Is Ghee Vegan? Everything You Need to Know About Ghee – 2023

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Ghee is a unique ingredient often used in Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi dishes, as well as in a variety of Ayurvedic treatments. Characterized by a nutty and rich flavor, ghee is used in several recipes ranging from desserts to curries and has become extremely popular in the Western world in recent years.

This ingredient is often used instead of oil or butter, and is also renowned for its lack of lactose, but is Ghee vegan? Let’s find out together.

What is Ghee?

Ghee is nothing else than clarified butter often made from buffalo or cow milk. Considering this, it may already seem pretty obvious to most of you that this ingredient can’t be considered vegan. But as it often happens in the vegan world, the answer is somewhat more complicated than this. In fact, despite being derived from butter, some people do consider ghee suitable for a plant-based diet.

This is mainly because, technically speaking, this ingredient does not contain any lactose as most of this is removed during its manufacturing process. Unfortunately, however, ghee should not be included in a vegan diet. This is due to a variety of reasons. Even though this ingredient may not contain lactose, it is still a dairy product as it is derived from milk and more specifically butter. In other words, unlike glycerin, it is impossible to produce original ghee without causing animal suffering.

So, how is ghee produced?

How is ghee produced?

Ghee is produced by simmering butter which causes the liquid fats and milk solids inside this ingredient to separate. Once this happens, milk solids are removed, the reason why some people consider this ingredient suitable for vegans.

Nonetheless, as we mention above, ghee should not be included in a plant-based diet. In fact, there is no way of producing ghee without butter, an animal-derived product. This means that cows and other bovines will always be used for their manufacturing process. Simply put, similarly to milk and butter, ghee contributes to animal suffering while also harming the environment.

Is Ghee Vegan?

To put it simply, no. Ghee is not vegan. This ingredient is derived from butter and contains dairy.

Food that may contain ghee

Food that may contain ghee
Food that may contain ghee

Ghee is an ingredient often present in Asian recipes. For this reason, it is always important to check with your waiter whether the meal you ordered is suitable for a vegan diet or if it contains ghee.

Some of the dishes which typically include this dairy product are curries, especially from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, naan, a type of flat bread made from yogurt and ghee, and a variety of desserts ranging from kaju katli to kheer, and tres leches cake.

Vegan Ghee substitutes

vegan ghee

But there’s no reason to despair. Just like in the case of pesto, there are several vegan alternatives to ghee too that you can use in your kitchen. These mostly use vegetable oils and spices to emulate the flavor and texture of ghee. You should be able to find these in your local supermarket labeled as ‘vegan ghee’.

If you live in a small area, however, the chances of finding this ingredient may be lower. In this case, you may want to try to purchase it online or opt for other options. In fact, ghee is often used instead of butter or oil and can be easily replaced by vegan alternatives. For instance, you can use coconut and avocado oils in whatever recipe requires this ingredient

Vegan Ghee recipe

Alternatively, if you do want to use proper ghee but cannot find a vegan version in your local store, you can always make your own. The process is quite easy and fast.

  1. Start by simply heating your desired amount of coconut oil in a pan and bringing it to medium heat.
  2. Once it starts smoking, turn off your hot plate. You can now take five to six fresh curry leaves as well as two guava leaves and crush them in your palms.
  3. Add them to the mix together with a pinch of turmeric powder and start to stir your mix for a few minutes.
  4. Leave your ghee to rest for about one hour and then move it to a sealable container to store it in the fridge. And voilà! Your plant-based ghee is ready to be used.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is vegan ghee made?

Vegan ghee is made from a variety of oils such as avocado or coconut oil as well as spices such as guava leaves and turmeric.

Is ghee-clarified butter vegan?

No, ghee cannot be considered vegan for two main reasons. First, it contains dairy, and second, it’s an ingredient derived from butter, an animal product.

Is vegan ghee healthy?

This depends on how much vegan ghee you consume and what kind of oil you used. For instance, coconut oil abounds in saturated fats which, if consumed in excess, may be harmful to your body. However, as long as you eat ghee in moderation, you won’t run any health risks.

Is dalda ghee vegan?

Yes, dalda ghee is the colloquial name for hydrogenated vegetable oil. This means that this ingredient doesn’t contain any animal products.

Is vanaspati ghee vegan?

Yes. Similarly to dalda ghee, vanaspati ghee is made from hydrogenated vegetable oil, meaning that it is 100% suitable for a plant-based diet.



Cristina is a journalist and traveler with a passion for nutritious and cruelty-free food.

She is now exploring the four corners of the world trying delicious recipes while getting acquainted with the local cultures she meets on the way.

Apart from traveling and cooking, Cristina loves dystopian novels, hot mugs of tea, and jazz.