We know that peanut butter contains rich, roasted peanuts, but does peanut butter contain dairy or other hidden animal products? We'll walk you through the full list of this tasty spread's ingredients and the best vegan peanut butter ever.
Many Americans grew up eating the classic PB&J, with or without the crusts, as they made an easy, tasty, and affordable lunch.
If you've decided to give veganism a try, don't worry - this delicious, peanut-based spread is still safe, for the most part.
While some peanut butter brands can contain non-vegan ingredients, most are perfectly fine for vegans to consume. Many natural brands contain two simple ingredients, ground peanuts and salt, both of which are part of a nutritious diet in moderation.
Read below to find out precisely what gets mixed into traditional peanut butter and which brands are okay for vegans to eat.
What is peanut butter?
Peanut butter is a salty and sweet peanut-based spread that is ridiculously good by most people's standards. We enjoy peanut butter on sliced fruit, veggies, or paired with its best friend, jam on warm toast or in the classic American PB&J sandwich.
There are two different types of peanut butter, crunchy and smooth. Their ingredients are identical, but crunchy contains large peanut chunks, while manufacturers puree smooth varieties until none remain.
Peanut Butter Ingredients
Peanut butter is a simple food with a reasonably short ingredients list.
Peanuts are, of course, vegan, as they're a nut - just kidding, they're actually a poorly-named legume. And legumes are a vegan's best friend! Peanuts are full of protein, heart-healthy fats, and a load of antioxidant-rich minerals, like iron and magnesium.
Peanuts naturally contain quite a bit of oil, which you can see floating at the top of natural peanut butter jars. Many traditional kinds of peanut butter also have added palm fruit oil or vegetable oil, both of which are safe for vegan consumption.
Makers often add salt to peanut butter as a flavor enhancer. This, of course, is also vegan.
It may seem strange that sugar is on the non-vegan list, as many vegans consume it regularly, but it's a controversial food in the vegan community. Manufacturers may process white sugar with animal bone char, so some vegans consider items with white sugar to be animal products and choose not to consume it.
You won't usually find sugar in the vegan-friendly, natural brands of peanut butter.
You'll rarely see honey in peanut butter's ingredient list, but it is sometimes present as a sweetener for some specialty spreads.
Some peanut butter includes non-vegan oils in the mix to claim the added benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, which are prevalent in fish oil.
Do vegans eat peanut butter?
Are peanuts vegan? For the most part, peanut butter is vegan, and yup, many vegans eat it by the spoonful!
Vegan diets can be naturally a little lower in protein, so peanut butter is a fantastic source of extra-tasty protein, fats, and other nutrients. Try making a peanut sauce for stir-fried tofu, as tofu nutrition is sky-high - doubling up proteins is a great way to significantly increase vegan protein intake.
What peanut butter is vegan?
While we know that most peanut butter is vegan, it's not all made the same, so checking nutrition labels on your products is especially important. Let's take a look at the most popular types of peanut butter so that you can determine the best peanut butter for you.
Popular Vegan Peanut Butter Brands
The two most popular peanut butter brands in America have plenty of vegan options, but both contain white sugar. If you're a vegan who avoids white sugar, go for the sugar-free brands.
Is Jif peanut butter vegan?
Most varieties of Jif are vegan-friendly, including its regular, natural, simply, reduced fat, whipped, and flavored types, with two exceptions:
- Natural Jif with Honey contains honey, of course
- Jif Peanut Butter with Omega-3's contains fish oils as the source of omega-3 fatty acids
Stay away from these two if you eat a vegan diet.
Is Skippy peanut butter vegan?
Almost all Skippy peanut butter is vegan with a couple of exceptions:
- Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread with Honey
- Roasted Honey Nut Skippy Peanut Butter
Both types contain honey, which is very clearly labeled on the jar.
White Sugar-Free Peanut Butter
- Earth Balance sweetens their peanut butter with agave syrup
- MaraNatha contains two simple ingredients: peanuts and salt
- Justin's Natural Peanut Butter
- Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter
Final Verdict: Is Peanut Butter Vegan?
For the most part, vegans can feel guilt-free slathering peanut butter and eating it up. This tasty spread is a little high in calories but incredibly nutrient-dense, especially if you're eating the most natural types that contain only two ingredients: roasted peanuts and a dash of salt.
If you're looking for vegan peanut butter, read the back of the jar or make a homemade version, and stay away from:
- Any kind that uses the word honey in the name;
- Claims of healthy "omega-3's," which are generally coming from fish sources;
- And anything containing white sugar, or "cane sugar," if that doesn't feel right for you.
Now, head to the kitchen, make a PB&J, and get to snacking!