Egg swaps: a guide to plant-based alternatives amid the UK bird flu crisis | Vegetarian food and drink

UK supermarkets have announced an egg crisis as a result of bird flu and the summer heat wave, but those who want a regular fix of their egg options are not suffering.

Solutions supermarkets have come up with so far include egg rationing and price hikes, but there’s another alternative that vegan chefs have recommended for years: vegan alternatives.

Eggs are an important ingredient because they serve multiple purposes in cooking and baking. They provide richness, structure and texture, as well as emulsification and bonding. It is also a good source of proteins and vitamins.

There are plenty of effective alternatives that can enable consumers to avoid egg shortages, as well as provide health benefits, reduce carbon emissions and eliminate the negative impact of industrial farming on animal welfare.

Alexis Gauthier, who runs the Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant Gauthier Soho, says in classic French cooking, the use of eggs is broken down into whites and yolks. Egg whites, which are high in protein and react easily with heat, are used to bind and bind ingredients together, while egg yolks are high in fat and cholesterol and add a “soft, creamy richness” to dishes.

Here are egg swaps chefs recommend.


One well-known substitute for eggs in vegetarian cooking is tofu scramble, which has a similar texture to scrambled eggs, although it is usually mixed with seasonings to enhance flavour.

At Gauthier’s casual 123V, silken tofu is used to recreate scrambled eggs, adding turmeric for color and kala namak, a Himalayan black salt readily available in South Asian supermarkets that has a subtle, sulfur-like aroma that tastes like eggs.

Roxy Pope, co-founder of So Vegan, says tofu is “a great source of protein and calcium,” while plant-fortified milk can be added to create leaner textures and to incorporate vitamin B12.

You can also experiment with texture by choosing silk or firm tofu, says Bettina Campolucci Purdi, a vegetarian.

She recommends trying a hummus scramble by crushing half a can of chickpeas and leaving the rest to firm, and cooking with vegetables and tomato sauce.

In the morning, she also makes a chickpea omelet with chickpea flour, bicarbonate of soda, and apple cider vinegar, served with seasonal veggies—quick, easy, and much cheaper than eggs.

Burgers, pies and pies

All of these dishes use eggs as a binder to prevent the ingredients from falling apart while frying.

Chefs recommend instead using a “flax egg,” which is made from ground flaxseeds soaked in water until gelatinous.

Ben Bock, co-founder of So Vegan, suggests combining that with oatmeal and chickpea flour, which absorb moisture and prevent pancakes from crumbling. Flaxseeds are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which improve heart health.

Cakes and bread

Eggs make cakes rich and moist, but there are plenty of tricks vegan bakers use that you can try.

Valentina Fois, who runs vegan nutritional consultancy Lele, uses ripe bananas or chia seeds in her muffins, while Campolucci Bordi says any puree will work, including sweet potatoes, carrots or apples. Adding a little apple cider vinegar will make baked goods more tender.

Aquafaba juice, a juice from a tin of chickpeas, is commonly used as a substitute for egg whites, although results vary. Bob uses them to make meringues, but warns that they won’t stay crunchy for long, so eat them quickly.

Food influencer Samah Lakka makes chocolate mousse using aquafaba instead of egg white, though she says it’s a better substitute for texture than taste.

She adds that coconut milk, cashew butter, and vanilla with maple syrup for sweetness will help increase the richness and can make an effective vegetable custard thanks to the high fat content of the ingredients.

Excellent food

If you want to try fine dining techniques, Gauthier uses potato protein to reconstitute egg whites—and recommends Sosa products—into dishes like macaroons. Instead of egg yolks, pea protein — purchased at Yumgo — is used with rapeseed oil and rice flour to make curds and creamy sauces.

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