What, Exactly, Are Vegan Egg Yolks?

It's an understatement to say vegan and plant-based foods are different now than they were ten years ago. Today we have Impossible Foods, creating a burger many think is barely distinguishable from meat, and Daring Foods, making faux chicken with a similar taste and mouthfeel to the real thing. We even have plant-based egg products that can be used to make merengue, quiche, and deviled eggs. But mimicking an actual chicken egg's yolk has been much more difficult.

According to CEO Eran Groner, Yo! Egg is credited with marketing "the world's first plant-based sunny-side-up and poached eggs," as he told Tech Crunch. It is made out of water, sunflower and/or canola oil, chickpea protein, and soy protein along with a handful of other ingredients. The nutritional facts on both the poached and sunny-side-up are similar, with one egg containing 70 calories, five to six grams of fat, 30 to 40 milligrams of sodium, two to three grams of carbs, one to two grams of fiber, and two grams of protein.

Hema Reddy, the founder of Crafty Counter and the first vegan hard-boiled eggs — WunderEggs — focused on nuts in the creation of her product. The main ingredients are almonds, coconut milk, and cashews, with the "yolk" primarily consisting of cashews with turmeric and annatto for color. Reddy hopes to eventually make the product without tree nuts so she can reduce the price to consumers, but it's going to take some time to get there.

A lot of demand for a plant-based yolk

Yo! Egg was created by chef Yosefa Ben Cohen, who had been hired by a restaurant chain to create a vegan sunny-side-up egg. The product underwent an evolution from her initial experiment, which consisted of tofu and pumpkin. "People started coming to that place asking for just the egg," Yo! Egg co-founder and CEO  Groner told Fast Company.

Cohen and her husband realized people were craving a plant-based whole-egg dining experience. First popular in Israel before moving to other countries, Yo! Egg finally came to the U.S., first rolling out in California restaurants, and most recently being featured on the menu of the Lancaster, Pennsylvania restaurant, Root. Unfortunately, Yo! Eggs are only available to purchase at restaurants.

Before WunderEggs, Reddy had been trying to create Wundernuggets, chicken nuggets made of a mix of chicken, chickpeas, and vegetables. But after seeing the state of the poultry industry during the pandemic, her focus shifted dramatically. "I just could not be in this space anymore," she told Food Dive. Like Cohen, Reddy realized that plant-based eggs weren't available as an alternative that included a yolk, so she began experimenting on her own and with food scientists. One benefit WunderEggs have is their long shelf life — up to 140 days in the refrigerator unopened. Unlike Yo! Eggs, WunderEggs can be ordered through Crafty Counter's website, or found at grocery stores like Whole Foods.