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Are Spring Rolls Vegan? Everything You Need To Know About This Dish In 2023
While one might assume that spring rolls, made with noodles and veggies, would be a vegan-friendly food, sometimes there are animal products in places you might not consider.
Vegetable spring rolls might not be 100% vegan-friendly. Some dishes involve soaking vegan ingredients like tofu in marinades containing animal ingredients. These can include beef or chicken broth or fish sauce. Also, some spring rolls might be served with animal-based dipping sauces containing fish sauce, oyster sauce, or shrimp paste.
So, are spring rolls vegan? Sometimes. Non-vegan spring rolls might contain pieces of meat, seafood, or egg. But if your spring roll contains only vegetables, there is a good chance it could be vegan. Read on to learn about the varieties of spring rolls and which are safe to eat on a vegan diet.
Are Spring Rolls Vegan-Friendly?
Yes, spring rolls can be vegan-friendly — as long as they do not contain seafood, meat, egg, or animal-based sauces. The dough is typically made from flour, water, and salt, while the fillings are traditionally plant-based. However, being cautious is essential, especially when dining out or buying store-bought spring rolls.
Can Vegans Eat Spring Rolls?
Yes, vegans can eat some types of spring rolls — but not all. As a vegan diet only includes plant-based products, vegetable spring rolls are generally considered vegan-friendly — excluding spring rolls containing seafood or meat, of course.
The dough is typically made from flour, water, and salt, while the fillings are traditionally plant-based, with various fruits and veggies. However, being cautious is essential, especially when dining out or buying them at the store. Vegetable spring rolls might not always be suitable for vegans.
Some restaurants may use non-vegan oil for frying or add egg to the wrapping or filling without mentioning it. Store-bought brands could also include additional ingredients or seasonings that may go unnoticed by unsuspecting vegans. It’s always a good idea to double-check by asking or inspecting the ingredient list, as each place and brand may have different practices.
Don’t forget about the sauces, either. Many dipping sauces commonly served with spring rolls contain non-vegan ingredients such as fish extract or meat broth. Many also contain cane sugar, which is not always a vegan food because the sugar-refining process sometimes involves bone char.
Check labels for ingredients or vegan certifications, or ask manufacturers if you are not sure about the vegan status of any product you buy. In the case of sugar, you can use other alternative sugars like coconut sugar or maple syrup in your spring roll recipes.
What Are Spring Rolls?
Spring rolls are stuffed and rolled appetizers found in many parts of East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. The techniques and recipes differ among countries and cities. Still, the main concept involves a filling, such as greens and vegetables, encased in spring roll wrappers. Spring roll wrappers are usually made with either rice paper or wheat flour.
Spring rolls are usually deep-fried and served hot with dipping sauces such as soy sauce, peanut sauce, and fish sauce for enhanced flavor and moisture. Some varieties are served raw.
Spring rolls are believed to have been invented by the Chinese, and were made to celebrate the arrival of spring. The shape of spring rolls even holds symbolic significance in Chinese culture. The cylindrical shape and golden color of spring rolls symbolize wealth and prosperity. During Spring Festivals in China, spring rolls are considered a must-have dish.
Varieties Of Spring Rolls
Spring rolls have spread and changed across different countries, resulting in unique variations that reflect local cultures. The most well-recognized Chinese rolls are vegetable spring rolls, while pork or other meat variants are added in Indonesia and the Philippines. Most, except for the Vietnamese and Thai summer rolls, are deep-fried. All have a cylindrical shape.
A few examples from various countries are:
Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Gỏi cuốn)
Also known as summer rolls or fresh spring rolls, these are made with rice paper wrappers and filled with raw vegetables, fresh herbs, rice noodles, shrimp, or pork. They are served cold with peanut sauce or fish sauce for dipping. Those trying to maintain a healthy diet often prefer them, as they are not deep fried.
Thai Spring Rolls (Poh Pia Tod)
Thai spring rolls are similar to Chinese spring rolls but are typically smaller and have a thinner wrapper. They are filled with minced meat, glass noodles, mushrooms, and vegetables. They are often served with sweet chili sauce.
Filipino Lumpiang Shanghai
This Filipino version of spring rolls is often filled with ground pork, onions, carrots, and spices. They are deep-fried until crispy and served as an appetizer or snack. They are often served with a sweet and sour or garlic-vinegar dipping sauce.
Indonesian spring rolls consist of various fillings such as vegetables, tofu, shrimp, chicken, or a combination of these ingredients. They are served with a sweet and tangy dipping sauce.
Spring Rolls Common Ingredients
There are so many different kinds of vegan and veggie spring rolls worldwide that it is hard to list fillings that encompass them all. You might find some of these common ingredients of several types of spring rolls on restaurant menus or in your vegan meal delivery:
- Rice paper.
- Noodles of some sort.
- Coconut flesh.
- Fresh ginger.
- Water chestnuts.
- Sesame oil.
What Ingredients Make A Spring Roll Non-Vegan?
With the exception of the spring roll being a meat or seafood variety, there are some cases where a seemingly vegan spring roll is actually a vegetarian spring roll.
For example, an egg may be added to maintain the rice paper casing of the spring roll when it is deep-fried. Also, some vegetable seasonings might contain meat or fish extracts.
It is a good idea to talk to restaurant staff to see if they do this or if they add any animal-derived ingredients to their sauces for flavor.
Are Spring Rolls & Egg Rolls The Same Dish?
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Spring rolls and egg rolls are not the same dish. Both are wrapped in flour or rice wrappers, but the egg roll wrapper has been dipped in egg batter to make it much thicker and richer. Egg rolls are then fried to achieve a bubbly and crispy exterior. Spring rolls are usually smoother and are sometimes not cooked at all. Spring rolls contain fresh vegetables, while egg rolls usually have meat and vegetables.
Size and thickness also set these two apart. Egg rolls are larger, measuring about two inches in diameter and six inches in length. Spring rolls are smaller and thinner.
So, are spring rolls vegan? Sometimes. Vegetable spring rolls are usually vegan-friendly, provided no egg has been used to reinforce the wrapper, and no animal-derived sugars or flavorings from sauces have been used to make the dish.
However, deep-fried spring rolls are high in unhealthy fats and not necessarily a good source of vitamins and minerals. Hence they should be consumed in moderation or swapped for something more nutritionally dense, like a vegan meal replacement. You can also try Vietnamese vegan summer rolls as a healthy alternative to spring rolls.
As always, check with restaurant staff about their ingredients and preparation methods, and carefully read the labels of frozen spring rolls to spot any possible non-plant-based items. Or, be completely safe and look for vegan certifications or cook them yourself at home!
Frequently Asked Questions
No, spring rolls do not traditionally contain eggs, but some places use eggs to reinforce the rice paper exterior for deep frying. It might also be used as a filling.
No, vegans cannot eat egg rolls as the wrapper has been dipped in eggs, which are not vegan-friendly.
Yes, most spring rolls are historically vegetarian, traditionally containing vegetable fillings such as cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, and bean sprouts.
+ 2 sources
Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here
- Dinu, M., Abbate, R., Gian Franco Gensini, Casini, A. and Sofi, F. (2017). Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes: A systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, [online] 57(17), pp.3640–3649. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2016.1138447.
- Piccirillo, C. (2023). Preparation, characterisation and applications of bone char, a food waste-derived sustainable material: A review. Journal of Environmental Management, [online] 339, pp.117896–117896. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.117896.