It’s that time of year again, everyone is making and eating a lot of great food, especially desserts! While eating all the yummy desserts out there, we can’t help but ask ourselves, Is sugar vegan?” and the answer isn’t as simple as a yes or no.
There’s no need to worry, though, because, by the end of this article, you will know exactly which brands of sugar are vegan and which aren’t. You may also learn a thing or two about the refining process that you didn’t already know.
Is Sugar Vegan?
At its core, yes, sugar is entirely vegan, whether it be made from sugarcane or beets. However, it is the refining process of white, brown, and powdered sugar that makes it non-vegan.
For years, refined sugars have been filtered using bone char from cows as the primary refining method. The bone char acts as a cheap and efficient way for the sugar to be filtered and whitened to the color we know and love. That said, it is by no means necessary for sugar to be filtered using bone char, but sugar companies insist on using it.
We have learned through organic sugars and beet sugar that refining actually isn’t necessary at all. Organic sugar is only minimally processed or not refined at all. This leaves it with a color that isn’t as white as you may be used to, but at least you know what you are getting.
Two brands, in particular, are extremely popular in supermarkets, but use bone char to refine their sugars – these brands are C & H and Domino. Many store brands buy from companies like C & H and Domino as well, so their sugars are most likely refined with bone char as well.
There is a misconception that if the label uses the words “raw”, “organic’, or “pure refined sugar”, that it is vegan, but unfortunately that’s no longer the case. However, this is no longer the case. You can no longer trust a label to be vegan if it states that it is pure refined sugar.
This is because companies are now allowed to say they are using “natural charcoal” when they’re, in fact, using bone char, which can make things seem a bit trickier and more frustrating when you are looking for the right vegan sugar for you.
It should be known that sugar is found in nearly all foods nowadays. Even something like protein powders, for it to be vegan, it needs to derive it’s protein through vegan means, and the sugar in the powder must be vegan as well.
Fear not, , it has actually never been easier to tell the difference between vegan sugar and non-vegan sugar.
What is vegan sugar made out of?
The question isn’t necessarily what is vegan sugar made of, but what is it made without? For sugar to be considered vegan, the only difference in the process is eliminating the bone char. In fact, organic sugar is either minimally processed or not refined at all. That is what makes organic sugar vegan-friendly. Bone char is not considered an organic product; therefore, when sugar is labeled organic, you know you are also buying vegan sugar.
Raw sugar yields the same results. Rather than using bone char to refine the sugar, it is pressed and mixed with lime to achieve the desired ph balance and settle the impurities. Neither raw nor organic sugar will be as white as pure sugar, but that is also how you know it is considered vegan sugar. Nine times out of ten, if you buy white sugar that is stark white, it is not vegan sugar.
With that being said, even if you have brown sugar, that does not mean it is vegan. Sugar in all colors can be refined, and if it is refined, it is no longer vegan.
The exception is beet sugar:
Beet sugar is relatively the same color as refined white cane sugar. However, it is easy to tell the difference on the label because it will read, “beet sugar” instead of “cane sugar.” Sugar beets are used in the manufacturing of beet sugar. The sugar beet plant is a root vegetable that is closely related to beetroot and chard. Aside from sugarcane, sugar beets are the most common plant used to produce white sugar.
So to summarize, if the sugar is white, and is not “beet sugar”, then you’re likely looking at a non-vegan sugar.
The way in which beet sugar is processed is also entirely vegan. So not only are organic and raw sugars vegan but so is beet sugar. The beets are processed through osmosis, where the sugar is extracted from thinly sliced layers of the sugar beet after it has been submerged in hot water. It is then filtered through a machine, and lime is added to reduce impurities and achieve the desired ph balance.
Options For Vegan Sugar
The companies listed above are known for making organic and raw cane sugar, as well as beet sugar. These are all viable options for vegan sugar, whether it is white, brown, or powdered sugar. There is nothing left to fear from your sugar choices, and the guesswork is gone! Go confidently into your next vegan recipe with any of these vegan sugar companies. These aren’t your only options, though, especially if you are looking to be a bit healthier with your recipes.
Now, while it’s pretty easy to make your own vegan milk with a soy milk maker when it comes to sugar, it’s honestly much easier to simply buy vegan sugar, as opposed to growing sugar canes yourself.
Non-Vegan Sugar Brands
C & H and Domino are the most well-known brands for refined sugar. You can walk into any store and find an abundant supply on the shelves. These have been the go-to companies of choice for many years. However, with the growing vegan population and health-conscious individuals, more organic and raw sugar companies are gaining popularity as well. Because of this, C & H and Domino were forced to jump on board to stay with the market.
Both companies still sell their “pure refined sugar” that is entirely nonvegan and refined with bone char, as mentioned above. However, they each have started selling two new kinds of sugar that are certified vegan sugar. These two types are:
C & H Vegan Sugar:
Domino Vegan Sugar:
All in all, it is probably best to stick with smaller brands with a better track record for selling vegan sugar. Not to say, these two more substantial companies aren’t trustworthy, but sometimes smaller companies have a better understanding of how their sugar is made. Many larger companies just gravitate toward the cheapest option, which can lead to some corners getting cut, resulting in a product that isn’t entirely vegan.
To answer the question plainly:
Is C&H sugar vegan? No. In nearly all cases, if you are using the packets from a coffee shop or a fast food shop, you are very likely looking at the non-vegan sugar. It’s insantely uncommon to see C&H’s vegan sugar in a coffee shop.
Is Domino sugar vegan? No. Same as with C&H, the mass produced domino sugar packets in all coffee shops and restuarants are non-vegan. Best to stay away from C&D and Domino altogether when looking for sugar packets.
Three Vegan Alternatives to Sugar
Sugar is by far the most common sweetener used in desserts and baking. However, it is not the only solution and by no means the healthiest option. There are many other forms of sweetener that are all vegan alternatives to sugar. Three of the most common types of this healthy vegan alternative to sugar are:
Replacing sugar in any recipe with one of these vegan alternatives is easy too, with a 1:1 ratio, you will have nothing to worry about. Even the taste difference is negligible. The ratio for stevia is a bit different, though, which I will explain in a moment.
Coconut sugar is a natural sugar made from coconut palm sap. It is derived from the coconut palm tree and is known for being a healthy alternative to vegan sugar that is also lower on the glycemic index. It’s also relatively easier to manufacture than vegan sugar, with only a two-step process. First, the flower of the coconut palm is cut, and the liquid sap is collected. Then the sap is placed under immense heat until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Unlike vegan cane sugar, coconut sugar actually holds some nutritious value. Some of the nutrients obtained from coconut sugar are iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium.
Dates are notorious for being high in potassium, iron, vitamin B and fiber. Not to mention its sweet taste is a perfect alternative to vegan cane sugar. Date sugar is actually just dehydrated dates that are chopped down to resemble sugar granules. This is one of the easiest ways to make sugar, and it is a nutritious alternative to the real thing. Instead of consuming “empty” calories, date sugar allows you to sweeten up a recipe while also adding nutrients to the dish.
Stevia is a more concentrated sweetener than coconut sugar and date sugar. If you are using stevia in a recipe instead of sugar, you will want to use significantly less to not overpower the recipe. It is made from a plant that is primarily grown in Brazil, Paraguay, Japan, and China and is a nutritious alternative to table sugar. It has actually been linked to significant health benefits in people with diabetes.
Whether you choose to use one of these alternatives or stick with organic or raw vegan cane sugar or beet sugar, you can rest assured that you now have the proper information on all of the vegan sugar options. The next time you are at the grocery store, simply look for sugar that is labeled “raw,” “organic,” or “beet” sugar. Not only will your meals potentially be a bit healthier, but you no longer have to worry if they’re vegan or not.
Well, you’ve come to the end of the article, and I hope that you’re not better informed as to what it takes for sugar to be vegan. If you a fellow vegan that struggles in finding the right vegan brands for you, I recommend reading our list of the best vegan meal delivery services. It’s honestly a fantastic way in introduing yourself to vegan products that you’ve never heard about but could end up loving. In addition, as the vegan population keeps rising, there has been an uptick for vegan dog food, and vegan cat food.