Eggs vs. Tofu
The Ultimate Scramble Showdown.
Are eggs the nutritional powerhouse they’re cracked up to be? How does the vegan alternative stack up?
Eggs have commonly been touted as a health food, especially for those looking to build muscle. It’s no wonder why: they are packed with protein.
But is one macronutrient enough to justify regular consumption without further question? What comes along with that protein? What are the costs to animal welfare? Might there be an alternative that offers similar nutritional benefits without the same potential for health and environmental risks?
Here we’ll be considering eggs in comparison with tofu.
Those familiar with vegan swaps have likely come across tofu scrambles as a breakfast alternative to scrambled eggs. Of course tofu is going to be somewhat different from eggs in exact taste and texture, but it’s pretty close! It’s certainly worth a go if you like a good scramble and want a vegan alternative.
While many facets of eggs vs. tofu could be considered, the main question I want to address here is how these two stack up nutritionally. If someone is looking to eat eggs for the sake of helping to build or maintain muscle mass, would tofu be an appropriate swap?
In short, yes.
But there’s much more to it. In fact, tofu is more than an appropriate swap. Its nutritional profile actually makes it superior to eggs for the sake of building and maintaining muscle, in addition to other health outcomes as well.
Let’s take a closer look.
The Scramble Showdown: Which is better—eggs or tofu?
Comparing 2 eggs with 100 g of firm tofu:
2 Eggs (105 g)
Fat: 11 g
Sat. fat: 3.5 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 13 g
Leucine*: 1090 mg
*for 100 g of egg (not 105 g)
Firm Tofu (100 g)
Fat: 8.7 g
Sat. fat: 1.3 g
Fiber: 2.3 g
Protein: 17.3 g
Leucine: 1397 mg
Based on the data above, we can give three cheers (actually FIVE cheers) for tofu:
Tofu is . . .
Lower in calories (but not significantly, so not a worry for those looking to gain weight)
Lower in saturated fat and total fat
A source of fiber (eggs do not contain fiber)
Higher in protein (by 33%)
Higher in leucine (by 28%)
For anyone looking to build or maintain muscle mass, do not miss those last two! Wow.
And that’s just part of the nutritional picture. Tofu also contains things that eggs do not, such as soy isoflavones, which have been associated with various positive health outcomes from reducing cancer and cardiovascular disease risk to metabolic and endocrine health.
Are eggs “bad” for us?
In a word, no. But, again, there’s more to it. We need to recognize the complexity involved in answering such a question.
For the otherwise healthy person who wants to continue to consume eggs, a modest intake is likely not something to be overly concerned about as far as health is concerned. While the conversation about dietary cholesterol often is overgeneralized and lacks important nuance, there are other reasons for avoiding—or at least thoughtfully restricting—our consumption of eggs, namely matters related to animal welfare. Thus, for those of us who choose to eat eggs, it would behoove us to find the most humane eggs we can. (For instance, I always prefer to source any eggs I consume from a friend’s own backyard chicken coop.)
As a bonus win for tofu—and especially if you would be purchasing the best quality eggs—it is more affordable. For reference, a dozen eggs of highest quality can run anywhere from $6–$10 a dozen while tofu costs a fraction of the price (less than $3 for the same weight of product).
Wherever you find yourself with regard to your health and your fitness goals, consider giving a tofu scramble a shot, especially if you’re already a scramble fan.
 See, e.g., PubMed: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31584249/.
 The American Heart Association provides a brief post about eggs here: https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/08/15/are-eggs-good-for-you-or-not.
 For a deep dive on the effects of dietary cholesterol on health, including how saturated fat affects this, check out ep. 371 of the Sigma Nutrition Radio podcast with Dr. Alan Flanagan and host Danny Lennon titled, “Dietary Cholesterol – Are Eggs & Cholesterol-rich Foods a Cause for Concern?”: https://sigmanutrition.com/episode371/.
 See Sandra Richter, Stewards of Eden, 37–38. Resources that Richter cites on these pages include: https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/cage-free-vs-battery-cage-eggs and https://www.aspca.org/sites/default/files/chix_white_paper_nov2015_lores.pdf, among others.