Is margarine vegan?

What is margarine made of, and is it vegan?

As margarine is made with vegetable oils, margarine is a potential alternative to butter for vegans. Still, you may wonder whether all types of margarine are vegan. This article explains how to tell whether your margarine is vegan and provides a few additional vegan butter substitutes.

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Is margarine vegan?

The short answer is: Most kinds of margarine are vegan.

However, a few may contain ingredients derived from dairy or other animal products, making them unsuitable for vegan diets.

Vegan butter alternatives based on whole foods may be a healthier option, including hummus, avocado, or nut and coconut butter. These provide more nutrients and beneficial plant compounds than refined margarine.

Are all types of margarine vegan?

The short answer is: Most kinds of margarine are vegan, but some may contain animal-derived ingredients like milk, lactose, whey, or casein, making them unsuitable for vegans.

Margarine is a butter substitute typically made by combining water and vegetable oils, such as soybean, corn, palm, canola, or olive oils.

Ingredients like salt, colorings and natural or artificial flavorings are sometimes added as well.

Therefore, most margarine contains absolutely no animal products, making them a suitable vegan alternative to butter.

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Some manufacturers use milk instead of water or add ingredients derived from animals, such as lactose, whey, or casein. Kinds of Margarine containing these ingredients are not considered vegan.

Summary: Most margarine is vegan, but some may contain animal-derived ingredients like milk, lactose, whey, or casein, making them unsuitable for vegans.

How to tell whether your margarine is vegan

The best way to determine whether your margarine is vegan is by looking at its ingredient list.

Vegan kinds of margarine should not contain any of the following animal-derived ingredients:

Also, many brands now specify whether their margarine is vegan on the packaging.

Summary: Some margarine is labeled as suitable for vegans. You can also look at the ingredient list and avoid varieties listing animal byproducts, such as whey, casein, lactose, or animal fats.

Healthier vegan butter substitutes

Though most margarine is made from plant-based ingredients, they remain a refined product. This means that they’re made from extracted components of whole foods, such as plant oils, rather than from the whole foods themselves.

Consequently, they likely contain fewer vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial plant compounds than unrefined sources of plant fats, such as coconuts, avocados, olives, nuts, or seeds.

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Some varieties are also made using a process known as hydrogenation, which creates harmful trans fats.

Trans fats are a form of unsaturated fat that has been processed to resemble the structure of saturated fat. This change in structure is thought to be responsible for various health issues.

For instance, trans fats are commonly linked to an increased risk of heart disease and neurodegenerative conditions, as well as premature death.

For these reasons, many countries, including the United States, have restricted or banned the use of artificial trans fats. Small amounts may still be present, as foods providing less than 0.5 grams of this type of fat per serving are labeled as containing 0 grams.

Therefore, you may benefit from picking whole sources of plant fats over margarine whenever possible.

Here are a few whole-food-based vegan butter substitutes that work as a great alternative to margarine spreads:

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Plant oils, including olive or coconut oil, can also provide an excellent alternative to butter or margarine, especially for cooking or baking.

Summary: Whole-food sources of fats are a nutrient-rich replacement for butter or margarine and work especially well as spreads. Plant oils provide a vegan alternative in cooking or baking.

Summary

Most margarine is vegan.

However, a few may contain ingredients derived from dairy or other animal products, making them unsuitable for vegan diets.

Vegan butter alternatives that are based on whole foods may be a healthier option, including hummus, avocado, or nut and coconut butter. These provide more nutrients and beneficial plant compounds than refined margarine.

Last updated on September 15, 2021, and last reviewed by an expert on September 12, 2021.

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