The H5N8 strain of the bird flu virus landed in South Africa late last year, and has now wiped out more than 2-million birds in Western Cape, hitting the egg industry hard.
SA's favourite cheap animal protein source is seeing increasing price hikes in Western Cape, but the "egg-pocalypse" is beginning to hit other regions as well. Eggs are now not only more expensive than ever, but scientists are finding that some may not even be safe to consume – with shells testing positive for disease-causing bacteria.
But Banters, bakers and breakfast lovers need not scramble, as there are a number of egg replacements and substitutes that have been tried and tested by the vegan community. These substitutes are likely going to be more affordable – and in some cases healthier.
Flax or chia eggs
High in Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and fibre, one tablespoon of either of these tiny seeds mixed with three tablespoons of water and poured into your baking batter makes the perfect binder – and pack a superfood punch. They're still a rather "trendy" food, so you may not find them cheap, but they are available widely and can be used in a number of ways.
Banana and applesauce eggs
There is nothing better than dessert, so I find myself baking a lot. A lot. And when I do, I love giving my overripe apples new life as applesauce and whisking bananas into a loaf. One mashed banana can replace two eggs in most recipes, while a tablespoon of applesauce can be used in place of one egg. These two are my personal favourites, because they're super-accessible, cheap and natural.
This is another affordable baking hack that I love, because bicarbonate of soda is always so useful and handy. This egg sub calls on the magic of science, with the use of a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a half teaspoon of bicarb. The fizzy concoction, which replaces two eggs, can then be added to your baking batter; it makes for lovely, fluffy baked treats.
If you find yourself missing eggs at breakfast, a tofu scramble may be the egg substitute you need. Tofu is particularly great, as its mild flavour gives you room to completely transform the taste to your liking with the addition of spices and herbs, and a dash of turmeric powder gives this eggless scramble the perfect, yolked tinge. Tofu can be pretty expensive depending on where you buy it, but its worth the splurge if you're health conscious, as half a cup of tofu offers nearly twice as much protein as one egg.
Similar to tofu scramble, a little bit of chickpea flour mixed with herbs, spices, oil and water can easily be transformed to something reminiscent of egg. A chickpea batter can be fried into a scramble, omelettes and even baked into frittata – the options are endless. Another great option for the health conscious, as this flour is gluten-free and high in protein. It's also affordable and can be found in most supermarkets and Indian grocery stores.