I have never met a person in my life who doesn’t like potatoes. And I can bet you haven’t, either. That’s the beauty of humble potatoes. They are cheap, filling, and incredibly versatile.
But are potatoes vegan?
Potatoes are root vegetables, so they are vegan on their own. However, not everything made from potatoes is always vegan-friendly.
Many traditional potato recipes include dairy products, like milk, cream, cheese, and/or butter, eggs, and meat broth or stock. Moreover, potatoes are often cooked in animal fat, making them non-vegan.
However, most (if not all) potato dishes can be made vegan by replacing animal products with plant-based alternatives.
Can Vegans Eat Potatoes?
They sure can, but it doesn’t mean they can eat every potato dish available out there.
Like any other food item, you need to consider all the ingredients that go into a potato dish and its preparation method to determine if it’s suitable for your vegan diet.
Let’s look at some popular potato dishes that are often prepared in ways that become unsuitable for vegan consumption. We’ll also quickly discuss how you can make those non-vegan potato dishes vegan.
Common Potato Dishes That Can Be Non-Vegan
Here are some popular potato dishes that are typically non-vegan:
Mashed potatoes are not vegan unless they are specifically made so. Though there are a few different versions of the traditional mashed potatoes recipe, they all include dairy products.
The most common non-vegan ingredients in mashed potatoes are butter and milk. However, some people also add cream and/or cheese to their mashed potatoes. Some even use mayonnaise to give this classic potato dish a luscious, smooth, creamy texture and rich taste.
No matter which of these ingredients the mashed potatoes recipe that your mom has handed you down uses, it can easily be adjusted to your vegan diet.
Fortunately, vegan alternatives are available for all dairy products used in different mashed potato recipes. You can easily find plant-based milk, vegan butter, vegan cream, non-dairy cheese, and even vegan mayo in grocery stores.
Simply switch the regular dairy items with their plant-based alternative in your recipe to make vegan mashed potatoes.
In case you don’t have a mashed potato recipe, here is a vegan recipe for you:
There are plenty of ways people make potato soup. But, none of the commonly used recipes seem to be vegan-friendly. They all use non-vegan ingredients.
Contrary to what the name may suggest, potato soup is typically made with chicken broth or stock. Moreover, many recipes use butter, cream, or sour cream to make it rich and creamy.
Since potato soup has a mild flavor, many people add a variety of toppings to enhance the flavor. These often include bacon bits. Some potato soup recipes even use bacon fat.
The trick to customizing potato soup to your vegan diet is the same as for any other food; replace the non-vegan ingredients with plant-based alternatives. That’s it!
Here’s a delicious, easy, and creamy vegan potato soup recipe for your convenience:
Baked potatoes may seem to be the safest option for vegans. But it isn’t always the case, especially when you’re dining out. Baked potatoes are brushed with some type of fat before they are put in the oven. And restaurants often use animal fat for this purpose.
So, even if you’re skipping the usual toppings – sour cream, butter, and bacon – you may still likely violate your vegan dietary regulations by eating a baked potato at a restaurant.
Having said that, there are some restaurants that do not use animal fat while baking potatoes. They use vegetable oil instead. So, it’s worth inquiring about it when you’re dining out.
If you’re making baked potato at home, it’s easy to make it vegan. Simply rub your potato with vegetable oil and use vegan sour cream, non-dairy butter, and plant-based bacon bits for topping.
Potato salads often contain eggs. Sometimes they are finely mashed before incorporating into the salad so they get mixed well and give a rich, creamy flavor and texture, which might make them a little harder to notice for those who aren’t well aware of the egg’s taste.
Cream/sour cream and mayo are two other non-vegan ingredients often used in a potato salad.
So, when eating out, make sure to inquire about potato salad ingredients unless it is labeled vegan on the menu. If making at home, skip the eggs and use plant-based cream or mayo to make vegan potato salad.
What about Potato Chips? Are Potato Chips Vegan?
Plain or salted potato chips are almost always vegan. However, flavored potato chips might or might not be vegan, depending on what flavoring ingredients are used in them. Many flavored chips contain seasonings with meat-derived ingredients, honey, or dairy.
Some common non-vegan potato chip flavors include Sour Cream & Onion, Cheese, Honey-BBQ, and Buffalo Wing.
There are many vegan-friendly potato chip varieties available as well.
Here’s a more in-depth guide for you to learn if potato chips are vegan.
Are French Fries Vegan?
When cooked the traditional way in vegetable oil, French fries are always vegan. However, in some cases, they aren’t. Some restaurants cook their fries in animal fat, as is the case at McDonald’s, while others may use seasonings containing non-vegan ingredients.
Both these occurrences are rare, making many people believe that they can eat fries at most places without worrying about running their vegan diet.
As much as I wished it to be true, it sadly isn’t the case.
Things work quite differently in the real world, and restaurants often do not have designated fryers for French fries or non-meat products. They use the same fryers for meat products and fries, leading to cross-contamination.
Vegans stand divided when it comes to cross-contamination of food. Some strictly avoid it, while others try to avoid it whenever they can.
There are also vegans who do not worry too much about cross-contamination of their food with non-vegan ingredients because they believe it’s practically unavoidable. Your stance on it will decide if you can eat fries available at most restaurants.
If cross-contamination is a concern for you, making fries at home is your best bet.
Are Instant Potatoes Vegan?
Instant potatoes may or may not be vegan, depending on their ingredients. Therefore, always check the ingredients list on the back of the box before purchasing.
But aren’t instant potatoes just dried mashed potatoes?
Essentially, they are. But just like most other commercial food products, they come in several varieties. And not all manufacturers stick to the traditional recipe.
Some also use animal-derived ingredients, like dairy, and controversial elements, like natural flavors, to make these good ol’ mashed potatoes more flavorful but end up making their products unsuitable for vegans.
Here are a few instant potatoes varieties that aren’t vegan:
- Idahoan Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Betty Croker Homestyle Creamy Butter Potatoes
- Betty Crocker Country Style Yukon Gold Potatoes
Are Hash Browns Vegan?
Traditionally, yes. But these days, not always.
Some restaurants add milk to their hash browns, while others add eggs. They are also often cooked in butter.
McDonald’s even uses ‘natural beef flavor’ in their hash browns in the US.
So, if you’re ordering hash browns at a restaurant, you should inquire about their components to ensure they do not contain any animal-derived ingredients. When making these at home, use the traditional hash brown recipe; it’s completely vegan-friendly.
Are Tater Tots Vegan?
It’s the same deal with tater tots as with fries and hash browns. These are essentially vegan, but you need to consider the oil they are cooked in and if they are flavored with seasoning containing animal-derived ingredients.
Most often than not, tater tots are vegan.
Are Sweet Potatoes Vegan?
Sweet potatoes are a healthier, nutrient-dense alternative to potatoes. And since they are a vegetable, they are 100% vegan on their own. But just like potatoes, the way they are cooked can make all the difference for us vegans.
Conclusion – Are Potatoes Vegan?
Yes, they are!
Potatoes are a vegetable. Hence, all their varieties are 100% vegan. However, potato dishes can be vegan or non-vegan, depending on how they are prepared or what ingredients they contain.
Want some vegan potato recipes?
Check out my article Best Vegan Potato Recipes, to get your hands on some amazing recipes and continue to enjoy the humble potato in a variety of different ways without putting your vegan commitment at risk.