What Is Vegan Stir-Fry?

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  • Written By: Emily Pate
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 29 June 2019
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A vegan stir-fry is a meatless version of a dish of Chinese origin featuring ingredients flavored with oil and sauce, then cooked quickly over high heat. The vegan version of the dish is very similar to its traditional counterpart, since vegetables are a mainstay of this diet rejecting animal-derived ingredients. Various meat substitutes can be used, including tofu and tempeh, though the dish may feature vegetables only, along with other mainstay ingredients. Preparation involves cutting all food before cooking it quickly and serving it as a dish with crisp texture.

Vegan food is that which is prepared without any animal-derived ingredients, including meat, dairy, or eggs. Everything in the dish must be completely plant-derived. Any sauce or marinade in a vegan stir-fry cannot contain fish oil or broth derived from animals, and hearty vegetables or meat substitutes make up the dish instead of read meat, poultry, or seafood.

Stir-frying is an ancient Chinese cooking technique involving cooking bite-size pieces of vegetables and marinated meat extremely quickly in a very hot pan, typically a wok. The result is a dish of hot, crisp vegetables. Oils with a high smoking point like peanut or canola are heated before the vegetables are added. Since vegetables make up the majority of a traditional stir-fry's ingredients, it needs little modification to work as a vegan dish.


A variety of food items may be used to replace the meat in a stir-fry dish. Tofu is perhaps one of the most popular, since it absorbs flavor well and can be marinated and then cooked quickly. Tempeh is another alternative, also being made from soybeans. It does need to be soaked beforehand, since it contains whole soybeans. A vegan stir-fry may also simply contain vegetables, since the dish is supposed to be light, and it can be served over a grain.

Typical ingredients in a vegan stir-fry include vegetables like carrots, peppers, and celery, as well as scallions, bamboo chutes, and bean sprouts. A marinated protein may be used or left out if something hearty like mushrooms are used, or a meat substitute may become the main ingredient. Peppers, citrus, and herbs may be used in a protein marinade or added during cooking for flavor and moisture.

Most preparation for a vegan stir-fry takes place before the actual cooking. Ingredients are cut up into bite-size pieces or julienned bits for quick cooking. Oil flavorings containing chili and seasoning are heated on a wok or other pan with thin metal. Ingredients are added, stirred, and flash-fried for only several minutes, before being immediately removed from heat. The mixture can be served alone or over a grain.



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