In my journey to being vegan, one of the difficulties I had was determining which foods were vegan-friendly, and which foods were seemingly vegan, but not! While some were obvious, others were a little more difficult to ascertain.
With Chinese New Year coming up, I thought I’d compile a list of popular vegan Chinese New Year treats for my fellow vegans!
Disclaimer: Whilst these snacks are vegan-friendly, they’re not necessarily the healthiest things to have, so be mindful!
Happy Chinese New Year!
This popular snack is vegan-friendly. It’s thinly sliced arrowhead deep-fried in oil and sprinkled with salt. Please note that it’s deep-fried which is not a great method for healthy cooking.
Usual ingredients: Arrowhead, oil, and seasoning.
The lotusroot is sliced thinly and deep-fried - delicious, although not very healthy. However, you may be able to find the healthier baked version instead of the deep-fried ones.
Usual ingredients: Lotusroot, oil and seasoning.
Peanut Sesame Brittle/Almond Brittle
This is a favourite of many and although usually vegan, some versions are made with Florentine powders which contain powdered milk. Read the ingredients carefully to ensure that you stick to your vegan diet.
Usual Ingredients: Peanut/almond, sugar, oil and sesame seeds.
Steamed Rice Flour Cake - Fatt Gou
As far as cooking methods go, steaming is one of the healthier options. However, ingredients matter too so whilst this is vegan, do watch out for sugar content and the colouring used.
Usual ingredients: Sugar, flour, baking powder, water, colouring
This traditional steamed Chinese New Year cake contains sugar as many desserts do, but it is definitely vegan. If making your own though, you may want to use alternative sweeteners instead of refined sugar.
Usual ingredients: Glutinous rice flour, coconut milk, sugar
Glutinous Rice Balls (Tang Yuan)
These glutinous rice balls are usually served in a sweet ginger soup, keyword here being ‘sweet’. Enjoy it but don’t go overboard!
Usual ingredients: Glutinous rice flour, screwpine (pandan) leaves, sugar, ginger, colouring
Sesame Seed Balls
These delicious balls of red bean paste encased in dough symbolise luck and growth. However, being a sweet treat that is deep-fried, perhaps enjoy it in moderation.
Usual ingredients: Glutinous rice flour, sugar, water, baking powder, roasted white sesame seeds, red bean paste, oil
Ang Ku Kueh
These little treats usually contain peanut, red bean and mung bean fillings in a sticky dough made of glutinous rice flour. The various cooking methods in the process of making these are roasting, boiling and steaming – healthier than deep-fried treats. Again, keep in mind the sugar content of these and enjoy in limited quantities.
Usual ingredients: Glutinous rice flour, colouring, sugar, sweet potato, oil
If you’d like to have a healthy vegan Chinese New Year and stay away from calorific foods, then oranges (which are aplenty this festive season!) are a good choice. You can also snack on seeds and nuts, which are not only tasty, but nutritious too.