A vegan crepe is a type of thin, flat pancake that is made without any ingredients that derive from animals. Standard crepes are made with eggs, milk, and butter, all of which are forbidden in vegan cooking. Cooks often use things like soy milk and dairy-free margarine as substitutes. Crepes are typically a very simple dish, and vegan iterations are not usually hard to make, nor do they really stretch the confines of the recipe. In some cases, it can be hard to distinguish vegan and standard versions.
Crepes originated in France, and were first eaten much as a sweet bread or pastry would be. Their batter is not usually any different from that used to make ordinary breakfast pancakes, but crepe preparation calls for only a very small amount of batter to be quickly cooked in a flat, rounded skillet, then flipped to yield a large, flexible round. Crepes can be eaten on their own, often dusted with sugar, or filled with a variety of sweet and savory ingredients to make more of a substantial meal. In vegan crepe preparations, everything from the basic batter to the filling must adhere to the diet’s strict animal-free mandates.
It is usually quite simple to make a vegan crepe. The batter requires a balance of wet and dry ingredients, as well as a fat. Wheat or buckwheat flour is almost always the starting place. Vegan cooks often use soy milk or nut-derived milk like almond milk as the primary liquid, then add dairy-free margarine or vegetable shortening as the fat.
Fats are important to help the batter bind together, and also contribute to even frying once the batter hits the pan. In a vegan crepe, which omit eggs, some sort of binding agent is particularly necessary. Sometimes simple margarine will suffice, but oilier ingredients like vegetable or flax oil are sometimes employed, as well.
Most crepes are relatively sweet. Sugar and extracts like vanilla and almond are common in standard preparations and work well in vegan iterations, too. Cooks can also add sweet syrups to their crepes to replace or off-set some of the sugar.
Sugar is almost always an acceptable choice for vegans, though not all cooks choose to add it. Vegan chefs often tend to be very conscious of the overall nutritive content of the foods they prepare. Many vegans will seek out certified organic or locally-sourced ingredients in an attempt to keep their food as low-impact as possible, and may seek locally-sourced syrups or sweeteners rather than using ordinary refined sugar to make a vegan crepe. In these cases, a vegan crepe is both nutritious and environmentally-conscious, which makes many people feel better about eating them.
No matter how they are made, crepes are usually considered something of a decadence. Their light and airy texture gives them a delicate air, and the richness of their fillings often creates a more or less gourmet snack. Breakfast crepes and dessert crepes are often filled with fruits, jams, and chocolate spreads. Lunchtime versions can come packed with meats, cheeses, and sauteed vegetables.
Making crepes is usually an open-ended art. Liberties can be taken with basic ingredients and fillings alike. A specialty pan is often required for professional operations, but a homemade crepe can usually be made with some success in any sort of wide-bottomed skillet. This flexibility makes crepes a good canvas for experimenting with different vegan breakfast and vegan dessert options.