Are Eggs Considered Dairy?

Cyd Converse

What is the proper classification of eggs? Are eggs considered dairy and should they be avoided in a 'dairy free' diet? Find out here!

There tends to be quite a bit of confusion around whether or not eggs are considered dairy. 
It can be an important distinction if you are following a particular diet, or need to cut out certain foods due to allergies or sensitivities.
Yet it's common to see eggs and dairy grouped together in photographs and articles. Plus many supermarkets and grocery stores sell eggs in the dairy aisle, which leads people to view them as a dairy product. 
BLAT Eggs Benedict Photo
But for a food to be considered dairy, it must either contain milk or be produced from milk (think creams, cheeses, butters, and yogurts).
Another way to think about it is that dairy products can only be produced by animals that have mammary glands.
Eggs are not considered dairy as they come from birds, who lay the eggs, and do not produce milk.
But whilst eggs don't fit the definition of what's considered 'dairy', they do have some similarities to dairy products. This is because they are an animal by-product and provide high levels of protein.
Fresh Eggs Picture
The fact that eggs are still an animal by-product - and actually belong to the meat, poultry and fish categories -  explains why many vegans (and some vegetarians) avoid eggs.
Eggs are also part of the 'protein' group, which includes  nuts, soy, seeds and beans.
Why isn't milk in the protein group?
Milk contains protein too, so you might think milk should be part of the protein group. But it also contains lactose and high levels of calcium, making it a different source of protein to that of eggs, meats, fish etc.
Baked Eggs and Green Beans Image

Eggs and lactose intolerance

Many people who are lactose intolerant avoid dairy as it often causes digestive issues such as trapped gas, stomach cramps and diarrhea.
Fortunately, there's no need for those with lactose intolerance to avoid eggs, as eggs don't contain any lactose at all! 
How to Make Deviled Eggs Pic

Egg-free diets

There are many people that follow egg-free diets, not due to insensitivities but to either personal choice, ethical or health reasons.
Many Jewish people who follow a Kosher diet split their foods into three groups - meat, dairy and pareve. Pareve refers to to food that contains no meat or dairy ingredients - meat and milk products must not be cooked or eaten together.
How to Make Deviled Eggs Photo
Eggs are considered to be a pareve food in Jewish culture (as are fish!). However, if there is any sign of fertilisation when ther egg is cracked (such as a spot of blood), then the eggs changes from a pareve food and falls into the meat category instead!
And some people are simply allergic to eggs and can't consume them at all. Luckily, it's easy to make egg substitutes to use in cooking, like this flax egg. And if you can't have eggs but love pancakes, check out this list of substitutes for eggs in pancakes.

Cyd is a native of Upstate New York, born to a family of women who love to cook and host parties. She shares her love of all things food, home and entertaining on her blog, The Sweetest Occasion and on Instagram.

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