Is sugar vegan?
Most sugar is vegan. But not always. And sometimes it’s complicated to find out if a particular sugar is vegan or not. We have put together a comprehensive guide to find out which sugar is vegan and which is not.
If you don’t want to get into much detail, here’s the quick answer:
- Beet sugar is always vegan.
- Cane sugar, when labeled organic, natural, raw, or unrefined is also vegan.
- Avoid refined sugars that do not mention any of the above adjectives.
- Try to avoid refined sugar altogether, there are much better sugar alternatives, such as maple syrup.
- Different types of sugar
- What makes sugar not vegan?
- How to tell if sugar is vegan
- Healthier sugar alternatives
Different types of sugar
Refined sugar, also known as table sugar, is most commonly used in baking. There is white sugar, brown sugar, and powdered sugar, which all are classified as Refined sugar.
Refined sugar comes from two sources: sugarcane and beets.
Whether the sugar is made from sugarcane or beets, the taste and texture are almost identical. The main difference is the refining process.
Sugar made from beets is always vegan. The process of making sugar from beets don’t require any animal ingredients and is rather simple.
Can sugar on the other hand, which is much more common, is a little bit more complicated. So is refined cane sugar vegan? It depends.
What makes sugar not vegan?
Refined cane sugar requires a lot more processing than sugar made from beets. To make refined sugar from sugarcane, the sugar cane stalks are crushed to separate the juice from the pulp. The juice is then processed, filtered, and bleached with bone char. This is where the white sugar gets its color from.
Suggested read: Is beer vegan? Which beers are suitable for vegans?
Now it’s important to mention that this type of sugar doesn’t contain bone char. But as bone char is part of the process, it’s not vegan anymore.
Yet, hot every refined sugar is processed like this. This is why it’s really hard to tell if refined sugar is vegan or not.
How to tell if sugar is vegan
Sugar from sugar beets is always vegan as the process doesn’t involve bone char. If you want to find out if the sugar from sugarcanes is vegan or not, have a close look at the label. But if you really want to make sure, that your sugar is vegan, go for the beet sugar, as the taste and texture are almost identical.
How to tell if cane sugar is vegan
Look out for the following words on the product to check if the sugar is vegan or not:
When a product label uses any of the words, you can be sure that no bone char was used in the process of making the sugar. You can also tell it by the color of the sugar. For example, organic sugar is made by boiling the sugarcane and spun in a centrifuge. It’s then dried and made into sugar crystals. This type of sugar is not as white as sugar that is processed with bone char but tastes completely the same.
Suggested read: Is pasta vegan?
Healthier sugar alternatives
Many people try to avoid refined sugar altogether for health reasons. There are many alternatives to refined sugar:
- Maple syrup to replace white or brown sugar, substitute ¾ cup of maple syrup for each cup of white or brown sugar. Reduce liquids by 3 tablespoons for every cup of maple syrup.
- Coconut sugar to replace brown sugar with coconut sugar, substitute with a 1:1 ratio.
- Stevia can be used for baking. Substitute ½ teaspoon of undiluted stevia powder or 1 teaspoon of a liquid stevia extract for each cup of sugar.
- Brown rice syrup can be used to substitute for brown or white sugar.
- Agave nectar to substitute 1 cup of sugar with 2/3rd cup agave.