny sheds with STILL hardly any space to move around.
So, is it too early to say the egg era is ending? We don’t think so! While the egg industry scrambles to think of a new game plan, competitors are swooping in. Follow Your Heart, just released their vegan egg this year, a product that has gotten rave reviews from consumers. And products that usually contain eggs, like mayo and ice cream, also have egg-free, plant-based alternatives now. Ben & Jerry’s, So Delicious, Coconut Bliss, and a handful of other companies have released vegan ice creams with extreme success, and Hampton Creek revolutionized the condiment section with their stellar mayonnaise. Heck, even Hellmann’s, the company that originally fought Hampton Creek for calling their pea protein-based mayo, despite the fact that the spread is allegedly defined by the use of eggs, is making a vegan mayo of their own!
Eggs aren’t just dying out at the consumer level either – around one-third of eggs produced end up in food products like muffins, cookies, and mayonnaise. Given the fact that egg costs are rising and consumers are increasingly looking for clean, healthy options, the restaurant and food service industry would benefit from finding egg replacers. With new plant-based alternatives coming out every month, consumers are starting to realize how archaic and unnecessary this industry is.
As Nil Zacharias, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of One Green Planet aptly put, “The fact is, the more people are waking up to the reality that eggs are terrible from an animal welfare standpoint and they’re also not the best option when it comes to their health, the health of the planet. As a result, they’re looking for better, innovative options. In the past year alone, there has been a huge surge in plant-based options for everything from mayo to scrambled eggs themselves. Why try and fix the broken egg industry when you can just create a better one that cuts animals out of the process?”
Considering that industrial animal agriculture is among the leading causes of water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the world how cruel, a post-egg era is not only exciting but tremendously necessary for the well-being of the public as well as our planet. Sorry not sorry, eggs. We won’t miss you!
Ready for some awesome egg-free recipes? Check out these – and enjoy!
Image source: Tofu Scramble Stuffed Avocado