I was sitting here gnawing down a bowl of steamed broccoli and rice and pretty positive that my white rice was a vegan product.
With my love for rice and trying to stay within the boundaries of veganism, I then asked myself, ”Are there varieties of rice and rice products that are not considered vegan?”
In general, yes, although not a vegetable, rice is a vegan food that belongs to the grains family which includes rye, oats, and barley.
While this popular, nutritious grain has a wide variety of vitamins and minerals which varies by the type of rice, there is a mild caution that goes along with it. Rice contains more arsenic than most other grains and vegetables. Arsenic is a known carcinogen. However, the arsenic levels of rice are low enough that you can still enjoy your favorite bowl in moderation without worry.
Now that you know vegans can eat rice for the most part, what about how individual varieties of rice are processed and milled? Does this exclude that particular type of rice from being considered vegan? What about popular foods and treats that contain rice and appear to be vegan?
Are All Types of Rice Vegan?
Although we now understand rice, by and large, is vegan, it begs the questions: What about the process of harvesting and bringing a particular type of rice to market? Is there anywhere in this process that would exclude rice from being considered vegan?
Is White Rice Vegan?
White rice starts as brown rice. During milling, the husk, bran, and germ are removed. By doing this, the shelf-life of white rice is increased. However, it loses much of its nutritional value including fiber, vitamins, and minerals during this process.
That being said, just like the cereal in your pantry, white rice is artificially fortified with nutrients. It is then further refined and polished to appear more palatable. But, don't worry. The further refinement of white rice does not exclude it from being considered vegan.
Many vegans prefer white rice because it cooks quicker, has a softer texture, and takes on the flavors of whatever it's cooked with.
Is Brown Rice Vegan?
Brown rice is a whole-grain. Overall, brown rice contains a lot more nutrition than its further refined counterpart, white rice. The great part about whole-grains are their influence to reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke
Brown rice is simply processed by having the hull removed which leaves the nutrient-packed bran and germ. This purely physical process does not affect brown rice's vegan status.
Is Jasmine Rice Vegan?
Jasmine rice comes primarily from Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Southern Vietnam. This popular, fragrant rice can be dehulled to produce brown rice or it can be milled to remove the germ and some or all of the bran to produce white rice.
The process that yields either brown or white jasmine rice does not affect this rice from being considered a vegan food.
Is Yellow Rice Vegan?
Yellow rice is not a type of rice that is harvested from a plant. Rather it is a rice recipe that usually uses turmeric which creates its yellow color. However, some yellow rice recipes call for dairy-containing butter which negates it from being vegan. When in doubt, ask your server.
That being said, the majority of yellow rice recipes call for olive oil and vegan-friendly seasonings making yellow rice in these instances a vegan food.
What About Other Forms Of Rice?
Now that we know, with few exceptions, that rice is vegan food, You may be wondering if popular products made from rice are vegan. As you will see below, not everything is as It seems.
Are Rice Krispies Vegan?
As far as the ever-popular Kellogg's Rice Krispies, it is not a vegan food. This is because the vitamin D that is fortified in this cereal comes from lanolin.
What in the world is lanolin? Come to find out it's an oil that helps waterproof a sheep's wool that is produced from sheep.
Nonetheless, I have great news! There are manufacturers out there such as Nature's Path that do make a vegan style of Rice Krispies.
In a nutshell, be sure to read the nutrition label on the packaging and see if there's any vitamin D as this seems to be the culprit in breakfast cereals that prevents many of them from being vegan.
Are Rice Crispy Treats Vegan?
Well, I hate to be the bearer of more bad news, but our childhood favorite Rice Krispie treats are not vegan even if you substitute Rice Krispies with a vegan-friendly version.
Rice Krispie treats contain butter and marshmallows both of which are not vegan. Regular butter contains dairy, and most marshmallow producers use gelatin derived from animal protein.
However, all is not lost. Some companies produce vegan marshmallows and with the use of coconut oil or vegan butter to go along with your vegan rice crispies, viola, you have vegan Rice Krispie treats. Learn how to make vegan rice crispy treats here.
Is Rice Flour Vegan?
Rice flour is produced without disturbing its vegan status. Rice flour is made either from brown or white rice. The husk of the rice is removed and then further ground into flour.
What makes rice flour so popular is that it is also gluten-free. Glutens are found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale products. Those allergic to glutens find solace in rice flour baked goods.
Are Rice Noodles Vegan?
I have some good news, rice noodles are generally vegan food. Rice noodles date back to somewhere around 200 BC and are made from rice flour combined with water to make a dough. In many instances, the vegan-friendly ingredients tapioca starch or cornstarch are added for bounce and texture.
With all that being said, several manufacturers produce rice noodles. Be sure to read the ingredients on the packaging and verify you are receiving vegan rice noodles.
Are Rice Cakes Vegan?
Generally speaking, yes, your basic rice cakes are going to be vegan. However, rice cakes come in a variety of flavors. The seasonings on rice cakes are what can exclude them from being vegan.
An example of this would be cheese-flavored rice cakes in which dairy products are used for the seasoning. Also, beware of ingredients on the nutrition label that say "whey" or “casein” as these are components of milk and therefore contain animal products. Glance over the packaging for the vegan logo.
What Can Vegans Eat With Rice?
So, we established your rice is likely to be vegan. Many times we pair rice with other foods rather than eating it alone.
This leads us to our next question: What about popular dishes where rice is one of the main ingredients?
Is Rice Pudding Vegan?
No, but it can be! Traditional rice pudding would not be considered vegan because the recipe calls for dairy products such as milk and butter.
Here again, our vegan warriors come to the rescue with delicious alternatives to create a vegan rice pudding recipe that contains non-dairy milk and vegan butter.
Can Vegans Eat Rice and Beans?
Absolutely! As mentioned above, rice is part of the grain group and beans are part of the legume group which makes a simple bean and rice dish vegan.
Even better, are the health benefits you receive from this budget-friendly dish. Rice and beans contain essential amino acids and are loaded with protein.
This leads us to our next question:
Is Popeye’s Red Beans and Rice Vegan?
Sadly no. This famous food chain’s website states clearly that this item contains cholesterol which only comes from animal fat.
But, if you're being forced through the drive-thru, you still have some vegan options at Popeye's such as corn on the cob (no butter), baguette bread (no butter), grits made with water (no butter), and applesauce.
Is Fried Rice Vegan?
Your general Chinese restaurant's fried rice is most likely not vegan due to eggs, meats, and some sauces that are used to produce this dish.
Again, substituting these animal-based ingredients for their plant-based counterparts will yield a savory vegan fried rice.
As we've pointed out in this article, most likely your rice by itself is vegan. Depending on how it was processed or milled will determine the nutritiousness of that particular raw rice variety.
The pitfall can be the different forms of rice products or how rice is used in cooking which can make or break the outcome of the product being either vegan or not. Pay very close attention to the nutrition labels and any vegan designation on the packaging. If dining out, ask your server.
If you’re curious about another savory vegan food, click here to try Bainbridge Vegan Jerky, a smackingly yum vegan jerky.
BVJ is a small family business in the Northwestern town of Bainbridge Island, WA. It is our sincerest desire with unrelenting efforts to provide you with a top-tier vegan jerky!
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo... so you can pin it to your Vegan Foods Board!!!