Is Sugar Vegan? Yes. Well, some types/brands are Vegan. Read more to find out!
Note: DIYNatural.com is not a vegan website, but we strive to create relevant information for all our readers.
Last week my executive chef came to me and asked if I knew which brands of sugars were vegan. I answered, “All of them.” Mostly because I knew all sugar comes from plants. And while that is true, all sugar is not vegan.
So why is sugar not vegan? The answer is in the processing!
Is Sugar Vegan? It Depends on the Processing.
Boiled and Spun: Vegan
Sugar, as we know it, starts as the sap from these plants: sugar cane, sugar beets, coconut palm, date palm, and a handful of others.
We get sugar by extracting the sap and boiling it down until it crystalizes. When left in its natural (vegan) state, we get Turbinado, Muscovado, or Demerara sugar.
A centrifuge then spins the sugar to remove the molasses. White sugar (table sugar), starts as one of the brown sugars listed above, but has had all of the molasses removed. When not further refined, this end product is a nearly white, natural sugar (like Zulka).
Carbon Filtered using Cow Bones: not Vegan
Some companies will refine sugar even more by running it through carbon to remove the last traces of molasses. While this isn’t all bad, when that carbon is comprised of charred bones, the end product is no longer vegan.
Because it’s cheaper, the bone char often comes from foreign countries. This bone char is often processed into a “pill” form, and is much cheaper than producing wood char.
Most sugar cane is processed using this bone char; sugar beets usually are not. So sugar beet sugar sounds good right? No, because most sugar beets from the US are GMO, which is a whole other ball of wax!
Is Sugar Vegan? Yes, These Brands Are.
Note: the following list is accurate to the best of our knowledge, and is current as of the publishing of this article.
Vegan-friendly sugar brands (not all non-GMO):
- In the Raw
- Big Tree Farms
- Bob’s Red Mill
- Florida Crystals
- Imperial Sugar
- Michigan Sugar Company (not non-GMO)
- Now Foods
- Simple Truth (Kroger/Ralphs’ brand of Organic Sugar)
- Simply Balanced (Target’s brand of Organic Sugar)
- Trader Joe’s
- Western Sugar Cooperative (not non-GMO)
- Woodstock Farms
Coconut sugar is vegan as well.
Vegan Sugar Alternatives
Personally, I’d rather have a natural sweetener than something like aspartame or sucralose. With the exception of honey, this list of sugar alternatives is vegan friendly.
Do your research to see which sweetener works best for you. Date sugar and agave may work, depending on your dietary needs. Honey is a good sugar substitute, unless you are vegan. Brown rice syrup is another choice in the syrup category, as are molasses and sorghum. Molasses and sorghum are my syrup choices as they are sweet and contain many necessary vitamins and minerals. Even fruit juices can act as sweeteners, depending on how they are used.
With sweeteners, it’s good to know what you are getting, no matter what your dietary needs.