Sugar comes in various colours, forms and textures. There’s white sugar, brown sugar, powdered, icing, and many, many more.
So, is all sugar safe for vegan consumption, or is there a catch somewhere? To know the answer, we have to look at the origin of sugar and its manufacturing process to draw a clear conclusion. So, let’s look at some types of sugar and see for ourselves which ones are vegan and which ones aren’t.
Is White Sugar Vegan?
This is an iffy one. Depending on its source, refined white sugar can be both vegan and not vegan. If the sugar comes from beets or coconuts, then yes, it’s totally vegan-appropriate. All sugar from those two plants is vegan because no animal products are used in its manufacturing.
However, white sugar from sugarcanes is a bit of a different situation.
Is Cane Sugar Vegan?
Here, the answer can be yes and no. Most, if not all, cane sugar brands in the UK are vegan-friendly. However, USA-produced cane sugar is another case. We’ll tell you the reason for that just below.
Why Is Sugar Not Vegan?
Now, you may be wondering why on earth is sugar not vegan when it comes from plants? The answer is quite simple.
Some sugar manufacturers in the USA use bone char, also called natural carbon, to filter and bleach the sugar to remove impurities and obtain the popular white colour of sugar.
If you’re unfamiliar with bone char, it’s basically the crushed up and burnt bones of cattle that are then used as a decolourising agent in USA sugar factories.
And while bone char doesn’t end up in the actual end-product, it’s still involved in its manufacturing process, and therefore animals are inadvertently harmed at the end of the day. That’s why many vegans don’t eat such sugars and discourage others from purchasing them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Granulated Sugar Vegan?
Granulated sugar, aka table sugar, is just your typical refined white sugar. If it’s made from beet sugar, then it’s okay. If it’s from sugar canes, then you’re in the clear if it’s made in the UK. Otherwise, you won’t really be able to tell if it’s vegan unless it has a “vegan-certified” logo on the packaging.
Some other indicators that tell that a sugar brand is vegan include words like natural, unrefined, organic, and raw. These words stipulate that no bone char was used in sugar production, making it safe for vegan consumption.
Is Brown Sugar Vegan?
Brown sugar is basically refined white sugar mixed with some molasses to achieve brown colouration. Once again, if the sugar has been through a bone char filter, then it’s not vegan, no matter the colour.
Is Powdered Sugar Vegan?
Powdered sugar, brown or white, is most likely not vegan when made from sugar canes. That’s because, ultimately, it’s the same refined and filtered sugar, just in pulverised form.
Is Caster Sugar Vegan?
If you’ve never heard of caster sugar, it’s sugar with a texture between granulated sugar and powdered sugar. It’s known in the USA as superfine sugar and is used in baking frequently as it dissolves a lot faster than granulated sugar.
Since it’s made by grinding granulated sugar into finer grains, its vegan-friendliness will come from the original granulated sugar. As previously mentioned, if the sugar is made from beets or generally produced in the UK, then your caster sugar will also be vegan. If not, well, you know the answer by now.
Is Icing Sugar Vegan?
Icing sugar, also known as confectioner’s sugar, is also not vegan. That’s because it’s made from refined powdered sugar with small amounts of corn starch. Sadly, there are even some brands that use dried egg whites in icing sugar.
So, unless the packaging says it’s organic/raw, stay away from icing sugar. If you can’t find any vegan icing sugar near you or online, you can make your own by mixing unrefined powdered sugar with small amounts of corn starch.
Is Raw Sugar Vegan?
Yes, absolutely. Raw sugar doesn’t go through the whole bone char filtration business, so it’s quite alright for vegans living in any part of the world.
Of course, the same thing goes for organic, natural, and unrefined sugars. So, if you don’t find a type of sugar that says raw on the packaging, you can get any of the other three sugar types as they’re virtually the same thing at the end of the day.
Is Glucose Vegan?
Glucose, or more precisely glucose syrup, is a natural sweetener sometimes used in candy, sodas, and baked goods. By breaking down starchy foods like potatoes, corn, barley, wheat, and cassava, a sweet syrup rich in glucose is produced. It can come in liquid or solid granule form, but they’re both made of plants and wholly vegan.
Is Dextrose Vegan?
Here, the answer is a little complicated. Dextrose is usually derived from plants, mostly corn, and is also used as a sweetener in many packaged candies, gums, and snacks.
You’d think that would qualify it to be vegan; however, dextrose is mostly sold as a white powder. The whiteness indicates that some form of filtration has been used, and that could’ve been bone char for all we know.
Furthermore, some dextrose, called cultured dextrose, has dairy products involved in its manufacturing process. So, the dextrose here is also not vegan.
Nevertheless, that isn’t to say that all dextrose isn’t vegan-friendly. If you find dextrose in the ingredient list of a candy that’s certified to be vegan, the dextrose has to be 100% vegan. So like we said, it’s very difficult to know whether dextrose is vegan or not, so try to stay away from it if you can.
Is Domino Sugar Vegan?
When it comes to Domino sugar, its veganism depends on the state where it was manufactured and refined.
Sugars having codes starting with 1 or 4 were produced in Domino’s New York and Baltimore refineries. These refineries don’t use bone char and instead use something else for filtration called ion exchange resin. Since this substance is not derived from animals, the sugars of these refineries are vegan.
However, codes starting with 5 indicate sugars that have undergone bone char purification in the Louisiana refineries, so not vegan. Consequently, make sure to check those codes before buying Domino sugar so that you can make the correct decision.
Not all sugar can be said to be vegan, and you have to know what to look for to find the vegan varieties.
Thankfully, it’s not too difficult to find vegan sugars nowadays, whether in-store or online. Moreover, there are some great vegan sugar alternatives that you could use, like agave, maple syrup, molasses, and many others.
So, don’t be disheartened by the un-veganism of some sugar types and just do your best to continue on the path that you’ve chosen.