Is Yeast Vegan?

Is Yeast Vegan

Yeast plays an important role in many processes from baking to fermenting. For those who prepare bread regularly, it is a common item found in your pantry. 

However, yeast is also one of the most mysterious ingredients, which has some questioning whether it is made from plants or animals. 

Following a vegan diet means you have to stay away from foods containing animal products, but since yeast is referred to as an ‘organism’ does this make it an animal?

Luckily for you, by large, yeast is considered suitable for vegans. 

To help you further understand why yeast is vegan, we have composed a detailed guide on everything you need to know about yeast and its role in a vegan diet. 

Let’s get started.

What Is Yeast?

Yeast is considered a single-celled fungus that typically grows on plant surfaces and soil. 

There are many varieties of yeasts, and while some are harmful to human consumption, others play a beneficial role in food and drink production.

For example, yeast helps bread, wine, and beer leaven or ferment. Plus, it can also be added to foods to enhance the textures – this is prominent in the cheese industry. 

Yeast is naturally high in vitamin B, and can sometimes be modified to include additional minerals and vitamins. 

Why Yeast Is Vegan

Since yeast is considered a living organism, many people mistakenly believe it to be an animal product. 

However, unlike animals, yeast doesn’t contain a nervous system. This means they don’t experience pain – differentiating the ingredient from living animals. 

Therefore, as yeast doesn’t suffer or involve any animal cruelty or exploitation, it is typically considered suitable for vegans. 

Although, a small minority of strict vegans may remain to avoid it since it is considered a living organism. 

Different types of yeast, such as nutritional yeast, are popular in a vegan diet since they add a meaty, umami, or cheesy flavor to meals without requiring animal products. Plus, the added nutrients make it a win-win!

Different Types of Yeast

As previously mentioned, there are hundreds of different types of yeast: both active and inactive. 

The most common types of yeast are brewer’s and baker’s yeast. 

Baker’s Yeast

Baker’s Yeast

Baker’s years, otherwise known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae) is most commonly used in the food industry. 

Essentially, when the strain is added, it converts carbohydrates into alcohol and carbon dioxide. 

This alcohol evaporates and then the carbon dioxide helps the dough to leaven or rise. It is an active yeast and can’t be consumed on its own. 

Brewer’s Yeast

This type of yeast is pasteurized and deactivated to help brew alcohol. 

It is wide in variety, with each type lending both textures and flavors to different types of alcohol. 

As it is deactivated, the yeast can be consumed on its own. Plus, it is high in both chromium and vitamin B. 

Brewer’s yeast can be grown on malt or barley, each producing different nutritional content. 

What Is Nutritional Yeast?

This is the most popular and widely used form of yeast – it is the pasteurized, dried, and deactivated variety of S.Cerevisiae. 

It contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Folic acid, selenium, niacin, zinc, beta-glucans, and thiamine play an important role in immuno-stimulating the body. 

It is also known for its antibacterial and antiviral properties – making it a staple ingredient in many vegan diets. 

What Is Extract Yeast?

This is a type of concentrated nutritional yeast. Generally speaking, it contains the cell contents of yeast without the cell walls; hence, it is usually found in the form of paste. 

Unlike other yeasts, it contains a very pungent, umami flavor – making it a popular ingredient in many vegan recipes. 

For instance, it can be commonly found in Marmite and Vegemite – both products being suitable for vegans. 

Final Thoughts…

From your fermented pickles to fluffy bread, yeast has a bigger role in all your favorite foods than you may realize.

Yeast is considered a fungus; thus, it is suitable for vegan consumption. With a huge variety of yeast, each contains a different purpose and provides a different taste to foods. 

Many people confuse yeast as being an animal product since it is a single-celled organism. However, unlike animals, yeast does not contain a nervous system – meaning it can’t experience pain. 

For this reason, yeast is considered suitable for vegan consumption. 

Brandon White
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