We get so many questions about what is and isn’t vegan and the truth is most the time it’s pretty obvious. There are however times when that isn’t always the case and we have touched on that in articles like is alcohol vegan? So, let look at another question we occasionally get asked.
I’ll admit it’s not as common as where do you get your protein? and is normally from a panicked friend or relative who is preparing a meal or maybe a newbie vegan who just realised that they aren’t 100% sure. So what’s the answer to what bread is vegan? Let’s find out
Bread the basics
The simple loaf of bread, there are references to bread throughout history and certainly in the UK most of us have eaten bread for as long as we can remember. Toast for breakfast then sandwiches for lunch and rolls with dinner. Why has bread always been there? Well because the basic ingredients of bread are just that ‘basic’ and pretty much always readily available.
They are wheat flour, water and yeast. So that’s fine then, but we have to consider that there are other traditional breads from different parts of the world. The Germans have sourdough bread. The French are famous for their baguettes and in Spain I have been offered potato bread. Then are now so many alternative types of bread available that it can become tricky to know what extra ingredients have been added
But our good old fashion basic loaf made is most definitely is vegan, so before we delve any deeper let’s get an idea of how exactly bread is made and then explore what need to look out for.
What is Yeast and is it vegan
Yeast is a component that is occasionally questioned by people in terms of being vegan or not. The is because yeast is made of micro-organisms. However, these micro-organisms are classified as fungi, which means that yeast is neither animal nor animal derived and therefore is vegan. While we are talking about yeast let’s have a very brief look at its rol
Yeast is the ingredient that causes bread to rise and give it its soft and fluffy texture. The micro-organisms in yeast feed off of the sugar that is in the flour. It is added to the dough to make it rise quicker. As the yeast digests the sugar in the flour it gives off carbon dioxide gas
The carbon dioxide is trapped by the gluten molecules in the flour and this is what that give bread its soft fluffy texture and allows it to keep its shape. This is why traditional loaves of bread are different to a flat bread or tortilla. There is a great explanation about yeast in bread in the video below
So why isn’t some bread vegan
So, what ingredients might be added to my bread to make it non-vegan. Well the main ones are all pretty obvious they are
- Eggs, which are often used to create a fluffy texture
- Milk, which some breads contain either in fresh or dried form.
- Honey and royal jelly both of which of course come from bees.
- Butter to change the flavour and texture
It is also worth looking out for Casein and whey which are milk derived products and used to add texture or flavour. Gelatine which comes from animal’s connective tissue
So, when buying bread, you need to check the ingredients to make sure that none of these are included. The good news is if you go to your local baker for a traditional loaf you should have no problem but it is always worth checking. Below we have listed 5 popular breads and asked are they vegan? As always if in doubt ask.
What about Gluten
While we are talking about bread its worth mentioning gluten the protein that is found breads. The majority of breads we buy are made with either wheat, rye, barley, or spelt, all of which contain gluten. However contrary to popular belief gluten isn’t actually a problem for most people and can in fact be good for you.
Celiac disease is a serious illness and anyone with celiac needs to avoid gluten completely and should be treated by a medical professional. This however is less than 1% of the population. What is interesting though is the amount of “non-celiac gluten sensitivity”, cases which have arisen over the past few years. A recent study actually found that in most cases the sensitivity was unrelated to gluten.
So, the good news is that not only is the majority of bread vegan but also that for 99% of us gluten is not our enemy and an actually be beneficial. This means that we can continue to enjoy our wholemeal wheat pasta on wholegrain toast without worry.
Let’s recap what bread is vegan
Ok so let’s have a quick recap of what we need to consider when asking what bread is vegan. We know that a simple traditional freshly baked loaf is almost always vegan. This is also the case for most flatbreads and drier, crustier breads. Savoury breads like sourdough and rye are also much more likely to be vegan. What we also know is that we need to be on the lookout for an additional non-vegan ingredients that might be have been added.
So, what do we need to look out for? Well we know that the main non-vegan ingredients are honey, milk, butter, eggs and occasionally gelatine. Breads that are often not vegan are those that have a ‘glaze’ and are brushed with a butter such as brioche or challah bread. Also, sweet breads such as Spanish potato bread or of course garlic bread both of which contain butter.
The good news is that the answer to is bread vegan? is, most of the time. Remember that the most important thing is to always read the ingredients, and if you don’t know, ask!
What is your favorite vegan bread? Do you make your own bread or even have a recipe that you could share with us. Please let us know in the comments below