Although gravy refers to a wide variety of sauces, the term is generally synonymous with a sauce made from meat juices. It is prepared by browning flour on a pan and slowly adding a liquid (water, milk, or chicken/beef broth) until it’s perfectly cooked and thick.
Gravy can also be as simple as juices left in the pan after cooking fish, meat, or poultry. Gravy is the perfect sauce for any meal and being a festive staple, it’s the perfect way to top off your plate this Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday. This stuff is so good you could eat it every day, which makes you wonder whether or not it is good for you.
Is gravy vegan? From the simple description I’ve given above, it’s evident that gravy is not vegan-friendly as it mostly contains animal products. However, there are a number of cruelty-free options that will be a perfect addition to your vegan diet. Plus, you can make gravy at home that doesn’t include any animal-derived ingredients.
Nothing evokes the images of family lunches like gravy. And, although traditionally it was sourced from meat, many gravy brands are now making vegan options to cater to the growing vegan community. People become vegans for different reasons, including ethical concerns, to save the environment, and for health purposes.
Whatever reason you have for going vegan, you now have to be conscious of everything you eat and this includes re-evaluating all your past favourite dishes. In this text, I’m going to take you through the different types of gravy, including what you should or shouldn’t include in your vegan diet.
Can Vegans Consume Gravy?
As I said earlier, gravy is mostly considered to be non-vegan because the liquid used to make it mostly contains meat drippings. Well, we don’t want to use any meat drippings now, do we?
The good news is gravies exist that are suitable for vegan diets. These typically make use of vegetable stock, cultures, and other natural vegan-friendly flavourings, as well as vegan colouring agents like cocoa powder and caramel. They may not be as heavy or fatty as the ones made with meat drippings but with proper seasoning, you can still be able to enjoy thick, creamy and cruelty-free sauce in your vegan diet. Plus, who wants all that fat anyway –all it does is increase your waistline.
With that being said, here’s a look at the common types of vegan gravy:
Various types of onions can be used in the preparation of onion gravy. You will need a few ingredients, including onions, garlic, vegetable broth, almond milk or other vegan alternatives, soy sauce, vegetable shortening, and corn starch. There are several recipes online for making vegan onion gravy, so check them out and get started. You can make this basic vegan gravy recipe even better by adding some herbs such as thyme, rosemary, or sage.
For vegan gravy that is full of flavour, look no further than mushroom gravy. The ingredients for making this gravy can vary but it typically contains a mushroom base, vegetable shortening, flour, vegetable broth, salt and pepper to taste, onions, and soy sauce. Mushrooms provide plenty of umami-like richness and make this sauce deep and earthy in flavour.
However, keep in mind that not all store-bought mushroom gravy is vegan-friendly as some of them make use of chicken or beef stock, butter, and roux.
This gravy substitutes meat drippings with juices from roasted or boiled vegetables. The most basic recipe for this gravy will include vegetable broth, and cornstarch or flour. You can take it a notch higher by adding nutritional yeast and vegetable shortening for extra creaminess.
With that being said, vegan gravy can be consumed alone but it also makes a great addition to a number of dishes, including mashed or roasted potatoes, vegan lentil loaf, rice, and much more.
I suppose this is not difficult to deduce since it’s gravy that contains animal-derived ingredients. The obvious ones are beef gravy, chicken gravy, and egg gravy. There are also some whose names you may not be familiar with like sawmill gravy, red-eye gravy, and giblet gravy. The former is made from sausage or beef drippings, the second one contain deep-fried ham drippings, while the latter uses stock made from the giblets of turkey or chicken.
Tips for Making The Perfect Vegan Gravy
Always use whole foods: Instead of the powdered versions of like garlic and onions, use real ones. This makes for more real and authentic tastes; plus, it’s much healthy and you know exactly what is in your gravy.
Some people prefer using powdered ingredients because they think whole foods will make the gravy lumpy. Well, this shouldn’t be a problem as several machines can help mince them finely. A grater, for starters, is great at shredding foods into fine pieces. Alternatively, you can use a blender.
Add liquid in batches: Ensure you add any liquid ingredient in small quantities, say ½ cup at a time, and mix thoroughly before adding more to avoid lumps.
Use warm vegetable broth instead of cold or room temperature to also avoid lumps.
Vegan gravy is not always as thick as gravy that contains meat drippings. The good news is you can thicken it by adding corn starch. Keep in mind that the gravy will thicken further as it continues to cook, so start with 1-2 tablespoons, stir, and give it time to cook before adding more. Instead of corn starch, you can also use other starches like tapioca, arrowroot, rice flour, oat flour, or all-purpose flour if you don’t need gluten-free.
The Best Vegan Gravy to Buy
If you are looking to buy vegan gravy for convenience or to save on time instead of making them at home, you’re in luck. I’ve compiled a list of store-bought vegan-friendly gravy to add to your shopping list.
This is probably the most reliable vegan gravy and safest go-to. Given that Tofurky is a vegan brand, you don’t have to second-guess what’s in your gravy or even worry that they may change the ingredients later. This savoury gravy makes use of mouth-watering plant-based non-GMO ingredients, making it the perfect mealtime companion for your vegan meal.
Pacific Foods Organic Vegan Mushroom Gravy
This gravy has a wonderful consistency and is full of flavour, with the mushroom stock used for its base providing a much more savoury taste. It is certified organic and gluten-free, and easy to find online and in stores.
Simply Organic Vegetarian Brown Gravy
For those who eschew or simply don’t like a mushroom, this vegan brown gravy is for you. It is another safe go-to option as all the ingredients used are 100% organic. It’s pretty versatile as you can use it as gravy, as well as for stews and soups.
Road’s End Organics Gravy Mix
This mix is noted for making excellent gravy that can spice up almost any dish –the recipe is outlined on the back. It is also certified organic and gluten-free.
Marigold Vegetarian Organic Gravy Powder
This is a vegan-friendly powdered stock with a lovely flavour and that dissolves readily.
Bisto is one of the most popular brands for gravy and other food products. Many of their products don’t actually contain animal-derived ingredients and as such, are vegan-friendly. Among them are their familiar Bisto Gravy Granules, Bisto Vegetable Gravy Granules, and Bisto Best Caramelised Onion Gravy. You can use these granules to make gravy or even sprinkle them as a seasoning to spice up your meal.
What to Watch Out For When Buying Vegan Gravy
Whilst the above gravies don’t explicitly contain any animal products, their production may be of concern to some vegans. First off, some of these vegan gravies are produced in factories that handle animal products. Plus, some vegan gravy brands also manufacture non-vegan gravy. In both instances, there’s the possibility of cross-contact or cross-contamination.
While most vegans will not judge such products harshly, meaning they can consume them, stricter vegans will avoid these vegan gravies for the slightest chance that they may include traces of animal products. Others avoid such products as a way of not supporting companies that contribute to the suffering of animals –whether directly or indirectly.
Another common ingredient in vegan gravy that is controversial in the vegan world is palm oil. Though it is derived from plants, palm cultivation is said to contribute to deforestation. Rainforests are a habitat of many animals and burning them down to make way for palm plantation causes these animals to lose their habitat with some even getting burnt in the process.
Last, but not least, watch out for additives like flavourings used in vegan gravy as some of them are derived from animals. E635 is a common additive in vegan gravy and can be sourced from both animals and plants.