What is Vegan Sugar?

sugarWhen I started baking vegan, I realized that there were a few new ingredients I would be using – egg substitutes, non-dairy milk, vegan margarine. I thought everything else would be okay until I heard about vegan sugar. My first thought was, “Vegan sugar? Why would sugar NOT be vegan?”

Upon doing research I found out that most sugar in the United States is whitened with charred animal bones. “A bone char filter acts like a crude filter and is most often used first in cane sugar refining… (It is) the most efficient and most economical whitening filter.”

That led me to my search for vegan sugar. I found some at my local natural foods store, but then it disappeared from the shelves. What was I going to use now? Enter organic sugar.

By definition, organic sugar has not been refined with bone char. “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 Substances, certified USDA organic sugar cannot be filtered through bone char.” Whew.

There are other choices for sugar that is vegan. “Sugar in bags labeled ‘100% Pure Beet Sugar’ was never passed through a bone char filter. Molasses, turbinado, demerara, and muscovado sugars are never filtered through bone char. Evaporated cane juice is also bone-char free.” These sugars are darker in appearance because they have not been whitened, but they generally have a similar sweetness and can replace white sugar measure for measure in recipes.

So, when you see me list ‘sugar’ in my recipes, know that you can try any of the ones I listed above. I usually use organic sugar, but it’s all a matter of taste.

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