Are Grits Vegan? Can Vegans Eat Grits?

  • By: Daniel B.
  • Date: December 14, 2021
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Answer: Yes.

Yes

Grits are a popular meal in the Southern United States. It is simply boiled hominy cornmeal. They’re produced from dried, crushed corn that’s been boiled in a variety of liquids such as water, broth, or milk until the mixture achieves a rich, creamy, soup texture.

While grits are quite popular, many people worry if they are healthy.

This article will discuss your concerns about grits nutrition, its advantages, and whether or not they are healthy.

Grits – A Little Bit Of History

Grits are a Native American porridge made from boiling coarse, stone-ground corn in water. Corn is a New World plant that was first grown in Mexico some 7,000 years ago, unlike many other bowls of cereal that originated in the Old World. Corn expanded throughout the Americas and became a staple diet for many Native American tribes.

When early European immigrants observed Native Americans cooking grits, they recognized it as something familiar, simply another form of grain cereal used in many other growing regions.

Before corn was introduced to Europe and other areas of the world, meals comparable to grits were made with other pulverized grains such as wheat, oats, wheat, barley, and rice. The word “grits” is derived from the Old English word “grytt,” which means coarse meal. The Indian cornmeal dish first observed by early American colonists was given this name.

What Are Grits?

Grits may appear to be a weird and unapproachable substance, but it’s only ground corn.

Grits, a classic Southern American meal made from crushed or ground maize or corn, are a popular Southern American food.

They’re typically served as a breakfast or side dish and are cooked from a kind of corn known as dent corn, which has a softer, sticky kernel.

Crushed maize or corn granules are usually boiled in boiling water, milk, or broth until they attain a thick but creamy consistency comparable to porridge.

Grits are frequently combined with tasty items including butter, sugar, syrups, cheeses, and meats like bacon, shrimp, and catfish.

Why Are Grits Considered Vegan?

Grits aren’t required to contain any animal products. In fact, you can cook cornmeal in water with a little salt and call it a day! However, most people want their grits to be a bit more creamy and flavorful. So, can you get the famous creamy smoothness and rich flavor using just vegan ingredients? The answer is an absolute yes!

What are some decent milk, butter, and cheese equivalents for vegan grits? Depending on your preferences, there are quite a few. Vegan substitutes for animal fats include the following:

  • Cashew milk or almond milk
  • Coconut oil or coconut milk
  • Olive oil
  • Vegetable stock
  • Vegan shortening or vegan butter

Grits get their distinctive texture without the usage of animal products. It disappears during the gelatinization process. Don’t be put off by the word “gelatin.”

When exposed to water and high heat, the intermolecular bonds of starch molecules begin to break down, resulting in gelatinization. This exposes additional hydrogen bonding sites to water, resulting in a gel-like consistency. Therefore, grist can definitely be made without the use of any animal-based products.

But Take Note…

Just because a food is vegan, does not indicate that every application of the food is acceptable for vegans.

Grits are frequently served with a variety of savory recipes that include a variety of ingredients and flavorings.

Shrimp And Grits

Shrimp is a common accessory to grits, particularly in the Southern United States, where it is served at a seafood restaurant.

Cheese Grits

This is a popular Southern cuisine. This version includes regular girts but also cheese and other milk goods.

Butter

This is most likely the most prevalent component that transforms a vegan dish into a non-vegan one. Fortunately, this is a simple repair. When dining in a restaurant, ask for margarine, but see if it’s plant-based. You may get the grits plain if they don’t have margarine.

Creamy Grits

This isn’t as frequent as simple grits and butter, but you’ll come across it from time to time while eating grits at restaurants or looking for recipes.

It’s just grits that have been cooked in milk instead of water.

When dining at a restaurant, just request that your grits be cooked with only water. If you’re making your own, cook your grits in water with your favorite plant milk.

Are Grits Healthy?

Grits are a traditional Southern American meal prepared from crushed, dried corn that is high in iron and B vitamins. Stone-ground versions are more nutritious since they are processed less than fast, normal, or instant varieties. Despite the fact that grits are rather nutritious, they are frequently served with high-calorie additions.

Nutritional Value Of Grits

Grits are high in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.

One cup or 257g of  cooked normal grits contains the following nutrients:

Calories182
Protein4g
Fat1g
Carbohydrates38g
Fiber2g
Folate25% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
Thiamine18 of  the RDI
Niacin13% of RDI
Riboflavin12% of RDI
Iron8% of RDI
Vitamin B67& of RDI
Magnesium5% of RDI
Zinc 4% of RDI
Phosphorus4% of RDI

The most notable characteristic of grits is their high iron content, which is required for red blood cell development. Many B vitamins, such as thiamine and folate, are also present, as are trace levels of pantothenic acid, potassium, Vitamin E, and calcium.

Regular versions, on the other hand, have fewer vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A and C and calcium, than stone-ground kinds made from whole corn kernels.

This is due to the fact that they go through numerous phases of processing, which eliminates nutritional portions of the corn such as the pericarp and germ.

Are Grits Dairy-Free?

Grits, in most people’s perspective, should be creamy, which has traditionally indicated a dairy basis. The answer if the grits are free from dairy depends on how they are prepared. To be sure, while making your own grits, use substituted almond milk for the water provided for on the packaging for this. You might use soy milk or any dairy-free replacement. Plus,  stay away from coconut. The goal is to use unsweetened non-dairy milk that is plain.

Are Grits Gluten-Free?

Because grits are derived from cornmeal rather than the gluten cereals wheat, rye, or barley, most producers ensure that they stay gluten-free during the manufacturing process. However, there is one popular grits brand to avoid: Quaker Instant Grits.

Commercial Vegan Grits

Almost all plain grits you’ll come across are safe for vegan eating. Your standard manufactured pre-packaged grits will consist of hominy corn as well as vitamin fortification.

When searching for grits, start by looking in the supermarkets at your local grocery store. When purchasing packaged grits, check for the words cornmeal grits or polenta, which are essentially the same thing. Grits may be prepared from either yellow or white cornmeal, so don’t be alarmed if you see a variety of hues. Hominy, which is corn that has been soaked in alkali to soften the kernels, is sometimes used to make grits.

Make Your Own Vegan Grits

Are you ready to make your own homemade grits? Don’t worry, you don’t have to stand over a burner for an hour continually stirring a pot. Grits are a quick and simple dish to prepare. For your vegan dish, here’s a typical creamy Southern grits recipe that’s been “veganized.”

  • Grits – Use grits that have been stone-ground. It’s more nutritious, contains more fiber, and is less processed than quick-cooking grits since it’s a whole grain with all the germ intact. Unprocessed stone-ground grits are available in most major supermarkets, health food stores, and on Amazon.
  • Non-Dairy Milk – Use your preferred unsweetened non dairy milk, such as almond, rice, oat, or cashew milk.
  • Nutritional Yeast Flakes – It is used to give a cheesy taste boost and is also used as a B12 supplement by vegetarians.
  • Vegan Butter – Spread to provide a buttery taste.
  • Vegan Shredded Cheese – Use your favorite vegan shredded cheese or create your own to add more cheesy taste.

Wrap Up

Grits are completely vegan on their own. They’re made entirely of plant-based ingredients. Grits are just pulverized corn. They’re similar to polenta but somewhat smaller and with a distinct texture. It’s comparable to cornmeal, but not as fine.

Many grits recipes, on the other hand, are loaded with butter, cream, and cheese. However, tasty grits may be made without the use of dairy. There are also vegan grits available in the market. Just remember, to get the plain and standard ones because they are the variety that is most likely to be vegan. And of course, always double-check the label before buying anything.

If you are craving grits at home, you can definitely prepare your own using the recipe provided above. You can also search video tutorials online for detailed preparation. 

Grits, indeed, is a must-try dish for your vegan plate. Its gel-like texture will make your mouth explode in its buttery and soft texture.