Vegan food in India l World's best food l Know India's best food
Aug 2020
Vegan food in India

India is a paradise for vegans. From the coconut curries of Kerala to the delicious daal in all their various forms, many dishes are naturally vegan. It’s not hard to obtain vegan food in India. The choice of vegetable curries is huge and vegetarian restaurants are everywhere. Meals, in general, are prepared daily and contain fresh ingredients sourced from local markets. It’s common to see people snacking on fresh seasonal fruits purchased from road stalls and the varieties of nut and pulse-based snacks.

There are a number of considerations that need to be made to ensure your food is free of any animal products. India produces and consumes a lot of dairy and it can crop up unexpectedly. 
The key to success comes by having some understanding of the Indian diet and how it changes in different regions. 


When following a vegan diet in India, the main hurdle comes with an ingredient known as ghee. Ghee is clarified butter and is a cooking ingredient in many parts of Northern India. In regions like Rajasthan for example, where water is at a premium, food is generally cooked in ghee. Ghee contains many health benefits and is the base ingredient for many sweets, cakes, and biscuits too. It’s also onto different kinds of bread as a garnish. For this reason, it is very easy to consume dairy in many parts of the country.

Meat and fish consumption's higher than in the north except Punjab where meat consumption is high, south Indian cuisine tends to contain less dairy as people use coconut oil rather than ghee or any other oil. If a dish does contain dairy, it’s usually fairly straightforward to ask for it to be cooked without. You are unlikely to come across much paneer in South India.  This is soft cottage cheese made from cows’ milk and is typically found in North India.


Due to religious reasons, India is home to the largest number of vegetarians in the world.  In fact, 40% of Indians are vegetarians. Of this amount, 31% are known as “pure vegetarians”, meaning they do not consume eggs. Across India, you will see restaurants that advertise themselves as “vegetarian”. These labels can be very helpful, but of course “pure vegetarian”. Pre-packaged foods are also required to carry a label. A green dot indicates that it is vegetarian and a brown or red dot indicates non-vegetarian.


Milk is India’s leading agricultural commodity and India is the leading milk producer in the world. Once it is transformed into ghee, milk is digestible. Where people aren’t able to digest milk, protein is obtained through eating meat, eggs, and fish. Due to the popularity of vegetarian food in India, it shouldn’t be a problem finding vegan options 

Eating out, whether it be in a restaurant or from a food stall, is usually the most cost-effective way of eating in India and the most fun. Whether you’re out for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just a snack, street food stalls offer a variety of delicious foods. These are prepared right in front of you so it’s easy to spot if any undesirable ingredients are used. Many apps can help you locate vegan-friendly outlets.

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