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Is Vanilla Extract vegan?

 
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Yesterday, I visited my aunty, at tea time she served us homemade vegan wafer cookies. However, I was quite disappointed after tasting them, she used vanilla extract in them. I wonder if vanilla extract is non-vegan cause it has sugar and I heard that sugar factories used bone char to make sugar. Also, the vanilla contains castoreum! Even as a vegetarian I would still choose not to eat it. How can a vegan use vanilla extract? Being an ethical vegan I think she needs to quit using vanilla extract.

What are your thoughts on using vanilla extract as a vegan?
 
pollinator
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EEK, I never knew vanilla extract had beaver juice in it. I'm not vegan so it wouldn't really bother me anyway because I think the world would stop spinning without vanilla. If it's a problem just get ya some whole vanilla beans and drop them in a bottle of good vodka for a few months, yummmm. I think most people use bourbon, but I like the purer vanilla flavor you get from using vodka instead. Whisky and vodka are vegan, or are they?  
 
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https://veganfoundry.com/is-vanilla-extract-vegan/  looks like your information is mostly out of date.  Vanilla flavoring is more likely to be suspect but the substance you are worried about has fallen way to new industry standards that more closely resemble a home made version.


I am rather confused that you are eating cookies and worried about sugar in the vanilla extract... Was an otherwise sugar free recipe?
 
Casie Becker
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For those vegans worried about the sugar, you are looking specifically at refined cane sugar.  Raw or turninado, sugar beet sugar and coconut sugar are all in the clear.  I am not sure about brown sugar as I don't know where in the process they stop the refining.  I am only willing to follow this rabbit hole a short way down because I am not vegan myself.
 
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Hopefully useful info:

On how vanilla is extracted.
On the rarity of castoreum.
 
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If a person has concerns about vanilla extract, why not make it from scratch?

Buy Vanilla beans at the grocer, buy some vodka, soak the beans in the vodka, strain and keep the vodka which is not vanilla extract.

This is the simple version there might be others.
 
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I buy vanilla extract made from brandy and vanilla bean.   No other ingredients.  

If I find vanilla beans on sale,  i make it the same way.  Can't see any point of adding sugar as I sometimes use it for savoury dishes.
 
Casie Becker
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I'd ask for some recipes but don't want accidentally draw the wrong recipes to the vegan section. Never heard of savory vanilla dishes but I know it works for chocolate and a lot of fruit.
 
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As others have said, true vanilla extract is vanilla beans and alcohol and nothing else. However, artificial vanilla flavoring abounds. I've never met any vanilla extract nor flavoring that had sugar in it, you always must add sugar to the recipes.
 
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Vanilla extract is almost certainly made up of vegan ingredients. As others have said, no sugar; and before anyone brings it up, pretty much all spirits are okay. Beer and wine are the ones you have to check.

For any Canadian vegans, sugar processors in Canada east of the Rockies don't use animal products and the processors west of the Rockies do. Last I looked anyway. I haven't eaten sugar in years.

I started out a dietary vegan, then became an ethical vegan as I learned more, but the hyper analyzing of food ingredients doesn't seem entirely useful to me. You might find this an interesting video.

 
pollinator
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Mark Reed wrote:Whisky and vodka are vegan, or are they?  



One would need to contact the maker and ask if animal products are used.

As a vegan there are a few things I do when I shop. I read the ingredient list on everything sometimes two or three times. Next when it comes to sugar I try to use less and look for sugar with a certified vegan on it. Do I eat non-vegan sugar things like gummy bears or gummy worms? Yes, I do but try not to make it a everyday or weekly thing.

Back to vanilla extract question. Just checked mine and the ingredients are: vanilla bean extractives in water and alcohol (35%). There is no label saying it is vegan but I use it. If you wanted to be sure that the Vanilla Extract is vegan than I would recommend making it. ( "The Homemade Vegan Pantry" by Miyoko Schinner has a recipe for vanilla extract ) There are many thing that I make because: one I known that it is vegan and two I can make it better than what is sold in the stores.

Last note
It is sometimes hard to be vegan and it can be hard to avoid eating something non-vegan. I have learned to forgive myself and say "I will try to do better or find/make this thing vegan".  
 
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