The vegan diet excludes animal products such as fish, eggs, dairy, honey, and meat. The most commonly used non-vegan ingredients in bread are eggs, milk, butter, buttermilk, and yogurt.
Most artisan breads are vegan, made with four main ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, and water. However, most enriched breads contain butter, eggs, honey, milk, lard, or ghee, which are non-vegan ingredients.
How Can You Tell If a Bread Is Vegan?
You can tell if a bread is vegan by looking at its ingredient list. If it contains any of the following ingredients, it is non-vegan:
- Eggs, egg yolks, and egg whites
- Royal Jelly—secreted by bees
- Gelatin — derived from boiling animal skins, bones, ligaments, and tendons
- Milk and Milk derived ingredients—milk, buttermilk, butter yogurt whey, casein.
- Mono and diglycerides. These are emulsifiers, which improve the texture of the bread and retain moisture. Typically, they are derived from soyabean oil, but some are made of animal fats. Unless the ingredient list indicates that they are made of soybean oil, it is best to assume that they could be animal-sourced.
- Lecithin. It is also a form of emulsifier. It can be made with soybeans or egg yolks.
Generally, the fewer the ingredients in bread, the more likely it is vegan. Also, vegan bread is usually lighter due to the fewer ingredients used. Even so, always check the ingredients list to confirm.
Baking Vegan Bread
The best way to be sure that bread is vegan is if you bake it yourself. There is a wide range of easy homemade bread recipes that you can make at home. Many use simple ingredients that are available easily. For example, self-raising or all-purpose flour, yeast, baking soda, and salt.
If you intend to make vegan bread regularly, consider investing in a bread machine. It takes away the hassle of making most breads. It kneads the dough, lets it rise, shapes it, and bakes it using simple settings.
Non-Vegan Ingredient Substitutes in Bread Recipes
If a bread recipe contains non-vegan ingredients, you can substitute them with vegan ingredients. Here are some options for the best ingredients for vegan bread.
- Butter—coconut oil or olive oil
- Eggs—chia or flax seeds. For every egg, use 1 tablespoon of chia seeds or flax seeds. Simply soak the seeds in 3 tablespoons of warm water. Leave them overnight to form a jelly-like consistency. Add the jelly to your batter like you would eggs.
- Egg white—chickpeas aquafaba. Use 2 tablespoons of aquafaba to replace one egg white
- Milk— almond, soy, or oat milk
- Honey— brown sugar, maple syrup, molasses, and caster sugar
- Gelatin—vegan gel or agar
You can also incorporate sunflower seeds, fennel seeds, and peanut butter to improve the taste and texture of your bread.
10 Non-Vegan Breads
Below are some mostly non-vegan types of bread you want to avoid if you are following a vegan diet.
Most white bread, including those mass-produced and sold at retail stores, is vegan-friendly. They are typically made with the fundamental ingredients—flour, water, yeast, salt, and sometimes oil and sugar—all of which are vegan.
However, some manufacturers and bakers may incorporate milk or eggs into their white bread recipes to improve their taste. Therefore, check the ingredient list to ascertain if there are some non-vegan ingredients.
Traditional bagels are vegan. However, some types contain additives, flavors, and fillings that may not be vegan. Some of the best brands for vegan bagels include Thomas’ bagels, Sara Lee bagels, Rudi’s Organic Bakery bagels, Trader Joe’s bagels, and Cobblestone Bread Co. bagels, among others.
Ezekiel bread is the ultimate plant-based bread. It is made of sprouted grains and legumes that make highly nutritious and high in protein and fiber. However, although it does not contain flour, it is not a gluten-free bread as the grains may contain gluten.
Therefore, whole grain bread is not suitable for people with celiac disease. There are different varieties in the market, and they mainly vary in the type and range of grains and legumes used.
Sourdough is a French bread made with the four main bread ingredients. The artisan bread is mainly vegan-friendly unless the baker adds milk or buttermilk to the recipe. It is a fermented bread that was traditionally cooked in a dutch oven. It has a tangy and sour taste. Its interior is soft and light, while the crust is hard and crunchy. It is suitable as soup or sandwich bread.
Beer bread is one of the easiest loaves of bread to make. It takes less than 10 minutes to get it ready for baking. It does not require kneading or special baking equipment. It is made with the four main bread ingredients except that you replace water with your preferred beer.
It is made into a thick batter instead of a dough. The batter is then poured into a loaf pan and baked. Note that the beer’s taste, flavor, and color translate into the bread. So use a beer that you wouldn’t have a problem drinking on its own.
Although not required, some people add a thin layer of melted butter on top of the batter before putting it in the oven to ensure the crust is crispy and golden brown. The butter would disqualify beer bread as vegan. Also, note that some beers are not vegan. So, you want to choose a vegan-friendly beer for your recipe.
A baguette is another vegan French bread option. It is a long and narrow bread that can be enjoyed on its own or as an accompaniment for soup, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, or sandwich bread.
Unlike sourdough bread, it is not tangy; although the crust is crispy, it is not as hard. It has a sweet, nutty taste. The standard recipe uses wheat flour, yeast, water, and common salt. They are readily available in most retail stores and local bakeries.
There are numerous variations of rye bread. The traditional rye bread recipe does not contain animal products. The main ingredients are water, yeast, cracked rye seeds, and rye flour. Since rye has a strong earthy taste, some bakers add sweeteners such as sugar, molasses, and maple syrup to make it more palatable. However, some variations incorporate honey, which would make the bread non-vegan.
Generally, Focaccia is vegan-friendly. It uses plant-based ingredients and olive oil in place of butter. Hardly does a focaccia recipe call for eggs or milk. The pizza-like bread is fluffy and moist.
Pita is mostly vegan. It is a type of Indian flatbread made of flour, yeast, olive oil, and salt. However, some chefs and bakers may add eggs, milk, butter, or buttermilk. Therefore, if you are unsure, ask or check the ingredient list.
Although traditionally, tortillas were made with lard or tallow, most commercially produced tortillas in the market today are vegan. You can choose between corn and wheat-based tortillas. However, a majority contain preservatives and emulsifiers. Check if the emulsifier is plant-derived.
Where Can You Buy Vegan Bread?
The best place to buy vegan bread is at a local bakery. Most have multiple outlets that make it easy for you to access your preferred vegan bread. Since most bake daily, you can be assured of fresh bread.
Also, some offer an option for customized bread. For example, finding bread can be difficult if you are vegan and gluten intolerant. But, if you are a regular buyer, you can work with your baker to make suitable bread.
Small Artisan Bakeries
Another option would be artisan bakers. Artisan bread is handmade and contains minimal ingredients. Since they are labor and time intensive, they are produced in smaller quantities. Therefore, they are of higher quality and have better taste and flavor but cost more than mass-produced breads. The bakers know the exact ingredient used, so you can ask the ingredient list to confirm that the bread is vegan.
Some individual bakers bake bread to order, and you can specify the type of bread and ingredients you want to be incorporated.
To find a suitable supplier, search for bakeries, artisan bakers, and individual bread bakers in your area. Do some due diligence by checking online reviews to determine their reliability. You may also seek referrals from fellow vegans you know personally or vegan forums in your area.
You could also get vegan bread in retail stores. Go for reputable vegan bread brands such as Dave’s Killer Bread, Angelic Bakehouse, Little Nothern Bakehouse, Bloomfield Farms, and Food for Life.
Best Vegan Breads: The Brands
Below is a closer look at our top three picks for the best vegan bread brands.
Dave Killer’s Bread
All Dave’s Killer Bread is vegan except for their flax bread and honey oat bread. Although they are not a certified vegan company, its bread meets high-quality health standards such as non-GMO and USDA organic. They are also high in proteins and fiber. You can buy them online on Amazon or at a retailer near you.
Bloomfield Farms is mainly a gluten-free company that also makes vegan bread. One of their most popular breads is the Bloomfield Farms Vegan sandwich bread, which is also gluten-free. It has a remarkably nice flavor and fluffy texture and does not leave an aftertaste like other gluten-free breads.
Food For Life
The Food For Life 7-Sprouted Grains Bread is made with seven types of spouted grains, including barley, oats, rye, millet, whole wheat, millet, and brown rice. It is not only suitable for vegans but also for anyone looking to consume nutrient-dense bread. They also have other vegan bread options like their gluten-free brown rice bread.
It has a wide range of nutrients, is low in sugar, high in fiber, and each slice contains 80 calories. It can be bought at most retail locations. Other vegan bread options include Ezekiel 4:9 breads, pita bread, English muffins, and burger buns.
How Do You Know if Bread Is Vegan When Eating Out?
Some restaurants indicate on their menu if certain foods are vegan. Check the pastries or bakery section for breads that are listed as vegan, and go with those options. If not, ask your server if the bread you are interested in is vegan or not. If they are unsure, avoid the bread.
Is Yeast Vegan?
Yeast is vital in bread recipes as it stimulates the dough to rise. However, is it vegan? Yeast is a living organism. It is a single-celled organism in the fungi kingdom. This classification is neither plants nor animals. As such, yeast is considered vegan.
Which Types of Bread Are Non-Vegan?
- Most enriched breads are non-vegan as they contain butter, milk, and/or eggs. For example, brioche, challah, babka, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, and donuts, among others
- Croissants contain butter and cannot be classified as vegan unless categorically labeled as so
- Typically, shiny bread is glazed with egg whites
- Naan typically contains ghee, yogurt, milk, and sometimes eggs
- Most Italian bread contains milk, making them unsuitable for a vegan diet
- If the bread’s name contains non-vegan ingredients, the bread is non-vegan. For instance, butter crust sandwich bread, Caribbean butter bread, honey bread, honey bread rolls, egg bread rolls, etc.
- Potato breads are non-vegan. Although they do not contain flour and use mashed potatoes or potato starch, their recipes include eggs, egg whites, milk, or butter to improve their structure, texture, and taste.
- Some brands can be vegan or not, depending on the ingredients used. For example, English muffins, some bread rolls, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, sandwich breads,
- Other examples of non-vegan bread include egg bagels, ciabatta al latte, fry bread, Irish soda bread, buttered naan, buttered beer bread, and pumpernickel.
There are thousands of bread types across the globe. However, there is a smaller range of vegan bread options. Therefore, you need to scrutinize the ingredient list of various bread to establish if they are vegan. You can buy vegan bread at your local retailer, local bakery, or artisan bakery or have an individual baker bake one for you.
Alternatively, bake the bread yourself. Some vegan-friendly bread choices highlighted above are easy and quick to make, like white bread, pita, and rye bread. French bread is also relatively easy to make, only that they take longer in the fermentation and proofing stages.