Are rice cakes vegan?

Rice cakes are made by packing puffed rice together and shaping it into circles. There are different types of rice cakes based on different regions, For instance, sticky rice cakes are mostly common in Asia while those in the US are mostly familiar with the puffed rice cakes.

As the name suggests, the base ingredients in this food product is rice, which is undoubtedly plant-based. However, it is very important as a vegan to note that a product’s name only gives away some of the ingredients; you’ll need to read through the entire ingredients list before you can give the vegan stamp of approval.

Are rice cakes vegan? Yes, mostly. The basic ingredients for this food product are rice, oil, and salt, which are all 100% vegan. Some people, however, add animal-based spices and additives to their rice cakes, which makes it non-vegan. You also need to watch out for store-bought rice cakes as they mostly contain animal-derived ingredients such as cheese, natural flavours derived from animals, eggs, and so on.

The selection of vegan snacks is growing with each passing day and you’ll be surprised by how many options are available to you. The only problem is that most of them are not the healthiest food choices. Since veganism is mostly associated with healthy living, I figured I should talk about a healthy vegan snack today.

Rice Cakes is one of the most ideal choices for a healthy vegan snack, although they can also be used as a base for other recipes. What I’ll do in this text is cover the different ingredients found in rice cakes and what each one means for vegans so you can make an informed decision about this food product.

The Vegan Status of Rice Cakes

There are vegan rice cakes and animal products-based rice cakes. If you opt to buy the snack, be keen on reading the ingredients used. If you are not sure about a certain ingredient, it is safer to leave that product. Since vegans are increasing every day, more industries are producing more vegan foods, which is how some of the products labelled vegan could be having traces of animal products.

Rice cakes are also gaining popularity, which means a wide range of flavours are available to suit different taste buds. Avoid going for exotic flavours as some contain eggs, animal fats, or even dairy. Unless you buy rice cakes from a trusted brand, I think it is better to make your own at home.

In addition to the basic rice, water, vegetable oil, and salt, other ingredients I found can be used in vegan rice cakes are:

  • Raisins
  • Cinnamon
  • Unsweetened vegan yoghurt
  • Peanut butter
  • Berries
  • Vegan chocolate powder or chips.
  • Ripe bananas
  • Avocado

As I mentioned above, not all rice cakes in a shopping mall are vegan. Some ingredient names like casein or whey are often used as a code that there are components of milk. Barbeque flavour also contains some kind of animal product. Other common non-vegan ingredients to watch out for include:

Chocolate

Some rice cakes have a chocolate flavour made by simply adding cocoa beans or powder. However, products such as Chocolate rice cakes have a layer or real chocolate on the slices. Chocolate is made with cocoa beans, sugar, and milk. Milk is not vegan friendly, which makes the entire product non-vegan.

Butter

Butter is made from cream, which is the fatty part of cow milk. Since veganism is against animal harm, consuming any product from an animal is unethical. An example of rice cake with real butter in it is Buttered popcorn rice cakes.

Cheese

The cheese flavour is very common and the companies that use it make it clear on the label. They also combine the flavour with other animal products. Quaker White cheddar rice cakes is an example of a cheese-flavoured product. It contains cheese as well as eggs, butterfat milk, non-fat milk, whey, and butter.

Caramel

Unfortunately, caramel is not vegan as it’s usually loaded with butter and heavy cream, although you can make a vegan-friendly version at home. Although not all caramel flavours are non-vegan, when the real caramel is used, stay away from that product. Sometimes, lactose is used in the browning reaction when producing caramel. Note that for vegan-friendly caramel colouring, other natural sugars besides lactose are used. Fructose is the most commonly used natural sugar in vegan food.

In summary, rice cakes are a score for vegans since there are so many recipe options available. Considering the taste of packaged rice cakes from shops, the basic rice cake recipe is kind of mild and flavourless. I prefer homemade rice cakes since I can give them any flavour I want. It also allows me to add my favourite ingredients, unlike the traditional recipe that only has simple ones. You can never run out of vegan spice ideas as they are so many.

Are Rice Cakes Nutritious?

Rice cakes are traditionally made with just rice and salt, which offers quite a low nutritional content. These rice cakes are generally low in calories, which they provide from carbs. They are also low in fibre and proteins. Using the glycemic index (GI), this is a measure of how quickly food increases the human blood sugar levels, rice cakes score more than 70. This is very high; therefore, eating rice cakes by themselves can spike your insulin and blood sugar.

Although rice cakes are high in carbs, there are very little proteins and fibre to slow down the effects of these carbs on your sugar level. Little amounts of fibre often results in craving more food after eating rice cakes. For this reason, they can contribute to weight gain even though they have a few calories.

Brown rice, however, is a whole-grain cereal which is rich in fibre that makes you feel full. It has not been stripped off its husk, bran, and germ, which is contrary to white rice. Generally, the nutritional value of rice cake will depend on what you choose as an accompaniment. It might be healthy in the sense that it is fat-free and gluten-free, but it is not nutritious, just puffy but empty.

How Can You Tell Vegan Rice Cakes from Non-Vegan Ones?

Some products will have a vegan label on them, which is usually green in colour, while most won’t. But don’t assume a product is vegan just because it claims to be. Companies might be using that status to draw vegan customers and manage to sneak in these products, especially into local unauthorized shops.

It’s very important to read the ingredients list carefully to make sure everything contained in your rice cakes is actually vegan. If a certain ingredient is unfamiliar, ask around or contact the manufactures for more clarification. Better yet, stick to what you know.

Discovering a vegan product that you like and trust can be a bit challenging but do not hold onto a brand blindly. Products change over time and as new consumer needs arise, food processing industries have to adapt to meet them. This means the ingredients change as well. They might change and add animal-based components to your favourite vegan snack, so take time to read the labels even if you trust the product.

Avoid products with fancy flavours and stick to plain rice cakes. It is through these flavours and additives that companies introduce animal products. Also, do a lot of research before trusting any company or flavour.

What Are Some Of The Vegan Rice Cake Brands?

If you want to shop around for vegan rice cakes, here is a list to help you. I have included a description of the ingredients used and even better, no animals are harmed in the process of making them.

  • Lundberg Organic vegan rice cake: Ingredients include sea salt, brown organic whole grain rice, and Mochi sweet brown rice. All are 100% vegan.
  • Kim’s Magic Pop original flavour: No added sugar or fat, very few calories and purely vegan
  • Paskesz Ultra-Thin Rice Cakes: It contains quinoa, whole grain rice, and sea salt. While it’s vegan-friendly, it might have traces of gluten.
  • Landau thin rice cakes: Contains only two ingredients namely salt and whole brown rice.
  • Lundberg organic cinnamon toast: Has cinnamon flavour but purely vegan
  • Kim’s Deli Freshly Popped Rice Cakes -Cinnamon flavour: Fat-free and sugar-free with cinnamon flavour and no use of animal-derived ingredients.
  • Nature’s store dark chocolate rice cakes: Rich in fibre, gluten-free, whole grains, wheat and dairy-free, no artificial colours, and vegan friendly.
  • Kallo unsalted rice cakes: Gluten-free and vegan friendly. A small disclaimer though, their rice cakes could contain traces of milk used at the manufacturing site.

Robert Van De Ville

Robert Van De Ville is a registered nutritionist, he earned his degree in nutrition from California State University. Now based in London UK. An author of the upcoming book, researcher and dedicated vegan activist.

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