Pasta: it’s far more than a student’s staple foodstuff. For some of us, pasta is the ultimate comfort food.
But is it vegan? The short answer is: yes and no.
The majority of dried pasta you find in packets on supermarket shelves is vegan. The exception to the rule is often boxes of dried lasagne sheets. Check these carefully as many of them include eggs.
Fresh pasta that you find in the chilled aisle of the supermarket is usually not vegan as it is made using eggs.
Which types of pasta contain eggs?
Pasta is traditionally made using eggs, which act as a binding agent and colourant for the finished product.
Therefore, many fresh pastas you’ll find in the chilled isles of supermarkets and delicatessens, and on the menu at traditional Italian restaurants, are likely to contain egg, regardless of the shape of pasta.
If you’re going to a restaurant, check if they make their own pasta or are using dried as this can often be the difference between a vegan pasta dish and a non-vegan one.
How can you tell if pasta is vegan or not?
To know if a pasta is suitable for vegans or not, you’ll need to suss out the ingredients list.
Some supermarkets will use clear vegan labelling on their packaging, but this is not always the case.
If you’re unsure, turn to the ingredients list and look out for allergens such as milk and eggs.
These have to be listed in bold in the UK and should stand out from the other ingredients.
Keep in mind that some animal-based ingredients such as squid ink, which is used to dye the pasta black, may not be emboldened.
If you’re at a restaurant and unsure of their pasta’s suitability, ask a waiter to check the ingredients or allergen list of their dishes.
The staff should be able to advise you on alternative vegan or veganisable dishes you can eat should the pasta contain animal-based ingredients.
How can you make fresh pasta at home without eggs?
There’s no need for eggs to be involved when making vegan alternatives to fresh pasta.
Eggs can be replaced in traditional recipes with oil, which helps bind the ingredients together.
Alternatively, for a super simple recipe that kids enjoy getting involved in making, Jamie Oliver has a fantastic recipe that just requires flour and water, and doesn’t require a pasta machine.
Just grab a rolling pin and you’re good to go!
Is pasta sauce vegan?
As a rule, basic shop-bought pasta sauces which are predominantly tomato-based will likely be suitable for vegans (as long as they don’t include something like bacon). Creamy pasta sauces usually contain milk, cream or eggs.
Be sure to check out the ingredients to clarify whether the sauce is suitable or not. Many companies, such as Sacla are now developing specific vegan pasta sauces.
For example, carbonara or béchamel are traditionally not vegan. But they are easy to make vegan versions of at home.
To create a vegan version of a classic béchamel, you can adapt a non-vegan recipe by using vegan spread instead of butter, and a vegan milk alternative instead of dairy milk.
Homemade pasta sauce recipes often add in a variety of nuts too, such as cashew nuts. This not only creates a creamy texture, but boosts the nutritional value as well.
Alternatively, check out Gaz Oakley’s video where he shows you how to make three flavoursome vegan pasta sauce recipes in under five minutes each.
Is pesto vegan?
Traditionally, pesto contains animal-derived cheeses such as Parmesan, making it unsuitable for those following a plant-based or vegan diet.
However, much like many most-loved foods in the 21st century, there are plenty of ways to veganise pesto.
You can find ready-made vegan versions of both classic basil pesto and sun-dried tomato pesto in supermarkets.
Are you craving pasta now?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you! Here are our favourite vegan pasta recipes.