Choosing vegan bread can be a very healthy choice. Vegan bread ensures that there are no animal products or by-products in the food. However, not all vegan bread is what it seems. By adding certain ingredients, those who manufacture vegan bread are actually using animal products. Knowing what those ingredients are can help you choose true vegan bread - not something that just appears to be!
Ingredients to Watch for When Choosing Vegan Bread
When you are searching for vegan bread, don't simply buy whatever says it's vegan. Look at the ingredients to ensure that you really are getting what the label claims. Here are a few things to avoid and the reasons why:
- Casein & Whey. This is incredibly common in foods that claim to be vegan. They are derived from milk and cheese production, which means that are created from the products of animals.
- Ghee. This is clarified butter. It is very common in Indian foods. The butter is of course created by milk, which makes it an animal by-product.
- Lecithin. This is a tricky one, because it might not be vegan, but then again, it might be. Lecithin is derived from two sources: eggs and soybeans. If it is derived from soybeans, you're fine - if from eggs, it's obviously not true vegan. You might be able to find this in the allergy information section if it is not clear on the ingredients label.
- Omega 3. These are derived from fish or plants. If the Omega 3 in the vegan bread is derived from fish, it will likely say that, or will be included with an allergy warning. If it is from plants, you won't see that disclaimer.
- Lactose and Lactate. These items might seem to be derived from milk, but that might not be the case - some of them are derived from beet sugar or cornstarch. Here's the rule of thumb: lactose is always derived from milk. Lactate is often not vegan, thanks to the stearic acid, which comes from animal fat. Since it is impossible to know if these ingredients are vegan, it is best to stay away from them altogether.
- Mono & Di-Glycerides. In most cases, these emulsifiers are derived from soybean oil. However, they might also be from animals or even synthetic products, neither of which is good.
- Dough Conditioners. These ingredients are used to improve the texture of the bread. There are three to watch out for: L-cysteine, which might be derived from feathers or hooves or even human hair; Datem, which can be from either plant or animal; and sodium stearoyl lactylate or calcium stearoyl lactylate, both of which are either from plant or animal. The problem is that whether it is from plant or animal will not be evident from the packaging.
- Cultured Dextrose. This preservative is created from dairy cultures, so it is best to stay away from anything that has this in it.
- Enriched Flour. In most cases, enriched flours are vegan. But you can never be entirely sure, so look for labels that make it clear the flours they use are purely plant-derived. Enriched flour might contain niacin, folic acid, riboflavin, iron and thiamine, all of which are usually synthetic.
Where Can You Find Vegan Bread?
Fortunately, there are many places to find vegan bread. Several specialty grocery stores carry it, as well as health food stores and even some pharmacies. Farmers markets often have a good selection, and some forward-thinking grocery stores now have a vegan section.
A few of the good manufactures of vegan bread include Ezekiel, French Meadow Bakery, Pacific Bakery, Rudi's Bakery, or Food for Life Baking Company.
How to Make Vegan Bread by Yourself
If you can't find anything that you trust to be truly vegan, you can make your own vegan bread at home. Take care to make sure that all the ingredients you use are clearly what you expect, with no additives that could be derived from animals. Here is a good recipe to get your stared:
Total Time: 2 hours, 50 minutes
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
- 4 cups unbleached flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ¾ cups hot water
- Mix together the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Create a well at the bottom for the wet ingredients. Add the water and the olive oil. Using a wooden spoon, gently mix the flour into the liquid until it is all absorbed. Then place on a floured work surface to work it with your hands. The dough should be tacky, but not sticky; if it is sticky, add more flour to get the desired consistency.
- Keep kneading the dough for ten minutes or more, until it becomes elastic. Place it in a bowl and let it rise, covered, for one to two hours, or until doubled in size. Turn the dough back onto the floured surface, then knead it again to remove the air bubbles.
- Cut the dough into two loaves. Place them on lightly oiled pans. Let them rise for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Let the bread cook for 30 to 40 minutes until the crust is browned. If you want bread with a heartier crust, try adding ½ cup of water, sprinkled over the hot over coils, about 10 minutes into the baking time.
Want more recipes that are guaranteed to be vegan? This website can help you create delicious vegan breads: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/seven-delicious-vegan-bread-recipes.html?page. Best of all, you know for certain what is in each and every recipe!