Vegan Sugar

I’m not vegan, so I learned a ton of surprising facts while researching ingredients & coming up with recipes. For instance, did you know that regular refined sugar is not vegan-friendly? Typically, sugar is made from sugarcane, sugar beets, or coconuts. Beet & coconut sugar are never processed with...

THE GOOD BEHIND WHAT YOU EAT

Tatianna

3/13/2021 2 min read

Vegan Sugar

I’m not vegan, so I learned a ton of surprising facts while researching ingredients and coming up with recipes.  For instance, did you know that regular refined sugar is not vegan-friendly?   Typically, sugar is made from sugarcane, sugar beets, or coconuts.  Beet and coconut sugar are never processed with bone char.  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. That pure white color we associate with sugar comes from the bone char.  Now it’s important to note that this type of sugar does not actually contain any bone char, but because it is part of the process, most vegans would not eat this kind of refined sugar.

Different types of sugar

When we are talking about whether sugar is vegan or not, we are specifically talking about refined sugar, aka, table sugar.  That is the sugar we most commonly used in baking.  White, brown, and powdered sugar all can classify as refined sugar.  Refined sugar comes from two sources: sugarcane and beets.

While the two sugars are very similar in taste and texture, the refining process from these sources is very different.  Beet sugar is always vegan.  The process of making sugar from beets doesn’t require the same processing.

However, cane sugar, traditionally the more common option, is where things get a little tricky.  When asking if refined cane sugar is vegan, the answer would be, “sometimes.”

What is bone char?

Bone char—often referred to as natural carbon—is widely used by the sugar industry as a decolorizing filter, which allows the sugar cane to achieve a white color.  Bone char is made from the bones of cattle who were slaughtered in foreign countries and sold to traders in other foreign countries, who then sell the bones back to the U.S. sugar industry.  Brown sugar is created by adding molasses to refined sugar, so companies that use bone char in white sugar will also use it to make brown sugar.  Confectioner’s sugar—refined sugar mixed with cornstarch—made by these companies also involves the use of bone char. Fructose may, but does not typically, involve a bone-char filter.

If sugar is labeled organic, does that mean it’s not filtered with bone char?

Yes. Certified U.S. Department of Agriculture organic sugar cannot be filtered through bone char.  In the organic practice, the sugar cane juices are boiled, spun in a centrifuge, and dried into sugar crystals. These sugars are not as pure white.   If the sugar you want to buy isn’t organic, check to see if it says “unrefined,” “natural,” “raw,” or if it’s made from beets.

Vegan Sugars: The following companies do not use bone-char filters:

Big Tree Farms

Billington’s

Bob’s Red Mill

Florida Crystals

Imperial Sugar

In the Raw

Michigan Sugar Company

NOW Foods

Rapunzel

Redpath

Simply Balanced (Target)

Sprouts Sugar

Sugar In The Raw

SuperValu

The Raw Cane

Trader Joe’s

Western Sugar Cooperative

Wholesome!

Woodstock Farms

Zulka

Sugar Alternatives

Date Sugar

Maple Syrup

Coconut Sugar

Stevia

Monk Fruit

Brown Rice Syrup

Agave Nectar