When you’re just starting a vegan diet, or even if you’re just cooking for a vegan, you might question just about every ingredient in your kitchen. I noticed some people even have questions about grains like rice.
Is rice vegan? Rice is vegan. In fact, there are many kinds of rice, and they are all vegan. You can enjoy white rice, brown rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice, wild rice, and more without worry on a vegan diet.
Rice is actually used as a staple food and a base for many meals for vegans. But it goes far beyond the basic “rice and beans.” Keep reading for more detail on how to use rice in a vegan diet.
The Many Kinds of Rice to Include in Your Vegan Diet
Vegan diets typically include foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, beans, and pulses. Any of these can be combined with rice for different kinds of dishes, only limited by your creativity!
Note: Just because all these different kinds of rice are vegan doesn’t mean that every dish containing rice is vegan. If you add animal products such as meat or cheese to the dish, then it is no longer a vegan dish.
Is White Rice Vegan?
White rice is vegan. Some vegans actually prefer white rice because it cooks much faster than brown rice and has a softer texture. Other vegans avoid white rice for health reasons, preferring the added nutrients and slower digestion of brown rice.
Additionally, vegetable-heavy vegan diets are high in fiber, and some people appreciate that white rice lacks fiber. White rice does not have much of its own flavor and can take on the flavor of whatever it is cooked with.
In fact, white rice has nearly no nutritional value besides carbohydrates. It is made by milling the bran and germ layers away from brown rice, and it only leaves the white part of the rice, which is almost pure starch with no fiber or vitamins.
Often, white rice is enriched with vitamins and minerals, but even in these cases, the final product contains fewer nutrients compared to brown rice.
If you are diabetic or have other issues with blood sugar, it is a good idea to limit your intake of white rice because of the effects that quick-digesting carbs can have on blood sugar.
Is Brown Rice Vegan?
Brown rice is vegan. It is the most common “healthier” rice that people turn to because it is not as processed as white rice, and it has more fiber. Vegans who are health conscious tend to prefer brown rice for these reasons.
I personally eat brown rice several times each week. About a year ago, I started keeping leftover brown rice in the refrigerator at all times. This allows me to heat some up quickly (since it can take a long time to cook from scratch).
Something I would highly, highly recommend if you’re eating rice regularly is to get a rice cooker. It’s so much easier than cooking rice on the stove. Especially for brown rice, which takes longer.
I remember when I used to cook rice on the stove, it would often boil over and make a mess. I’d have to watch it closely to make sure I caught it at the right time to turn down the heat to a simmer.
But with a rice cooker, you just put in the correct amount of rice, water, and any other salt/oil/seasoning. Then you turn it on, and you don’t have to worry about it. When the rice is done, the heat automatically turns off.
I’ve actually gotten into the habit of putting on some brown rice to cook and then leaving the house to go exercise. When I come back from the gym or from a run, I have brown rice waiting for me. Then I can quickly steam some vegetables, heat up beans to go with it, etc.
Here’s a great rice cooker I recommend on Amazon. I’ve used mine heavily, and it’s never done me wrong!
White rice and brown rice are technically the same exact thing; brown rice is just the unprocessed version. Brown rice still includes its fiber, manganese, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin E.
Brown rice may be healthier than white rice, but it does have some unfavorable characteristics. For instance, its shelf life is much shorter than white rice at only 6 months.
Brown rice also has a nutty flavor, which can interfere with the taste of some dishes. In addition, brown rice is chewier and takes longer to cook than white rice.
For most people, the most available healthy rice option is brown rice. You can purchase brown rice at all the same places you can purchase white rice.
Is Jasmine Rice Vegan?
Jasmine rice is vegan. It is a fragrant, aromatic variety of rice. Its scent is similar to popcorn or pandan. There are both white and brown versions of Jasmine rice, and both of them are vegan.
If you are using jasmine rice because of its unique fragrance and taste, it is best to use fresh jasmine rice. Once jasmine rice is packaged, it quickly loses its scent in a few months.
Jasmine rice is a stickier kind of rice that has a very moist and soft texture and a slightly sweet flavor.
Like regular white and brown rice, the white version of Jasmine rice has the bran and some vitamins and minerals removed. Brown jasmine rice retains vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin B, and beta-carotene along with powerful antioxidants.
Personally, I often get brown Jasmine rice, and I really like it!
Is Basmati Rice Vegan?
Basmati rice is vegan. It is a good choice for diabetics and other vegans who are watching their blood sugar levels, as it has a low glycemic index. Basmati rice comes in white and brown varieties, and both of these are vegan.
Basmati rice is an aromatic rice with a very recognizable scent and flavor. The natural aroma in basmati rice is also used as a flavoring agent in the United States.
Is Fried Rice Vegan?
Fried rice can be vegan, but it isn’t always vegan. If the rice is fried in vegetable oil and there is no egg or meat, then it is vegan. However, many common fried rice dishes include butter, egg, or meat. Those ingredients make the dish not vegan.
Other Kinds of Rice
While white, brown, jasmine, and basmati rice are the four most commonly used kinds of rice, there are more that you can choose from to add to your vegan diet.
The great thing about the different kinds of rice is that they are all suited to their own types of meals:
- Arborio Rice – large rice that is creamy with a chewy core, perfect for making fried rice balls
- Black Rice – a medium-grain rice that is rich in nutrients and very flavorful
- Rosematta Rice – a medium-grain rice that is reddish in color with an earthy flavor that goes well with vegan mock meats
- Red Cargo Rice – a long-grain Thai rice that has a nutty flavor and is great for adding to stir-fried vegetables
- Glutinous Rice – a high-starch rice that is incredibly sticky and great for both sweet and savory dishes
- Sushi Rice – a short-grain rice that can be white or brown and has a high starch content that allows it to be sticky enough to be used in sushi; it is also used in other dishes, as well
- Valencia Rice – a short-grain rice that is very tender and moist when cooked and is great for stews, soups, and stuffing
- Wild Rice – this “rice” is a grass that grows around water and originates in the Great Lakes area of the United States; it has a unique texture and a flavor that is comparable to black tea
Vegan Recipes Using Rice
With all the different kinds of rice available, you are probably eager to try some vegan rice recipes.
Here is a link to some vegan rice recipes collected by Sweet Simple Vegan, along with some notes on the ones that look best to me (full disclosure: I’ve only tried a few of these so far):
- Vegan Egg Fried Rice – Not only is this recipe vegan, but it is also gluten-free. It is high in protein and can be made in less than 30 minutes.
- Better Bean & Beet Burger Patty – This “burger” is made with inexpensive vegetables and rice. It is low in fat and incredibly filling!
- Thai Pineapple Fried Rice – This is a colorful rendition of fried rice that includes pineapple for a unique taste.
- Leftover Rice Fritters – These fritters are crispy and tasty snacks that are easily made with fresh rice or leftover rice. It’s customizable and gluten-free.
- Spicy Green Rice – This dish takes regular rice and adds a spicy green sauce to turn it into its own flavorful dish.
- Vegan Mushroom Risotto – This risotto is super easy and is made with pre-cooked rice and hummus, making it very easy to customize.
- Vegetable Bean Casserole – This is an amazing casserole recipe that uses brown rice, broccoli, carrots, celery, and more. It’s a hearty meal that is also tasty and gluten-free.
Adding Rice to Your Vegan Diet
Rice is a great addition to a vegan diet. As I mentioned above, I personally eat brown rice several days a week along with different foods.
The many varieties of rice allow for countless dishes that are both delicious and vegan. To add to the benefits, many rice-based dishes are also gluten-free.
Just because you are following a vegan diet does not mean that your meals have to be boring. Try new recipes – and include some of these rice varieties above to add unique texture and flavor.
If you’re ever wondering if another food is vegan, check out my post, “How to Check if Any Food is Vegan: 3 East Steps.”