If you’re following a vegan lifestyle, is it safe to consume regular sugar? Can sugar be included with a vegan diet, or does it contain some animal byproduct?
The Short Answer:
Only organic or unrefined sugars are safe for vegans.
The Long Answer:
Sugar is in everything.
It’s a fact of the modern food world. Check any label and you’re liable to see sugar listed as an ingredient in most of the foods that you pick up off the shelves.
But why? Isn’t sugar just refined sugarcane? What animal byproduct is used in it?
If you’re asking these questions then congratulations, you’re asking the right questions.
The main culprit making vegan lives miserable when it comes to sugar is a substance known as bone char. It can also be known as natural carbon, but the name bone char pretty much hits the nail right on the head.
Bone char is a decolorizing filter that is made from the bones of cattle that were slaughtered abroad. Those cattle are sold to traders in other countries, who in turn sell those bones back to companies in the U.S. sugar industry.
So what does bone char do for sugar?
It makes it whiter.
Yup. You heard that right. That’s all that it does.
So, naturally brown sugar has no bone char in it, yes?
When you create brown sugar, you’re adding molasses to refined sugar, which already contains bone char.
So, what kinds of sugar don’t involve bone char?
Well, to answer that question we first have to highlight what kinds of sugar exist in the world. There’s sugarcane sugar, which is the most commonly used, but there are also sugars made from coconuts and sugar beets.
Here’s the good news: Coconut and beet sugars are not processed with bone char.
So does that mean you can’t use sugarcane sugar when baking?
Any organic sugar should be 100% safe and bone char free. Filtering organic sugar through bone char is a violation of U.S. Department of Agriculture laws. Still though, if you see that sugar is labeled “unrefined” it should be safe to use even if it’s not organic.
Do you use organic sugar? Have you ever baked with beet or coconut sugars? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know!