In many homes, rice is considered to be an essential component of any meal. So much so that different countries even have staple dishes that include this starchy grain as its main ingredient. Paella from Spain, jambalaya from the Southern US, and coconut rice from Columbia— all of these sound delicious — but as a vegan can you eat white rice? How can white rice change your diet? Let’s dive into all of your questions about the popular carbohydrate.
Can Vegans Eat White Rice?
The one-word answer is: YES. It is a grain which means that it is a small seed collected from the plant called Oryza sativa. Most vegans can eat a great helping of white rice. “Most” can because there are also those who choose to eat unprocessed food. The main difference between white rice and brown rice is that the former is made by milling away the layers on the outer parts of brown rice grains. The part that is left is called the “endosperm” which is essentially the white rice.
The processes which the grain has to go through take away some of the nutritional value of whole grain rice, making it refined rice. If you are the kind of vegan that does not eat processed food this might not be for you.
Additionally, there are times when white rice is “enriched” or mixed with other ingredients. This is often done to increase its nutritional value. Reading the label of the product can help you judge whether the white rice is pure or mixed in with something else. Sometimes that additional ingredient might not be plant-based. The source of those nutrients can be considered when choosing enriched white rice.
The good news remains that white rice is a great addition to a plant-based diet which is great for those who want an accessible, easy, and fast meal. Being a carbohydrate it is still a rich source of energy.
Is White Rice Gluten-Free?
White rice is gluten-free. This is good news for those with celiac disease which Mayo Clinic has stated occurs in 1 out of 141 people in the United States. However, reading nutrition facts and ingredients can be very important because there are cases when white rice is mixed or processed with other chemicals. A sign or description including the words “gluten-free” would be the easiest way to tell if that rice is an ingredient you would want in your pantry.
Is White Rice Healthy?
White rice is a refined grain which means some nutrients are missing, unlike the whole grain brown variation. There are three parts in every whole grain: the endosperm, bran, and germ. The germ contains fat, carbohydrates, minerals, and protein. Meanwhile, bran has lots of fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. The only part that the refined sugar shares with the whole grain is the endosperm which for the most part is rich in polysaccharides. This means that it is mostly made of starch.
All in all, the healthy components that are shaved off are phytochemicals, minerals, B vitamins, and fiber. Some white rice has iron and vitamin B added to the grain once again which earns them the label “enriched”.
Connected to Increased Diabetes Risk
The Glycemic Index (GI) measures the pace at which the body converts carbs into sugars. These are then absorbed into the bloodstream. Ideally, those with Type 2 diabetes would consume food with lower GI scores. White rice has a GI of 64 which is considered to have a medium GI. In comparison, brown rice has a GI of 55, meaning there is less of a risk with brown rice as compared to white rice.
May Contain Arsenic
Some places in the world grow rice that has high levels of arsenic. Oftentimes the environment where the rice was planted contributes to this occurrence. Arsenic as a chemical can cause heart disease, an increased risk of cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Despite some of the health risks already mentioned, eating white rice can also have its advantages. One of the easiest things to remember with white rice is that it can give you energy quickly. It is high in carbohydrates and is low on fiber which causes this rapid energy release. It is also edible by vegans who have celiac disease because it is gluten-free. Lastly, rice has resistant starch which can form a type of fatty acid that can aid the colon in keeping itself healthy.
Are Other Kinds of Rice Vegan?
There is an array of delicious kinds of rice, around 40,000 varieties. Let’s have a rundown of some of the most well-known. First off, brown rice is similar to white rice except it still contains the bran and germ parts. This makes it consumable by raw vegans as well. Next, jasmine rice is a fragrant and kind of white rice, making it also vegan-friendly. Another kind of rice on the list is basmati rice. Often confused with white rice and jasmine rice, it is longer than the former and less flavorful than the latter. Basmati rice also comes from a plant which means vegans can eat this sumptuous grain.
How Can You Include White Rice in Your Plant-Based Diet?
White rice has the potential to pack some much-needed carbohydrates into your diet. With a variety of other fruits, vegetables, and plant-based ingredients to supplement your dishes, you could really enjoy cooking with this easy-to-cook grain. Here are some must-try white rice recipes that you might want to try to spice up your meals:
Vegan Fried Rice
A staple on breakfast tables everywhere, this fried rice recipe has a clear Asian inspiration that you will want to savor. Dashes of Furikake seasoning and rice wine vinegar give a beautifully unique taste to this not-so-ordinary fried rice take. Shhh. The secret ingredient is unique and adds an absolutely appetizing experience.
Cilantro Lime Rice
Craving for something fresh and zesty? This recipe only needs 7 ingredients and it can already give you that summer day citrusy feel. It can be served as a side dish as well as eaten inside a wrap. The avocados and cilantro in this dish will make sure to give you a bright-eyed start to the day or an energized power-up through lunch.
Mango Ginger Rice Bowl
Everyone loves a rice bowl to really beat hunger on those busy days. This one is just as refreshing as it is healthy. There are a multitude of ingredients you could add and play with. Snap peas, sesame seeds, mango, fresh basil — this recipe would be on top of the list for any white rice connoisseur.
Vegan-friendly and healthy for the most part, white rice can be a filling new ingredient to your meals. White rice is a common and accessible ingredient that can transform your repertoire of vegan dishes with its carbohydrate-rich, energy-boosting savoriness. It is also gluten-free which can be a great option for those with celiac disease. While its refined grain status might make you weigh your options, it is still a prime contender. Rice bowls, wraps, side dishes, congee, and even dessert — you can include white rice in any kind of meal.