Fresh pasta is often considered a meat-based food that goes with many common cuisines such as beef, chicken, and pork such as ham. Often a staple of lunches and dinners with a pinch of fresh basil, and a touch of black pepper, we often get this question: is pasta vegan?
For our plant-based friends, trying to navigate the world of living a vegan lifestyle is often tricky, as you don’t want to be enjoying one of your favorite foods, and realize that you’ve been off-plan this entire time.
So today you are going to learn if pasta is vegan and some simple tips to ensure that your pasta dish is certified 100% plant-based and contains no animal products.
What Is Pasta?
Pasta is a popular meal item used throughout most of the western world including the USA, Canada, Europe, and Australia. You can classify pasta as a carbohydrate and most pasta which means that pasta is typically low in fat and high in carbohydrates.
The amount of protein in the pasta will depend on the type and the brands as some make high-protein pasta.
Pasta also comes with a healthy amount of fiber which is important for a) helping to keep you full for longer, and b) is known to help protect against certain disease states such as cancer, and can help regulate the digestive system.
To make things even more confusing, it will depend on what you classify as pasta, as some sources will claim that noodles are also a type of pasta.
If we look at the production process of pasta; it’s a dough made from water and durum wheat which is a specific type of wheat that takes its name from the Latin for hard.
You’ll likely have heard the term gluten: a protein that acts as a binder, holding food together so that it doesn’t crumble, as well as helping the food to thicken and stretch.
Think of pizza bases and how they are made from scratch. You take a ball of dough and increase the circumference to suit the size you prefer. This is achievable because of the gluten.
Can Vegans Eat Pasta?
The simple answer is that it depends. If you look at the ingredients in pasta, many of the brands will have the label state that this particular brand is vegan friendly. However, you need to be careful as some brands of pasta contain eggs.
This obviously means that egg-containing pasta brands are not vegan friendly, and if you are following a strict no-animal products diet, then this particular option wouldn’t be allowed on your diet.
However, eggs are not the only food that is often added to pasta. Some brands will add cheese to help improve the flavor. They may also add butter, milk; even squid ink to change the color of the dough to black.
With that said; many pasta brands do the exact opposite and add plant-based diet foods to improve the nutrition content as well as the flavor. Ingredients like spinach, kale, or pepper can all be added to pasta to achieve these goals.
How To Ensure Your Pasta Is Vegan
As we’ve already hinted at, you can remove some of the confusion by doing some of the leg work before making your purchases.
Your best bet is to always check the labelling to ensure that there are no animal-based foods in your chosen brand.
The ingredients list will be your friend here, however, make sure to also read the potential allergens such as milk and eggs which should stand out over the other ingredients.
If you are heading out to your local Italian restaurant, check if they make their own pasta or are using a commercial brand, as this can be the difference between vegan and non-vegan.
What About Pasta Sauce?
Similar to pasta; most of the time a pasta sauce will be tomato-based and be suitable for vegans. However, for sauces that are not tomato-based, such as creamier sauces, you need to be aware of potential non-vegan ingredients.
For example, many creamy pasta sauces contain milk, eggs, butter, or even cream. Also, many pasta sauces will have meal-specific ingredients in them that are dedicated to a particular meal.
Take a carbonara. Many sauces will have some form of pork derivative in them making them fall into the non-vegan category. It wouldn’t be a shock to find out that the carbonara sauce you thought was vegan, actually contains bacon or ham.
Similar to pasta sauces, you also need to be wary of pesto. These often contain animal products like parmesan cheese making them a no-go for vegans.
The good news is that there are plenty of options available to allow you to enjoy a vegan pasta sauce or pesto. In fact, there are many homemade recipes you can make from scratch that is not only vegan-friendly but also extremely tasty and fun to make.
Pasta is one of those foods that people love both for its versatility and ease of preparation. You don’t necessarily need to go out and buy an expensive set of cookware just to prepare a delicious plate of pasta.
This is likely why this question always seems to pop up from time to time, and hopefully, our guide to vegan pasta has helped you answer this question.
Remember to always check those labels for potential animal products, and don’t be afraid to ask the waiter at your Pizzeria if the pasta is ok for vegans so you enjoy some of your favorite kinds of pasta.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Penne Pasta Ok On A Vegan Diet?
Penne is one of the most common types of pasta and is often vegan-friendly. They are usually sold as dry pasta and do not often contain animal products such as eggs, cheese, and milk.
Are Egg Noodles Vegan?
Egg noodles are an easy giveaway as they contain the word egg in the title. Regardless of the brand, they are going to contain eggs, so we recommend that you look for egg-free noodles. If you are eating out, you could ask for rice noodles instead which are vegan-friendly. This is the same for egg pasta.