As a pescatarian who consumes eggs and dairy far more than fish, I’m always looking for ways to seamlessly swap out these animal byproducts for animal-free equivalents. And “seamlessly” is the operative word here — some vegan cheeses, for example, leave something to be desired as far as flavor and nutrition go. But, I was delighted to find that an egg-free mayonnaise exists that is just as good or better than the real thing: JUST Mayo! (Just one problem…there have been shortages of late. Still, the realm of vegan mayonnaise is pretty likely to keep expanding, if the rise of Beyond Meat and Impossible burgers is any indication.)
Is Vegan Mayonnaise Good for You?
Now, it’s true that, regarding nutrition, the bar isn’t high for mayonnaise. It’s an admittedly fat-tastic product, and hopefully all of us know that already. Let’s do a direct comparison, though, and see how JUST Mayo compares to the classic American mainstay, Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise. In one tablespoon, JUST Mayo has 60 calories whereas Hellman’s has 90. JUST Mayo has 6 grams of fat, and Hellmann’s has 10. Of that fat, JUST contains none of that iffy kind, saturated fat — Hellman’s does contain 1.5 grams of saturated fat, though. Finally, Hellman’s has a little bit of cholesterol (5 milligrams) while JUST has none. All in all, JUST Mayo (which relies on pea protein to provide the texture usually achieved with eggs) is a slightly superior option, as far as nutritional content goes when selecting what is essentially a fat spread.
Related Reading: How to Read & Understand a Nutrition Label
It would be unfair, however, to omit Hellman’s Light Mayonnaise from the nutrition discussion. With 35 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, and .5 grams of saturated fat, this variety is certainly lighter all-around than our first two contenders — but JUST Mayo still wins out with zero saturated fat. Hellman’s Light’s main ingredient is water, and it adds food starch and a little more salt to fill in flavor gaps, but it does achieve the lightest option of the three, regarding fat and calories.
How Does Vegan Mayonnaise Taste?
What about taste? Well, spoiler alert: fat tastes good. So, JUST Mayo tastes good. But beyond just the creamy, fatty aspect, JUST Mayo has a really nice tang with light notes of garlic and lemon (it’s also available in several flavors like Sriracha). I’ve always liked mayonnaise, so I like Hellman’s just fine — but JUST Mayo is a touch lighter-tasting and more complex, in my opinion.
In the end, I would happily add any of these options to my sandwich or tuna salad (or, more likely now, Tuno salad) — if taste and nutrition were the only factors. But they aren’t, and since a factor of growing importance for me is lack-of-animal-ingredients, JUST Mayo edges ahead. For about a year now, JUST Mayo has been providing me with the vegan addition of fat and creaminess that many of my home meals had been lacking.
Related Reading: 12 Easy & Incredible Vegan Sauces to Put on Everything
How to Use Vegan Mayonnaise
Besides the aforementioned sandwiches and faux tuna salad, I’ve always enjoyed rice bowls consisting of rice (of course), vegetables, and a protein (most commonly tofu or seitan, these days). Unlike our recipe for this Rice Bowl with Poached Egg, Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, and Feta, mine admittedly lean a little bland— but I do sprinkle on cheese or add a dollop of mayonnaise for texture and added flavor, keeping even more recent iterations of these rice bowls firmly planted in vegetarian (though not vegan) territory. Since I started buying JUST Mayo, it has been so much easier to create meals that, it seems, just happen to be vegan.
When you’re eating anything doused in JUST Mayo, you might get that cognitive dissonance where you feel like something that indulgent can’t possibly be vegan. A carrot is vegan. Kale is obviously vegan. But a bowl full of spice and varying textures and creamy, fatty deliciousness? It turns out that can be vegan, too! The more you try cooking vegan, the more you come to understand that it has a wide range of nutritional outputs: sometimes it’s a healthy, raw vegetable salad (like our Jicama and Orange Salad), and sometimes it’s deep-fried seitan dipped in a spicy vegan mayo sauce (like in these recipes for fried vegan fare).
Is There a JUST Mayo Shortage? Or Has It Been Discontinued?
Sadly, I’ve noticed a glaring absence of JUST Mayo at my local Jewel grocery store. “Must be out,” I thought the first time I couldn’t find it. The second time, I assumed the store must have reorganized its vegan products. But now, I am not sure it is coming back. There are some theories floating around online (and much panicking on the part of other JUST fans).
I’ve put an order in at LuckyVitamin.com despite their note that the product is back-ordered (and, now, gasp, it appears to be unavailable!). Honestly, I’ve grown pretty accustomed to having JUST Mayo around, and I am worried my current “back-order” is just a placeholder for an inevitable refund, without any product incoming to fulfill my request. In the meantime, though, I may have to turn my focus toward their newest product, JUST Egg, in an attempt to console myself about the absence of JUST Mayo in my life.
Follow Your Heart Vegenaise, $4.99 at Target
This is another popular option on the vegan mayo market.
I’m holding out hope that my order is fulfilled, and that my beloved product also returns to my grocery store shelves. Barring that, it would be amazing if more and more companies explore vegan mayo options, because frankly, it doesn’t seem like the most difficult thing to vegan-ize.
Items like these make for a smoother transition away from animal products, or at the very least, help you swap in vegan options a little more frequently. And yes, as Hellman’s explains about their new vegan product, then we can all “feel good” about what we’re serving our families.
Of course, you can also always make your own vegan mayonnaise, but the convenience of store-bought is hard to beat.
Update, 7/31/2019: A representative from the company reached out to Chowhound to acknowledge the JUST Mayo shortage and allay fears about the product’s future availability. Their team is “working extremely hard” as they get a new production facility up and running to meet demand. For now, you can find JUST Mayo at Walmart and some other locations, but “it will take some time for full distribution to be restored.”
In the meanwhile, let us know: What’s your favorite vegan mayo and how do you like to use it? We know some Chowhounds already stanned for Vegenaise over Hellman’s back in 2011, but the market has certainly expanded—at least a little—since then.
Header image courtesy of JUST