Is sugar vegan?  Unfortunately, sugar in the U.S. is often processed by using animal bone char as a filter. This filtering makes sugar white by removing all traces of molasses.

This is also true for powdered (confectioners) sugar. It’s even true for brown sugar, because brown sugar is made by combining molasses with refined white sugar.

Fortunately, there are many vegan sugars!

  • All USDA organic sugar is vegan (not processed using animal bone). There are also organic light brown, dark brown, and powdered sugars.
  • Evaporated cane juice is also vegan. Just don’t let the word “juice” fool you into thinking it’s a health food–it’s sugar. Many organic sugars are evaporated cane juice.
  • Raw sugar, such as turbinado sugar, is another vegan alternative. Even though raw sugar is a tan or light brown color (because not all the molasses has been removed), it is a substitute for white sugar, not brown sugar.

Many organic and raw sugars have larger grains than granulated (table) sugar. You probably wouldn’t want to use much of them if you’re cooking something with a delicate or light texture. Thankfully, organic fine granulated sugar exists! I also read that you can use a food processor to break raw sugar grains down to the size of table sugar, although I haven’t tried it yet. Will let you know when I do.

  • Finally, the problem is only with cane sugar. Beet sugar, however, is never processed using animal bone. It’s hard to find, because beet sugar is often unlabeled or combined with cane sugar–but clearly labeled 100% beet sugar does exist. I found a GMO-free bag at Whole Foods. Some people don’t notice a difference when they use 100% beet sugar, but others do.

For an excellent, in-depth resource, check out The Vegetarian Resource Group’s article on sugar.