Is bread vegan?
We hear you carb lovers, it would be hard to imagine a life without bread. Actually, Adam would probably die, no one loves bread more than him.
So can vegans eat bread?
The good news is that most bread is vegan. But without spoiling all the fun, we have to warn you that several types of bread may contain animal-based ingredients.
We hear you sigh, but we promise we will break it all down so you will know exactly how to stay clear of these pesky ingredients so you can enjoy bread as your God-given right.
Read on to find out which kinds of bread are vegan and which to avoid.
The Basics of Bread
Bread is a grain-based food item that’s traditionally created through a simple process using flour, water, salt and yeast.
Now if you are wondering if yeast is vegan, you can rest assured that it is.
This would mean that bread is vegan by default. But alas, as we’re going to find out, things aren’t always so black and white.
There are certain animal-derived ingredients that can be added to bread which you need to be careful about, but more about that in a second.
Let’s first talk about bread and the many different types of bread that can be created.
By altering the amount of each ingredient and changing the cooking time and temperature, one can bake various types of bread with very distinct textures and flavors.
For example, by only using regular wheat flour, yeast, water, and salt you can bake light and fluffy loaves and rolls. And by switching the flour for a darker rye or whole grain version, you’ll get a healthier and denser option.
If you skip the yeast, the bread will not rise which means you won’t be able to make big loaves.
This type of unleavened dough is used for flatbreads such as Mexican tortillas or Swedish knäckebröd.
You can also add extra ingredients to alter the texture of the bread or add flavor to it. Herbs and spices are commonly used to flavor bread, and different fat sources can create softer and fluffier variants.
In the end, it’s only your imagination that will set limits!
What to Watch Out For
While most bread is vegan by default, the problem arises when commercial bread brands add non-vegan ingredients. There may also be certain recipes that call for ingredients that aren't vegan.
In most cases, dairy products such as milk, butter and yogurt can be added, and there is some types of bread that is prepared with egg in the dough.
If you buy bread from directly from a bakery, there is a chance that some of the products have been brushed with egg wash or milk before baking. This is done to give the bread a golden and glossy finish.
Honey is another non-vegan ingredient that’s sometimes added to flavor a bread or take the edge off of a really darker whole wheat loaf.
But along with these easily recognizable animal ingredients, some are much harder to recognize.
In addition to the standard non vegan-ingredients like dairy products, eggs, and honey, you should also be on the lookout for the following pesky animal derived ingredients.
Non-vegan ingredients commonly found in bread:
- Casein - Derived from milk and sometimes goes under the name Sodium Caseinate.
- Whey - Every vegan's biggest enemy and a by-product of the dairy industry that doesn’t really serve any purpose other than to bring in more money for dairy industry.
- Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) - Derived from sheep's wool. Vitamin D3 can be vegan if sourced from lichen, however unless clearly stated on the packaging, assume it is the cholecalciferol version which is not vegan.
- Mono and diglycerides - This is a tricky ingredient because it can either be made from animal fats or vegetable oils. Your best bet would be to check directly with the manufacturer unless the packaging indicates the bread is vegan.
- Ghee - Indian restaurants frequently use ghee (clarified butter). Indian bread such as naan is typically brushed with ghee and unless you ask the cook, you won't know for sure.
Interestingly enough, we have often noticed that it’s easier to find vegan bread in Europe since a lot of the bread you find in grocery stores in the US contain animal ingredients. However, with a bit of due diligence, you can find vegan-friendly bread anywhere.
Finding Vegan Bread
So how do you find bread that is free from animal ingredients?
Well, that depends on where you are, but it’s usually not very difficult, and as mentioned, most bread is vegan.
In fact, your local grocery store should carry several vegan loaves and rolls, all you have to do is read the label. To save you the hassle, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of vegan bread brands that are readily available in grocery stores and online.
If instead, you get your bread from a baker, all you have to do is ask.
Chances are that your favorite bread is already vegan and if it isn't, we bet you can find a vegan version.
If you’re still unsure of which breads are vegan-friendly, check out the next section where we cover some of the most popular types of vegan bread below.
Different Types of Vegan Bread
Covering all types of bread would be near impossible since there are so many different kinds. But we've done our best to list as many of the most popular bread types and how to ensure they're vegan.
So let's get to it.
White Bread and Toast
Is white bread vegan?
This is a tricky one that you have to be careful with. Most regular white bread is vegan since it's made with flour, salt, water and oil.
Although, there are certain commercial brands that add dairy products to their dough so you need to check the labels carefully.
Rye Bread and Whole Grain
Whole grain bread can also be a bit tricky, but in most cases, it's vegan otherwise it should be clearly marked. As mentioned, some recipes call for yogurt in the dough and some are coated with egg wash.
As a Swede, Adam has always been a big fan of really dark Danish Rye bread and lately, we’ve started eating a lot of Ezekiel bread which are both vegan by default. The same goes for Swedish knäckebröd.
Naan and Other Indian Breads
Naan bread is an Indian staple, and for many it's a favorite. In India, naan is often vegan but elsewhere in the world it's usually not. As with many Indian dishes, ghee is the biggest culprit, and it can be incorporated in the dough or brushed on the bread.
The same goes for alot of other Indian bread especially if they’re prepared in a tandoori such as chapati and roti.
That being said, some of our favorite vegan Indian foods are bread-based, and dosas, poori, and uttapam are safe vegan choices.
Both corn tortillas and flour tortillas tend to be vegan, especially when they are store bought. The ingredients are just flour, salt, oil, and water which makes tortillas a great vegan-friendly option.
However, at certain Mexican restaurants and according to some recipes, the oil is switched with lard so we suggest you double check.
Are bagels vegan?
Luckily, if bagels are baked following traditional recipes, they are always vegan.
Now, we’ve heard that some people take the freedom of coating their bagels in egg wash or even milk to make them look “more attractive,” but we have yet to find any place selling such a profanity!
Naturally, you have to make sure to get the bagels with vegan toppings but that’s rarely a problem, especially if you’re in New York.
The classical Middle Eastern flatbread enjoyed from the Balkans and the Greek Islands to North Africa and all the way through the Middle East is almost always vegan.
The trick to making a really good pita is keeping the recipe simple. The addition of any unnecessary ingredients runs the risk of ruining the bread.
Burger buns can definitely be vegan but far from always. In fact, burger buns are one of the bread types most often baked with dairy products. The same goes for hot-dog buns and similar types of bread so be careful or bake your own.
A traditional Italian pizza is always made following a vegan recipe. This means in Italy, most pizza crust is vegan by default.
That being said, many American pizza chains such as Papa John’s Pizza and Domino's Pizza add all kinds of non-vegan ingredients to some of their dough from cheese to butter and whey. Therefore you need to know exactly what to order to ensure your pizza crust is vegan.
This is what you need to know when ordering a vegan pizza from a pizza chain:
At both Papa John's and Pizza Hut the hand-tossed doughs are vegan as well as the Thin 'N Crispy at Pizza Hut. At Domino's, only the thin crust is vegan.
The long French classic with a flaky exterior and a soft doughy inside is traditionally vegan and, similar to the Italians, the French frowns upon anybody who tries to experiment with the recipes.
Therefore, a baguette is almost guaranteed to always be vegan.
Moreover, the Vietnamese version called Bánh mì is prepared using a similar recipe without animal-products.
If you've even eaten Ethiopian food, you must have come across the fermented flatbread called injera. Luckily, injera is always completely vegan.
In fact, Ethiopian food is generally very vegan-friendly, and it has become one of our favorite cuisines partly due to the weirdly satisfying taste of injera.
Is Sourdough Bread Vegan?
Sourdough bread is a type of bread that’s different than most other kinds of bread since it doesn't use yeast. Instead, sourdough is made from a small fermented dough-like base full of naturally occurring yeast and lactic acid.
And yes, similar to regular bread, sourdough bread is vegan.
Sourdough has similar characteristics to yeast and helps the bread rise, but there are some great benefits.
For example, it also slightly changes the flavor of the bread and adds a subtle sour taste. Better yet, sourdough bread tends to have a longer shelf life than regular bread.
The cool thing about sourdough is that it can be reused and by “feeding” it with flour and storing it properly, one can keep a sourdough “alive” for many years.
In fact, there are some bakeries that claim to have sourdoughs that have been passed on from generations for hundreds of years. However, the truth of these claims is a topic of debate.
Now, if you don’t have access to a sourdough it’s quite easy to make, and you can have one ready in a few days. Check out this recipe for more information.
As often is the case, there is a catch. Certain sourdough recipes call for yogurt or a dairy starter in the sourdough which effectively means the bread is not vegan anymore.
Bake Your Own Vegan Bread
Despite the fact that we both have an unconditional love for all kinds of bread and the fact that we love to cook, neither of us are very good bakers.
So instead of offering you a recipe or some questionable tips based on our suboptimal experience, we have an amazing video that will walk you through the steps of how to make a basic standard vegan bread.
This is the basics of vegan bread baking and a great way to start as a beginner before you continue on with more elaborate types of bread and baking.