Are Spring Rolls Vegan or Vegetarian?


spring roll vegan

Previously I enlightened you about egg rolls and wontons (a type of dumpling that uses similar wrappers). Now, we will be going for spring rolls. Found in Asian cuisine, Spring rolls, are a wide variety of rolled appetizers or dim sum. Mostly, Vegans and vegetarians encounter it on menus of Asian restaurants. Thus they want to know if they could prefer it, keeping in mind their vegan status.

Now the question is, are spring rolls vegan or vegetarian? Just like the case of various other food products, spring rolls can be vegan and vegetarian, but it may contain animal products. On the one hand, wraps are typically vegan (unlike with egg rolls), depending on several factors, there may be some variation in the ingredients used for the fillings.

Any kind of meat filling would render the spring roll unsuitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Here, we will enlist various animal products one may encounter in spring rolls, and then will see for any spring rolls on the market that are known to be 100% vegan.

 

Animal Products Common in Spring Rolls

What the main issue is that plant-based eaters will run into the meat when it comes to search for vegan and vegetarian spring rolls. When it comes to vegan-friendliness, they’re kind of the opposite of egg rolls.

It’s usual to find egg rolls without meat, but mostly it contains animal products in the wrappers. On another hand, Spring rolls usually have vegan wrappers plus almost always contain meat in it.

Don’t take it the wrong way, you can find spring rolls without meat (there are some listed below), but by default, it contains meat—at least the Chinese varieties. Similarly, one may find spring rolls with egg-containing wrappers, but it cannot be considered the default one.

For instance, Imperial Gourmet Vegetable Mini Spring Rolls contain:

  • Cabbage, Carrot, Onion, Celery, Vermicelli
  • Vegetable Oil, Sesame Oil
  • Sugar, Soy Flour, Salt, Spice, Water
  • Bleached Enriched Flour, Malted Barley Flour
  • Potassium Bromate
  • Corn Starch
  • Egg
  • Sweet & Sour Sauce (Water, Sugar, Vinegar,
  • Pineapple Juice, Tomato Paste, Modified Corn Starch, Lemon, Salt)

I guess, most of us find spring rolls in the Chinese buffet’s menu. In Chinese cuisine, spring rolls seem to be on the other savory side. Ones that are along with the usual vegetable fillings (cabbage, etc.) plus stuffed with different types of meat in a cylindrical pastry.

Most people imagine this kind of variety of spring rolls. It was traditionally eaten during the Spring Festival in mainland China due to which the food got its name like that.

Now, the dish created its way into other regions where people consume them all year round.

Usually, the meat-stuffed varieties of spring rolls comprise of pork, but in place of pork, chicken can be used.

For example, Tai Pei Mini Chicken Spring Rolls comprises of the following products:

  • Vegetable Oil (Soybean and Canola), •Sesame Seed Oil
  • Cooked Chicken in Chicken Broth, Salt, and •Carrageenan
  • Cabbage, Carrots, Bamboo Shoots, Ginger, •Green Onions
  • Sugar, Salt, Whole Wheat Flour, Water
  • Spice, Garlic, Autolyzed Yeast Extract
  • Soy Lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid
  • Soy and Soy Sauce (Water, Soybeans, Wheat, Salt), Vegetable Juice (Color), Paprika Extract, Annatto (Color)
  • Evaporated Cane Juice, Rice Vinegar, Tomato Paste
  • Cornstarch
  • Natural Flavors

Most of the spring rolls you will get over menus of Chinese buffets are similar to the kind on the box. These are small and crisp. But it is to be noted that not all spring rolls are deep-fried.

The non-fried spring rolls are a bit more savory and are preferred more. Even I have never seen any to date.

By summing up, it should always be assumed that spring rolls contain meat of some sort. If not, consider it to be a blessing. As such, you don’t ever want to consume a spring roll without first vetting the ingredients—either on the food label or on a given restaurant’s website.

 

Commercial Vegan Spring Rolls

Tai Pei Mini Vegetable Spring Rolls

These contain:

  • Cabbage, Carrots, Shiitake Mushrooms, and •Vermicelli (Green Mung Beans, Water), Green •Onions
  • Vegetable Oil (Soybean and Canola), •Toasted Sesame Seed Oil
  • Cornstarch, Salt, Sugar, Yeast Extract, Garlic, and Spices.
  • Wheat Flour
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Xanthan Gum*
  • Sauce (Water, Sugar, Rice Vinegar, Tomato •Paste, Cornstarch, Soy Sauce)
  • Citric Acid
  • Natural Coloring Agents: Vegetable Juice, •Paprika Extract, Annatto Extract
  • Natural Flavors

Vegans avoid ingredients like xanthan gum that can be derived both with and without the help of non-vegan substances.

With several useful properties in food production, Xanthan gum is a complex carb. It helps prevent the separation of ingredients. Thus it is a conventional stabilizer and emulsifier. With this, it’s even a joint food thickening agent like CMC and guar gum.

It is produced via fermentation by Xanthomonas campestris (a particular strain of bacteria). Like glucose and sucrose, the cultures are usually fed simple sugars.

Just like the case of pure sugar in milk, some species of the bacteria can feed on lactose.

They are usually processed with whey protein (a waste product of the dairy industry)when fed a diet of lactose. The additive is also kind of prepared with egg whites.

It’s usually wholly vegan-friendly, although it is a bit of a grey area. According to the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG), it seems to enlist as a safe ingredient for vegans.

If you’re practicing a strict vegan diet, then this is just something to have it in your mind.

This is a commonly available brand. Anyway, it’s possible to encounter other brands on the market.

That’s it for the vegan status of spring rolls. Thanks for reading.

You may also want to check out other related articles:

 

References

  1. Spring Rolls. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_roll
  2. Is a Spring Roll Different from an Egg Roll? Think You Know? https://tastessence.com/is-spring-roll-different-from-egg-roll
  3. Imperial Gourmet Vegetable Mini Spring Rolls, ten ct, 14 oz. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Imperial-Gourmet-Vegetable-Mini-Spring-Rolls-10-ct-14-oz/172953609
  4. Sri Owen (2014). Sri Owen’s Indonesian Food. Pavilion Books. ISBN 9781909815476.
  5. Tai Pei Mini Chicken Spring Rolls with 3 Sauce Packets, 15 counts, 22.5 oz. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Tai-Pei-Mini-Chicken-Spring-Rolls-with-3-Sauce-Packets-15-count-22-5-oz/15543995
  6. Tai Pei Mini Vegetable Spring Rolls, 22.5 oz. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Tai-Pei-Mini-Vegetable-Spring-Rolls-22-5-oz/15543996
  7. EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources (14 July 2017). “Re‐evaluation of xanthan gum (E 415) as a food additive”. EFSA Journal. European Food Safety Authority. 15 (2): e04909.
  8. Tortora, G.J., Funke, B.R., & Case, C.L. (2010). Microbiology: An Introduction, 10th edition. San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings. Pg. 801.
  9. Xanthan Gum Is Vegan – No Egg Whites. https://www.vrg.org/blog/2018/06/28/xanthan-gum-is-vegan-no-egg-whites/

 

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