Is Sriracha Vegan? 5 Things You Need to Know
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Have you ever wondered if Sriracha sauce is vegan?
You’re not alone. The answer to this question has been debated for years, and there are still many questions and doubts concerning Sriracha sauce being vegan compliant.
Hey, we agree…. Sriracha is delish and we want everyone to enjoy the spicy, tangy flavor of Sriracha sauce without worrying about whether or not it contains animal products. So here are five things you should know before pouring this tasty sauce over your next meal…
#1 – Vague Ingredient Label
Sriracha is a type of hot sauce that is popular in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Sriracha has become quite common as an ingredient in many dishes and recipes, both because Sriracha sauces are spicy but also because Sriracha tastes good with just about any food you can think of.
Sriracha’s ingredients list includes chili pepper, garlic, sugar, and salt. The original and most popular brand of Sriracha is Huy Fong’s. Their brand started what is today, an almost cult-like following of Sriracha.
The problem with Huy Fong’s Sriracha? Their ingredient list only states the major ingredients (chili pepper, garlic) without specifying whether or not it’s vegan. This makes it very difficult to know if it would be okay for those who follow vegan diets.
It may seem like a small detail but the truth is that most people don’t read every single word on the label before they buy and as vegans, compromising our values isn’t an option. We need to know!
#2 – Sriracha Sauce Contains Sugar
Ok. Sriracha contains sugar. Sugar is vegan….right? That depends. The Huy Fong company admits their sugar is processed with bone char. When asked by vegan, Pete Err, Huy Fong’s customer service replied saying “unfortunately, our product is not vegan.”
What does this mean?
Huy Fong cannot claim their product is vegan for a couple of reasons. One of those reasons is bone char. Bone char is a type of charcoal that is made from the bones of slaughtered animals and is used for filtration and to remove color. Many companies use bone char to cleanse and whiten and give the sugar that pristine, white color that’s so appealing.
But at what sacrifice?
By admitting they use sugar that’s been processed with bone char, not only is this unacceptable, but it also means that Huy Fong supports the meat industry by purchasing animal bones.
Be aware! You may have also seen bone char before in dental products such as toothpaste for whitening, or in hair care products for lightening. Unfortunately, it’s used in processing many products but this information isn’t usually on labels. One thing we know for sure…you don’t want it in your Sriracha sauce.
#3 – Vinegar Type and Origin
The second reason Huy Fong can’t claim their Sriracha is vegan is because of the vinegar used in the sauce. While the Huy Fong Siracha clearly states that their sauce contains vinegar, they don’t disclose where they get their vinegar and how that vinegar is produced. Many types of vinegar are made from wine that has possibly been produced using isinglass.
What is isinglass?
It’s an animal product, obtained usually from sturgeon or other fish and used in making jellies and glue. This substance, which is a type of collagen, is found in and obtained from the dried swim bladders of these fish.
Wine and beer manufacturers often use the collagen obtained from these fish swim bladders for the clarification or “fining” of their product. In turn, wines that use isinglass for clarification can then be fermented into vinegar. That vinegar is then used in a multitude of products. Is this type of vinegar used in Sriracha sauce? Once again, we don’t know because of their vague ingredient list.
We do know that except for basic white vinegar – made from simple alcohol, most other kinds of vinegar are made from wines or beer that potentially use isinglass. This leads one to think that isinglass is very possibly used in producing the vinegar found in Sriracha.
#4 – Genuine Vegan Sriracha Sauces
Don’t worry! All is not lost…
Several Srirachas that are vegan are listed below. Please note that many of these vegan Srirachas use either organic dates or raisins for adding sweetness as opposed to processed sugar with bone char.
Also notice, some of these recommended Srirachas use “organic sugar.” Organic sugar that is certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture cannot be filtered through bone char. If your condiments list “organic sugar” on the label, you can rest assured, it’s vegan.
But what about the vinegar?
As with the sugar and bone char issue, these vegan Srirachas have gone the extra mile and used “distilled white vinegar.” Distilled vinegar is made from plants such as apples, grapes, or barley. The vinegar issue arises when vinegar is made from wine or cider vinegar.
Here are some vegan Srirachas you can feel comfortable with trying:
- Natural Value Organic Sriracha
- Yellowbird Organic Sriracha
- Organicville Sriracha
- Kitchen Garden Farm
These vegan Srirachas contain ingredients, most of which are organic, such as jalapeno peppers, water, sugar, distilled vinegar, salt, garlic powder, dates, raisins, distilled vinegar, garlic, sea salt, tangerine, and/or lime juice concentrate.
#5 – Sriracha Options
If you want to be 100% certain that you’re using vegan Sriracha, why not make your own?
Sriracha is usually made with simple ingredients and red chili peppers which are found in most grocery stores. By sourcing the ingredients yourself, you can choose vegan sugar or alternate sweetening agents (dates, raisins, etc.) as well as vinegar and enjoy your meal knowing it is truly vegan and cruelty-free. There are many Sriracha recipes easily found on the internet.
Don’t have time to make your own?
Want to branch out, avoid the whole Sriracha issue, and add even more flavor to your food? Try some of these spicy, vegan brands and flavors to add some zip to your favorite vegan dishes:
- Frank’s RedHot
- The Original Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce
All these brands are well-known for being vegan compliant.
Nothing But Vegan Sriracha!
Sriracha sauce is a tasty, hot condiment that has taken the “foodie” community by storm. Vegans enjoy their food as much as the next person and Sriracha has become very popular in this community as well. But being vegan comes with responsibility and as conscientious vegans, it’s up to us to make sure we know every ingredient in our foods meets our standards.
We are committed to avoiding animal products at all costs. Yes, this even includes our Sriracha sauce. Try some of the vegan sriracha sauces listed in this article or make your own. Above all, it’s always important to read labels carefully when purchasing Srirachas. You just never know when ingredients like bone char or fish swim bladders could sneak into an otherwise vegan product.
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