Is pasta vegan? It sure can be!
The answer is, it depends, it depends on the kind of dough, the kind of filling (if we are talking about stuffed pasta) and the sauce that goes with it.
In a moment we will dive into each one of those three key points one by one, but let’s just say that even though not all pasta is vegan, there sure are plenty of vegan options in the pasta world!
Is pasta dough vegan?
Most pasta dough is made with wheat flour, water, salt and olive oil. So yes, those doughs are vegan, and even PETA says so. However, some recipes may also include eggs. This is the only time when pasta dough might become problematic if you are trying to follow a strictly vegan diet.
The good news is eggs can always be replaced for some other kind of plant-based fat such as olive oil. This might take a little bit of experimenting to find the right amount, but as a rule of thumb 1 tablespoon of olive oil will replace 3 whole eggs.
A good dough recipe is like a delicate formula and modifying might not be as easy as it sounds though. 1 tablespoon of olive oil might replace 3 whole eggs in terms of fat, but will it allow us to achieve the same texture? We might need to also add some water to the mix in order to valance things out. If you are an experienced cook and are comfortable trusting your intuition in the kitchen then go for it, otherwise I recommend you find a pasta dough recipe that contain vegan-friendly ingredients from the start.
It’s worth noting that some brands of wheat flour are processed using animal-based products. For example, Bob’s Red Mill admits on its website that some of its products are “processed on equipment that also processes milk, tree nuts, soy, and wheat. So if you’re a vegan who’s concerned about cross-contamination, it’s best to choose a brand of wheat flour that is certified vegan.
Is pasta filling vegan?
If you are thinking about industrial stuffed pasta then most of the times the answer to this question will be no. Store-bought stuffed pasta will, almost always, contain animal-based ingredient. Of course, there are some specialized brands offering vegan-friendly stuffed pasta, but unless they are vegan certified (and they will usually advertise this prominently) you can assume of-the-shelve stuffed pasta is not vegan.
But if you want to make your own, that’s a whole other story. Pasta filling recipes are much more permissive than pasta dough. There are no rules as for what stuffed pasta should be filled with, it can literally be anything you want! Mash up some veggies and mix them with some nuts and you’ll have a delicious, 100% vegan filling for your stuffed pasta.
Your imagination is the limit, and most of the times you can probably take inspirations from other recipes you like and make them into pasta filling. Tofu, arrowroot, seaweed, plant based cheeses… those are all candidates to make a great vegan filling for your pasta.
Are pasta sauces vegan?
Traditional pasta sauces, the ones we all know by name such as Bolognese, Carbonara, Pesto, Alfredo sauce… all contain meat, cheese or milk, which mean they are not suit for a vegan diet. If you want to taste those without breaking your diet you will have to look for substitutes. Parmesan cheese substitutes, plant-based milks and creams, plant-based meat, etc. The good news is there are plenty of already made recipes which have replaced these ingredients achieving incredible results, most of the time indistinguishable form the original, or even better!
Also, just like with the pasta fillings, there aren’t any written rules about what is or isn’t a good pasta sauce. Sometimes simply sautéing your pasta with some vegetables and olive oil will be more than enough to get a delicious, healthy, 100% vegan sauce. Or mix some non-dairy yogurt with some mushrooms and spices if you are looking fore something creamier.
Other types of pasta
There are also other types of pasta which are not the traditional Italian, some originate from other cultures, others from innovative chefs pushing the boundaries, but all of them vegan-friendly or easy to adapt to fit a 100% truly vegan diet. Take a look at these alternative types of pasta, I’m sure they’ll also inspire you!