Can Vegans Eat Pizza at All?

If you’re new to veganism, perhaps the answer isn’t clear. But yes, vegans CAN and DO eat pizza. Pizza is a universal comfort food that is both cherished and loved by many! According to Google, interest in veganism has increased seven-fold over the past five years! Where there is interest, there is a business opportunity. And where there is business opportunity, there is both innovation and availability. Pie enthusiasts will stop at nothing to create their versions that fit their dietary needs without compromising the essence of pizza. This raises the next question, what constitutes as a vegan pizza? To answer this, first, we should examine the traditional pizza and see why it may or may not be vegan.

Google Trend Line graph of increasing interest in veganism

The Original Pie of Italy

The first recorded use of the word “pizza” goes as far back as AD 997 in Italy, where it was merely a type of bread and sauce dish with occasional cheese. As centuries past and popularity grew, the various components would later be widely recognized as dough, crust, pizza sauce, cheese, toppings, stuffing, etc.

The Dough / Crust

Most people would assume the foundation of pizza is vegan because a typical recipe consists of yeast, sugar, salt, flour, water, and oil. However, this is not always the case with large pizza chains. For example, the Dominos vegan pizza can only use 1 out of the five available pizza crusts as the other 4 contain either dairy (whey) or bee derived (honey) products. Another example is Papa Jones, which offers three different crusts, but only the original crust is free of whey or egg.

The Pizza Sauce

Its most common form is the red sauce, otherwise known as marinara. Like the crust, a typical recipe includes tomato paste, tomato sauce, spice(s), salt, and sugar, all of which are vegan-friendly. However, one must be watchful at specialty parlors as they may prepare sauces with fat from the meats. Though it may contribute additional flavor, it is no longer a vegetarian or vegan-friendly pizza. In addition to the red sauce, there is also a white sauce that typically is cream-based and, therefore, should not consumable for vegans.

The Toppings

Unlike the other components, it is easier to convert toppings of a traditional pizza into a veggie pizza that is more friendly for vegetarians and vegans. The below list isn’t exhaustive but they are common.

  • spinach/arugula
  • mushroom
  • black olives
  • onions
  • broccoli

The Cheese (Do vegans eat cheese pizza?)

To answer this question – yes. A vegan can enjoy a cheese pizza so long as it skips the dairy parts typically found in cheese, such as whey, milk, and cream. Instead, a vegan cheese will use ingredients like nutritional yeast, cashews, or a combination to mimic the texture and flavor of regular cheese. Despite alternatives, large pizza chains still do not offer vegan cheese options across all menus and locations. As a result, their version of a vegan pizza is simply a plant-based pizza that has everything but the cheese. To our fellow vegan pizza lovers, do not distress. For what the largest chains lack, local businesses CAN offer a full-fledged pizza with vegan-friendly cheese.

So then who has vegan pizza?

In most major cities, you can count on finding at least one local establishment serving up vegan food with pizza offered on their menu. A simple Google search or a quick Yelp of ‘vegan food’ or ‘vegan pizza’ will point you in the right direction. And if you’re ever in Las Vegas, NV, let us save you the time of finding a place by recommending the menu of Veganos Kitchen. This restaurant has earned its stripes among the local vegan and vegetarian community by offering a vegan twist on Mexican and American style pizzas such as their popular Vegan Chorizo and Tomato or Vegan Barbecue Chicken. If you’re familiar with either diet, you would know meat is a focal point. Creating a vegan version is no easy feat, but they have done so delightfully.