Is Falafel Vegan or Vegetarian?


is falafel vegan

A falafel (or felafel) is a high fried fritter, typically in the form of a ball, consisting of ground chickpeas and/or fava beans.

The food is considered to be a dishe of the Middle East and is likely to originate in Egypt.

Although it originated in the Middle East, fritters are common across the globe as a form of street food and are also very common in vegetarian cuisine.

Are they 100% plant-based? Absolutely, falafel is labeled vegetarian and vegan. It is produced from 100% plant-based products— namely, lentils, herbs, spices, and onions. Usually, it is eaten with other vegan-friendly foods, including pita bread, salad, and pickled vegetables.

The pita is acting as a pocket. In reality, “falafel” sometimes also refers to a packaged sandwich made with falafel balls. It is also traditionally served over a bed of vegetables or salad greens and drizzled with tahini or hot sauce.

Falafel balls are usually eaten on their own as a snack or as an appetizer.

What we’re going to do here is go through the different reasons that falafel is considered a vegetarian food product.

Why Falafels Are Considered Vegan

Falafel Doesn’t Use Egg as a Binder

Falafels look like cuddly puppies and identical bread products made from drop drums.

Normally, when you roll food into a defined form, you need to use a binder to help the food particles stay together.

Typically, this consistency is accomplished through the shell.

Curiously, the conventional falafel recipe doesn’t call the Egg a binder. The Egg is beneficial even though the proteins are combined with the ingredients and then solidified when heated — because the egg proteins coagulate under high heat.

Why aren’t the falafels using the Egg? Well, for just one, the lens contains its own protein.

You’ve likely heard of aquafaba— the chickpea juice that is a favorite for vegan baking applications.

It simply foams like real egg white, so it’s just used as a binder to create different meringues. So, the falafels don’t need protein in the Egg.

Second, falafels are a staple in vegetarian and vegan cultures. For this purpose, it is probable that most institutions would try to avoid the use of animal products if possible.

I would have imagined that using an egg would help to keep the falafels from crumbling, but it just isn’t needed. I’ve heard a few people on social media say they’re using Egg, but it’s not normal.

Falafel Doesn’t Contain Meat

Falafels may look like meatballs, but you can pretty much guarantee that a tasty treat is made without Meat.

In fact, falafels, now sold in health food stores, first became popular among vegans and vegetarians as an alternative to meat-based street food.

The food product is extensively used as a source of plant-based protein and is a favorite for use in vegetable burgers.

Across us, the flexibility of the food product has permitted falafels to be used to reformulate recipes for dishes such as sloppy joes, meatloaf, spaghetti, and meatballs into vegetarian and vegan-friendly versions.

Although falafels are often made from fava beans, chickpeas appear to be used in the US and Middle East countries such as Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Palestine.

They are sometimes uncooked before use and usually soaked overnight and then ground along with ingredients such as parsley, garlic, scallions, and spices such as coriander and cumin.

The mixture is then formed into and shaped into patties or balls that give them a meat-like appearance. So, yes, all that to say, falafels are not a meat-based food product, no matter how meat-like they are.

Are Falafels Suitable for Health Vegans?

Therefore, in terms of ethics, the food product is perfectly suited for vegans.

But a number of vegans adopt a plant-based diet mostly for medical reasons. Usually, these vegans try to adhere to a whole food diet based on plants.

Falafels are mostly made from whole food and are 100% plant-based. Nevertheless, they prefer to be cooked in oil and, as such, should not be considered a healthy food.

However, when it comes to fried foods, you just can’t get any healthier food than falafels. A little bit of a low bar, I realize.

Having said that, they’re filled with a number of protein and essential nutrients.

Therefore, to the degree that they allow vegans to prevent nutrient deficiencies, they could be considered healthy.

It’s kind of a stretch, but one could do a lot worse.

When produced with chickpeas, falafels are rich in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. They also comprise essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, copper, potassium, and zinc.

Vitamins most plentiful in chickpea falafels involve vitamins C, B1 (thiamine), B5 (pantothenic acid), and B9 (folate). The phytochemical and vitamin A precursors of beta-carotene are also quite abundant.

The prebiotic fiber content of falafels is particularly high, a nutrient that has been shown to lower cholesterol.

Chickpeas (the main ingredient in certain falafels) are low in calories and free of cholesterol. The final product also includes fat from the cooking process, but the baking of falafels goes a long way towards reducing the high-fat content.

Commercial Vegan Falafel

BOCA Vegan Original Falafel Bites

Ingredients include:

  • Water
  • Dried Chickpeas
  • Wheat Flour
  • Corn Oil
  • Salt
  • Spices
  • Onion Powder
  • Lemon Juice Concentrate
  • Garlic Powder

BOCA Vegan Chipotle Falafel Bites

Ingredients include:

  • Water
  • Dried Chickpeas
  • Wheat Flour
  • Corn Oil
  • Salt
  • Spices
  • Onion Powder
  • Lemon Juice Concentrate
  • Garlic Powder
  • Chipotle Chili Pepper

Morningstar Farms Falafel Non-Soy Vegan Burger

Ingredients include:

  • Garbanzo Beans
  • Water
  • Vegetable Oil (Corn, Canola and/or Sunflower Oil)
  • Rice Protein Concentrate
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Onions
  • Methylcellulose
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Lemon Juice Concentrate
  • Coriander
  • Dried Garlic
  • Potato Starch
  • Konjac Flour
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Black Pepper
  • White Pepper

That’s about the vegan status of falafels.

Thank you so much for reading.

You may also want to check out the following related articles on this topic:

References

  1. Falafel: Definition Of Falafel in English By Lexico Dictionaries. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/falafel
  2. Gil, Marks (2010). Encyclopedia of Jewish food. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. ISBN 978-0544186316.
  3. No Matter Where It Originated, Falafel Is Still Israel’s National Food – Vered Guttman, et al. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-s-national-food-no-matter-where-it-started-1.5216693
  4. It is rumored that .. “Tamiya” is an authentic Egyptian food despite Israeli allegations. http://www.innfrad.com
  5. Grogan, Bryanna Clark (July 2003). “Falafel without fat.” Vegetarian Times. Pp. 20, 22. ISSN 0164-8497.
  6. The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Being Vegetarian. Frankie Wolfe – Alpha – 2007. ISBN 978-1-59257-682-1.
  7. The Great Big Burger Book: 100 New and Classic Recipes For Mouth-Watering Burgers Every Day Every Way. Jane Murphy-Liz Singh – Read How You Want – 2010. ISBN 978-1-4587-6463-8.
  8. Vegan in Volume: Vegan Quantity Recipes For Every Occasion. Nancy Berkoff – The Vegetarian Resource Group – 2014.
  9. Leonard, Joanne (October 1996). “New Ways with Falafel: The Middle Eastern favorite has evolved from a high fat sandwich stuffer to a low-fat meal magician.” Vegetarian Times. Pp. 36, 38.
  10. Whitney, Winona (June 1991). “Minute Meals.” Vegetarian Times. p. 30.
  11. The New Book Of Middle Eastern Food. Claudia Roden – Knopf – 2007. ISBN 978-0-375-40506-8.
  12. Campion, Charles (May 9, 2002). “Falling for fine falafel.” Evening Standard. Archived from the original on May 5, 2013.
  13. Artichoke To Za’atar: Modern Middle Eastern Food (Page 90). Greg Malouf-Lucy Malouf-Greg Malouf – University Of California Press – 2008
  14. The Glutton’s Glossary John Ayto – Routledge – 1990. ISBN 0-415-02647-4.
  15. The World’s Best Falafel Recipe Comes from Egypt | Back To Basics Henry Dimbleby-Jane Baxter – https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/mar/20/worlds-best-falafel-recipe-henry-dimbleby-back-to-basics
  16. For the Best Falafel, Do It All Yourself Mark Bittman – https://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9401E7D81F30F937A35757C0A9619C8B63
  17.  Cooking the North African Way: Culturally Authenic Foods Including Low-fat and Vegetarian Recipes Mary (Page 33). Winget-Habib Chalbi – Lerner Publications Co. – 2004. ISBN 978-0-8225-4169-1.
  18. Boca Vegan Original Falafel Bites, 10 Oz Pouch Diamond – https://www.walmart.com/ip/BOCA-Vegan-Original-Falafel-Bites-10-oz-Pouch/503974866
  19. Boca Vegan Chipotle Falafel Bites, 10 Oz Bag. – https://www.walmart.com/ip/BOCA-Vegan-Chipotle-Falafel-Bites-10-oz-Bag/573861054
  20. Morningstar Farms Falafel Non-Soy Vegan Burger 16 Oz 4 Ct https://www.walmart.com/ip/Morningstar-Farms-Falafel-Non-soy-Vegan-Burger-16-oz-4-ct/754272879

 

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