Article Thumbnail

My Very Vegan Egg Brunch

Just how much does Just Egg, the Beyond Meat for the breakfast table, taste like the real thing?

When I first heard of Just Egg, the businessman in me was curious about how the company behind it was able to get away with bestowing the name “Just Egg” upon it. Not only is Just Egg not made from the eggs of chickens, but I can’t identify anything on its ingredient list that was hatched from an egg. That doesn’t, however, deter the Eat Just company from referring to their eggless “egg” products as “Really good eggs.” It was only when I performed a trademark search that I got my answer: The attempts to trademark “Just Egg” alone were abandoned, and the official trademark incorporates everything that appears on the front of the label — “Just Egg Made From Plants Not Chickens.” 

I suppose the goal of Just Egg is to provide an egg-like alternative to people who are otherwise addicted to eggs and simply couldn’t stand to live without them. Unlike situations involving hamburgers and hot dogs — which are cookout staples with vegetarian equivalents that serve as munchables that allow vegetarians to dodge awkward questions like, “Why are you munching on a bun full of broccoli?” — I’ve never heard of someone ducking a bottomless brunch because they didn’t want to be pressured into ordering an omelette. 

When I got a bottle (jar?) of the standard-issue Just Egg to test out, I wasn’t really alarmed by the $3.99 price tag until it dawned on me over the course of its consumption that I’d be getting the equivalent of three meals out of it. Granted, I’m a four-egg-per-morning kind of a guy, so it’s not like I used a light touch when it came to this stuff. That said, if all of my meals had been of my usual size, this container of Just Egg would have been just empty in two days. Given how the average price of a dozen eggs is presently $1.50, the per-meal price of my egg substitute would be four times the price of my typical egg-heavy breakfast. My point being, if you’re price sensitive, you need to desperately want this egg replacement in order to justify paying that price differential.

My first sampling of Just Egg was a simple one — scrambled eggs. I poured out the Just Egg, and it dispensed itself very cleanly, with the yellow coloring so evenly distributed throughout the mixture that it looked like someone had liquified a bottle of French’s Yellow Mustard and poured it into the pan. Two minutes into the cooking process, though, the Just Egg liquid didn’t look much different than it had when I’d poured it out. “I don’t see how this is going to cook up into a reasonable approximation of an egg,” I grimly predicted to my wife.

The Just Egg, all by its lonesome

But wouldn’t you know it — that Just Egg managed to cook itself up into a gorgeous egg-like formation that looked like a perfectly acceptable serving of scrambled eggs, only smoother in appearance. I was downright impressed.

The Just Egg, excellently scrambled (if I do say so myself)

My wife bisected the Just Egg and placed it on a plate, seasoning it with salt and pepper. “It tastes kind of nutty,” she reported.

I had to agree. It had the look and texture of authentic eggs, but it definitely didn’t taste like eggs. It didn’t taste bad, mind you; it just wouldn’t have satisfied my desire for the taste of a real egg if that had been something I’d had a hankering for.

A couple days later, I got up in the morning, distracted the dog with her favorite Pawday bar, and decided I’d give Just Egg a shot at replacing my standard four-egg allocation of morning protein in my ordinary breakfast concoction: a mixture of eggs and shredded Mexican cheese, seasoned with salt, pepper and chipotle powder. In my haste, I added my normal dash of olive oil to the pan, never considering what might happen as a result.

I figured this would be a shoo-in to work as intended. After all, the egg substitute by itself had been immaculate. Alas, complications arose almost immediately, as an unscrapable layer of crust began to form on the non-stick pan. I turned down the heat and began to shift my eggless protein mash around a bit. An aroma resembling that of boiling split pea soup began to fill the air. In retrospect, this is unsurprising since split peas are in the same family as beans and lentils, and mung bean protein is the predominant solid ingredient in Just Egg.

As my cheesy, beany, protein-heavy mash continued to cook, I noticed something else: Despite the initial layer of crust that formed early in the cooking process, this version of scrambled eggs and cheese simply refused to harden the way I preferred. I always cook my eggs to the point where they’re borderline burned, and this mixture was having extreme difficulty achieving that similar level of scorched stiffness.

The Just Egg, seemingly ruined by shredded Mexican cheese and/or olive oil

Eventually, I gave up and extracted the yellow blob from the pan by slapping it on a plate and ate it in front of the television while I got caught up on Wu-Tang Clan: An American Saga. Mixed with cheese, the Just Egg now more closely resembled and tasted like what it actually was — a glorified mix of dehydrated beans that someone had provided with an optimal amount of oil and water. I don’t know if it was the cheese or the additional oil that had destabilized the Just Egg mixture, but I got the feeling that one of those two things upset the balance of the other Just Egg ingredients. 

The good news was that it still didn’t taste bad. However, I was now under no illusions that what I was eating was in any way comparable to a credible egg. Still, I didn’t want to rush to any judgments. Thus, I turned the remainder of the Just Egg bottle over to my wife. Her food prep tends more toward enjoyment and less toward function than mine does, so I presumed she might treat the ersatz egg with the love, care and attention required to bring the best out of it.

I advised her to prepare the Just Egg in the exact same manner as if she was making her favorite egg dish, so she poured it out and prepped it with salt, pepper and basil, and then she whisked it together until it was a little foamy. Next, she melted butter in the pan and cooked her whisked Just Egg mixture the same way she’d cook an omelette. When it was all over, she folded it over on a plate, and added grated cheese and salsa on top of it.

My wife’s much more impressive attempt at a Just Egg omelette
Perfectly plated and everything! Still very nutty tasting, though.

“It’s good!” my wife exclaimed. “It doesn’t taste like an egg, but at this point, it’s so heavily seasoned it doesn’t really matter.”

I guess that’s the most important takeaway: If you need a vegan-friendly, cholesterol-free alternative to an egg that will cook up to resemble something very close to an egg in appearance and texture, Just Egg has you covered. Just don’t get into this expecting it to function or taste like an egg in every situation, because there are some egg responsibilities that a bean simply isn’t prepared to fulfill.