Can Vegans Eat Bread? Common Non-Vegan Bread Ingredients

A traditional loaf of bread is usually vegan, it’s only made with a few simple key ingredients such as flour, water, yeast, salt, and some type of fat such as olive oil. Can vegans eat bread? Vegans don’t eat anything that comes from animal products, so it depends on what ingredients are in that bread. Some breads can contain milk, honey, eggs or butter, which is okay with vegetarians depending on their beliefs, but not for vegans.

Long List Of Ingredients

A lot of times in pre-sliced store bought bread there is an abundant of non-vegan conditioners and dough additives within a long list of ingredients. The polysyllabic nature of the ingredient names make it hard to know whether they’re animal derived or not. Make sure you take a closer look at what they are and where they come from, common non-vegan bread ingredients can come from stuff like duck feathers to human hairs.

Is Yeast Vegan?

big jar of rising yeast

Yeast is a living organism but not a sentient form of life, they are absolutely vegan because it does not come from animal of any kind. They are a fungi with no central nervous system, they do not feel pain like animals do.

Here’s a list of some of the more common non-vegan ingredients found in store bought baked goods. I have omitted some of the more obvious ones like milk, eggs, and honey. 

Sometimes Vegan


White Bread

A lot of times white bread contains processed white sugar which uses bone char derived from cattles, it’s used to make the sugar white in color. It’s always a better choice to go for the brown bread or whole wheat and whole grain breads, which are better for your health.

Mono and Di-Glycerides 

Emulsifiers like Mono-Glycerides and Di-Glycerides help blend together ingredients in the bread and improve it’s texture. Usually it’s made from soybean oil, but sometimes it can also be derived from animal fats, usually cow or hog, they can also be made synthetically.

Since it’s vegan most of the time,  I tend to not approach this from a purity standpoint. So if it doesn’t say at the package label where the glycerides are derived from, then I might still buy the bread if nothing better is available. But if I know there are breads in the store where I’m more sure is vegan, then I tend to go with that one instead.

L-Cysteine

This is a dough conditioner and it is used as a dough conditioner or strenghener usually found in pizza or bagels, but can be present in any bread products. Mostly sourced from duck feathers, or less commonly from pig’s bristles and hooves. It can also be derived from human hair in some parts of Asia. 

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate

Also a dough conditioner and is used for making the bread more fluffy. It comes from a reaction between lactic acid and stearic acid, which can be both sourced from plants or animals, but it is more commonly animal sourced.

Lecithin

Like many of the ingredients listed so far, this can be sourced from both plants and animals. If it says specifically “soy lecithin” then you have yourself a vegan ingredient. If it doesn’t elaborate past “lecithin,” then it can be both from plants or animals (usually from egg yolks.)

Enzymes

A lot of bread may contain enzymes which can be vegan or it can come from pancreatic tissue of pigs. It’s hard to know which one it is in the bread you’re eating because a lot of times it doesn’t elaborate beyond “enzymes.” Enzymes can come from plants, animals, bacterial or fungal. Some examples are:

  • lactase (plants)
  • lipase (plants or animals)
  • papain (vegetables)
  • pectinase (fruit)
  • rennet (animal)
  • trypsin (animal)

Omega 3s

This can be derived from both plant or fish. If it is fish then it could be labelled as so under the list under allergy information.

Milk Sounding Names (Lactate, Lactic Acid)

Lactate or lactic acid is not from milk (with the exception of sterol lactate due to the stearic acid.) Most “lac” names come from a fermentation process which uses beet sugar or corn starch.

Enriched Or Fortified Flour

When they say enriched or fortified, that usually means they’ve added in things like iron, thiamine, folic acid, B-vitamins and niacin. These vitamins are added in to compensate for the loss of naturally occurring nutrients that were stripped away in the process of refining. All these added vitamins can be sourced from both plants or animals.

Calcium

Ingredients made with calcium like calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate and calcium sulfate are usually vegan, the exceptions are calcium caseinate and calcium stearate.

Never Vegan


Lactose

Lactose is the sugar in milk which comes from animals, it is never vegan.

Ghee

Ghee is a butter that is found in indian breads such as roti and naan. I would move on from anything that has butter in it.

Cultured Dextrose

This is basically a preservative made from dairy and is not vegan. You may find this lurking in some bread products or hummus, I would avoid things like this and not buy it.

Gelatin

Gelatin is always sourced from collagen of animals and is never vegan. Usually found in foods like marshmellows and jellos, but it can be found in some breads.


I have found that a lot of breads sold in stores tend to have at least a few of these ingredients I mentioned. In fact I would probably say that the large majority of them aren’t 100% vegan. Almost all breads contain the mono and di-glycercides, which can be vegan but I’d avoid it if you are extra careful. But thankfully there are many vegan breads in hippie grocery chains like whole-foods and even regular grocery stores usually have a small selection.

Vegan Friendly Brands

In my local stores I usually look for vegan friendly brands like Silver Hills Bakery that are specifically labelled as vegan on the back of the package. Their breads are made with 100% whole grain plant-based ingredients and that’s why I recommend them. I suggest you look for Silver Hills or some other vegan brands in your stores.

Let me know in the comments what you think, and post down below if you know of any other non-vegan ingredients in bread.

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