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Is Bread Vegan-Friendly? - All Your Questions Answered

It can be confusing to know which breads you can eat on a vegan diet, as many fresh-baked loaves contain non-vegan ingredients. We've got the low down on the traditional ingredients typically found in bread, and a list of the best bread for vegans.

It's fluffy. It's carb-y. It's everyone's favorite food. 

Bread has a long-standing history in the human diet and is a mainstay in most modern meals, too - there's a reason why we call sitting down to dinner with friends and family "breaking bread."

Luckily, if you're adopting a vegan diet, bread is not one of the foods you have to give up. Traditionally, bread has just a few simple ingredients that are all considered vegan. 

Modern bread-making can be a little more complicated, and some types of bread can contain animal products, like dairy and eggs. But there are still plenty of vegan bread alternatives available to you.

Let's run through the most common bread ingredients and determine what bread is vegan so that you can uphold your vegan diet without losing out on enjoying this delicious staple. 

Common Bread Ingredients

The most basic bread recipes contain four simple ingredients: flour, salt, water, and yeast. So most of the time, vegans are safe to eat types of bread without eggs, dairy, and other animal products baked into them.

But over the centuries, some bread recipes have evolved to be a little more complicated. Certain bread types, like challah and brioche, always contain eggs. Here are the most common ingredients about which vegans might have some questions.

Yeast: Do vegans eat yeast?

Yeast helps the bread to rise and gives it its fluffy texture. While technically, yeast is a living single-celled organism, it's a microscopic fungus that isn't harmed by consumption and is not considered an animal product. It does not fall under the category of things vegans can't eat. 

Does bread have dairy or eggs?

As we mentioned, certain types of bread contain eggs, and others can contain dairy. Both are not acceptable vegan bread options.

Casein is a common ingredient in commercially-made loaves of bread used as a filler and derived from milk ingredients. Whey, butter, and cream are other typical bread add-ins.

Does bread contain honey?

Sometimes, bread contains honey as a sweetening agent, an animal product that doesn't fit into a vegan diet. 

Sugar

Though it's a little rarer, some vegans abstain from eating white sugar, which may be processed using animal bone char. Some loaves of bread contain white sugar for additional sweetness. 

Lecithin

This common bread ingredient is an emulsifier used to improve texture and taste, usually sourced from soybeans, but can sometimes come from egg yolks.

Mono/Diglycerides

These two derivatives are also bread emulsifiers, generally from soybean oil but occasionally from animal fats. 

Can vegans eat bread?

There are plenty of vegan bread brands that are perfectly acceptable for vegans to consume, but not all store-bought versions are safe, even if they seem to be.

Is store-bought bread vegan?

Store-bought bread brands are often vegan, but some contain dairy, like whey, a milk protein, eggs, or other fillers that are not vegan, like the ones listed above.

Paying close attention to ingredients and carefully reading labels will help avoid accidentally consuming bread with non-vegan ingredients.

What kind of bread can vegans eat?

All right, now we know that bread is mostly safe for vegans to consume. Let's walk through a list of vegan breads that are safe and some that you'll want to avoid.

Is white bread vegan?

White bread is the most common bread consumed in North America and the one you'll run into most often at the grocery store or bakery. Soft as a cloud and light in flavor, it's well paired with almost any type of food. 

Manufacturers make most white bread using simple recipes that don't contain animal products. Always read your labels, as even Wonder bread can "contain milk," so it's never a guarantee. 

Verdict: Usually vegan.

Is sourdough bread vegan? 

Sourdough recipes are almost identical to white bread, except for one additional ingredient - a sourdough starter. A starter is a portion of dough fermented by bacteria and yeast, added in small quantities to every batch of baked sourdough. 

Some sourdoughs contain milk instead of water, but it's pretty rare. 

Verdict: Usually vegan.

Is wheat bread vegan? 

Wheat bread contains the same ingredients as white bread, but with the substitution of whole wheat flour for refined all-purpose flour. These loaves of bread are a little healthier to consume, as the less refined a flour, the more fiber and nutrition it maintains.

Wheat bread is vegan in most cases, but look out for specialty brands that add honey for sweetness, and other non-vegan add-ins. 

Verdict: Usually vegan.

Is French bread vegan?

These soft, fluffy white loaves with a firm crust are generally plant-based breads containing no animal ingredients. Bakers make French bread using the essential four bread ingredients, with occasionally other flours blended in, such as broad bean, and the rare addition of milk. 

Verdict: Usually vegan.

Is Ezekiel bread vegan?

Ezekiel bread is a wildly popular, maybe the most popular alternative bread brand, available at most grocery stores. This bread is wheat-based but usually contains a slew of other healthy ingredients like spelt, barley, beans, and millet. The ingredients are sprouted before being baked, which makes them even more nutritious than non-sprouted. 

This bread is free from eggs, dairy, and honey, making it completely vegan bread. 

Verdict: Always vegan.

Is potato bread vegan?

Potato bread is an excellent option for those looking to cut down on wheat consumption while still enjoying bread. Though potato bread is wheat-based, a portion of the wheat flour is replaced by potato flour or potato flakes instead. This bread can be baked both leavened and unleavened, making the texture vary from recipe to recipe. 

Besides the flour swap, basic potato bread is vegan, as it only contains the essential four bread ingredients. 

Verdict: Usually vegan.

Is pita bread vegan?

Pita is a flatbread commonly found on the dinner tables of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures and is delicious stuffed with falafel and tzatziki or scooping up warm, stewed lentils. 

Although pita looks quite different from traditional bread and is entirely flat, it contains the same four essential bread ingredients, but with a smaller scoop of yeast. 

This bread is mostly vegan, but sometimes dairy, egg, or honey are added to flavor the pita. 

Verdict: Usually vegan.

Is naan bread vegan?

Naan is a flatbread, very different in texture and flavor from the pita. This Indian staple is rich, dense, and great for scooping up spicy curries. 

The bad news for vegans is that most naan contains several animal products. Traditionally, this bread is baked with eggs, dairy, and yogurt and brushed with clarified butter or ghee before serving.

The good news is, there are vegan versions of naan floating around specialty supermarkets. 

Verdict: Usually contains eggs and dairy. 

Is focaccia bread vegan?

Focaccia is an Italian favorite, baked upon large, flat pans and topped with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh herbs, like rosemary. 

Italians love their olive oil, which works out well for vegans - focaccia gets its rich texture from oil instead of butter or eggs. 

Verdict: Usually vegan.

Is challah bread vegan?

This braided, rich bread has its roots in religion and is enjoyed by many Jewish households on holidays and as a part of Shabbat. This delicious bread is incredibly rich because it contains eggs and sometimes raisins, honey, or seeds. 

The egg ingredients mean challah is not vegan-friendly, but there are some vegan recipe versions available.

Verdict: Contains eggs and sometimes, honey.

Is brioche bread vegan?

The second French bread to make our list, brioche, is vastly different from a traditional French loaf. This bright, yellow bread gets its color from the metric ton of butter and eggs it contains, making it taste like heaven.

There are vegan versions of brioche available in recipes online or at specialized vegan bakeries.

Verdict: Contains butter and eggs.

Experimenting with Vegan Bread

Although a few loaves of bread are off-limits for vegans, you can find many vegan recipes for any bread you want to make.

Switching to a vegan diet is a great reason to expand your diet horizons and try new, different foods. There are some unique vegan bread varieties; some types of tofu, like silken, can be used to bake fluffy loaves of bread, a practice that's quite popular in Japan.

Many plant-friendly bread makers experiment with different types of vegan bread by switching out flour to chickpea or bean, which ups to protein content significantly. Try out some different varieties and see what you enjoy!

Final Verdict: Is Bread Vegan?

The great news for vegans worldwide is that most bread is friendly for any vegan diet. 

Remember; generally, these types of bread are safe for vegan consumption:

  • White and wheat bread;
  • Sourdough and French bread;
  • Potato and pita bread;
  • And Ezekiel and focaccia bread.

And, these bread types almost always contain animal products:

  • Naan bread;
  • Challah bread;
  • Brioche bread;
  • Biscuits and crumpets;
  • And any bread flavored with honey.

Whether you're vegan or not, it's a great practice to read your food product labels to be aware of precisely what goes into the foods you're eating.

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