Which food group do eggs belong to? (Explained!) (2023)

Eggs are incredibly nutritious as they are a rich source of protein, fat and a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals.

But how do eggs fit into a modern understanding of nutrition? How are eggs classified? Which food group do eggs belong to?

The USDA places eggs in the protein food group along with meat, poultry, seafood, and other high-protein foods. Although eggs are in this group with meat, they are not meat.

Let's learn more about how eggs are classified.

Which food group do eggs belong to? (Explained!) (1)

Table of Contents

  • 1 Are Eggs Dairy?
  • 2 Are Eggs Meat?
  • 3 Which category do eggs belong to in the food pyramid?
    • 3.1 USDA MyPlate
  • 4 Are eggs considered vegetarian?
    • 4.1 Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarier
    • 4.2 Pescetarier
    • 4.3 Vegans
    • 4.4 Flexitarian
  • 5 They-Terminology
    • 5.1 Cage Free
    • 5.2 Free Range/Free Roaming
    • 5.3 Grazing
    • 5.4 Vegetarian diet
    • 5.5 Organic certified
  • 6 Summary

Are Eggs Dairy?

Eggs are not dairy products. Dairy products are made from the milk of certain mammals, such as cows and goats. Dairy products include milk, cream, butter, cheese, yogurt, etc.

Eggs are often psychologically linked to dairy products and are often kept in a similar place at the supermarket.

Both eggs and dairy are strongly associated with farms; They often need to be stored at cool temperatures and are staples that are essential to thousands of different dishes, recipes and food preparation.

Although strong mental and cultural associations link eggs and dairy, and they are often kept in the same aisle at the grocery store, eggs are not dairy.

Are eggs meat?

Eggs are not meat. Meat is usually an animal's muscle tissue (although we sometimes eat organ tissue as well).

On the other hand, an egg is a container full of nutrients designed to nourish a growing embryo until it hatches.

The shell of an egg acts as a package to contain the nutrients and often provides some protection for an embryo. Because eggs have no flesh or tissue, they are not meat.

A common misconception about eggs is that they contain an embryo or chicken fetus, which could lead to them being classified as meat.

(Video) What food group are eggs in?

However, freshly collected eggs contain no embryo at all. This is because most hens in egg production are not exposed to a rooster and therefore never mate.

Although adult hens lay an egg about every 24 hours most of the year, if they have never sired, the eggs will never be fertilized and will never hatch into a chick under any circumstances.

What category are eggs in the food pyramid?

In the food pyramid used from 1992-2005 and in the USDA's todaymy plateDietary guidelines (more on this below) include eggs in the group of protein foods.

According to MyPlate guidelines, an adult who eats 2,000 calories a day should eat 5.5 ounces of foods in the protein food group.

An average small egg is 1.5 ounces, while an average large egg contains 2 ounces of protein.

USDA MyPlate

The USDA has updated the classic food pyramid into new nutritional guidelines calledmy plate.

Instead of a pyramid shape with grains at the bottom and fat at the top, the MyPlate system divides the diet into proportions made up of the five staple food groups:


The fruit food group consists of fruit juices and fresh, canned, frozen, dried and pureed fruits.


The plant-based food group includes dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables like mushrooms and avocados.

Beans and peas are foods that are included in both the vegetable group and the protein group because they contain vital nutrients from both food groups.


The cereals food group includes whole grains and refined grains with foods like whole wheat bread, oatmeal, pasta, etc.

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The protein food group consists of seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and soy.


The group of dairy products includes milk, yoghurt and cheese.

Are eggs considered vegetarian?

Because eggs can be harvested and eaten without harming the chicken, they are usually considered an acceptable food for vegetarians trying to maintain a diet that does not involve killing animals.

However, there are many different types of vegetarians with different diet options and supplements.

Here are some of the most popular types of vegetarian diets:


The most popular form of vegetarian diet is the lacto-ovo vegetarian.

These people eat a plant-based diet, along with dairy and eggs. They do not eat meat, poultry, or animal flesh, including fish and shellfish.

Some subtypes include lacto-vegetarians, who eat dairy but no eggs, or ovo-vegetarians (also called "vegans"), who eat eggs but no dairy.


A pescetarian diet includes lacto-ovo-vegetarian foods - plants, dairy, eggs, fish and seafood.

Pescetarians do not eat meat from land animals such as chicken, beef, pork, and the like.


Vegans do not eat animal-derived foods and only eat plant-derived foods.

Therefore, vegans do not eat meat, poultry, fish, or seafood, nor do vegans eat eggs, dairy, honey, gelatin, or other animal-based foods.

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Flexitarians are people who basically eat a vegetarian diet, but occasionally eat meat or fish.

Some people eatraw foods, paleo, macrobiotic and other diets, each with specific guidelines for eggs.

Many vegetarians and vegans trying to choose responsibly and sustainably grown and harvested foods are concerned about the source and origin of their food.

For example, some want to follow a diet that does not kill or harm animals.

These people may not be eating mass-produced and factory-raised eggs, but may be eating free-range, organic, and hormone-free eggs.

You can also choose grass-fed dairy, wild-caught fish, and similar types of foods.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult and time-consuming to research food origins and make animal and environmental protection-based decisions instead of simply selecting different food categories.


When it comes to eggs, here are some of the ethical and environmental considerations people pay attention to.

cage free

The term cage-free means the chicken is free to roam, nest, and engage in other natural behaviors. This does not mean that they have access to nature or a natural environment.

Free range/free roaming

Free range means the chickens are not caged, are free to roam and engage in behaviors and have access to nature.

pasture rearing

Grazing hens are free-range hens, but the term implies that the outside area is a natural grazing area.

Therefore, the chicken could supplement its diet with natural foraging.

Vegetarian diet

A vegetarian chicken has been fed a diet free of animal by-products.

It is important to note that chickens naturally eat bugs, worms, seeds and vegetables, so chickens are not naturally vegetarians or vegans.

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However, a commercial feed with no animal by-products is healthier and more natural than a commercial feed full of meat by-products.

Certified organic

Certified Organic is a federal standard administered and enforced by the USDA.

It requires chickens to be cage-free, pasture-raised, vegetarian and organic, and free of pesticides and antibiotics.

Only the term "Certified Organic" is a legal standard that must be observed.

All other egg labeling terms can be used subjectively, with different definitions from one company to another.

For the most consistent interpretation of animal welfare guidelines, choose USDA Certified Organic.

You can also look for independent, third-party certifications such as Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, and other organizations with voluntary animal health and welfare standards.

in summary

Owner,brown or white, are not meat and can be harvested without harming the chicken.

Additionally, commercially produced eggs are not fertilized and do not have the potential to hatch into an animal. They are also extremely high in protein and nutrients.

For these reasons, many vegetarians eat eggs, although they can choose organic or cage-free eggs for animal welfare reasons.

Vegans don't typically eat eggs because they don't believe in exploiting animals for human consumption.

However, these categories of diet and preferences are personal choices that don't easily fit into groups and categories.

Despite dietary preferences, eggs are a healthy source of protein and a food that has been eaten for thousands of years.

They are neither meat nor dairy but belong to a separate category within the protein food group.

(Video) Food Groups And Nutrition

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