Is Couscous Vegan? Can Vegans Eat Couscous?

  • By: Daniel B.
  • Date: December 29, 2021
  • Time to read: 7 min.

Answer: Yes.

Yes

Couscous is a popular item in a vegetarian diet. It’s commonly used, same with pasta,  quinoa, rice, and lentils, to add carbohydrates to your dish and give everything a bit more of a cozy, comfort food vibe.

So, even though it’s safe to conclude that couscous is vegan, it’s worth checking into it further just to be sure. And that’s exactly what we’re here for!

We’ll take a closer look at couscous, its vegan characteristics, and the nutritional benefits it has to offer down below. We’ll also go over any nutritional concerns that anyone practicing a vegan diet must be conscious of before consuming couscous, removing the uncertainty out of it and assuring you can make the vegan dish of your dreams.

What Is Couscous?

Contrary to popular misconception, couscous is not a seed or a grain but rather, is a kind of pasta produced from a dry combination of water and semolina that is rolled into very small irregular pieces. When making couscous manually, a bowl of semolina was combined and swirled while water was gradually added and pressed into the mixture. Couscous is a starch, and as such, it is frequently the major component of most North African meals where meat is uncommon.

Couscous, like wheat, is a clean slate that can take on any spices you wish to add. Being inspired by cooking and ingredients is all about mixing things up and creating something new. The 5-minute cook time for couscous allows you to focus on the great flavor combinations you’ll be incorporating.

How Is Couscous Made?

Couscous, like pasta, is one of the most basic doughs, and it’s prepared using wheat instead of just being a plant or grain with its own sense. The dough for couscous is a simple combination of water, wheat, and salt. However, unlike other pasta, it can always claim to be vegan because no eggs are being used in its production.

The grain-like texture of couscous is now attained through the wonders of advanced machinery. Previously, this would have been mixed together with the hands into a crumb-like consistency, similar to how flour and butter are mixed together.

Couscous Nutritional Facts

Couscous is also a great option for those wanting to live a healthy lifestyle.

But what does ‘healthy’ even imply these days? Healthy foods appear to acquire and lose their status on a weekly basis these days, implying that there is no actual set definition of what ‘healthy’ is.

What we can do is give you a list of couscous nutrition facts, which will allow you to make your own decision on whether or not to eat couscous.

The nutritional information for couscous might vary based on the type of wheat used in its production and the amount cooked. The values below, on the other hand, come from the US Department of Agriculture and are based on a 100g serving.

Nutrient Amount
Calories376
Fat0.64 g
Protein 12.76 g
Fiber 5 g
Calcium24 mg
Carbohydrates77.43 g
Iron1.08 mg
Phosphorus170 mg
Magnesium44 g
Potassium166 mg
Zinc0.83 mg
Manganese0.78 mg
Copper0.247 mg
Niacin3.49 mg
Thiamin0.163 mg

Unless you’re a certified nutritionist, much of the information above is unlikely to make any sense to you. So, to keep things easier, let’s focus on some of the advantages of eating a typical 100g meal of couscous.

  • Couscous has a very low fat content. In fact, it comprises less than 1% of your daily fat requirements, making it an excellent nutrient for anybody looking to shed a few pounds.
  • It also provides around 25% of your daily protein requirements, thus it will nourish your muscles without the use of animal meat.
  • Is virtually entirely devoid of sugar and salt.
  • It’s an excellent source of fiber, providing one-sixth of your daily fiber requirements.
  • It also provides 30% of your daily phosphorus requirements.
  • 100g of couscous provides 10% of your daily zinc needs.
  • It will also give a man 10% of his daily iron requirements and a woman 7% of hers.

All of the given information goes to one conclusion: it is a very beneficial complement to any diet, vegan or not. In addition to the essential nutrients your body needs on a daily basis, it is high in micronutrients.

How To Make Your Own Couscous

It’s safe to assume that we’re all becoming more conscious of the substances we take into our bodies. As a result, the home-cooking trend has indeed taken off. Can you, however, prepare your own couscous? Yes, you can, and it’s really easy!

Here’s how to prepare couscous at home.

Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 2 cups of hot water
  • 4 cups of fine semolina for more for garnish

Procedure

  • Mix the salt in the water before pouring it into a plastic container.
  • Pour one cup of the semolina on a baking pan and damp it with salty water from 10 to 15 times.
  • Now, with your hands spread out flat and exerting minimum pressure, work the semolina in a circular pattern. 
  • When the semolina seems dry, spritz it with another 10 to 15 sprays to re-moisten it.
  • Roll it between your hands now until little clumps of dough appear.
  • Place a colander over a basin and pour in the little dough balls.
  • Work the dough balls gently through the colander holes. This will shrink them and give them a grainy look.
  • Repeat the steps with remaining semolina, one cup at a time, until all of it has been used.

There you have it! The semolina can then be steamed or simply covered with hot water and allowed to absorb it, which will also cook the couscous. For more detailed steps, you can search a video tutorial on the internet. 

What To Serve With Couscous Salad?

To spice up your couscous plate a little bit, I searched what are the best add ons for couscous salad. Here is the list of vegan add-ons you can try:

Is Couscous Gluten-Free?

No, couscous does contain gluten. Why? Couscous’ primary, if not only, component is the durum wheat semolina flour, which contains gluten.

Other Vegan Options

While couscous is a great complement to any vegan dish, there is some evidence that other foods may be healthier for you.

Couscous is called a grain, yet it is not a grain at all because it is created from flour. Of course, you could make things a bit healthier for yourself by settling for whole-grain couscous produced by whole grain flour.

Let’s have a look at the different carbohydrate sources below and see if they can be a good substitute for couscous. We’ll also look at their vegan-friendliness, which will ultimately establish whether or not they’re a good fit for a vegan diet.

Pasta

There aren’t many individuals who don’t love pasta, and nutritionally, there isn’t much of a difference between pasta and couscous. This makes sense given that both are manufactured from wheat and, in certain places, couscous is even considered a form of pasta.

The difference between the two, though, is in their components. Pasta is usually cooked with eggs, making it unsuitable for vegans. You may, however, buy egg-free, vegan pasta by selecting wholewheat types.

Given their similarity, it’s safe to assume that neither pasta nor couscous is as nutritious as you may think. This, however, is mostly determined by the type of pasta and couscous used, as whole-grain variants of both are substantially better in the following ways:

  • They have greater fiber.
  • They are higher in vitamins and minerals.
  • They have more protein.

Choose whole-grain couscous or whole-grain pasta for a good dose of protein. Another concern that many vegans find challenging to incorporate into their diet. And, while both are still rich in carbohydrates, many vegans consider this a reasonable trade-off given the high protein content.

Quinoa And Rice

While 100 g of couscous contains 12.76 g of protein, quinoa contains more than 14 g, and wild rice has 15 g. This may not appear to be a significant difference, but it indicates that the later two grains contain over 20% more protein.

As it refers to fiber, the picture is similar, having couscous falling short of other carbohydrates options like quinoa. The same is true for numerous micronutrients, particularly minerals. Brown rice has 50% more iron and more than double the zinc of white rice, and quinoa is even better.

Quinoa has more than twice the calcium, four times the zinc, four times the iron, and higher levels of many other vitamins and minerals, including many that are not present in couscous at all.

The Bottom Line

We’re certain that you’ve discovered all there is to learn about couscous after reading this article. The major point, however, is that couscous is completely vegan. It’s also a good source of fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates, zinc, iron, and other nutrients that many vegans struggle to receive from a plant-based diet.

However, it is also important to remember that there are several other components that are as nutritious, if not healthier, than couscous. Quinoa is at the top of our list because it has nearly double the nutritious content of couscous and is vegan.