Can vegans eat bread?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can vegans eat bread?” and will discuss some common types of vegan bread.

Can vegans eat bread?

Yes, vegans can eat bread. Typically, grain is the primary component of bread. Wheat flour, water, yeast, and salt are the four basic components. So far, everything seems to be going well. The truth is that there are many varieties of bread to choose from while perusing the bakery sections. And if you’re vegan, you’ll want to watch out for the fanciest kinds.

There are many animal-derived components in bread, ranging from butter-brushed crusts to sweet, fluffy loaves that often include eggs. A loaf of bread may be obvious as to whether or not it fits within your plant-based diet. Flavorings like bacon, cheese, and honey, for example, are typically included in the packaging’s title and explicitly identified in the ingredients. However, identifying non-vegan permitted chemicals and preservatives with cryptic names may be more difficult.

The global annual production of bread is >100 million tons. According to global bread market split analysis, Europe dominates the market with a share of 53.6%, followed by the US (28.6%), Asia Pacific (10.9%) and Middle East and African countries (6.9%) (1).

How to identify vegan bread?

If a loaf of bread claims to be vegan, it’s generally easy to tell. The ingredient list clearly distinguishes vegan bread from non-vegan bread. A vegan loaf of bread does not include any of the following ingredients: eggs, honey, royal jelly, or gelatin.

In addition, the following ingredients are often vegan, although they are not always. These are examples of emulsifiers, which are products that function to reduce the surface tension between two immiscible phases at their interface, allowing them to become miscible. The interface can be between two liquids, a liquid and a gas, or a liquid and a solid. Most emulsions involve water and oil or fat as the two immiscible phases, one being dispersed as finite globules in the other (2).

There are two types of fatty acids:

·         Mono and diglycerides

Emulsifiers such as these facts are used to enhance texture while also helping to retain moisture in the final product. They are prepared by direct esterification of two fatty acids with glycerol, or by interesterification between glycerol and other triglycerides. Soybean oil is a common source, although animal fats may also be used to make them. They function as a dough conditioner in freestanding breads and rolls to strengthen the gluten which improves crumb softness, crust, and increased volume (2).

·         Lecithin

 Soybean emulsifiers are another kind of emulsifier you may have heard about. Egg yolks, on the other hand, are a good source of lecithin. Lecithin is a mixture of phosphatides which are typically surface-active. In baked goods it is used to assist the shortening mix with other dough ingredients and to stabilize air cells. It is now commercially obtained from soybeans; previously it was obtained from egg yolk (2).

Looking at the label, it’s difficult to determine whether these two components are derived from animals or plants. Try to stay away from bread that includes ingredients like monoglycerides, diglycerides, and lecithin entirely if you want to be sure that your bread is vegan.

Common vegan bread types

A wide variety of bread is made without the use of any animal ingredients at all. Listed below are several popular cuisines that follow the vegan diet:

·         Sourdough

 Flour, water, salt, and commercial baker’s yeast are used to make this fermented bread. It can be made without the addition of yeast and is carried out by mixing water and flour, which is then fermented with homo and hetero‐fermentative lactic acid bacteria. Sourdough can be defined as an acidic sharp tasting mixture of flour and water for the development of bread from cereal flour,especially wheat and rye (3). It’s not unheard of for non-vegan recipes to substitute milk for water, so be aware of that. 

·         Pita.

A flatbread is prepared with a basic flour, water, yeast, and salt combination. Although vegan, certain variations may include dairy, eggs, or honey to give them a different taste profile. Pita bread, a double-layer bread, is consumed widely inMiddle East, theNileValley, and the Arab Gulf countries. It has a low loaf thickness and a short baking time (4).

·         Ezekiel

 Whole grain and legume bread prepared using sprouted grains. This kind of bread is usually vegan and has a higher concentration of protein and other essential elements than regular bread. Bread from sprouted mixed grains could contain all the nine essential amino acids and is low in fat, has no trans-fat or cholesterol and is relatively low in sodium. Scientists claimed that sprouting of grains will take care of the anti-nutritional factors and also circumvent the use of additives and chemicals to achieve improved nutrient content (6).

·         Ciabatta

 An extended flatbread with a firm crust and a light, fluffy crumb. Most of them are vegan, however ciabatta al latte uses milk instead of water, therefore it’s not one of them. It may also contain butter as an ingredient (5).

·         Baguette

 Crispy-crust, soft-crumbed French bread that’s a favorite among bread lovers around. It is made of Wheat Flour, Water, Gluten, Soy Flour, Malt Flour, Yeast, Salt, Sugar (5).

·         Focaccia

Herb-and-fat-topped Italian flatbread cooked in a round pan. Most recipes utilize olive oil as the fat of choice, making this bread vegan; however, a few ask for butter or eggs in their place (5).

·         Kosher bread

Bread that has been certified as kosher. Dairy and meat cannot be combined according to Jewish dietary rules; therefore, many kosher breads are dairy-free to accommodate meat toppings. Some, but not all, of these recipes are vegan since they don’t include any eggs.

The greater the chance that a loaf of bread is vegan, the less processed it is. Savory or dry bread varieties such as flatbread are more likely to be vegan, whereas lighter bread like brioche is more likely to include dairy or eggs, making them non-vegetarian.

There are, of course, exceptions to any rule. Many Indian-style naan flatbreads include milk or ghee (clarified butter), whereas Jewish-style challah bread often contains eggs. As a result, the easiest method to verify that food does not include animal products is to read the ingredient list (8, 9).

How to substitute non-vegan ingredients in a bread recipe?

Insisting on vegan bread is a wonderful method to make sure it is. Even the simplest dishes may be made vegan simply by omitting animal products. Even so, more complex recipes needing non-vegan components may be adapted by swapping in vegan alternatives.

Flax or chia seeds, for example, may frequently substitute eggs in recipes. Try substituting chia seeds or a flaxseed meal for one of the eggs in your recipe. Stir the mixture until it becomes jelly-like, then serve. Then, proceed as if you were adding an egg to your batter.

Aquafaba, the thick liquid made from cooked beans, may be used in place of egg whites. You may use the liquid from a can of chickpeas or create your chickpea aquafaba, which seems to be more popular in recipes. Replace 1 entire egg with 3 tablespoons of aquafaba or 2 teaspoons of aquafaba with 1 egg white.

Olive oil and coconut oil are excellent butter substitutes. An excellent dairy-free option is unsweetened plant milk like soy, almond, or oat milk. The milk-like fluids result from breakdown (size reduction) of plant material (cereals, pseudo-cereals, legumes oilseeds, nuts) extracted in water and further homogenization of such fluids, which imitates cow’s milk in appearance and consistency (10).

Other FAQs about Vegans that you may be interested in.

Can you eat fish on a vegan diet?

d’vegan menu

Can vegans eat cheese?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can vegans eat bread?” and discussed some common types of vegan bread.

References

  1. Narisetty, Vivek, et al. Recycling bread waste into chemical building blocks using a circular biorefining approach. Sustain En Fuels, 2021, 5, 4842-4849.
  2. Igoe, Robert S. Dictionary of food ingredients. Springer Science & Business Media, 2011.
  3. Sakandar, Hafiz Arbab, et al. Sourdough bread: A contemporary cereal fermented product. J Food Process Preserv, 2019, 43, e13883.
  4. Al-Mahsaneh, Majdi, et al. Using MR-FTIR and texture profile to track the effect of storage time and temperature on pita bread staling. J food qual, 2018.
  5. Heenan, Samuel P., et al. Characterisation of fresh bread flavour: Relationships between sensory characteristics and volatile composition. Food Chem, 2009, 116, 249-257.
  6. Onyeka, E. U., and O. S. Obeleagu. Production and evaluation of specialty bread from sprouted mixed-grains. Afr J Food Sci, 2013, 7, 63-70.
  7. Al‐Mazeedi, Hani M., Joe M. Regenstein, and Mian Nadeem Riaz. The issue of undeclared ingredients in halal and kosher food production: A focus on processing aids. Comprehen Rev Food Sci Food Safe, 2013, 12, 228-233.
  8. PANNEERSELVAM, R. AN AXIOMATIC APPROACH OF STUDYING HERITAGE FOOD AND ITS ATTITUDE TOWARDS PREFERRING SOME FOOD HABITS OF THE INDIAN STYLE.
  9. Piñer, Hélène Jawhara. The Sephardi origin of the Challah braided bread. Meldar: Revista internacional de estudios sefardíes, 2020, 1, 65-74.
  10.  Alcorta, Alexandra, et al. Foods for plant-based diets: Challenges and innovations. Foods, 2021, 10, 293.

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.