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What are the Different Types of Vegan Chili?

By Mandi R. Hall
Updated May 17, 2024
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Vegan chili is a somewhat unconventional type of chili considered acceptable to consume by vegans. Vegans do not use any animal products and do not eat any animal products or meat. Chili, or chili con carne as it is often called, is a spicy stew that translates to “peppers and meat.” The dish is generally made up of a variety of ingredients that include beef and spices. Because vegans don’t eat meat, however, a vegan version of chili does not contain any animal products.

Traditional chili generally consists of beef, beans, tomato sauce, tomato chunks, cumin, garlic, onion, and chili peppers or chili powder. Many people add other ingredients such as ketchup, brown sugar, barbecue sauce, bell peppers or additional vegetables. Professional or at-home chefs preparing vegan chili obviously leave out the meat. Beans are still included, as they add a hearty thickness to the stew.

Vegetarian chili and vegan soups and stews are similar to vegan style chili in that they often use vegetables in place of the meat. There is another option, also. Some people choose to use ersatz meat in their otherwise veggie chili. This type of “fake” beef or poultry is sold at many health food and grocery chains. Made of tofu or soy that somewhat replicates the chewy texture of beef, this faux meat is often crumbled into the vegan chili mixture.

Instead of using faux meat, however, some vegans may prefer the heartier, weightier option of using vegetables. Zucchini, squash, and eggplant are often used in vegan chili in place of meat, as they withstand the heat of the stew and complement its taste. Different sorts of vegan chili may consist of a variety of beans such as kidney, black, and navy beans. Likewise, a variety of veggies and gourds may be used such as corn, carrots, pumpkin, and even cauliflower. Furthermore, while some classic chili calls for chicken or beef broth, vegans also won’t include that in their vegan chili recipes.

Vegan chili is also eaten by non-vegans. Consumed because of its health benefits as compared to chili made with fatty beef, many people prefer this healthier version. Additionally, though the taste is quite different to that of traditional chili con carne, many versions of vegan chili simply taste better to some people.

Chili cook-offs, popular across many states in the United States, have increasingly displayed vegetarian and vegan entries in the 21st century. While the taste is judged first and foremost, so is the appearance of chili. Vegan chili has the advantage of being much more colorful and aesthetically pleasing than traditional chili.

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