Can Vegans Eat Potatoes? How To Avoid Dairy & The Best Vegan Fries In The UK 2023

When it comes to potatoes, there’s no question that most of us can agree they’re delicious. Whether mashed, baked, or boiled, the humble spud makes a great side dish for pretty much any meal.

But what if you’re vegan? Can vegans eat potatoes? The answer is:

YES!  And thank goodness for that!

That said, there are some precautions you should take, so before you start stuffing your face with fries, let’s take a closer look at what can make potato-eating a tricky business for vegans.

Potatoes Are A Vegetable

If you’re trying to maintain a vegan diet, there’s no need to miss out on the deliciousness of potatoes. Potatoes are a vegetable (more specifically tubers, a type of root vegetable) which means they’re definitely suitable for vegans. In fact, they’re one of the most commonly consumed vegetables in the world!

Potatoes are a good source of vitamin C and potassium, as well as fibre, folate, and phosphorus. They also contain iron, magnesium, and zinc—all of which are important nutrients to vegans and non-vegans alike. Plus, they contain antioxidants that can help prevent cancer and other diseases.

If you’re a vegan, it’s very safe to eat potatoes on their own. They can be prepared at home using vegan ingredients, and they’re delicious!

But if you buy potato-based products in stores or when eating out, you should err on the side of caution before chowing down! A lot of traditional recipes call for non-vegan ingredients, so it’s best to look for certified vegan products in order to avoid these hidden ingredients.

Be Wary Of Dairy 

When you think of potatoes, do you think of creamy, cheesy dishes? If so, you’re not alone. While the vegetable itself is entirely plant-based and vegan-friendly, most traditional potato dishes are actually made using dairy products.

Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular store-bought potato dishes that aren’t suitable for vegans and why:

Mash: Although it’s possible to make mash at home without using dairy products, it’s unlikely that any pre-made mash will be vegan-friendly. This dish is traditionally made by mashing up boiled potatoes with dairy milk, butter, or heavy cream, 

Potato Soup: You might think that potato soup would be just fine as long as it doesn’t have meat in it, but this isn’t always true. Often, potato soup includes butter and cream as ingredients too.

Potato au gratin: Au gratin means “with cheese,” so don’t expect any vegan options here.

It also contains, milk, butter, and sometimes meat, so this one is definitely off the table. 

Potato Salad: In addition to eggs and mayonnaise (which are both not vegan), potato salad also sometimes contains bacon and ham. So if you’re vegan, you’ll definitely have to skip this one too.

The rise of veganism means you’re in luck–many companies have already created pre-made vegan alternatives for these creamy carb-loaded foods. Just make sure you head to the vegan section or check for the vegan logo on products.

Other non-vegan ingredients you might come across in pre-made potato-based products include:

  • Dairy derivatives such as whey, and casein, 
  • Meat products such as meat stock, animal fat, and gelatin
  • Eggs 
  • Honey

To learn more about sneaky non-vegan ingredients that may be lurking in your food, check out this blog post.

Now, let’s talk about the potato products you can normally trust to be vegan-friendly.

Playing It Safe 

Some people are just more adventurous than others. If you’d rather play it safe, these potato products are almost always vegan:

  • Chips/fries
  • Potato wedges
  • Hashbrowns
  • Potato tots
  • Potato waffles
  • Potato Smilies 

They’re all made from just potatoes and oil, plus a little bit of seasoning on top. And the end result need not be boring. They can be paired with dips, vegan cheese, vegan chilli, and guacamole. The possibilities are endless!

Got FOMO? 

Got FOMO? Don’t worry—there are plenty of ways to make a potato recipe normally packed with animal products vegan!

  • Swap out butter for vegan butter or olive oil
  • Use vegetable broth or water instead of chicken broth
  • For Milk: Use soy milk, oat milk, almond milk, cashew milk, hemp milk, hazelnut milk… the list goes on!
  • Cheese: There are plenty of plant-based cheeses out there these days to choose from—and many of them are pretty darn good. If you’re looking for something more traditional, try nutritional yeast or cashews blended with water and salt.

When you think of the best comfort foods, potatoes au gratin are probably somewhere near the top of your list.

But what if you’re vegan? Or maybe you just want a new take on this classic dish. Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered!

We’ve scoured the internet for some of the best vegan recipes for potatoes au gratin, and we’ve found a real winner! If you’re looking to try something new, here’s our favorite Vegan potato au gratin recipe

Eating Out?

Want to indulge in some greasy takeaway fries, but aren’t sure which ones are vegan? 

Thankfully, a lot of eateries in the UK offer fries or chips as their vegan options. There are some exceptions, though, and depending on the type of oil they’re fried in, they might not be vegan.

But which restaurant has the best vegan fries in the UK in 2023?

It just has to be Mcdonald’s. 

Mcdonald’s is doing a wonderful job of pleasing their plant-based patrons this year, and their fries are thin, crispy deep-fried potato goodness. Plus, they pair very nicely with their new double-sized McPlant Burger.

The thick, golden fries from Burger King come in a close second to McDonald’s famous fries.

Also, be warned, KFC has yet to join the club; but hopefully, they’ll catch on soon!

If you’re eating out, it’s safest to ask which potato dishes are vegan before ordering, so you can ensure that they’re free of animal products, including what oil they’re cooked in.

But Hold On, What About Fertiliser?

As it stands, it is rare to find vegetables, potatoes included, that are not grown using animal fertiliser. This means that if you go by the definition of veganism—a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose—then you are still vegan if you buy these products.

But this raises another question: What would happen if everyone went vegan? Would we see such a massive improvement in our soil quality now that we no longer need animal fertiliser?

Promisingly, a study found, that if the world adopted a vegan diet, global farmland use would shrink by 75%. This means we could return much of our land to its natural state and reduce the carbon footprint of farming by going plant-based.

The hope is that as veganic farming becomes more widespread, the current means of growing vegetables that rely on animal byproducts can be eradicated.

Grow Your Own 

If you want to avoid buying potatoes grown using current practices, there’s an easy way to do it: Grow your own! This is also a great way to ensure that you know exactly what kind of fertiliser is being used on your food.

If you’re a vegan and you want to grow potatoes, here’s what you do: get yourself some compost! Compost is basically just a mixture of rotting plants and other organic matter, and it’s the perfect vegan fertiliser for your potato patch. It’s cheap, easy to find, and can be made at home by combining leaves with grass clippings or other plant matter.

Compost is rich in nitrogen, which is good for growing potatoes because it helps them produce more flowers (and, therefore, more potatoes). So if you’re looking for a way to grow your own organic potatoes using only vegan materials, compost is your best bet.

The Takeaway 

So, can vegans eat potatoes? Yes!

Potatoes are a nutrient-dense carb that can be eaten as a side dish or used as a base for other meals. The best part? They’re delicious, and they’re easy to cook.

So go ahead: grab yourself a potato—or two—and get cooking!

Thanks for reading- and if you like this article, check out our other advice and tips on the vegan diet!

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Vegan children's book writer- check out "Ollie The Vegan Dinosaur"!- and loves all things word-y. (Oh, and a sucker for reasonably-priced cruelty-free mascara!)

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