Lo zucchero è vegano?

A few days ago I came across a comment on Instagram that left me speechless: "White sugar is not vegan" . I immediately started doing an in-depth research, intent on figuring out if it was a comment made inappropriately or if it were actually true.

I read several articles, from those in the Huffington Post to blogs specializing in vegan nutrition to come to one conclusion: sugar isn't always vegan .

Refined sugar

The refined sugar , the white one that we generally use and that we find at the bar to put in coffee, is produced with sugar cane or with the sugar beet .

The result is almost the same as the use made of it. The difference is in the refining process . In fact, for the production of sugar from sugar cane, when the cane juice is heated to crystallize, it is filtered and bleached with animal coal .

The animal coal it is a type of charcoal that is produced by burning animal bones.

What about brown sugar?

Brown sugar is created by adding molasses to refined sugar. Therefore, companies that use charcoal to bleach sugar also use it for the production of cane sugar.

Whole cane sugar

The whole cane sugar comes from sugar cane, but does not undergo (or does not undergo in the least) the refining process. In practice, the molasses extracted immediately after the grinding of the stems is left to dry, without being refined with animal coal.

The other sugars

The sugar coming from sugar beet , it is not processed in the same way because it does not require the same discoloration.

For it powdered sugar it is the same as for refined sugar.

The fructose instead, it is generally not treated with animal charcoal.

Does it actually contain bone particles?

It must be said that actually sugar it does not actually contain animal charcoal particles , but it only comes into contact with the bones. Quoting Caroline Pyevich of The Vegetarian Journal : “Refined sugar contains no bone particles. Animal charcoal removes impurities from sugar, but does not become part of it ”.

Personally, as a vegan, this situation still creates an extreme discomfort!

How do you distinguish vegan sugar from non-vegan sugar?

Unfortunately there is no real way of knowing when sugar is treated with charcoal . Indicatively we can say that we should orient ourselves on beet sugar instead of cane sugar .

In the United States, the " organic " (in Italian " biological ") guarantees the absence of treatment with animal charcoal . In fact, sugar certified organic by the Department of Agriculture cannot by law be filtered through animal charcoal. In Italy, or in Europe, I have not been able to find legislation to regulate this aspect.

There Peta he drew up this list of brands that do not use animal carbon but are American brands, which can only be found in the United States.

The only thing I can recommend is to check labels and choose sugar that comes exclusively from sugar beet or alternative sweeteners.

Some vegan alternatives to replace white sugar in addition to whole cane sugar and sugar from beet are:

  • Coconut sugar

  • Maple syrup

  • Agave syrup

  • Stevia

  • Dates

  • Barley malt

  • Rice syrup

  • Corn syrup

  • Molasses

  • Apple syrup

  • Grape juice

Vittoria Tomassini