Do Vegans Eat Sugar? The Truth Behind How It’s Made & Why Some Brands Aren’t Vegan-Friendly!

Do vegans eat sugar? It’s a question that’s often asked, and one that can be confusing.

Vegans don’t eat any animal products, which means that they don’t eat meat, eggs, or dairy. But what about sugar? Sugar comes from plants, so does that mean vegans can eat it?

The short answer is MAYBE— it depends on where you live and what brand you go for!

Let’s start by looking at what sugar is made from:

Sugar is a natural product, and there are many different types of sugar out there. The most common type of sugar is sucrose, which is created when glucose and fructose are joined together. Sucrose comes from beets or sugar cane.

Sugar cane is the main source of white sugar. The cane is harvested, crushed, and then boiled. The liquid that results is called molasses. It’s then filtered and crystallized to make white sugar.

Why Some Sugar ISN’T Vegan: Cane Sugar VS Beet Sugar 

Sugar. It’s sweet, it’s delicious. But did you know that some of the sugar you reach for might not be vegan?

The main source of white sugar—the kind you put in your coffee or sprinkle on your cereal—is cane sugar. But what a lot of people don’t know, is that the processing method some brands use to make cane sugar ISN’T vegan. Some companies use bone char, a byproduct of the animals used for meat and dairy products, to filter impurities out of the sugar before packaging.

Even though the bone char is filtered out before the final product makes its way into your cupboard, strict vegans avoid this type of sugar because of its association with animal-based industries.

Luckily, a lot of big brands have switched over to vegan-friendly methods, but a few are still lagging behind.

But even so, not all is lost! Beet sugar is made from beets instead of cane juice and doesn’t go through the same refining process, this means it remains vegan-friendly.

Although beet sugar isn’t as commonly used as cane sugar, many brands are starting to use it more and more because of its health benefits. It contains more nutrients than cane sugar like iron and copper which aid in brain function and heart health respectively.

Thankfully, this sticky sugar situation doesn’t apply worldwide 

Vegans in the UK have little to fear from this non-vegan processing method. In the UK, the majority of sugar brands are vegan.

One exception to this rule, however, is icing sugar. Most popular brands of icing sugar contain dried egg white, so you’ll have to search for “vegan icing sugar” if you want to avoid eggs in your dessert.

Sadly, this does mean that American vegans simply need to be more vigilant when choosing their sweetener, however, there are plenty of other options available now that don’t use bone char. 

Check out vegfaqs.com for a list of US sugar brands that are Vegan in 2022

How to be sure your sugar is vegan before you buy!  

Want to be sure your sugar is vegan before adding it to your basket?

Here’s how:

First, check the ingredients. If it’s made with beet sugar, you’re in luck! Beet sugar is vegan. If it’s made with cane sugar, it could have been processed using bone char and thus be unsafe for strict vegans. 

Second, look for the Vegan symbol on the packaging. This will let you know that no animal products were used in the production of this product.

Lastly, if you’re still unsure, contact companies directly to ask if they use animal products in their manufacturing process.

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of checking labels and reaching out, then there are some plant-based sugar alternatives that can be used just like regular sugar in your cooking and baking. Here are 4 of the best out there that will satisfy your sweet tooth with ease: 

The Best Vegan Sugar Alternatives

Coconut sugar

Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut palm tree. It’s low on the glycemic index, so it won’t spike your blood sugar levels. It has a mild flavor that works well in both sweet and savory recipes, and it’s delicious sprinkled over fresh fruit or cereal. It also contains vitamins and minerals, including iron and zinc.

Agave Nectar 

Agave is another great option for vegans. This sweetener comes from the agave plant and it’s sweeter than sugar but low on calories. It tastes like honey with a hint of maple syrup and is great for drizzling on top of oatmeal or hot cereal!

Maple syrup

Maple syrup is made from boiling down the sap of maple trees, which means it has a rich flavor similar to caramel but without any dairy products involved! It’s high in antioxidants like manganese and zinc, which can help protect against heart disease and diabetes by strengthening your immune system.

Date syrup

Dates are nature’s candy—they’re high in fibre and antioxidants, plus they taste amazing! Date syrup is another natural sweetener that can be used in place of any liquid sweetener in recipes. It’s made from dates that have been cooked down until they’re sticky and sweet and has a rich caramel flavor.

So there you have it, folks.

If you can’t get hold of vegan sugar where you are, you no longer have to feel left out. You can use any of these alternatives to make your favourite desserts and sweet treats.

We hope this article has answered your question ‘Do vegans eat sugar?’ If you found it useful be sure to share it with your friends, family, and fellow vegans! And you may want to check out more questions like this in our section on vegan food.

Thanks for reading! And stay sweet!

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About the Author

Toni

Toni

Vegan children's book writer- check out "Ollie The Vegan Dinosaur"!- and loves all things word-y. (Oh, and a sucker for reasonably-priced cruelty-free mascara!)

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