Why You May Need To Avoid Deep-Fried Foods If You're Vegan

As more and more people become aware of sustainability and the effect climate change is having on the food we eat, veganism is becoming a popular lifestyle. Some proof of this is the fact that the search term "vegan food near me" skyrocketed more than 5000% in 2021 (via VegNews). Even Michelin-starred restaurant Eleven Park Madison in New York City ditched meat from their menu, opting to go completely vegetarian, then launched a vegan meal kit delivery service in the spring of 2022 (via Eater).


"It became very clear to me that our idea of what luxury is had to change. We couldn't go back to doing what we did before," chef Daniel Humm told The New York Times. "I wanted everyone who comes into contact with Eleven Madison Park to become a part of doing good."

With this increased interest in eating ethically and sustainably, and more people looking toward veganism as a way to do that, what's vegan and what isn't has become a topic of discussion. What one would think might be naturally vegan, like beer and wine, actually isn't unless it's prepared in a way to make it vegan (via Healthline).

Among those products out there that may or may not be vegan is deep-fried food. So, whether you're currently a vegan or considering veganism, you should know why deep-fried food, even if there are veggies under that batter, isn't always vegan.


Eggs could be used in the preparation

Although there are different ways to batter and deep-fry food, in order to make the batter stick, a lot of places rely on eggs (via Healthline). While there are alternatives to eggs, like aquafaba and yogurt, per Vegan Food & Living, it doesn't mean that restaurants are necessarily using these options when deep-frying food.


With this in mind, if you're not at a vegan restaurant and you're ordering, say, tempura or another type of deep-fried vegetable, you definitely want to inquire about its vegan status. Although someone who is new to veganism may not be able to taste the difference, because veganism is about being ethical in how you eat and respecting the life of animals, just the fact that you could possibly be consuming an animal product is enough to question the preparation of the food. Some restaurants can accommodate the dietary needs of vegans, while others can't. So it's important to be mindful of this. 

Frying oil may contain animal fat

Not only should vegans ask about the deep-frying process of a non-vegan or non-vegetarian restaurant, but vegetarians should too.

While many places use vegetable oil to deep-fry, not all of them do (via Healthline). Some places use butter, lard, or tallow, the latter being rendered by either beef or lamb fat, definitely making some fried foods both non-vegan and non-vegetarian (via I Am Going Vegan). An example of this is the preparation of McDonald's french fries in the United States. Until the 1990s their fries were cooked in beef tallow, but when they switched to vegetable oil, the taste wasn't the same. So to satisfy those who wanted the old McDonald's fries back, they started adding a "natural beef flavor," thereby making them, once again, no longer vegan or vegetarian.


However, according to PETA, every other fast food chain uses vegetable oil when deep-frying its fries. So, that's something to keep in mind if you get a craving for some fast-food fries.

While veganism can sometimes get a bad rap, what vegans are doing, from a sustainability perspective, is something that others aren't willing to do — eat with the environment and animals in mind. Although the evidence on whether a vegan diet is healthier hasn't been conclusive, especially in the long term, it still hasn't dissuaded many from getting on the vegan bandwagon (via The Guardian).