Are Vegans Being Tricked?
A few years back, my husband decided to go vegan for a year. It was during this year of learning to cook and prepare all things vegan that i stumbled across a little piece of knowledge that other vegans I knew were not aware of and a few were upset to discover. They felt that they had been fooled. Today, I am uncovering for you the truth about my alarming discovery.
When a person sets out to be vegan, they often think it’s obvious about which foods contain animal produced products and which do not. Where a vegetarian is someone that does not eat any flesh from a living being, a vegan does not consume any animal or any product made from an animal. So, no meat of any kind, no eggs, no dairy, right? So, if you come across a cookie and it’s made without dairy, is it vegan? Technically, probably not. Why? one word……sugar.
Sugar itself is a carbohydrate most commonly derived from sugar beets or sugar cane. Beet sugar (though usually refined) is still kept in a vegan state. Sugar cane, on the other hand, is another story, using bone char derived from cows in processing.
For sugar cane, a bone char filter acts like a crude filter and is most often used first in cane sugar refining. To sugar scientists, it is a ‘fixed bed adsorption’ filter, meaning that particles unlike itself stick to it. It is also the most efficient filter for removing colorants; leaving the refined sugar with the sparkling white appearance we all know. Bone char filters are the most efficient and most economical whitening filters, thereby maintaining their position as the industry’s cane sugar filter of choice. However, also make note that brown sugar is nothing more than white sugar with molasses added after being processed with bone char.
A lot of processed food manufacturers use sugar from both methods and are not very clear in answer about their products containing cane or beet sugar. However, here is a list of sugar manufacturers that are vegan and can also be found on PETA’s website, which i provide a link to below.
- In the Raw
- Big Tree Farms
- Bob’s Red Mill
- Florida Crystals
- Imperial Sugar
- In the Raw
- Michigan Sugar Company
- Now Foods
- The Raw Cane
- Simple Truth (Kroger/Ralphs’ brand of Organic Sugar)
- Simply Balanced (Target’s brand of Organic Sugar)
- Trader Joe’s
- Western Sugar Cooperative
- Woodstock Farms
Another EASY WAY to tell if a company uses bone char or not? IS IT ORGANIC? To maintain its organic integrity, organic sugar is only minimally processed or not refined at all. Since bone char is not on the National Organic Program’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, certified USDA organic sugar cannot be filtered through bone char. In fact, the technical directors of both Imperial Sugar and American Sugar Refining told us that organic sugars are only milled and never go to the refinery where the bone char filters are located.
Vegans everywhere can rejoice! There are plenty of reliable vegan sugar options available, much more than there were just a few years ago!
Did this surprise you? Are you or someone you know a vegan that has overlooked sugar labels, we would love to hear about it! Please leave feedback below!
- Brudzynski, Katrina, Kamal Abubaker, and Tony Wang. “Powerful Bacterial Killing by Buckwheat Honeys Is Concentration-dependent, Involves Complete DNA Degradation and Requires Hydrogen Peroxide.” Frontiers in Microbiology. Frontiers Media S.A., 2012. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
- Yacoubou, Jeanne. “Is Your Sugar Vegan?” The Vegetarian Resource Group. The Vegetarian Resource Group, 2007. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.