Walk into any grocery store and you’ll find shelves lined with animal-based products. Animal source foods (ASF), in particular, constitute a significant portion of all food items available in the market today. So, as a vegan, there is a continuous need to be careful and to check ingredients before buying a product.
Pasta is no exception.
Is pasta vegan? Well, it can be, but not always. Sometimes, in restaurants and at stores, the pasta contains egg as an ingredient. Egg, of course, is an animal-sourced food and is therefore not vegan.
Fortunately, there are many brands that do offer vegan-friendly pasta options. And hey, if you don’t feel like buying pasta from the store, there are plenty of vegan-friendly recipes that you can follow to make it at home!
Which pastas are vegan?
There are hundreds of different types of pasta, all available in various shapes and sizes; spaghetti and rotini are a few popular examples. However, no matter the type, there are two ingredients that are always found in pasta: water and wheat.
Of course, water and wheat are as vegan as you could possibly get. It’s what gets added alongside the water and wheat that determines which pasta is vegan.
One of the most common types of pasta is Secca pasta which is the dry pasta that you often get in big packs from the store. Secca pasta is perhaps the most popular store-bought pasta and fortunately, is vegan. It is made out of just two ingredients: flour and semolina. Semolina, for those who don’t know, is purified wheat middlings. Both are plant-based, vegan, and safe for consumption.
The second common type of pasta is fresh pasta. This is the pasta you typically get at restaurants and make at home. This particular type of pasta contains flour, water, and salt – none of which are non-vegan ingredients. So what makes fresh pasta non-vegan?
Well, eggs are unfortunately used as an ingredient in their making.
It is worth noting that not all fresh pasta contains eggs. Fortunately for vegans, several substitutes can and are used in place of egg. Some restaurants and brands replace eggs as an ingredient with plant-based oils. This makes the pasta 100% vegan-friendly.
Besides egg, another ingredient to look out for is cheese. Now, cheese is typically served with pasta and is not an ingredient included within the pasta dough. However, certain restaurants add cheese to the actual pasta. Cheese, as you know, is typically made from milk which points towards the fact that it is not vegan.
Sometimes, milk will be added to pasta and not in the form of cheese. Milk helps moisten the dough which is why some brands and restaurants use it.
There is also butter, which is sometimes added to processed pasta dough. Butter is made from cream which is derived from milk, thus making it non-vegan.
Less common is squid ink. Some restaurants add squid ink to their pasta for coloring, which – being taken from an animal – makes it a non-vegan ingredient.
Luckily, there is a wide variety of vegan pasta that make use of various vegan-friendly ingredients. You can find vegan pasta brands that use rice, beans, legumes, yams, sweet potatoes, and even sea kelp in their pasta. All of these ingredients boost the nutritional value of the product and all of them are vegan!
Vegan pasta brands
Now that we’ve discussed what kinds of pasta are vegan, you probably want to now hear which brands provide vegan pasta. The good news is that there are several!
Barilla is an example of a popular brand that offers a wide variety of vegan-friendly pasta. Their pasta is gluten-free and is made from corn and rice. They also recently introduced a line of legume-based pasta.
Explore Cuisine is another example. They not only offer pasta that is vegan, but also organic and gluten-free. They also offer a wide variety of pasta shapes which include – but are not limited to – fettuccine, fusilli, and rigatoni.
Of course, these are not the only vegan pasta brands that you can find at the store! There’s also Mueller’s, Ronzoni, Trader Joe’s, and numerous others. When in the store, it’s often quite easy to spot which pastas are vegan as their package is usually labeled with a vegan certification. If they do not, however, then you need to check the ingredients on the back yourself to find out if they’re vegan.
How to make vegan pasta?
You don’t always have to buy from the store. Homemade cooking is just as tasty at times and fortunately, there are many vegan recipes that you can find online and in cooking books.
Now, for beginners, the easiest type of vegan pasta to make is one we already mentioned above; the fresh pasta. This is because it only requires the bare minimum of ingredients and nothing beyond the basics. This includes flour, semolina, water, and salt. It’s plain, it’s simple, and there are a lot of dishes you can include it in.
If you’re looking for something different, however, spinach pasta is a popular option. Spinach pasta involves using less water and adding pureed spinach into your dough. It makes the pasta’s color green and also adds spinachy flavor to it.
Spinach isn’t the only vegetable you can add to your pasta. There’s also lemon, tomatoes, beets, and even broccoli. You can also add herbs into your pasta dough such as basil or saffron for the extra taste.
After making your pasta, then there are plenty of food options to serve it with. Mushrooms, avocado, lentils, carrots, sweet potatoes – honestly anything that fits your taste buds! People often assume that going vegan means compromising on taste when that is not the case at all. There are countless delicious and nutritious recipes you can use for making vegan pasta at home.
Now that you know which pastas are vegan, you can easily identify the non-vegan variants in stores and restaurants. If you’re ever unsure about whether the pasta you are purchasing or being served is vegan-friendly or not, ask the store clerk or the waiter at the restaurant about it.
After all, it’s better to be on the safe side!