You finally decided that it was time to switch up your food intake for healthier alternatives. Congratulations! It’s the first step in becoming a better you. Choosing to maintain a vegan diet is often difficult starting out.
You want to continue to enjoy tasty foods, but you quickly learn that many of your old favorites contain non-vegan ingredients. This happens all the time, even to those who have been vegan for a long time.
You have to check everything to ensure that it coincides with your vegan lifestyle. One of the foods that come up a lot is ketchup. At first glance, ketchup appears to be a very pro-vegan food. After all, it comes from tomatoes, doesn’t it?
It’s a common query, so we felt it was necessary to address the mystery surrounding ketchup and its status as a vegan food. What you find may surprise you. We thoroughly researched ketchup and its many iterations to bring you a definitive guide regarding this popular condiment.
What Is Ketchup?
Ketchup is a classic table condiment that is used to spice up a variety of foods. The term “ketchup” generally refers to tomato sauce, although the original ketchup recipe used a variety of ingredients not found in today’s varieties, including:
- Egg whites
Today, ketchup is a tangy yet sweet condiment that consists of ingredients like:
However, the spices and flavors used in ketchup can vary. With that said, they usually include the following:
As you can see, ketchup’s ingredients have changed drastically over the years since its inception. And in our opinion, it’s better for it.
What Is Ketchup Used For?
In the United States and the United Kingdom, the market leader of ketchup is Heinz. The most common use of ketchup is as a table condiment for hot, greasy, or fried dishes, such as:
- Fried or roasted meat
- Mashed potatoes
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Chicken tenders
- Hot sandwiches
- Fried potatoes
- French fries
- Meat pies
- Hot dogs
Ketchup is sometimes used as the basis or an ingredient in other sauces and condiments. This flavor can be replicated as an additive flavoring agent for snacks like potato chips.
So, Is Ketchup Vegan?
Yes, but only if you buy the right brand. Not all ketchup is vegan, so it’s important to know which brands offer vegan-friendly alternatives to the real thing. We will get to those in a moment. But first, let’s talk about what makes some ketchup vegan and other non-vegan.
The primary issue has to do with sugar. As you may or may not be aware, not all sugar is vegan-friendly. The problem with sugar has to do with its production process. Some sugars use animal bone char as a filtering system.
If you’re unfamiliar with bone char, it’s a black and porous material that is derived from charred animal bones (such as those from cattle). Moreover, bone char serves as a filter that decolorizes raw sugar. Fortunately, some manufacturers are switching to a filter system that uses granular carbon.
However, reading the label on the ketchup bottle will do little to tell you what kind of filter was used in its production.
The same is true for brown sugar, too. The only exception is if the brown sugar is organic. As a vegan, you’ll likely want to avoid ketchup brands that contain conventional sugar. It’s also worth noting that ketchup brands that sweeten with honey are equally disqualified from vegan diets.
That’s because honey comes from bees. The best practice is to stick with ketchup brands that use organic sugar, if possible. Organic sugars (granulated white, brown, and confectioner’s) never under processing with bone char.
As such, any ketchups you find that use any of the above-listed organic sugars are safe for vegan diets. So the next time you need to pick up some ketchup from your local grocer, pay close attention to the label to see what kind of sugar it contains.
This is a quick and easy way to determine if the ketchup brand is vegan-friendly. With that in mind, let’s continue our discussion to see which brands are vegan.
Which Ketchup Brands Are Vegan?
As mentioned earlier, the most popular and successful ketchup brand on the market is Heinz. They’ve been around for ages and continue to dominate the ketchup industry. It’s worth pointing out, then, that Heinz sweetens its ketchup with high fructose corn syrup.
You know what that means. Vegan-friendly! What’s more, Heinz uses a bunch of plant-based ingredients in its ketchups, ensuring that you’re investing in a quality product.
However, please note also that Heinz makes a Simply Tomato Ketchup, which sweetens with cane sugar. Therefore, you may want to avoid this product and stick with other Heinz ketchup offerings.
As long as you see organic on the label or ingredients, you should be in good shape. Of course, Heinz isn’t the only show in town (but they are the biggest).
There are many other pro-vegan ketchup brands out there that deserve your attention, including:
- Westbrae Natural Organic Unsweetened Ketchup
- Primal Kitchen Organic Unsweetened Ketchup
- 365 Everyday Value Organic Tomato Ketchup
- Veg’d Organics Vegan All-Natural Ketchup
- Fody Foods Vegan Tomato Ketchup
- Tessemae’s Organic Ketchup
- True Made Foods Ketchup
- Sir Kensington’s Ketchup
You certainly have several options to choose from if you don’t like Heinz for whatever reason.
Is Ketchup a Good Choice for Vegans?
It all depends on what you buy. As we’ve shown, many brands are non-vegan, while plenty of other brands are vegan-friendly. It pays to do your research to see what’s included in the ingredients. When you know what to look for, you should have no trouble picking out the right ketchup.
If you’re interested in learning more about vegan products, such as foods from restaurants, ingredients, and more, be sure to head on over to our info page. There, we fill you in on all the latest vegan offerings from various brands.