Is ketchup vegan?

Can vegans eat tomato ketchup?

Ketchup makes everything better! But, is ketchup vegan? Can you still enjoy this tomato-based condiment when you're vegan?

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This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
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What is ketchup?

Put simply, ketchup is a tomato-based sauce – a seemingly ubiquitous condiment. From packets at fast-food restaurants to bottles of it at the pub to trends like ketchup-flavored ice cream, it’s almost universally beloved.

Although it’s eaten and loved all over the world, the sheer popularity of ketchup is well-exemplified by taking a look at America. The United States is a phenomenal consumer of ketchup, with 97% of all households having at least one bottle of the stuff in their pantries and 10 billion ounces of ketchup are consumed each year. (Remember, that’s just in the US!)

What is ketchup made of?

These are the typical ingredients that you’ll find in your tomato-based condiment:

Of course, you can see some variations on these ingredients, but almost all kinds of ketchup will be made of these basic ingredients.

Is ketchup vegan?

The short answer: Yes, ketchup is vegan!

Almost all ketchup is made with the ingredients I listed earlier, all of which are plant-based. None of them are animal products, which is often good enough for most vegans to consider ketchup vegan.

However, as with most things, it’s always best to check the ingredients just in case. While it would be unusual to find ketchup with something else besides those general ingredients, it really can’t hurt to double-check.

Suggested read: Is peanut butter vegan?

If you have trouble reading the label, check out our guide on how to properly read food labels.

Non-vegan ingredients to look out for in ketchup

While most vegans will consider ketchup vegan based on those ingredients, some vegans delve a little bitter deeper into what they consider to be truly vegan.

The main issue some vegans have with some kinds of ketchup is the presence of white and/or brown sugar. Many types of white and brown sugar are filtered over and bleached with animal bone char.

Bone char is made by taking the bones of animals (usual cows), heating them to a very high temperature, and reducing them to their carbon components. This material can then be used as a filter and as a bleaching agent for sugar production.

So, while there are no actual bone particles found in white or brown sugar, it is an animal product that’s used in the making of these sugars.

Many vegans don’t consider this enough to make refined sugars non-vegan, especially since not all refined sugar is filtered with bone char (sugar refined from beets doesn’t require this, for example, and many companies don’t use bone char at all).

That said, lots of vegans consider any use of animal products – even if it’s not a core ingredient within the item – a factor to make something non-vegan.

Make your own ketchup

You also have another option: make your own ketchup. The simple ingredient list makes this a pretty easy task, and it can be cheaper to make your own as well.

Suggested read: How to go vegan for a week

Here’s the ingredients you’ll need for your vegan ketchup recipe:

If you want to get a little fancier, you can try adding your own mixture of spices like oregano or thyme to this homemade vegan ketchup. Or, if you like things spicy, you can try adding some hot sauce or cayenne pepper for a little kick.

Once you’ve gathered the ingredients, all that’s left to do is throw it all in a bowl, mix it up, and you’re done!

Summary

Ketchup is vegan depending on how you define vegan products. But, even if you’re a stickler for vegan sugar, there are plenty of vegan kinds of ketchup out there for you.

Last updated on September 5, 2021, and last reviewed by an expert on August 24, 2021.

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