According to the data calculated by Statista based on Simmons National Consumer Survey (NHCS) and the United States Census, the consumption of eggs in the United States was estimated at 286.5 and 288.1 per person in 2022 and 2021, respectively (1).
This research is enough to prove that eggs are quite versatile, nutritious, inexpensive, and easy to make.
However, one question that disturbs nearly all vegetarians is what food group eggs fit into. Are eggs meat, dairy, or poultry?
Diet is (Usually) Self Determined
Before jumping to any conclusion, let us preface this article by reminding you that many aspects of your diet are self-determined—within your own control.
If you actively follow a religion with dietary limitations, there is nothing wrong with breaking your diet’s “technical” requirements. This applies to vegans, vegetarians, and members of religions that prohibit certain foods.
By any chance, if you erroneously consume something “not meant to consume,” there is no need to worry about negative consequences. If you’re happy with the decisions you make, you have the freedom to indulge in as few or as many slip-ups as you see fit.
For instance, if you are a vegan but don’t like tofu, nothing should stop you from deciding whether or not you should consume another product based on soybeans.
With that said, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of “Are eggs meat.”
Are Eggs Meat?
This question has been the subject of discussion for many years.
Some believe that eggs are meat since they originate from chickens or other birds, while others think they cannot be considered meat due to the absence of red meat.
Similarly, eggs aren’t made from milk, so they cannot be considered dairy or poultry. The question now is, what is the truth?
The answer may surprise you but before we get into the discussion, let’s first define what these categories actually mean.
Meat, Dairy, and Poultry
Meat is a broad term for any feed that originates from an animal’s body, often produced from the muscles, tendons, and other lean fibers with a high amount of protein.
Within the meat category, poultry is classified as a source of lean protein and a subtype of meat. Although poultry meat is not an excellent source of calcium, it is rich in iron, vitamins, and magnesium used to enhance the diet.
The United States Department of Agriculture states that an average adult should consume around three cups of dairy products daily (2).
Since they are all derived from milk, the items in this category are an excellent addition to a calcium-deficient diet.
However, the amount of fat in dairy meals varies widely, and the availability of lactose or whey proteins may cause severe sensitivity concerns.
The Classification of Eggs – Meat, Dairy, or Poultry
When it comes to the classification of food categories, the terms meat, poultry, and dairy are often used interchangeably.
Since you are now aware of the distinctions that exist between red meat, poultry, and dairy products, we can go on to determine how eggs should be categorized.
What is an Egg?
The females of most animals, including reptiles, birds, and amphibians, are responsible for producing eggs, which are reproductive cells.
Mammals have their eggs fertilized within their bodies and then implanted in the uterus, where the embryos continue to grow until birth. Eggs laid by birds have a protective casing composed of calcium carbonate, which makes them rigid.
The shell cover shields the growing embryo while facilitating the flow of gases, allowing oxygen to reach the embryo.
Are Eggs Dairy?
Despite being located in the same aisle as milk and cheese in grocery stores, eggs are not considered “dairy” (products produced from milk that comes specifically from mammals, not chickens or other birds).
Since eggs don’t include any components from milk, individuals who are lactose intolerant can safely consume them. Similarly, calcium is not very abundant in eggs, so they are not dairy.
Are Eggs Meat?
OK, so eggs are not dairy.
Does this imply that eggs are meat? Certainly not.
Eggs, much like meat, are an excellent source of protein but have a very low amount of fiber.
A major portion of the eggs we eat comes from chickens and have not been fertilized, indicating that there is no living organism inside them – which is the primary distinction between the two.
Are Eggs Poultry?
Let us get this straight: eggs can never be classified as poultry (a subset of meat) since we cannot call them meat.
The word “poultry” is often only used to describe the domestic birds’ flesh and not the eggs they produce.
To approach this topic another way, if someone asks you, if someone asks you, “Are eggs meat or poultry?” you may respond by saying that eggs are not meat, and as a consequence, they are neither poultry.
Then, What Are Eggs?
Eggs are most accurately classified as a member of the protein food category since they do not include either dairy products or meat, which is why some vegetarians find it easier to incorporate them into their diets (3).
On the other hand, eggs are a product derived from an animal; hence, some vegans do not eat them. As discussed in the beginning, it is just a matter of personal preference.
The conclusion is clear: eggs are neither poultry nor dairy nor meat.
One egg may provide as much as 8 grams of protein, making them an excellent source of this essential nutrient. Similarly, eggs also include a variety of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins B2, B12, and D.
Finally, eggs are a great option for those watching their carbohydrate and calorie intake.
In the end, it’s a win-win for all.
Are Eggs Kosher?
It depends on how you understand the term “kosher.”
Generally, kosher foods comply with the requirements of Jewish Dietary Law and may be consumed by Jewish. Since the Torah, the Jewish sacred book does not directly refer to eggs, whether or not they are deemed kosher is still a topic of discussion.
Eggs are debated among rabbis; some believe they are acceptable, while others don’t.
Eggs are essentially the product of a chicken’s menstrual cycle—neither abortions nor births; instead, they are composed of biological material that, given the appropriate circumstances, might have developed into a chick but did not.
Consequently, some individuals consider eggs unhealthy for their appetite; however, you’re free to take a different stance here—after all, it is your diet.
How Do You Fit Eggs Into A Vegetarian Diet?
The answer, in a nutshell, depends on how you define “meat.”
If, according to your definition, meat is any product derived from an animal, then eggs are meat. But, if you narrow your definition to include just the skeletal and muscular tissues, then eggs do not strictly qualify as meat.
When it comes to consuming eggs while rejecting other animal-derived items, there are many reasons for it.
To begin, eggs are an excellent source of protein and other nutrients. Second, since eggs may be prepared in a wide range of ways when cooked, they are versatile and find use in many recipes.
Eggs are also a good alternative for individuals seeking to eat a nutritious diet on a budget since they are reasonably inexpensive, making them a budget-friendly choice.
Unfortunately, egg consumption has its share of potential drawbacks.
First, due to the high cholesterol content, eggs are not always the healthiest option for those looking reduce their heart disease risk. Second, some individuals are allergic to eggs; therefore, it is best to avoid eating them completely.
Third, manufacturing eggs might harm the natural environment; hence, those concerned about maintaining a sustainable lifestyle may decide to refrain from consuming them.
Do Vegans Generally Consume Eggs?
In most cases, no; however, the answer to this question will change depending on person to person.
Vegans don’t only forgo meat; instead, they steer clear of any and all food items made at the cost of an animal throughout the production process.
Some vegans believe it is OK to consume eggs obtained ethically. On the other hand, some believe that purchasing eggs contributes to a cycle of cruelty to chickens that can only be broken by completely avoiding the consumption of eggs.
The Final Cut
So there you have it: answer to the most commonly asked question, “Are eggs meat?” Eggs are not meat, dairy, or poultry; instead, they almost fit into their own food category—protein.
- Are eggs meat? Since there’s no animal flesh in eggs, they’re not meat.
- Are eggs poultry? Eggs aren’t meat, so they aren’t poultry too.
- Are eggs dairy? Eggs aren’t milk-based, so they’re not dairy.
- Do vegans eat eggs? In most cases, no; however, exceptions exist.
It is important to emphasize here what we said in the beginning: most of the decisions that go into your diet are self-determined.
Your spiritual community does not know (and, for the most part, does not care) what you eat in the privacy of your home, and your vegan and vegetarian friends probably have more important things to do than monitor the minute particulars of your dietary choices.
This indicates that you are free to draw whatever conclusions you see fit about egg consumption.