Bread. There’s no denying it—it’s delicious. And it’s a daily staple in many countries around the world.
But can vegans eat bread?
The answer is: usually, YES!
But there are some things you should know if you want to make sure your vegan diet stays on track. Let’s start by looking at what bread is made from and what ingredients vegans need to avoid.
What is bread made from?
Lucky for non-carnivorous carb-lovers, the four main ingredients in bread are all vegan: flour, water, yeast, and salt. That’s right—no eggs or milk required!
Let’s take a look at each one in turn.
Flour is a mixture of gluten proteins from wheat (or other grains), starch, and proteins from other sources such as legumes or nuts. While flour can be made from any grain, wheat is the most common source of flour in Western countries. Wheat is often processed to remove parts of the grain that may cause allergies.
Water is used to hydrate the flour so that it can be mixed with yeast and salt to make dough that rises into bread.
Yeast is added to the dough to help it rise and give it its characteristic fluffy texture when baked. Yeast contains many B vitamins as well as vitamin D which makes it a nutritious addition to any diet!
Salt adds flavor but also helps control moisture content in baked goods like breads or cakes so they don’t become too dense or dry while baking in an oven.
The Big Yeast Debate
Yeast, the magical ingredient that makes bread rise. But is it Vegan?!
This is a question that has been hotly debated in the vegan community, and it’s understandable since yeast is actually a living organism.
However, Healthline explains:
Unlike animals, yeasts do not have a nervous system. This means that they don’t experience pain — which completely differentiates them from animals
Since eating yeast does not cause it to suffer and involves no animal exploitation or cruelty, yeast is typically considered a vegan food.
And PETA agrees:
Yeast is everywhere—in your body and in the air, and it’s not derived from animals.
So, if you’ve been avoiding bread because you thought yeast wasn’t vegan, now is the time to rejoice. It turns out that yeast isn’t an animal product, and therefore bread is totally vegan-friendly.
Non-Vegan ingredients to look out for
Though the basic recipe for bread is vegan, it’s worth keeping in mind that there are so many different varieties of bread and all the recipes can vary slightly. Many sneak in animal-derived ingredients that vegans need to look out for.
When buying bread, it’s best to look for own-brand supermarket products, as they are usually labelled clearly if suitable for vegans. If shopping at a bakery, you should always ask to see a list of allergens before making a purchase.
If you are still unsure if a bread contains any animal products, be sure to check for these ingredients:
Ghee (clarified butter found in some Indian products, including naan and roti bread.)
Casein (a milk protein)
L-cysteine (most often derived from duck feathers, but it can also be derived from pigs’ bristles and hooves)
DATEM (a blend of several different emulsifying agents. Although some of these agents are plant-derived, many are also animal-derived. This information will not be clear from the ingredients list)
Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate & Calcium Stearoyl Lactylate (can be either animal-derived or plant-derived so it’s best to avoid)
Lecithin (commonly derived from soybeans, but it can also be extracted from egg yolks, so be sure to check the type you’re getting)
Enzymes ( enzymes in bread are generally fungal-based. However, there are several non-vegan enzymes used in commercial bread production, including one such ingredient called phospholipase, an enzyme derived from pig pancreatic tissue)
Cultured dextrose (a preservative that is added to food products to extend their shelf life)
Overall, the less processed your bread is, the higher probability it’s vegan but it’s always best to check the ingredient label and make sure no animal products have been added.
But what about the holy grail of bread? Garlic bread!
Most bread is vegan by default—but garlic bread? That one’s a little trickier. You see, most store-bought garlic breads are made with butter or cheese, so they’re not vegan-friendly. But we’ve got great news for you: there are plenty of delicious vegan options out there.
When searching for garlic bread in the shops, a handy tip is to always opt for the less expensive or own-branded items. Why? Because these tend to be accidentally vegan!
But again, just to be on the safe side, check the ingredients and allergens before you buy!
So, there you have it..
Can vegans eat bread? You bet!
And if you’re looking for a way to make your own bread and control what goes into it, check out these DIY vegan bread recipes.
Thanks for reading! If you’d like any more info on what is and isn’t included in the vegan diet, check out our section on Vegan foods…