You must be very diligent about what you consume on your vegan journey. This means paying closer attention to the ingredient list of your favorite foods and going the extra mile to ensure that what you are about to eat is free of animal products. This leads us to the subject of today’s blog post – are rice cakes vegan?
While rice cakes are undoubtedly delicious, it isn’t always easy to tell whether or not they contain any animal-derived products, traces of gluten, or other unnecessary additives.
Determining whether this popular snack would make a worthwhile addition to your diet is made more challenging because there are so many types of rice cakes out there.
Our team has compiled this guide to help you pinpoint all the notable features of this excellent substitute for bread. Here, we’ll discuss which varieties of rice cakes are vegan, gluten-free, and completely safe for you.
Let’s get started!
What Are Rice Cakes?
Simply put, rice cakes are satisfying snacks made from rice. The cake is shaped or condensed into a single form during its preparation process. As a popular Asian food item, different variations of this snack exist according to region.
You see variations like Burmese rice cakes, Chinese rice cakes, and Korean rice cakes, to mention a few.
Depending on the type of rice cake in question, the base ingredients used can be ground rice, rice flour, puffed rice, whole-grain brown rice, or white rice.
While they may originally have started as plain cakes, these snacks have quickly become a pantry staple and a mainstream grocery item in different parts of the world.
Some of the reasons for this may be because they’re very low in calories and animal fats and don’t require any animal-derived ingredients to be tasty. So for example, the typical whole-grain brown rice cake is dry, crunchy, and delicious.
These products became very popular in the United States in the 1980s as they easily fit the demand for low-calorie and healthy snack food. They were usually eaten with other food items like cottage cheese, fruits, jelly, and numerous other toppings.
Here’s more on the basic ingredients of standard whole-grain brown rice cakes.
Primary Nutritional Content of Standard Rice Cakes
Before rice cakes can be allowed to join the ranks of certified vegan snacks – like Follow Your Heart vegan yogurt and Doritos pepper flakes tortilla chips – one of the most important things we need to consider is the nutritional makeup of this item.
Please keep in mind that the nutritional value we’re about to highlight here may vary significantly depending on the type of rice cake and the presence of any natural flavors.
Nutritional Components of Whole-Grain Brown Rice Cakes
Typical, unsalted whole-grain brown rice cakes will usually contain:
- Calorie Content – 35g
- Carbohydrates – 7.3g
- High-quality Plant Protein – 0.7g
- Fiber – 0.3g
- Phosphorus – 32.4mg
- Magnesium – 11.8mg
- Manganese – 0.3mg
- Selenium – 2.2mg
- Niacin – 0.7mg
The rice grain is an excellent source of carbohydrates and high-quality plant protein. Not all types of rice carry the same nutritional value, and this is naturally reflected in the quality of nutrition you get when you consume different kinds of rice cakes.
Nutritionally speaking, it’s always better to consume whole-grain brown rice cakes instead of white rice cakes. The main difference in health benefits between these two types of rice cakes is that white rice goes through a more extensive refining process than brown rice.
Because of this, white rice tends to have fewer essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals, and proteins) when it’s been made into a cake.
Of course, there’s a plus side to this as well – the more refined the rice cake is, the fewer calories it contains.
However, it is better to eat such food items in moderation and ensure that you complement them with other healthy and nutritious toppings.
Now that we have a more profound knowledge of the basics, we can now get on with answering the all-important question: are rice cakes vegan!
Are Rice Cakes Vegan?
Yes and no.
While these plant-based snacks make delicious snack food, there’s a reason you can’t afford to add them to your vegan diet blindly.
In its purest form, a basic rice cake recipe comprises rice, water, and, occasionally, some animal-derived ingredients. Like this, it can serve as a tasty snack or even a complete or mini-meal. Minus the animal products, rice cakes can be an invaluable addition to the vegan diet.
It is also an excellent option for people with common allergies, as this food is plain enough that it is unlikely to trigger any adverse reactions or food sensitivities.
Plain rice cakes – made with rice and water – are vegan and may offer your body a good balance of healthy protein, carbs, and vitamins.
You have to be careful when adding rice cakes to your vegan meal diet because of the level of interest this snack food has attracted in recent times. With the increasing demand for rice cakes, modern versions of this product include new flavors and varieties often adulterated with non-vegan ingredients and additives.
So if you want anything more than a plain rice cake, check the ingredient label first to make sure it is an appropriate choice for your diet.
How to Tell if a Rice Cake is Vegan
One of the most efficient ways to do this is to look for a vegan label on the packet of the rice cake. Products that carry this seal have usually been tested, and you can rest assured that they do not contain any animal products.
However, on packaging where this seal may be missing, you should look at the product information to confirm that it doesn’t contain any non-vegan ingredients.
In many cases, non-vegan rice cakes may show recognizable ingredients like egg, milk, or milk components like whey on their ingredient label.
You should also be wary of flavors outside dairy ingredients that can be easily traced back to animals or animal products. For example, any rice cake product offering barbeque flavor or other animal-based artificial flavors should be avoided out of an abundance of caution.
Alternatively, you can try reaching out to the company directly to confirm the nature of the ingredients they use to make their rice cakes.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that things change with time, and vegan snacks are no exception. So, even after you think you’ve found the perfect vegan snack option, don’t forget that companies change their recipes. Factors like a change in food supply can cause companies to substitute the ingredients or natural flavors they use.
Because of this, it’s essential to check the ingredient label of your favorite rice cake snack from time to time to ensure that its vegan message hasn’t changed.
But on the whole, many rice cakes will go with your vegan diet just fine.
Can Rice Cakes be Added to a Gluten-Free Diet?
Yes. But there’s a catch.
Only rice cakes made entirely of rice, and free of unnecessary additives can boast gluten’s absence. On the other hand, cakes made from wheat grain rice or other grains will often contain traces of gluten.
So, suppose you’re on a gluten-free diet or have medical conditions like celiac disease or high gluten sensitivity. In that case, you must inspect the ingredient label of the desired rice cake very carefully. Many gluten-free rice cakes will usually carry a label.
Finally, keep in mind that even flavored gluten-free rice cakes might still contain gluten. This is because many flavoring powders leverage the properties of gluten as an anti-clumping additive.
Even though only minimal traces of gluten are found in such substances, it can still threaten some people’s health.
The Downsides of Eating Rice Cakes
Just like every other food source, rice cakes aren’t perfect.
As these snacks are primarily made of carbohydrates, eating too many at once or opting for rice cakes that have been sweetened with granulated sugar can spike blood sugar levels considerably.
You may consider taking salted rice cakes with protein sources like white beans, vegan nut butter, or unsweetened yogurt to minimize this risk.
Are rice cakes vegan?
For the most part, yes. But you’ve got some work to do to ensure they are a good fit for your diet.
Play it safe, and always make sure you check the ingredient list of the rice cake before you make your purchase. That way, you know for sure what you’re eating. Happy snacking and explore more vegan options here!