Is bread considered vegan? This question is often the most popular for those who have recently chosen this lifestyle change.
Sometimes, it comes in the form of panic from people who are thinking of veganism. I’ve actually had stressed-out family members and friends call me and ask about bread when preparing a vegan-friendly meal for a loved one. The point is that everyone has been there before or know someone who has.
So, the age-old question is here: Do vegans eat bread? Yes, bread is usually vegan-friendly, but it’s best to double-check the ingredients to make sure.
Keep reading below to learn more about breads and how to tell if it’s vegan or not.
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Overview Of Bread
If you’re like me, you always remember having bread at your family dinners. You may have had toast with butter for breakfast, rolls with dinner, and a sandwich for lunch.
The most basic bread ingredients include yeast, water, wheat flour, and salt. If your bread only uses those four things, it is completely vegan. Still, there could be a few worries if your bread has other ingredients listed or added.
Before I talk about non-vegan and vegan options, I want to tell you how bread gets made so that you understand how it’s different from other baked goods and wheat products.
How Does Yeast Work and What Is It?
Yeast is one of the primary ingredients for bread, and it helps to make it rise, become fluffy, and soft. In a sense, yeast makes a single loaf of bread very different from a tortilla (which also uses flour, salt, and water).
Essentially, yeast is just a small fungus, such as mold or mushrooms. Fungus is considered vegan so vegans can eat bread. The yeast reproduces itself by budding off.
Baker’s yeast has a scientific name called Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. Literally translated, it means sugar-eating fungus. If you know your Latin, you realize that the name is self-explanatory for what it does and how it is used in bread.
The yeast feeds from the sugars present in the flour. When you add it to the bread dough, it produces a fast rise.
As the yeast digests all the flour, it gives off some carbon dioxide gas. That gas gets trapped by the gluten molecules within the wheat flour, which are large and stringy.
This is designed to give bread the spongy texture you know and love, all while keeping its shape. This means you end up with a fluffy loaf that can be cut and served how you like it.
The interplay found between gluten and yeast is the primary reason why yeast-free or unleavened bread products remain flat. Think of tortillas and pita breads. Gluten-free products are usually denser and have less sponginess than their counterparts containing gluten.
For all of those reasons, when you make bread and mix together the ingredients, you must knead them very well. This activates the gluten molecules and yeast. Then you let everything sit for a while so that the yeast works its magic.
What Might Make Bread Be Non-Vegan?
Some people and companies add other ingredients to the bread that cause it to be a non-vegan product. These include milk, eggs, cheese, and honey.
When buying bread, check the label thoroughly. If you’re eating homemade bread that you and your family didn’t prepare, ask about the ingredient list to be sure.
As an example, challah bread is a traditional Jewish treat. It’s made with eggs, so it’s not considered vegan.
If you used to enjoy this bread before becoming vegan or it’s a family tradition, you can find ways to tweak the recipe and make it vegan. If you mix a teaspoon of ground flaxseed with three tablespoons of water, it’s roughly the consistency of an egg.
Often, vegans can use this concoction as a suitable replacement. Plant-based milk can be used rather than dairy products, too.
Types of Bread, and Are They Vegan?
Here, I’m going to talk about specific bread types and help you determine if they’re suitable for a vegan lifestyle.
- Sourdough: This is usually vegan. It does use a fermented starter, so you need to know whether dairy was used here. Make sure that you look at the ingredient list first and ask the baker if you buy it fresh.
- Pita: Generally, pita bread is vegan and made from the basic ingredients, though there might be less yeast used. Honey, eggs, and milk can be added, so pay attention to the label.
- Ezekiel Bread: This is a brand produced by Foods for Life, which are all egg-, honey-, and dairy-free, so you can eat any of the bread with this label.
- Ciabatta: Often, ciabatta bread are vegan unless it mentions ‘ciabatta al latte,’ which means it’s made with milk.
- Naan: As the traditional Indian flatbread, it’s a tasty treat, but it’s usually not vegan. If you buy the authentic products, it’s made with dairy (yogurt) and eggs and is brushed with melted butter. You can find vegan versions, but you’ve got to ask about the ingredient list.
- Roti: Another Indian bread favorite, roti differs from naan in that it’s an unleavened flatbread made from whole wheat and water as the only ingredients. It also isn’t usually brushed with butter either. So if you’re craving a bread to go with your curry, roti is a tasty option.
- Rye: This bread type is usually vegan, too, but it can use eggs or milk to lighten the flavor. Read the label or ask your baker first!
One More Note About Bread
If you find that your favorite bread isn’t vegan, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it that way. Remember, challah bread has eggs or is called egg bread, but the flaxseed-and-water mixture makes it vegan.
You can use jams or cashew cream as a way to sweeten bread if you miss brioche. Choose to make vegan-friendly versions of your store-bought favorites.
It’s fun to experiment and try new recipes. The flaxseed and water option is suitable as an egg replacement, and you can substitute almost any oil for butter.
Likewise, you can use maple syrup rather than the honey called for in a recipe. Just make sure that you’re reading ingredient labels or asking about what’s in your friend’s homemade bread.