Are spring rolls always vegetarian? (how to make it vegetarian)

In this article, we will answer the following question: “Are spring rolls always vegetarian?” and discuss what are the common ingredients that compose spring rolls, the benefits and risks of including meat in spring rolls and how to make a vegetarian spring roll. 

Are spring rolls always vegetarian?

No, spring rolls are not always vegetarian, some of them include also meat, such as beef and pork, as well as fish sauce and oyster sauce, which are also not vegetarian (1, 3, 5).

Minnan spring rolls, which are consumed in Quanzhou, China, is a Minnan version of the Mexican burrito and a wrapped delicatessen filled with shredded carrots, bamboo shoots, green peas, shredded meats and shrimp, tofu and seasoned with mustard, chilli sauce and plum sauce. It can be served with scrambled eggs, leeks and parsley.

Another example of non-vegetarian spring rolls is Vietnamese spring rolls called Nem quôn, which are filled with shrimp, rice noodles, watercress omelette and lettuce. This spring roll is not fried.

What are the benefits of including meat in spring rolls?

The benefits of including meat in spring rolls are the nutrients provided by consuming meat and meat products. Beef, poultry and pork are sources of protein, which is essential in the human diet.

The consumption of meat has increased in Asian countries due to the concern of the population regarding the nutritional aspects of food (6). Meat is rich in essential amino acids and lipids, as well as vitamins, such as vitamins B6, B12 and D and minerals, such as selenium and iron.

The lipids found in meat, especially beef, are related to improved health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids are shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties and the consumption of food rich in omega-3 fatty acids is related to a decreased risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases and heart disease.

In addition, meat contains conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), which have anticarcinogenic properties. These fatty acids help prevent diabetes, and atherosclerosis and control obesity.

The lipid composition of the meat is directly related to the animal feed and many studies have been made to improve the nutritional quality of meat, especially aiming at its improved lipidic profile.

Another important aspect of including meat in the diet is that meat provides heme-iron, which is highly absorbable by the human body. Low ingestion of meat is related to insufficient intake of iron and a higher incidence of iron deficiency anaemia in the population (7).

What are the risks of including meat in spring rolls?

The risk of including meat in spring rolls is possible when processed meat is used or when meat containing high amounts of saturated fatty acids is included in the spring rolls (6, 7).

Both processed meats and saturated fats are related to negative effects on health. Processed meat contains a high amount of salt and other additives, such as nitrites. The consumption of processed meat can lead to gestational diabetes (7).

High ingestion of saturated fats in meats, which is increased by feeding animals with food sources rich in saturated fats, such as palm and coconut oil, can increase the risks of heart diseases (6).

How to make a vegetarian spring roll?

To make a vegetarian spring roll, you can use wheat wrappings or rice paper wrappings and choose vegetarian fillings. Some of the most used fillings for spring rolls are cabbage, carrots and onions. In the place of oyster or fish sauce, you can use peanut sauce or hot sauce. 

To make a vegetarian spring roll, follow the instructions (adapted from 1):


  • sheets of rice paper 
  • white cabbage 
  • white onion and garlic
  • carrot
  • green onions
  • bean sprouts
  • glass noodle
  • sugar, salt, soy sauce and other spices
  • a mixture of flour with a small portion of water to use as binding medium


  1. Wash, peel and cut the vegetables finely 
  1. Slightly cook the vegetables with oil, add bean sprouts, sauces and spices and cook for an additional one or two minutes
  1. Cook the glass noodles in boiling water till they are soft
  2. Place a spoonful amount of vegetables in the centre of the wrapping sheet and fold the edges to the centre. Bind with the mixture of flour and water
  3. Pour enough oil into a frying pan, preheated to 180 ºC and fry the spring rolls for 2 or 3 minutes till they are golden

Other FAQs about Spring Rolls that you may be interested in.

Is Panda Express Spring Roll vegan?

Are Chinese spring rolls gluten-free?


In this article, we answered the following question: “Are spring rolls always vegetarian?” and discussed what are the common ingredients found in spring rolls, the benefits and risks of including meat in spring rolls and how to make vegetarian spring roll. 

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