Is Indian Food Vegan? Find Out Now!

Is Indian food vegan?

Why is Indian food so delicious? This is a question that almost anyone who has tasted Indian delicacies may have in their minds. We already know how colorful Indian culture is and naturally enough, their food is just as flavorful.

They aren’t only a sight to behold but they are one of the most exquisite foods you can ever get your hands on. And surely enough, India is a country that offers such a wide variety of foods for people from all walks of life may enjoy and most especially, vegans.

Why is Indian food considered one of the most vegan-friendly there is in the world? Well, let’s all find out together and explore a culture like no other.

Is veganism common in India?

Well, as a matter of fact, YES. There are staggering statistics and some that you might not expect that prove that India is a vegetarian and vegan-friendly country and race.

India has got the world’s most number of vegetarians and vegans. While that may be since there are more than a billion of them the fact that India has got the lowest meat consumption rate in the world in the past years further proves that they indeed prefer a vegan diet.

It’s also quite true that Indians throughout the years and its vast regions have demanded vegan-friendly goods and products from their supermarkets and restaurants. Does their culture have a lot to do with this? Very much so.

But, why is this milk or dairy loving country (India has long been the world’s largest milk producing country too) have embraced the vegan diet?  Well, the reason for that is actually really simple – social media.

It turns out, the reason why you decide to eat vegan is also the reason why Indians do the same. Animal cruelty, exploitation, and just trying to eat healthily are some of the reasons thrown around why Indians are continuing to be the vegetarian capital of the world.

So, do they have vegan foods? You bet. Let’s discuss this further.

Is Indian food vegan?

The right answer to this question is that yes, Indian food is more vegan or vegetarian friendly than probably the rest of the world but no, they aren’t all vegan. As a matter of fact, a lot of their cuisines have dairy in them and as we all know, vegan does not consume foods with dairy for it is still an animal byproduct.

But that doesn’t mean that there are no alternatives or you can’t use non-dairy milk on these famous Indian delicacies. It’s really just up for you to explore this vast culinary landscape. But certainly, if you’re looking for some new vegan cravings then India is the place to be.

Here are some famous Indian delicacies that are great for vegans!

Indian Vegan Delicacies

So, what Indian foods are vegan? We’re going to list down a few famous ones and some you’ve probably never heard of before.

Chana Masala
Chana Masala

Chana Masala

Chana Masala is one of the most popular and perhaps most loved vegan dishes from India. It’s a dish from northern India and is primarily eaten during breakfast. Chana means chickpea and masala means spice so you may already know how this goes.

It’s basically chickpea curry garnished with tomato, ginger, garlic, onion, and a lot of other Indian spices that are sure to keep you drooling. We know we are.

But please be wary that usually, restaurants use ghee in this dish. For those who aren’t familiar with ghee then know that this is one staple ingredient in a lot of Indian cuisines and if you want to eat vegan in India then you should be aware of it.

Ghee is essentially butterfat a byproduct of butter and it’s definitely non-vegan. So, if you want to eat a 100% vegan version of Chana Masala then be sure to tell your restaurant staff to use a ghee substitute which is most likely a plant-based oil. Actually, it is a general rule for a vegan that if you’re unsure, please ask restaurants or food stalls that India is so famous for if they use ghee on the food they are serving.

> Read more: is ghee vegan?

Chana Masala is best eaten with Indian bread like *naan or chapati but also perfect with rice. There’s definitely more than one way to enjoy this delicacy so be sure to try it whenever you get to India or from your local Indian restaurant.

*Naan – if you’re not familiar with Naan then know that it is a leavened bread that’s almost present in all Indian food stalls and restaurants. The thing is, naan is most likely made out of yogurt and we can’t be sure if it’s non-dairy yogurt that the restaurant you’re in used. So, it may ruin your diet a little bit. Well, don’t despair for there are plenty of alternatives to this.

Is roti vegan? Well, yes and it’s one of the best alternatives to naan. Just as good, roti is also leavened bread that’s vegan-friendly. You may also try puri, another deep-fried whole wheat bread that you may eat with India’s best curries.

Masala Dosa with Chutney and Sambaar, South Indian Dish
Masala Dosa with Chutney and Sambaar, South Indian Dish

Dosa

Is dosa vegan? Yep, it sure is. But what is it exactly for those who are not familiar with it? Dosa is Indian food that has since invaded the US and is actually dubbed as the next tortilla. Whether that is true or not that sentiment is just pretty much a testament to its fame.

Dosas are like crepes or tortillas and that they are flat and roundish and serves as an accompaniment for a lot of savory treats. They are gluten-free, definitely vegan, and naturally fermented.

Dosa is best for breakfast meals but is actually served on the side during dinners in the US. Seems like you don’t need to go far to indulge in it. Dosa is a must-try for vegans who wants to get a taste of Indian cuisine.

Paratha

So, is paratha vegan? Yes, it can be. Just like what we mentioned above, just make sure that it’s not made with ghee and you are good to go.

Unlike most breads we’ve discussed so far, paratha is an unleavened flatbread that is also consumed during breakfast. It literally means layered cooked dough.

Tikka Masala

Yes, Tikka Masala can have a completely vegan makeover. While chicken tikka masala is one of the most famous Indian dishes there is, people are little by little getting into the vegan version of it, which in our opinion can just be equally as good and flavorful.  

Vegan tikka masala is so easy to prepare on your own to boot. It is perfect with vegan naan and you may use tofu as your chicken substitute. It’s spicy, it’s creamy, and perfect to eat any time of the day.

Dal Chaawal
Dal Chaawal

Dal Chaawal

Dal Chaawal is something that you want to try if you want to taste the most authentic Indian cuisine and experience their culture at the same time as this dish is prepared in almost all Indian households.

It literally means lentil and rice and if you’ve notice lentil is also a staple in Indian food. Different lentils can be used for Dal Chaawal and so each meal can have a different flavor especially if you mix in the multitude of spices that Indians use.

Kofta

Kofta which actually means meatballs are also quite famous in India and surely enough it’s not that hard to find vegan meatballs over there.

Kofta in India is oftentimes made out of potatoes, mixed vegetables, and you guessed it, lentils. And of course, it is most often served with either gravy or spicy sauce as India is also quite fond of the latter.

But before you serve it up with gravy be sure to ask your server if it’s made out of butter because it usually is.

Daal Bati Churma

Another signature dish from the northern parts of India Daal Bati Churma is also a must-try for vegans. The essence of the dish is its stiff meatballs and churma which is a sweet accompaniment.

This dish is commonly eaten in Indian villages and no doubt is going to immerse you in the Indian culture not to mention the flavors that come with it. It’s also packed with carbohydrates, proteins, and vitamins so it’s definitely healthy. It’s perfect for people who always want a balanced diet. It’s also even eaten by athletes for stamina.

Vegetable Biryani
Vegetable Biryani

Vegetable Biryani

Indian cuisine is not just known for being flavorful or spicy but they are also known to be quite colorful literally and that’s always what makes them super good to eat.

Vegetable Biryani is the countries version of vegetable rice and for sure it’s meant for vegans to try. Aside from the succulent vegetables added into the mix, it’s got spices that add to its aroma, cloves, pepper mace, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander, and even mint.

What a sight to behold and the flavor just explodes in your mouth for a great culinary delight.

Rajma

You also have to try Rajma which is a vegan dish that contains red kidney beans in thick gravy and assorted Indian spices. It’s commonly served with roti or steamed rice. Have you seen any of those viral Indian food stall videos? Well, most likely you’ve seen rajma being served to a lot of people in the streets. Looked yummy, right? That’s because it is.

A must-try if you want to indulge in Indian street foods.

Hara Bhara Kabab

You probably also need to try Hara Bhara Kabab. This is one of the most famous vegan snacks that you can have from the country. It is healthy ad does have all of the nutrients that one could need.

It’s like a falafel for it’s also round and looks like a patty. It’s usually made out of spinach, potato, and green peas. So, when you visit India, instead of eating the usual meat kabab, try this one. It’s just a great vegan alternative.

Baingan Bharta
Baingan Bharta

Baingan Bharta

Baingan Bharta is smoked eggplant curry. Are you familiar with baba ghanoush? It’s similar to that. It’s basically brinjals or chargrilled eggplant mixed in with different spices as well as herbs.

It’s flavorful and healthy!

From appetizers like vegetable samosas to bread and side entries, India has got a multitude of foods to offer. Looking for food with lots of antioxidants? They have a lot of that all garnished with cinnamon, spices, and herbs that contain a lot of antibacterial properties.

Turmeric and ginger are staples of their cuisine so that contributes a lot to how healthy their food is too. Their protein substitutes are also quite abundant and they can be integrated well into their dishes even the most famous ones with usually, meat in them.

Cutting back on your fat intake is also not that hard with vegan Indian foods. So, the next time you visit the country or plan to eat at your local Indian restaurant, think about our suggestions and enjoy a healthy vegan diet.

Joe
Joe became a vegan after watching Cowspiracy. He always knew something was off with the way we consume animal products, but watching the documentary made him realized how bad it actually is. Joe is now making sure that every product he buys is 100% vegan!