Are eggs dairy? The answer isn’t totally clear to everyone

Here’s a question you can ask your friends to spark a heated debate: Are eggs dairy? While it might seem obvious, considering the fact that dairy mostly comes from cows and cows do not lay eggs, you’d be surprised by how many people are confused on this issue. So, here’s the short answer: No, eggs are not a dairy product. 

What is dairy?

According to the USDA, dairy consists of “all fluid milk products and foods made from milk.” Furthermore, they declare that “dairy products include fluid beverage milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, yogurt, dry milk products, condensed milk, and whey products.” 

See? No eggs! 

Another way to look at it, according to Delish, is that milk comes from mammals like cows, sheep and goats, and mammals have mammary glands. However, eggs come from chickens, which are birds, not mammals.

If eggs aren’t dairy, then what are they?

The USDA categorizes eggs as an animal product and puts them in the protein foods group

In fact, they say that “all foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the protein foods group.”

For reference, there’s about 6 grams of protein in one large egg. 

Doesn’t milk have protein, though?

Yes, milk technically contains protein, but it also contains lactose and high amounts of calcium, making it different from all the other proteins. Milk is milk, and milk is dairy. 

Why do some people think eggs are dairy?

If you thought eggs were part of the dairy food group, you’re not alone. First of all, growing up, you probably saw eggs and dairy on the same line of the food pyramid. Luckily, today, the USDA has swapped the pyramid for a plate with easier guidelines (you can check it out here if you’re curious).

Also, milk, cheese, butter and eggs are often all sold next to each other in the grocery store, many times in what is deemed the dairy section. 

And lastly, here’s where it gets complicated—vegans. If you have a friend who is vegan, they probably have told you they are dairy-free. Vegans avoid all products produced by animals though, which includes things like eggs and even honey. However, someone can be dairy-free and still eat eggs, like someone who is lactose intolerant. 

So, the short version of this debate: Dairy is milk, milk comes from mammals (like cows), and eggs come from chickens (birds). Therefore, they're not dairy. There you go. Now, here’s a question for your next debate: Are eggs considered vegetarian?

Hungry for eggs now? Check out our favorite egg recipes in the slide show below:

61 PHOTOS
Good Eats: 61 egg recipes
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Good Eats: 61 egg recipes

Bacon, Tomato and Cheddar Breakfast Bake with Eggs by Food & Wine

Get the recipe here.

Lemon, Parsley and Parmesan Plus Bread, Prosciutto and Egg by Martha Stewart

Get the recipe here.

Bacon and Egg Breakfast Pizza by Kitchen Daily Editors

Get the recipe here.    

Veggie Breakfast Sandwich by Jelly Toast

Get the recipe here.

Crab Cake Eggs Benedict with Bacon Hollandaise by Domestic Fits | Jackie Dodd

Get the recipe here.

Eggs Baked in Roasted Tomato Sauce by Food & Wine

Get the recipe here.

Roasted Red Pepper and Kale Frittata by Martha Stewart

Get the recipe here.

Soft Scrambled Eggs with Smoky Seasonings & Chives by Home Skillet | Jenn & Seth Kendall

Get the recipe here.

Bacon & Egg Rolls with Almond & Chili Pesto by Simply Delicious | Alida Ryder

Get the recipe here.

Mini Hash Brown Quiche by Garnish & Glaze | Melanie Dueck

Get the recipe here.

Baked Eggs in a Basket by An Edible Mosaic | Faith Gorsky

Get the recipe here.

Southwestern Spicy Frittata by Kitchen Belleicious | Jessica Maher

Get the recipe here.

Chicken Hash with Eggs by Food & Wine

Get the recipe here.

Eggs Benedict Waffle by The Daily Meal

Get the recipe here.

Brunch Time Asparagus Spaghetti with Baked Egg by Bacon Egg & Cheese{cake} | Shelley Liu

Get the recipe here.

Ratatouille Toasts with Fried Eggs by Food & Wine

Get the recipe here.

Eggs Benedict with Manchego, Tomatoes, & Proscuitto and a Sage Hollandaise Sauce by Adventures in Cooking

Get the recipe here.

Smothered Cauliflower with Eggs by Food & Wine

Get the recipe here.

Shirred Eggs with Ham and Tomato by Kitchen Daily Editors

Get the recipe here.

Poached Eggs with Bacon Crumbs and Spinach by Food & Wine

Get the recipe here.

Poached Eggs Parmesan by Michael Symon's 5 in 5 | Michael Symon

Get the recipe here.

Mini Egg, Rice and Spinach Frittata Muffins by Belleicious Kids | Jessica Maher

Get the recipe here.

Mini Quail Eggs in Prosciutto Nests by Martha Stewart

Get the recipe here.

Chicken Sausage and Egg Breakfast Cups by Organize Yourself Skinny | Tammy Kresge

Get the recipe here.

Cheesy Kale Prosciutto Brunch Melts with Eggs by The Woks of Life 

Get the recipe here.

Avocado, Tomato and Feta Toast with Poached Eggs by The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen | Susan Palmer

Get the recipe here.

Potato Coins with Fried Eggs by Taking On Magazines | Christiane B. Potts

Get the recipe here.

Raw Asparagus Salad with Tomatoes and Hard-Boiled Eggs by Food & Wine

Get the recipe here.

Get the recipe here

Cheesy English Muffins with Smoky Balsamic Red Pepper Compote and Fried Eggs by An Edible Mosaic

Get the recipe here.

Easy Frittata with Greens and Cheese by Eating Made Easy | Amelia Winslow

Get the recipe here.

Churrasco (Ecuadorian Steak) and Eggs with Green Chili Sauce
by Hola Jalapeño | Kate Ramos

Get the recipe here.

Get the recipe here

Cold Soba and Cucumber Noodles with Soft-Boiled Eggs by Brooklyn Vegetarian | Amy Jennings

Get the recipe here

Grilled Cheese Egg in the Hole Sandwich by I Bake He Shoots | Mondo Fowler

Get the recipe here.

Butternut Squash and Apple Frittata with Bacon and Cheese by The Usual Bliss | Amber Howe 

Get the recipe here.

Egg in a Basket with Smoked Turkey and Asparagus by Weeknight Wonders | Ellie Krieger

Get the recipe here.

Leftover Baked Eggs and Chili Eggs by Bacon Egg & Cheese{cake} | Shelley Liu

Get the recipe here.

Grilled Asparagus with Pecorino and Meyer Lemon-Poached Eggs by Food & Wine

Get the recipe here.

Charred Tomatoes with Fried Eggs on Garlic Toast by Martha Stewart

Get the recipe here.

Frittata with Pea Shoots and Bacon by Jelly Toast

Get the recipe here.

Fried Egg-and-Bacon Puff Pastry Squares by Martha Stewart

Get the recipe here.

Hummus Deviled Eggs by Food & Wine

Get the recipe here.

Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt, Eggs, and Mint by Kitchen Daily Editors

Get the recipe here.

Egg-and-Tomato Breakfast Sandwich to Go by Martha Stewart

Get the recipe here.

Mascarpone Scrambled Eggs with Garlic Toasts by Taking On Magazines | Christiane B. Potts

Get the recipe here.

Crustless Asparagus Quiche by Chez Us | Denise Woodward and Lenny Ferreira

Get the recipe here.

Toasted Beer Cornbread with Avocado, Crispy Pancetta and Poached Eggs by Hola Jalapeño | Kate Ramos

Get the recipe here.

Spring Vegetable Frittata by Whipperberry

Get the recipe here.

Potato & Corn Frittata by Kitchen Daily Editors

Get the recipe here.

Pork Roll, Egg and Bagel Grilled Cheese by Grilled Cheese Social | Mackenzie Smith

Get the recipe here.

Baked Mexican Eggs by Eatori | Tori Haschka

Get the recipe here.

Potato and Egg Tacos by Campbell's Kitchen

Get the recipe here.

Fried Egg with Kale Pesto by Home Skillet | Jenn & Seth Kendall

Get the recipe here.

Taylor Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese on an English Muffin by Grilling 24x7 | John Thomas

Get the recipe here.

Mushroom and Scallion Frittata by Martha Stewart

Get the recipe here.

Truffled Garlic Egg Brioches by Eatori | Tori Haschka

Get the recipe here.

North Indian-Style Scrambled Eggs by A Brown Table | Nik Sharma

Get the recipe here.

Sriracha-and-Wasabi Deviled Eggs by Food & Wine

Get the recipe here.

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche by Live and Love to Eat | Claire Marshall

Get the recipe here.

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon by Kitchen Daily Editors

Get the recipe here.

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