Can vegans eat bread? If you’re vegan you know how common it is to get asked this question.
Of course, the short answer is, yes!
Vegans can eat bread… well, more often than not. As long as the bread is made without animal products, then of course, vegans can eat bread.
And vegans do eat bread. But there are some gray areas. Let’s take a closer look and get into the crusty details.
What Does Vegan Bread Consist Of?
Bread has been a vital source of carbohydrates and nutrients, including magnesium, iron, selenium, B vitamins and dietary fibers, for millennia. The practice of bread-making even goes back to the neolithic period.
The word bread is even used in many cultures as a metaphor for basic needs, and the word has also been used as a replacement for money. The term “breadbasket” is something that we use to refer to the region of a country that is high in agricultural production and steeped in rich culinary traditions.
With the exception of south and east Asia, where rice is the staple for carbs, most of the Earth’s cultures and religions use bread in their daily diets. Often these breads are made in traditional ways, before sweeteners and other additives like fats were added.
The basic bread ingredients are flour, yeast, salt, and water. Some breads include other ingredients like butter, eggs, milk, sweetners, seeds, cheese, etc.
Bread that is made simply is often more likely to be vegan, so vegans do eat bread that is made in this basic way.
Leavened Bread vs Unleavened Bread
Leavening is the act of instilling gas into a dough for the purpose of producing a lighter and often fluffier bread. This makes the bread more easy to break down in the mouth; most bread in Europe and North America is leavened bread. Leavening agents like baking soda and yeast are typical ingredients that give bread its puffier feel.
Unleavened breads are often flat in appearance, due to their lack of leavening agents.
But vegans do eat bread that is both leavened and unleavened.
What About Processed Breads?
Do vegans eat bread that is highly processed? Well, the less processed the bread is, then the better chance that it will be vegan. These breads often include ingredients to preserve them and give them a longer shelf life. Many of which are not vegan, like milk, milk powder, honey, and more.
Which Breads are Usually Vegan?
Vegans can usually eat bread that is made in basic traditional ways. Few areas on Earth are more bread happy than the continent of Europe, and there is a never-ending list of the varieties of breads from the continent.
Most French savory breads are vegan; baguettes and plenty of others.
Italy is another major player that has easy access to breads that vegans can eat. Ciabatta is a bread that vegans do eat regularly. Focaccia is another bread vegans can eat, as olive oil is the fat that is used in making this delicious bread that is often topped with herbs like rosemary.
So, vegans do eat breads from these two bread giants, and there are plenty of other European countries that offer plenty of vegan-friendly breads.
Ezekiel bread is a sprouted bread that is also vegan and high in nutritional value. So, vegans eat breads like these for high health benefits.
The basic kosher bread is also an example of a vegan bread that is often within easy reach at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Vegans can eat potato bread too, another hearty bread that goes well with soups and stews.
Usually, vegans can eat bread that is dark in color like ryes, but keep an eye open because some of these breads can contain eggs or milk. Vegans do regularly eat breads like pumpernickel and other German and Czech breads from this hefty region of Europe.
Last but not least, thankfully, traditional sourdough is vegan and is widely available. Unless it has an added ingredient that isn’t vegan, or hasn’t been made in the traditional way, vegans can eat sourdough bread.
Which Breads are Usually Not Vegan?
Unfortunately, lots of breads are not vegan, as they often contain fats and sweeteners like ghee (clarified butter), yogurt, milk, or even eggs. Most of the super market bread that is sold in the United States is not vegan, as they love to add things like milk and, weirdly enough, honey or
Other breads that vegans typically cannot eat include:
- cinnamon rolls
- soda bread
- english muffins
- loaf breads
Cornbread is another bread that is not traditionally made vegan. So, vegans do not eat this bread unless it is specially made to fit their requirements.
Of course, vegans do eat bread that is tweaked to fit their diet.
In these vegan variations of bread, fats like coconut oil or olive oil are substituted for butter. Also, plant milks such as nut milks like almond and hazelnut are a viable alternative to traditional animal based milks.
For sweeteners, vegans can eat breads that are infused with maple syrup, raw cane sugar, vegan white sugar, date syrup, molasses, agave, or any other sweetener that is vegan.
Aquafaba is a liquid derived from chickpea water that can be used to act as egg whites, so vegans do eat bread that is prepared in this manner. Chia seeds and flax seeds can also produce an eggy effect in vegan breads. Challah, brioche, and soda bread are a few of the vegan breads that can be made with aquafaba and given a fluffier texture.
Breads that are made with chickpea flour and coconut flour are becoming more and more common, so vegans do eat breads that consist of these ingredients.
Vegan versions of naan and other breads are easily available online and also in vegan cookbooks.
Vegan Bread or Non-vegan Bread?
Some of the breads that straddle the border on being vegan are breads like rye, pita, and often bagels.
As mentioned before, rye bread is usually vegan, but it can be tricky. Some ryes will have eggs or milk added, so be sure to read the ingredients. More often than not, the rye breads at farmer’s markets are usually vegan, but just ask the baker what they put into their rye.
Vegans should be careful with buns, like hamburger buns and hot-dog buns, they can often have fats, milks, or sweeteners in them that may not be vegan.
But more often than not at an eatery, if the meat-substitute is plant-based, then it is likely that vegans can eat the bread that goes along with it. This is usually true for sandwiches too, a tofu or vegetable-based sandwich most likely is nestled between two vegan buns.
The best advice with these breads that ride the vegan non-vegan fence, is to always check the label carefully or ask the producer what ingredients are in it.
Bread’s Vegan Cousins?
Vegans can eat breads like the common pretzel.
Plain hard pretzels that most of us grew up snacking on are usually a safe bet for vegans. So vegans can eat pretzels from store brands, but be careful with those that are crossed with flavor-inducers like cheese, milk, and honey.
Focaccia is a bread that is laid flat in a large pan and then baked and sliced. Vegans do eat breads that are made like focaccia, even though the cakey appearance could throw off a newbie to the diet.
The basic bagel, the classic ones that are eaten in New York City and Montreal is a bread vegans do eat. Bagels can be sliced and toasted and then smeared with a nice vegan butter or vegan cream cheese and also topped with vegan lox.
Vegans do eat bagels, but their availability can be tricky. And sometimes there are bagels that are stuffed with cheesy fillings.
Vegans can eat breads like tortillas, and they are widely available throughout most of the world now. There are two main varieties in the tortilla family, flour and corn.
The basic flour tortilla is made from wheat, and it is either white or whole grain flour. For years the practice of adding lard to these tortillas gave them a soft pliable texture. Nowadays most of the flour tortillas that are sold in the stores are made without animal products, so vegans can purchase and eat this ancient flat-bread with most any dish.
Corn tortillas are made from corn flour, and they can also be fried into crispy chips. Corn tortillas are a great companion with other delicious vegan foods like guacamole, beans, and also a fresh spicy salsa.
As with the wheat flour tortillas, give the package a glance to be sure that an animal fat was not incorporated into the production of these vegan-friendly cousins of bread.
Final Answer – Do Vegans Eat Bread?
So, can vegans eat bread? You betcha.
As you can see, most breads are vegan, and are often within easy reach.
Old style traditional breads that have been made the same way for millennia are a pretty safe bet for vegans. These are breads from Europe that are made in a simple way with flour, water, and yeast.
Vegans eat breads that are tweaked to replace animal products like butter and milk with alternative plant-based ingredients like aquafaba and nut and oat milks.
The best thing to do is to always check the ingredients list on packaged bread, and also keep an eye out for the vegan logo.
If dealing with a bakery or a farmer’s market, ask the baker, and they should be able to give you all the ingredients used to make the bread.