Thursday, March 4, 2010

Vegans don't eat sugar...

A topic close to my heart (and stomach): SUGAR. I honestly had no idea that most sugar (white refined) was not vegan. My friend Todd mentioned it to me tonight, and I was like, "No way!" Luckily, we've been using turbinado sugar in our sweet treats. I have been trying to buy organic items, when possible. So, when I reached for sugar at Sunflower Market, I grabbed the turbinado sugar. The labeling indicates that it is vegan.  *phew*  If I wasn't allowed to have sugar as a vegan, I might as well end this blog because I wouldn't be able to live without it! I now have to be more cautious when purchasing groceries and eating out, to ensure I am adhering to the vegan principles.

A little info on why regular table sugar is not considered vegan:
Is refined sugar vegan? It depends on how you define 'vegan.' Refined sugars do not contain any animal products, and so by an ingredients-based definition of vegan, refined sugar is vegan. However, some refined sugar is processed with animal bone char. The charcoal is used to remove color, impurities, and minerals from sugar. The charcoal is not 'in' the sugar, but is used in the process as as a filter. Thus by a process-based definition of vegan, refined sugar may not be considered vegan. For those who would prefer not to use refined sugar, there are several alternatives: raw, turbinado, beet sugar, succanat, date sugar, fructose, barley malt, rice syrup, corn syrup, molasses, and maple syrup.

However, if one accepts a process-based definition of vegan, then many other familiar products would also not be considered vegan. For instance, steel and vulcanized rubber are produced using animal fats and, in many areas, groundwater and surface water is filtered through bone charcoal filters. So, is a box of pasta that contains no animal products, but has transported to the store in a steel truck on rubber wheels and then cooked in boiling water at your home, vegan? Under a process-based definition, possibly not. But according to such a definition, it would be difficult to find any products in this country that are vegan.

There is another point about definitions that comes to mind. Perhaps, in the above example, the pasta maker also makes an egg pasta. The same machinery is used, and traces of egg are in the 'vegan' pasta; would the pasta not be vegan?

Again, we recommend that vegans concentrate their attention on the most obvious animal ingredients. In our experience, concentrating on processing or on trace ingredients can make a vegan diet appear exceedingly difficult and dissuade people from adopting it.

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