Are Spring Rolls Vegan?
With numerous tofu and vegetable dishes available at Asian restaurants, it seems like nothing could possibly go wrong for a hungry vegan. Unfortunately, just because a menu item doesn’t list meat, egg or dairy in its description does not guarantee it is animal-product free.
Many Asian dishes require soaking tofu in chicken broth or stirring oyster sauce in with rice noodles. One item, however, appears completely harmless: spring rolls. They’re just noodles and veggies, right? Let’s take a deeper look at how this traditional Spring Festival food is made to answer the question, are spring rolls vegan?
Before delving into what makes a spring roll a spring roll, it is important to mention that there are some spring rolls available that contain (often visible) pieces of shellfish or meat. Those are obviously not vegan. We are only focusing on vegetable spring rolls, for the purpose of this article.
Spring Roll Ingredients
There are two different styles of spring rolls. The first are made with a rice paper shell to get a soft-chewy texture and the second are made by frying spring roll pastry wraps to make the rolls firm and crunchy. Whether the shells are soft or hard, the inner ingredients are often the same.
Regardless of the style, spring rolls are usually served with a side of spicy peanut dipping sauce.
What ingredients specifically make spring rolls vegan or not, though? Check it out:
• Rice paper/Spring roll pastry wrap
• Glass noodles
• White cabbage
• Bean sprouts
• Green onions
• Water chestnuts
• Shiitake mushrooms
• Sesame oil
• Soy sauce
Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
• Peanut butter
• Rice vinegar
• Hot chili oil
Are Spring Rolls Vegan?
The ingredients that go into a spring roll are usually vegan, but be careful. Some restaurants deep-fry their rolls in non-vegan oil and add egg to the wrapping or filling, store-bought brands may add extra seasoning and ingredients that an unsuspecting vegan could overlook.
Usually, the spring rolls you purchase will be vegan, but just in case, make sure to ask or check the ingredient list because every place and brand is different.
The concern comes in with the spicy peanut dipping sauce. Like spring rolls, the sauce does not seem to contain anything made from animal products. Watch out! Sugar is not always vegan! You can learn more about that in our article Is Brown Sugar Vegan.
Vegan Spring Roll Brands
When you aren’t out at a restaurant and able to ask the chef what ingredients their spring rolls contain, how can you tell that you are buying vegan spring rolls and not their non-vegan cousins?
Often, as long as the spring rolls do not specifically say chicken, beef, shrimp, etc. on the label, they are good for vegan’s consumption, but just to be safe, here is a list of guaranteed vegan-friendly spring roll brands:
This is not a complete list. There are other vegan brands on the market. Because most of the ingredients on frozen packages will appear to be veggie-friendly, be sure to compare the ingredients against Peta’s Animal-Derived Ingredients List and to verify that if sugar is added to the product, it is a vegan version.
How to make your own vegan spring rolls
Here is a general spring roll recipe, but feel free to switch it up to truly make this Asian treat your own. It’s fun. It’s easy. And it is super quick to complete.
1) Gather your Ingredients
The first thing you’re going to need are your spring roll pastry wraps. You can either purchase the wraps in stores or online. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can make them yourself. Making your own will take time, but the satisfaction of knowing you made your spring rolls completely from scratch will make it all worth it.
Next, you’re going to need glass noodles. These delicious, thin, and clear noodles make up the non-vegetable portion of the spring roll.
Most spring rolls contain some seasoning. Generally, recipes call for salt, pepper, and sugar as minimum requirements. You can always mix in garlic, turmeric, ginger, cumin, or… anything you like. Make sure you keep the flavor consistent, but no matter what seasoning style you choose to roll with, the outcome will definitely taste good!
Of course, you are going to need vegetables. This is where you can really make the spring rolls your own. You can stay traditional and use ingredients from the list above or you can change up the recipe with vegetables ranging from kale to lima beans. Because the shell and glass noodles are so subtly flavored, it’s impossible to go wrong with any variation of vegetable filling.
2) Gather your Supplies
All that you’ll need is a cutting board for chopping the vegetables, two bowls (one for softening the spring roll pastry wraps and one for preparing the filling), and a flat surface for folding your ingredients into a mouthwatering treat.
3) Making your Spring Rolls
When your filling is evenly mixed, grab your spring roll pastry wraps and prepare them by submerging the individual sheets in a bowl of warm water. After wetting the wraps place them onto a flat surface (your cutting board should work nicely).
Place the glass noodle and vegetable mixture in the center of one of the wraps and then fold in the sides to envelope the filling. When the folds look like they will hold, roll the wrap until you have officially made your first vegan spring roll. Continue this process until you run out of filling or wraps. It’s really that easy!
Check out this video on how to roll a spring roll:
Now that you know how easy it is to make your own vegan spring rolls, try it out and tell us how it goes. We’d love to hear about what vegetables you like to mix and match so we can try them too!
If you’re craving spring rolls, but don’t want to spend time making your own, try some of the vegan spring roll brands we’ve suggested. If you find other brands that are vegan, give us a shout out! We love taste testing new vegan brands!
Spring rolls are delightful, but often they aren’t extremely filling. If you’re still hungry after eating your share, head out to the grocery store and pick up some of Ben & Jerry’s new non-dairy ice cream. There are a lot of flavors to choose from, so to help you narrow it down we’ve tried out three different pints in order to give you the scoop on what flavor is the best. Check it out!