Pasta is a kitchen pantry staple that’s not only delicious and filling but highly versatile. Many of our favorite vegan dishes contain pasta. But does that mean all pasta is vegan?
Unfortunately not. While most pasta is vegan-friendly, there are exceptions to be aware of. If you want to make sure that your pasta is totally free from animal products, read on!
Does Pasta Contain Eggs?
You may have already heard that some pasta contains eggs, or this might come as a complete surprise to you.
Either way, don’t panic if you’re a vegan who loves pasta because most pasta doesn’t contain eggs. However, you should be aware of the types that do.
Types of Pasta That Might Be Made with Eggs
It’s true that pasta was traditionally made using eggs. That’s because the eggs helped to bind the other ingredients together (this is known as a binding agent) and also added a pleasing yellow color to the finished product.
For this reason, a lot of the pasta options you’ll find at Italian restaurants, especially if they pride themselves on being traditional, will contain egg.
The same is true for some of the fresh pasta options in grocery store refrigerators.
The key to making sure your store-bought chilled pasta is vegan is simply to read the label carefully, looking out for the presence of eggs.
If you’re looking at filled pasta or ready-made pasta meals, be aware that pasta fillings and sauces may contain meat, cheese, or milk.
If you’re eating out, the best way to make sure is to ask the server whether the pasta is handmade and, specifically, if it contains eggs.
Is Dried Pasta Vegan?
Luckily, while you might have to do some label-reading when it comes to chilled pasta in the grocery store or restaurant-made pasta, you can be fairly sure that dried pasta is vegan.
The dried pasta you’ll find in packages on shelves at the store is often made from a simple mixture of flour and water.
You may have heard the rumor that some white flour brands contain bone char, but if you’re worried about this, you can relax.
That rumor has no basis in fact, and unlike some types of sugar (which can be processed using bone char), you don’t need to be concerned about this with dried pasta.
If you want to be extra safe, it’s always a good idea to check the label anyway, but dried pasta is basically always vegan.
What About Pasta Sauce?
Tomato Pasta Sauce
The classic tomato or bolognese sauces you’ll find in jars at the grocery store are usually vegan.
However, be wary of ‘creamy’ tomato sauces, such as vodka sauce, since these are likely to contain dairy products.
Creamy Pasta Sauce
Other cream-based sauces such as bechamel and carbonara are, of course, not vegan since they’re made with milk.
With that being said, the rise of veganism throughout the United States means that more vegan alternatives to the traditional recipes are being created than ever before.
You can also make these sauces at home by following basic recipes.
Pesto Pasta Sauce
As for pesto sauce, you need to be careful here. Traditionally, pesto sauce is made with a type of parmesan cheese, which means it’s not vegan-friendly.
However, these days, you can find plenty of vegan pesto sauce products.
If you want to buy pesto sauce from the store, make sure to read the ingredients carefully and look for the vegan symbol if you want extra confirmation.
Alternatively, pesto is quite easy to make yourself using ingredients such as basil (or sundried tomatoes for red pesto), oil and pine nuts.
Can You Make Your Own Vegan Pasta?
If you want the peace of mind of knowing that your pasta is 100% vegan, you can always make your own from scratch! This might sound like a lot of work, and it can be, but it’s also very rewarding!
To make your own vegan pasta, you can just follow a traditional recipe and substitute the eggs for oil. Alternatively, follow a vegan recipe that simply calls for flour and water.
Some recipes require you to have a pasta machine, but some will turn out great with just a rolling pin.
Good news for pasta-loving vegans: most pasta is vegan! Just look out for chilled pasta at the store, or fresh restaurant pasta, which may contain eggs.
Be sure to check the ingredients on your pasta sauce jars, too, since some sauces are made with milk or cheese.