Is flour vegan?
In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Is flour vegan?” and will discuss different types of flour.
Is flour vegan?
Yes, flour is vegan. Flour is produced from crushing different plants. No animal product is being employed in its processing. That’s why it is suitable for vegans, including white flour. There was considerable controversy back about whether bone char (similar to sugar) was used to bleach flour, but this is untrue.
How is flour made?
Wheat and other grains are ground into flour by using a pestle and mortar or stones to crush them into a fine powder. As far back as 30,000 years ago, flour manufacture has been documented by archeological evidence. Grain milling might be the oldest manufacturing process in the world (1).
Milling consists of breaking down wheat kernels, followed by the separation of the endosperm from the bran and germ. The forerunner of the stone mill is the quern, which was made up of two horizontal (circular or conical) stones placed one on top of the other. A tool called a rind supported the upper stone, creating a slight gap between the two grinding surfaces. The upper stone was able to turn, while the lower one remained stationary. With the passage of time and the growth of knowledge, a new method was introduced: roller milling. The process consisted of a hand-powered corrugated cone working inside a curved, corrugated shell. Nowadays, roller milling has become the most utilized method in the food industry. It involves the separation of the endosperm from the bran and germ, followed by a gradual reduction in endosperm particle size, using a series of corrugated and smooth rollers, with sifting between each stage (1).
In addition to wheat, flour may be made from a variety of different sources, including bananas, almonds, chickpeas, coconuts, couscous, rye, rice, and potatoes. Dry, powdery material is the product of all of these methods. Refined or whole grain flour may be made from cereals, depending on whether or not it retains the germ, bran, and endosperm of the grain.
The fact that flour is made from pulverized plants means that it’s vegan-friendly in its purest form. There is, however, the potential for complications when flour is prepared on a large scale, frequently with the knowledge that it must sit on the shelf for many weeks without rotting before it can be utilized. While some of the chemicals in white or refined flour have been criticized throughout the years, they do not prevent the flour from being vegan.
How Come Flour Isn’t Made with Bone Char?
Bone char is unlikely to be used in the production of flour. Bone char is used in the decolorization process of sugar liquor and is one of the steps of the production of refined sugar. Flour results of milling and sieving processes. Milling consists of breaking down wheat kernels. If the aim is to produce whole wheat flour, the process ends here. If, however, the aim is to produce refined white flour, the output is sifted in centrifugal sifters (in small and medium-sized plants) or in plansifters (in larger plants). The centrifugal sifter consists of a rotating cylindrical sieve and a counter-rotating internal paddle that throws the product against the sieve, forcing the fine fraction through, while the coarse fraction tails over. At the end of the process, three distinct fractions are collected: refined white flour, bran, and middlings (1).
Is Flour Made with Animal-Based Ingredients?
It’s impossible to know exactly what vitamins and minerals are in a product unless you get in touch with the manufacturer personally.
The following are examples of additives that you’ll find in almost all flours:
- Reduced Iron or Niacin
- Thiamine Mononitrate
- Folic Acid
Flour’s additives are completely vegan. Many people believe that iron may be obtained from animals, although the type of iron in wheat is normally ferrous fumarate, which is usually vegan.
The fortification of wheat, soy and maize flour is done with the addition of sodium iron ethylenediaminetetraacetate, ferrous sulfate or ferrous fumarate. Mass large-scale fortification of staple foods or condiments is a preventive strategy aimed at reducing the risk of developing iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia through increased dietary iron. It is made in many countries as a public health intervention recommended by the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (WHO/CDC). Other vitamins may also be added to these flours, such as folic acid and vitamin B12 (2).
Definition: Wheat flour is often referred to as “white flour” or “refined flour.” It’s made without the plant’s bran and germ. There is a positive to its adaptability, but a possible consequence is that many of its natural nutrients have been removed. Wheat kernels have three components: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. Most wheat is milled into flour through the mechanical extraction of the endosperm, the core part of the kernel. The endosperm contains the bulk portion of the kernel’s protein and carbohydrates. However, most of the vitamins and fibers are present in the germ and in the bran (2).
Its Purpose: If flour is being utilized, you’ll almost always see white flour. If you’re looking for a thickener-free bread or cookie or cake or even a noodle or tortilla, you’re out of luck.
So, Is White Flour vegan? Yes! According to our investigation, there seems to be no evidence to substantiate the claim that bone char is used in the production of white flour. White flour is now considered safe.
Almond, or Prunus dulcis, a good example of an oleaginous seed, is produced mainly in the Mediterranean region and United States. Almond oil extracted by cold pressing extraction does not require a refining process to eliminate potential unpleasant flavors, representing also a sustainable methodology with reduced environmental impact quality. Almonds are important sources of healthy lipids, dietary fiber, protein, vitamin E, phytosterols and mineral elements. In fact, numerous studies correlated the daily consumption of almonds with health status improvement (3).
Simply put, almond flour is almonds that have been ground into a fine powder. Powdered almonds are made by first blanching the almonds and then grinding them.
The following is an example of its use: Almond flour is often used in gluten-free baking or the production of high-fat baked products.
So Almond Flour Is Vegan? Yup. A gluten-free vegan’s dream come true: almond flour is devoid of animal ingredients, making it a fantastic choice for those who don’t consume meat.
Whole Wheat Flour
A higher-protein flour than all-purpose flour, wholemeal flour has a nutty flavor. There is no bran or germ in this flour as there is in white flour. This is how you should think about it: The entire grain of the wheat plant is used to make whole wheat flour, thus whole wheat flour is the product derived from the wheat grain milling process, before germ, endosperm and bran are separated by sieving (1).
Typically, whole wheat flour is substituted for white flour to increase the nutritional value of a product. Vitamin and mineral content are enhanced if all sections of the grain are left intact.
Enriched unbleached flour
Enriched unbleached flours are those that have had additional vitamins and minerals added to raise their nutritional content. B vitamins, iron, and folic acid are the most common. A product labeled “unbleached” signifies that it hasn’t been bleached in any way.
As mentioned before, fortifying flours, including wheat flour, is a strategy recommended by the WHO aiming at the decreasing of anemia in the population. There are over 80 countries with legislation to fortify wheat flour produced in industrial mills with vitamins and minerals. In all countries where it is mandatory to fortify wheat flour, it is required that the flour includes at least iron and folic acid (2).
The following is an example of its use: Enriched unbleached flour may be purchased at the grocery store like white flour, but it is widely used in ready-made items like cereals, cookies, and bread because of its high nutritional value.
So, Is Enriched Unbleached Flour a Vegan Product? Yes. Supplemental vitamins may not always be plant-based, although enriched wheat often doesn’t include additional animal-sourced components. In other words, don’t worry about it.
In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Is flour vegan?” and discussed different types of flour.
- Cappelli, Alessio, Noemi Oliva, and Enrico Cini. Stone milling versus roller milling: A systematic review of the effects on wheat flour quality, dough rheology, and bread characteristics. Trend Food Sci Technol, 2020, 97, 147-155.
- Field, Martha S., Prasanna Mithra, and Juan Pablo Peña-Rosas. Wheat flour fortification with iron and other micronutrients for reducing anaemia and improving iron status in populations. Cochr Data System Rev, 2021, 1.
- Barreira, João CM, et al. Almond cold-pressed oil by-product as ingredient for cookies with potential health benefits: Chemical and sensory evaluation. Food Sci Human Welln, 2019, 8, 292-298.