Summer is here with its heatwave, and all that anyone wants to do is fire up the grill, slap some veggie burgers on the grill, and sit in the shade. But what barbeque would be complete without a tomato, onion, avocado, vegan cheese, and mounds of ketchup on your vegetarian burger?
Is ketchup, on the other hand, vegan? Can you still eat your vegan burgers and fries with the sweet and tangy tomatoey goodness?
Don’t worry: I’m a ketchup aficionado, so I know all there is to know about ketchup’s vegan status. Continue reading to find out if you can keep ketchup on your picnic table or if you’ll have to find a new condiment to replace it.
What is ketchup?
Simply said, ketchup is a tomato-based sauce — an apparently omnipresent condiment. It’s nearly universally liked, from packets at fast-food restaurants to bottles at the bar to trends like ketchup-flavored ice cream.
Despite the fact that it is consumed and loved all around the world, the overwhelming popularity of ketchup is best demonstrated in America. With 97 percent of all families having at least one bottle of ketchup in their pantries and 10 billion ounces of ketchup eaten each year, the United States is a massive ketchup user. (Remember, this is only in the United States!)
What’s typically in ketchup?
“Tomato-based sauce seems a little unclear,” you might think. To which I respond, you’re correct, so let’s go into the tomato-related specifics.
Here are some common components in a tomato-based condiment:
- Various spices
- Sweetener (maybe anything, but commonly high fructose corn syrup or sugar). (I’ll expand on this later.)
- Onion Powder
- Garlic Powder
Yes, there will be some variation in these ingredients, but these are the essential elements in virtually all ketchup.
Is Ketchup Vegan?
We have arrived at the answer to your burning question: Is ketchup vegan? Yes, in a nutshell.
Almost all ketchup contains the components I mentioned before, which are all plant-based. They’re all free of animal products, which is usually enough for most vegans to consider ketchup vegan (but not all the time).
However, like with most things, it is often a good idea to double-check the ingredients. While it’s unlikely that ketchup contains anything more than those basic ingredients, it’s never a bad idea to double-check.
Non-vegan ingredients to look out for
While some vegans will consider ketchup vegan based on those ingredients, other vegans go a step farther in determining what is genuinely vegan.
The presence of brown and/or white sugar is the major concern that some vegans have with various ketchup. Animal bone char is used to filter and bleach a variety of white and brown sugars.
Bone char is created by heating animal bones (typically cows’) to extremely high temperatures and then reducing them to their carbon components. This material can then be utilized as a filter for sugar production as well as a bleaching agent.
While no real bone fragments may be found in white or brown sugar, it is an animal product that is utilized in their production.
Many vegans don’t think this is enough to declare refined sugars non-vegan, especially because not all refined sugar is filtered with bone char (beet sugar, for example, doesn’t require it, and many firms don’t use it at all).
However, many vegans regard any usage of animal products – even if it isn’t a primary component – to be a consideration in determining whether or not something is vegan. It’s truly a matter of personal preference.
Vegan ketchup brands
Given that almost all ketchup is vegan, the fact that I’m going to describe particular plant-based alternatives may seem strange. Shouldn’t you be allowed to select any brand of ketchup and call it a day if it’s vegan?
You can if you want to double-check the ingredients yourself, but I thought I’d make things a bit simpler for you. The choices I will discuss are either certified vegan or all plant-based, even down to the sugar/sweetener utilized.
You’ll have a lot more alternatives if you determine that refined sugar is okay in your book. These vegan ketchup brands, on the other hand, are ones that anybody can enjoy without having to read the back of the bottle.
Heinz Organic Ketchup
Heinz, the world’s most well-known ketchup brand, does manufacture vegan ketchup that is devoid of all animal components, including bone-char-filtered sugar. So, if you’re wondering, “Is Heinz ketchup vegan?” the answer is yes…if you get the organic variety.
Because organic sugars cannot be filtered via bone char, this condiment is entirely plant-based. It’s also devoid of high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to a variety of health problems.
Here is where you can get some for yourself.
Annie’s Organic Ketchup
Here’s another organic ketchup that solely makes use of vegan sugar in its formulation.
Annie’s organic ketchup has a slightly distinct flavor profile than Heinz, with a touch of clove that gives it a warm, inviting feel. There is no high fructose corn syrup in this product, and it is both certified organic and Non-GMO Project confirmed.
Check here to get some.
Westbrae Natural Organic Unsweetened Ketchup
Westbrae Natural Organic Ketchup is the last option for you to consider.
Although this condiment is labeled as unsweetened, it does contain maltodextrin. While this frequently used chemical is typically safe in modest amounts, diabetics should be cautious, especially because the label may be misleading.
You can get yours right here.
Make your own ketchup!
There is also an option of making your own ketchup. The short ingredient list makes this a straightforward chore, and making your own might actually save you money.
The following are the items you’ll need to make your own vegan ketchup:
- ¼ teaspoons salt (or to taste)
- 1 cup tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 4 tablespoons sweetener (vegan sugar, maple syrup, etc.)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
If you want to make this vegan ketchup a bit nicer, consider adding your favorite spice blends, such as oregano or thyme. You may also add some hot sauce or cayenne pepper for a little kick if you like things spicy.
After you’ve gathered all of the ingredients, all you have to do now is combine them in a dish, stir them together, and you’re done! It’s all set for dipping potatoes, decorating burgers, and spoiling white shirts.
Is ketchup vegan? The bottom line
So, what have we discovered? Depending on your definition of vegan items, ketchup is vegan. Even if you are a vegan sugar purist, there are plenty of vegan ketchups to choose from.