What syrup is vegan?

Many syrups that people commonly use contain animal products or animal-derived ingredients. However, there are a number of syrups that are completely vegan and animal product-free. For vegans and those avoiding animal products, knowing which syrups are vegan-friendly is important for buying the right products and avoiding ingredients that go against vegan ethics. In this article, we will look at what makes a syrup vegan, discuss common syrups that are not vegan, and provide an overview of popular vegan syrup options.

What Makes a Syrup Vegan?

For a syrup to be vegan, it must not contain any animal products or animal-derived ingredients. Here are some things to look for when determining if a syrup is vegan:

  • No dairy ingredients like milk, cream, butter, or whey
  • No eggs or egg products
  • No honey or beeswax
  • No gelatin or other animal-based gelling agents
  • No carmine or other food colorings derived from insects
  • No ingredients derived from animals, like bone char sugar or lanolin

Syrups that only contain plant-based ingredients like sugar, water, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and spices can be considered vegan. When in doubt, check the ingredient list on a syrup’s packaging to confirm that no animal products are included.

Common Non-Vegan Syrups

Many popular pancake syrups that can be found in supermarkets contain non-vegan ingredients. Here are some of the most common types of syrup that are not vegan:

Maple syrup

True maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees, which would make it seem vegan. However, some maple syrup producers use animal products to filter the sap, meaning those syrups would not be vegan-friendly. Gelatin, egg whites, and milk protein are sometimes used as filtering agents. When buying maple syrup, look for ones that are explicitly marked as vegan or vegetarian.

Honey syrup

Honey is an animal product made by bees, so pure honey syrup is never vegan. Syrups flavored with honey, like honey maple syrup or honey nut syrup, would also not be vegan.

Butter-flavored syrup

Many butter-flavored and buttery syrups contain dairy-derived butter or butter oil. Some brands even mix maple syrup with butter for a sweet, creamy flavor. Always check the ingredients list for butterfat, butter oil, milk fat, or any other dairy derivatives.

Caramel syrup

Caramel syrup has a high risk of containing dairy ingredients. Some brands add cream, milk, or butter to their caramel syrup recipe for extra richness. Caramel coloring derived from milk may also be used. When buying caramel syrup, opt for dairy-free varieties made with only vegan ingredients.

Chocolate syrup

Many popular chocolate syrups contain milk or cream for a creamy consistency and color. Brands like Hershey’s chocolate syrup use dairy ingredients like milk and cream. Check ingredient lists carefully to avoid chocolate syrups with hidden milk ingredients.

Popular Vegan Syrups

While many traditional syrups are off-limits for vegans, there are now more vegan syrup options available than ever before. Here are some of the most popular types of vegan-friendly syrup:

Maple syrup

As mentioned earlier, pure maple syrup without added animal ingredients can be vegan. Look for organic maple syrup or brands that are labelled as vegan. Once filtered without animal products, maple syrup is an all-natural vegan option.

Agave syrup

Agave syrup is made from the concentrated sap of the agave plant. With its neutral flavor, agave syrup is a great liquid sweetener for beverages, baked goods, and more. All agave syrup is vegan by nature.

Brown rice syrup

Brown rice syrup is a mildly sweet syrup made by breaking down brown rice starch into maltose. It has a light golden color and glossy texture. Brown rice syrup gives a smooth sweetness in recipes and is always vegan.

Coconut syrup

Coconut syrup is made from the reduced sap of coconut palm trees. It has a deep caramelized flavor and high nutrition content. Coconut syrup is usually organic and vegan.

Fruit syrups

Syrups made from fruit extracts or fruit purees are typically vegan, though it’s best to always check labels. Common fruit syrup flavors include peach, raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, cherry, and more.

Vanilla syrup

Vanilla syrup flavored with real vanilla beans or extracts, rather than artificial vanilla, can be vegan. Steer clear of syrups containing beeswax as an ingredient.

Nut syrups

Syrups like almond syrup, hazelnut syrup, and pecan syrup made from crushed nuts and water are delicious vegan options. They can be used similarly to nut milks.

Coffee syrups

Many coffee syrups, including flavors like mocha, hazelnut, French vanilla, and caramel, are vegan-friendly. Check that the syrup uses no dairy, egg, or animal-derived ingredients.

How to Tell if a Syrup is Vegan

When confronted with an unfamiliar syrup brand or variety, here are some tips for assessing if it’s vegan:

  • Examine the ingredient list for any animal-derived ingredients like milk, honey, eggs, gelatin, whey, casein, beeswax, carmine, etc.
  • Look for vegan certification symbols from Vegan Action, Vegan.org, or PETA on the packaging
  • Contact the manufacturer directly if you cannot find detailed ingredient information
  • Purchase organic or “pure” syrup varieties to help avoid hidden animal ingredients
  • Opt for syrups made by brands known for vegan products
  • Avoid syrups described as “buttery”, “creamy”, or “caramel” as these often contain dairy

Being vigilant about labels and calling brands with questions can help ensure you choose truly vegan syrups.

Health Benefits of Vegan Syrup

Going with vegan syrup options doesn’t just align with vegan ethics, it can also offer some health upsides:

  • More vitamins and minerals: Fruit-based syrups deliver more vitamins and antioxidants compared to artificial pancake syrups.
  • No cholesterol: Dairy-free vegan syrups contain no cholesterol.
  • Less saturated fat: Syrups without butter or cream are lower in unhealthy saturated fats and trans fats.
  • Lower calorie: Some vegan syrups like maple and agave have lower calorie counts per serving than syrups with added fat and dairy ingredients.
  • Non-GMO: Many organic, high-quality vegan syrups avoid GMOs.
  • No antibiotics or hormones: Maple syrup and other plant-based syrups do not contain traces of antibiotics and hormones found in some dairy-based syrups.

Switching to vegan syrup options can eliminate some of the health downsides of traditional syrup choices.

Tips for Using Vegan Syrups

You can use vegan syrups in any way you would normally use maple syrup, chocolate syrup, caramel sauce, honey, and other standard syrups. Here are some tips:

  • Drizzle vegan syrup over vegan pancakes, waffles, crepes, French toast, and breakfast cereals.
  • Sweeten coffee, tea, oat milk, smoothies, and other drinks with a splash of vegan syrup.
  • Use in baking things like muffins, breads, cakes, and cookies.
  • Create homemade dairy-free ice cream sundaes with fruit and vegan chocolate or caramel syrup.
  • Mix with soy or coconut yogurt for a parfait.
  • Thin with a bit of non-dairy milk for a sauce consistency to top cakes or desserts.
  • Blend into smoothie bowls.
  • Whisk vegan nut syrups into pancake batter before cooking.

Vegan syrups can be substituted 1:1 for non-vegan varieties in all types of recipes, both sweet and savory. Get creative with these versatile syrups!

Best Brands for Vegan Syrup

It can be tricky finding vegan-friendly syrups amidst all the traditional non-vegan options lining store shelves. Here are some recommended brands to look for:

  • Maple Valley – Offers organic maple syrup and coconut palm syrup that are certified vegan.
  • Coombs Family Farms – Produces pure maple syrup and maple-flavored syrups that are vegetarian and vegan.
  • Wholesome Sweeteners – Sells organic agave, coconut, fruit, and amber syrups that are certified vegan.
  • B&G Foods – Makes vegan-certified maple, blueberry, and boysenberry syrup under the Mrs. Butterworth’s brand.
  • Flavorchem – Produces vegan syrup flavor concentrates used in many major syrup brands.
  • DaVinci Gourmet – Offers extensive lines of vegan coffee, caramel, vanilla, hazelnut, and other sugar-free syrup flavors.
  • Torani – Specializes in coffee and flavor syrups, many of which are marked vegan.
  • Monin – Makes vegan-labeled fruit, vanilla, caramel, and nut syrups.

Companies like these make it easier for vegans to enjoy delicious syrup without compromise.

Simple Vegan Syrup Recipes

Making homemade vegan syrup is an easy, affordable option. Here are two simple recipes to try:

Fruit Syrup

  • 2 cups chopped fruit like strawberries, blueberries, or cherries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  1. Combine fruit, water, and sugar in a small saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes until thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and puree using an immersion blender or regular blender.
  5. Pour through a strainer and discard solids. Let cool before serving.
  6. Store syrup in an airtight container in the fridge up to 2 weeks.

Vanilla Almond Syrup

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • Pinch of sea salt
  1. In a high-speed blender, blend almonds and water on high until creamy and milk-like.
  2. Strain almond milk through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth, squeezing to extract as much liquid as possible.
  3. Pour almond milk back into blender. Add vanilla bean seeds scraped from pod or vanilla extract. Blend briefly to incorporate.
  4. Add maple syrup and salt. Blend again until fully mixed together.
  5. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Keeps refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Making your own vegan syrups allows you to avoid any hidden animal ingredients for the true vegan deal. Get creative with fruit, spice, coffee, and nut flavors in your own syrup recipes.

Potential Pitfalls of Vegan Syrups

While vegan syrups have some advantages over traditional options, there are a few potential downsides to keep in mind:

  • High in sugar and calories – all syrups are concentrated sources of sugar, so moderation is key.
  • Less protein – dairy-based syrups offer some protein, while most vegan syrups have little to none.
  • Fewer healthy fats – some butter and cream-containing syrups provide beneficial fats, unlike many vegan versions.
  • Pricier – specialty vegan syrups can be more expensive than regular brands.
  • Additives – some low-calorie or sugar-free syrups use artificial sweeteners and thickening agents.
  • High glycemic index – the sugars in agave and rice syrup may spike blood sugar quickly.
  • Free radicals – certain all-natural syrups like maple and coconut are high in antioxidants, while some fruit syrups are not.

As with any sweetener, vegan syrup is best enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Be mindful of portion sizes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is corn syrup vegan?

Yes, corn syrup is vegan. It is made by processing cornstarch with acids or enzymes. There are no animal ingredients used. Be aware some brands may use bone char in processing, so organic corn syrup is a safer bet for vegans.

Is golden syrup vegan?

Yes, golden syrup, which is made from sugar cane, is normally vegan. Lyle’s Golden Syrup contains no animal-derived ingredients. However, some golden syrup brands do use animal bone char in processing, so check sources.

Is rice malt syrup vegan?

Yes, rice malt syrup, also known as brown rice syrup, is vegan. It is made by exposing cooked rice to enzymes that break down the starches into maltose. No animal products are used.

Can you make vegan pancake syrup?

Yes, there are many ways to make vegan pancake syrup at home. Options include fruit syrups, maple syrup, coconut nectar, brown rice syrup mixed with vanilla, and blended dates sweetened with maple syrup. Get creative with all-natural ingredients!

What is the healthiest vegan syrup?

Some of the healthiest vegan syrup options include 100% pure maple syrup, coconut palm syrup, and fruit-based syrups without added sweeteners. They provide beneficial nutrients and antioxidants without unhealthy additives. But all syrups still need to be used in moderation.

The Bottom Line

There are many great tasting syrups that align with vegan principles and avoid animal-derived ingredients. From fruit syrups to maple syrup, agave to coconut nectar, vegans have delicious options for topping waffles, pancakes, ice cream, and other breakfast and dessert foods. By reading labels carefully and knowing what to look for, it is easy to find vegan syrups at the store or make your own versions at home. Satisfy your sweet tooth without compromising your vegan diet by using or making healthy, cruelty-free vegan syrups.

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