What is food without a little spice? Spices are what make a good meal a great meal! Adding salt and pepper for seasoning is fine, but adding a little something hot, spicy, tart, or even sweet, is what will get your taste buds tingling and wanting more!
While most spices are vegan-friendly, some are not. Stay away from any fish-based spices and sauces, as well as any products that contain mayonnaise or whey. Sugar found in specific spice blends could be non-vegan unless certified as a 100% organic vegan product.
When you buy spices, you would assume that they should be ok for anyone following a vegan lifestyle to eat, as spices are vegetable-based products. Unfortunately, this is not always correct as some seasonings, spices, and sauces can be vegan unfriendly! Hidden spices and seasoning are not easy to spot, so know which ingredients to look for before buying your food!
Spice Blends Containing Sugar May Not Be Vegan Friendly
One of the non-vegan items to watch out for in your spices and blends is sugar. Not all sugar is vegan, even though the raw product is definitely plant-based.
White sugar is put through a bleaching process at the manufacturing plant, which involves filtering raw sugar through animal bone char!
Bone char is a porous material derived from charred animal bones. Tasty brown sugar is produced by adding molasses to white sugar, so unless the packaging states that it is 100% organic, brown sugar is not vegan friendly!
Some of the more common spices that we use daily contain refined sugar, so don’t buy them unless they are 100% organic!
Check the ingredients on sauce bottles and even salad dressings before your buy them.
Some salad dressings use honey as a sweetener, while others, like Ranch or Greek Goddess dressings, contain Mayonnaise made from eggs and perhaps a spoon of sugar.
If you cannot find 100% organic products, create your own unique, organic spice blends, seasonings, and salad dressings using the ingredients that you love!
Visit your local market or spice store and choose fresh products. Watch out for hidden sugars and if you must have something sweet in your dressings and sauces, try using Maple syrup as a substitute!
Seasonings Containing Whey Aren’t Vegan Friendly
Spice blends and seasonings contain whey to enhance the flavor and appearance of snack foods. If you strictly follow a vegan lifestyle, whey is a product you should avoid as it is a by-product of dairy milk.
Whey is the liquid substance left over after milk has been curdled and strained.
Whey is unknowingly hidden in many of our daily commercially produced products, from cereal bars and snacks to puddings and chocolate.
Whey is one of the most important ingredients in flavored seasoning coatings used on savory snacks in the U.S. The most popular seasonings are sour cream and onion, cheese, nacho, and ranch.
Whey is in nougat, malted milk balls, toffee, and hot spicy chocolate beverages!
Before you buy any sweet snacks, savory snacks, spice blends, and seasonings check the labels for whey. The ingredients on each product will list whey if it is used at any stage during the production of the item.
Vegans can easily create their own blends of spices and seasonings for homemade products, which are much healthier than commercially produced products, and you can be sure of the ingredients!
Fish Products In Seasonings And Sauces
Although most spices are plant-based and acceptable for vegans, some seasonings and sauces are not!
In Asian cuisine, some fish products are labeled differently from what people in the West are used to; for example, shrimp paste could be labeled “trassi,” making it easy to overlook as a fish product.
Always check the ingredients carefully for unknown ingredients and research what they are before you buy the product.
Although some sauces are manufactured using strictly vegan products, never use these products if you are following a vegan diet:
- Oyster Sauce – substitute with soy sauce
- Fish Sauce – use liquid aminos instead
- Worcestershire Sauce – either red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar instead
- Anchoy Paste – substitute with kalamata olives
- Fish flakes (Bonito) – try algae leaves as vegan caviar!
- Dried Shrimp – replace with beans, roasted nuts, or coconut
Be Cautious Of Vanilla Extract
Vanilla extract is often used to flavor food. In modern times there are two methods used to process vanilla extract:
- The natural way involves soaking ground vanilla beans in a water and alcohol solution to produce the strong, pure vanilla flavor extracted from the vanillin molecule, which is only found in vanilla beans.
- The artificial way involves using synthetic vanillin molecules from plant fibers of the Guaiacum tree.
Traditionally, before modern vanilla extracting processes, Castoreum was used as a food flavoring for vanilla products because it smelled like vanilla.
The problem with Castoreum is in its origin. Castoreum is a substance secreted by beavers to mark their territories! While Castoreum is not used in everyday food products, some “artificial flavorings” could indeed be an anal secretion from beaver butts!
When choosing any vanilla products, always read the ingredients and opt for the naturally flavored vanilla product, just in case!!
Advice For Buying/Storing Spices
The best way to be certain that what you are eating will suit your lifestyle is to buy the ingredients and make your own spices, seasonings, and sauces.
Growing your own herbs is another great way to ensure a steady supply of fresh, healthy organic ingredients.
If you don’t have the time or even the space to grow your own produce, find a local farmers market or fresh spices store where you can source organically grown fresh herbs and spices.
Dried herbs are a great buy if you are buying in bulk.
Herbs and spices are best used when they are fresh, so only buy what you need and avoid stocking up or buying fresh produce in bulk. They will lose their aroma over time and could lose some of their flavors, leaving you with bland-tasting food!
Spices and fresh herbs can be ground together to make any combination of unique flavors. Add oils, lemon juice, or vinegar to the mix to spice up the flavors.
The best way to grind together your fresh herbs and spices is by using a mortar and pestle If you need a good workout!
If you prefer an easier route, try a spice or coffee grinder. You can get this great SHARDOR Coffee Grinder from Amazon, which is excellent for grinding coffee, herbs, and seeds.
Always store freshly ground herbs, spices, and homemade sauces in a clean jar in the refrigerator to maintain their freshness. Dried herbs can safely be stored in glass jars or paper bags in the pantry.