For any new vegans out there, you may be struggling to adapt to your new lifestyle away from the foods that you have grown up on.
A surprising amount of food contains at least traces of animal products, making food shopping a difficult process as you have to search the aisles for vegan products.
You have most likely already realized by this point that nothing can salvage a dry vegetable burger like ketchup. This sticky condiment can add a whole new level of taste to your burger and fries. Ketchup is the perfect complement to dry, plant-based meat.
But is ketchup vegan? The answer to this is actually more complicated than you might first think, but don’t worry, we are going to break it all down for you so you can choose the right vegan-friendly condiments.
The Quick Answer
If you want to keep it simple, then yes, ketchup is vegan. This basic condiment calls for just a handful of components, the vast majority of which come from plants.
But for certain people who are strict about their veganism, not all kinds of ketchup are ok to eat. This is because of how some of them are made. If you are a ketchup-loving vegan, then always go for Hinz Ketchup as this is 100% vegan-friendly.
Is Ketchup Vegan?
While the overall answer to this question is “yes” it can get a bit more complicated than that. The vast majority of ketchup contains tomatoes, vinegar, salt, spices, and a sweetener of some form, typically either sugar or high fructose corn syrup. When it comes to the sugar, things have the potential to turn messy.
The Sugar Issue
It turns out that not all sugar can be considered vegan since a significant portion of white sugar is bleached by passing it through char made from animal bones.
Bone char is a porous, black substance that is created from the burnt bones of animals, particularly cattle. The raw sugar is passed through the charred bone, which functions as a filter to decolorize the sugar.
According to America’s Test Kitchen, it is not possible to determine how the sugar in a product is created just by reading the ingredients that are listed on the label.
Some firms have switched to using granular carbon, which would be vegan, but this is rarely stated on the packaging.
What About Brown Sugar?
Brown sugar is identical to white sugar in terms of its preparation, which involves mixing molasses with white sugar. The only exception to this rule is organic brown sugar.
Because of this, ketchup manufactured with regular sugar might not be suitable for someone who follows a strict vegan diet.
However, PETA believes that worrying about micro-ingredients in food might make veganism seem difficult to non-vegans, which could possibly hamper the cause further down the line.
But as a vegan, you are free to eat however you like, so if you want a product that has not come into contact with any animal parts, then that is fine too.
Also, ketchup that is sweetened with honey is not vegan since honey is produced by bees, making this an animal byproduct.
Ketchup that is manufactured using organic brown sugar, white sugar, or confectioners’ sugar has never been treated with bone char, so these are also vegan.
If you want to stay on the side of caution the next time you buy a bottle of ketchup, make sure to check the label for organic sugar in the list of ingredients. Alternatively, you might stick to vegan brands.
What Ketchup Brands Are Vegan?
Because it is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, which, as a side note, is always vegan, and because it includes elements derived from plants, Heinz Tomato Ketchup, the undisputed king of all ketchup, is 100% vegan.
This is also the reason why Hunt’s Classic Tomato Ketchup is vegan. On the other hand, Heinz Simply Tomato Ketchup and Hunt’s 100% Natural Tomato Ketchup may not be entirely vegan because they are not organic and are sweetened with cane sugar, which may have been filtered through bone char.
Simply Balanced ketchup sold at Target is also vegan and does not include any animal products. Because organic sugar is used in their production, vegans can feel comfortable consuming organic condiments like Heinz Organic Tomato Ketchup and Annie’s Naturals Organic Ketchup.
Bone char cannot be used to filter sugar that has been given an organic seal of approval by the United States Department of Agriculture so keep an eye out for this logo when you go shopping.
Here are a few other well-known vegan brands:
- Fody Foods Vegan Tomato Ketchup
- Sir Kensington’s Ketchup
- Primal Kitchen Organic Unsweetened Ketchup
- True Made Foods Ketchup
Is Ketchup Always Plant-Based?
Yes, ketchup is always plant-based as the key ingredient in the sauce is tomatoes. However, just because something is plant-based does not mean that it is vegan.
As we said above, in some ketchup the sugar used has been filtered through animal bones. This means that while all ketchup is plant-based, not all ketchup is vegan. Be sure to check the label of the ketchup before you buy it.
Because of the naturally high acidity of ketchup, it has a very long shelf life. As a result, it may be kept at room temperature, at least up until the point where it is opened.
To lengthen the product’s shelf life once it has been opened, Heinz recommends that you place it in the refrigerator.
Even though ketchup that has been opened can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months without going bad, there is technically no need to keep it cool.
Because tomatoes and vinegar both have a preservative effect, you shouldn’t have any problems keeping ketchup on the shelf in your pantry. When you notice a change in the color or aroma of the product, it is time to switch to a fresh bottle.
While technically ketchup is vegan, it all depends on what sugar has been used in the product, and how that sugar has been filtered and processed. Hinz and a few other brands listed above make vegan ketchup.
You should perhaps avoid other brands as they will not state on the food labels how the sugar in the product has been filtered, so you won’t be able to tell if it is vegan-friendly.