Have you seen those articles going around about “veggans”, people who are otherwise vegan but consume eggs? Like all fad diets, I’m hoping this one dies hard.
It’s gotten me riled up for a couple reasons. First, egg-laying hens are subject to some of the most revolting abuse imaginable and eggs have absolutely no place in an ethical diet. Not to mention the 260 million baby male chicks that are murdered annually (typically ground alive or suffocated in trash bags) because they are of no use to this industry. Remember that phrases on eggs like “cage-free” and “free-range” have extremely loose interpretations and still cause considerable abuse to the animals from which they are taken. There is simply no such thing as humane eggs.
Vegans do not consume animal products, including eggs. The term “veggan” is an offensive, irrational spin on veganism that has nothing to do with ethical consumption. Plus, there’s already a term to describe this dietary pattern: ovo-vegetarian.
Second, there is this notion that we “need” dietary cholesterol. Let’s settle this once and for all: Your body makes all of the cholesterol it needs. You do not need to eat cholesterol. The Dietary Guidelines make this very clear by stating “the body uses cholesterol for physiological and structural functions but makes more than enough for these purposes. Therefore, people do not need to obtain cholesterol through foods.”
There is not a direct correlation between the cholesterol we eat and the cholesterol in our bodies. Heart health markers such as serum cholesterol and even serum LDL cholesterol (which we’ve known as “bad cholesterol” for decades) are under scrutiny as we learn more about the complexities of their properties in relation to cardiovascular disease.
I believe some of this confusion may have been caused by the release of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans which no longer advises Americans to limit cholesterol consumption to less than 300 milligrams per day. However, the Guidelines are very clear that just because the scientific evidence no longer supports dietary cholesterol restriction to this level that does not mean people should increase their consumption of cholesterol-rich foods. In fact, the Guidelines agree with the Institute of Medicine’s position that “individuals should eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible while consuming a healthy eating pattern.”
One of the articles about “veggans” has some unfortunate quotes in it from a registered dietitian that I hope are retracted and clarified. It is important the RDN credential remain credible not only among our own profession but especially among consumers. I’ve heard more than enough vegans scoff at the RDN credential and this is a perfect example of why that may happen.
For RDNs looking to learn more about vegetarian and vegan nutrition, the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group has loads of great resources for both professionals and consumers. In addition, there is now a certificate of training program available on vegetarian nutrition.
On a lighter note, here are some delicious vegan brunch foods I’ve made this month, replacing egg with tofu or chickpea flour. Enjoy!