Is Rice a Vegetable? The Common Misconception

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Last updated on March 15, 2023


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Long story short – rice is not a vegetable. Sure, it’s plant-based, but that doesn't make it a veggie. So, if it’s not a vegetable, what exactly is it?

Let’s take a deeper look into rice and its composition to find out!

(Spoiler alert: it’s a grain!)

What is Rice Made From?


Rice is made from a plant in the grass family. The most popular species is Oryza Sativa. Rice comes from the seed of the grass plant. In its essence, rice is a seed. Generally we do not classify seeds as a part of the vegetable family. 

Is Rice a Vegetable?

In order to sufficiently decide that rice is not, technically, a vegetable, we should first define the word vegetable. 

A vegetable is a plant, whether a root, stem, flower, leaf, or tuber, that is used for consumption. 

Thus, rice, as a seed, does not fall into the category of a vegetable. 

Vegetables include (though are not limited to) broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, lettuce, etc. Rice pairs nicely with such foods, but it does not exist in the same category as them.

Is Rice a Fruit?


A fruit is the mature ovary of a plant’s flower. They are often squishy and sweet (though not always) and contain seeds. 

Rice is a seed, so it’s not a fruit. 

For example, strawberries have seeds, yes. But their seeds are just a component of the fruit, not the fruit itself. 

In other words, you can have a seed without its fruit. Like when you finish a peach, all that’s left is the pit with the seed. No fruit, just seed.

Is Rice a Grain?


Rice is a grain! Yes! Grains are small, cultivated cereal seeds, which is exactly the category in which rice fits. 

Similar to other grains such as wheat and corn, rice is a staple in many areas of the world. It is utilized for its carbohydrate content, as well as fiber, depending on the type of rice.

Is Rice a Starch?


Starch is a type of carbohydrate. It is defined at a more basic chemical level as (C6H10O5)n. Rice does have starch in it! Though rice contains starch, the amount of starch which it contains depends on the state of the rice. 

Before it’s cooked, rice contains a lot of starch. After it’s cooked, it holds less starch. So it doesn’t necessarily make sense to say rice is in and of itself a starch, but it is starchy! 

Is Rice a Plant?

Rice is a byproduct of a plant, so technically, yes.

Is Rice Vegetarian?


Rice is vegetarian! There is no animal product in rice as it's made from a grass plant.

Is Rice Vegan?

Rice is definitely vegan! There are no animal products or byproducts in naturally occurring rice. 


Though it may seem that rice is a vegetable due to its plant-like nature, it does not contain the same key nutrients as vegetables. Veggies contain more fiber than grains, as well as many vitamins and minerals.

Though grains also contain fiber and nutrients, especially unrefined ones (i.e., white rice does not contain as much fiber and nutrients as brown rice), the composition of the two categories is different. 

Rice itself, as a seed, just can’t cut it in the veggie world. But they can be friends, grains and veggies. They complement each other well! To see the difference, maybe try slicing up some veggies and cooking some rice and eating them together. You’ll see the difference.

Do you have strong feelings about this topic? Did anything about rice’s composition surprise you? We always love hearing from you! Let us know down below. 


About the author, Claire

Claire is a writer with a passion for all things food and travel. Based in Brooklyn, New York, she loves to explore and try all the different cuisines the city has to offer. She’s always open to try something new! When she’s not writing or sampling new restaurants, she enjoys streaming the newest TV shows, staying active, and daydreaming about her next trip by scrolling through AirBnB listings.