Is Baklava Vegan?

Baklava

Baklava is a delicious dessert that has been popular for many centuries. But is baklava a vegan dessert? 

In this article, we will be looking at this dessert more closely to answer this question. Let’s get started. 

What Is Baklava?

Baklava is a dessert that has several different versions from different regions, but it is traditionally a sweet pastry that has a crispy, phyllo dough exterior and a filling of sweet nuts with a sticky syrup glazing the outside. 

The dessert has been around for thousands of years and though it is a popular Ottoman dish, the creation of the dish is thought to be pre Ottoman, with the exact location of its inception unknown. 

Some possible locations of the dessert’s creation include Mongolia, Persia, Rome or Turkey. 

Baklava also has roots in Istanbul as a Muslim dish eaten during Ramadan, but it also likely that the recipe drew inspiration from other countries in which it is still highly popular today, such as in Greece and across the Middle East. 

Is Baklava Vegan?

Traditionally, baklava is not a vegan dish due to two ingredients in particular that are used: honey and butter. 

The main pastry element of baklava is made of phyllo dough layers that are basted with a generous helping of butter or egg wash (though sometimes both are used). 

As well as this, the baklava will then be topped off with a syrup that is usually honey based. 

Seeing as all of these ingredients are animal byproducts, the traditional baklava dish cannot be considered a vegan friendly one. 

Non-Vegan Friendly Ingredients

Let’s take a closer look at the particular ingredients that can be found within baklava that make the more well known, traditional recipes non-vegan. 

Butter

As mentioned, butter is usually used quite prolific in the creation of baklava. If butter isn’t used, it will likely be some other kind of animal derived fat, which- of course- is not vegan friendly. 

Eggs

Eggs

We all know where eggs come from, so it is safe to say that the inclusion of eggs in baklava automatically makes it non-vegan!

Glycerin or Glycerol

This next ingredient isn’t necessarily going to be in every baklava, but it is an addition that is often used in pastry. 

The pastry is a big part of baklava, so you might find that certain versions of it does contain glycerin or glycerol. 

Glycerin and glycerol can be made of plant sources, but it can also be made from animal sources. 

L-Cysteine

Much like glycerin and glycerol, L-cysteine is also often found in pastries as well as breads and products of that nature. 

L-cysteine itself is a plant based ingredient, but the extraction process from which it is made can involve animal feathers or hair. 

It is rare for L-cysteine to be derived from animals, but if you are a stickler for that sort of thing, it might be an ingredient that you want to avoid. 

The Filling

Baklava filling tends to be vegan friendly as it made up of chopped up nuts along with spices, both of which are derived from plants. 

However, any additional ingredients in the filling can very quickly change the filling to non-vegan, so it is best to double-check the exact filling ingredients if you don’t want any nasty surprises. 

Can You Make Vegan Versions Of Baklava?

Yes! It is quite simple to make a vegan version of baklava, as long as you don’t mind veering away from the traditional recipes. 

When it comes to the phyllo dough pastry, simply use margarine instead of butter for the basting process and remove the use of egg wash altogether. 

You can also choose to coat the dough with olive oil- as this is a plant based oil- in order to ensure that it still has the same crunchy texture. 

For the syrup, replace the honey element with something such as agave or maple syrup, as these are plant based products that still offer a similar sticky sweetness to honey. 

Final Thoughts

Baklava, in its most traditional form, is not a vegan friendly dish, but there are ways that you can simply and easily change up the format of the dessert to make it suitable for vegan consumption. 

If you are vegan and looking for a super sweet dessert, then we would definitely recommend putting your own vegan spin on the tasty treat that is baklava!

Brandon White
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