The answer will bring smiles to many sweet-toothed vegans, Yes! Maple syrup is vegan, but only if it is 100% pure.
Now the question is, what is it about a completely tree-extracted syrup that makes it non-vegan? And how does one differentiate between vegan and non-vegan Maple Syrup?
Let’s find out:
How Is Maple Syrup Made?
Maple syrup is made from the fluid extract of the Maple tree, more specifically from the tree’s sap (xylem sap). There are three common varieties of a Maple tree, all of which can be used to extract the delicious sugary liquid:
The tree sap is boiled which increases the sugar concentration in the syrup along with reducing its water content; thus adding more sweetness to the syrup.
In the next process, the sugar caramelizes and the end product is the Maple syrup with its signature opulent flavour and rich colour.
Is maple syrup healthy?
Though Maple syrup is considered to be a somewhat healthier option as compared to refined sugar; you should still consume it in moderation.
Maple syrup is a healthy alternative because of the following benefits associated with this sweet syrup:
- Having a high riboflavin content, maple syrup boosts the consumer’s metabolic process.
- In comparison with table sugar, Maple syrup will raise the blood sugar at a much slower pace; as it has a lower glycemic index.
- High antioxidant concentration can help the body in battling diabetes.
- High Manganese concentration boosts brain functioning.
- High Zinc strengthens the immune system.
- The potassium content helps in reducing hypertension.
Other than these benefits, the fact that maple syrup is extracted directly from a tree makes it a great source of various vitamins and minerals.
So far so good! Maple syrup is extracted from a tree and so far has contained no animal-by-product, but there is a catch, unfortunately!
Is Maple Syrup vegan
Since most of the white crystallized sugar uses bone char in the refining process and with honey being completely out of the question, it is not uncommon for vegans to resort to this fall-season staple to sweeten their pancakes and use in other recipes.
But the problem is that there is a possibility of this alternative not being completely free of animal-by-product either.
So what can make Maple syrup non-vegan?
As discussed above, xylem sap extracted Maple syrup is 100% vegan. It is the refining stage where the problem arises. Most manufacturers tend to add the following few animal-based ingredients in the final stage of production as a way of improving texture and increasing longevity:
1. animal fat
While boiling the Maple syrup, a lot of foam rises to the top of the mixture. According to Courtney Pool, a vegan nutrition coach; product manufacturers often use animal-fat for countering the foam on the syrup.
And the worst part is that it is not even listed on the product label most of the time since it’s not considered an ingredient!
2. Dairy Products
Yes, traces of dairy products used by manufacturers for defoaming the maple syrup can also make your favourite Maple syrup non-vegan.
Although most of them use vegetable oil, a good defoaming agent, some companies use dairy products to defoam their Maple syrup.
It is important that you remember this information especially if you’re allergic to dairy products, in addition to being vegan. Most companies place allergy warnings on their products which read: ‘may contain soy’, ‘may contain some milk‘, so be sure to check the bottle before buying your syrup. Though you will rarely encounter such brands, you still want to be cautious.
Some sugar manufacturing companies use bone char (grounded animal bones) for refining their sugar. Most vegans, thus, try to avoid white crystallized sugar for this reason.
Now since companies are under pressure to maintain consistency in their product taste and maple syrup, being a natural product, may not naturally always be the same level of sweet, it is common for brands to use sugar or sugar-derivatives to maintain a sugary taste of their product.
Although most brands try to skip this step in order to not lose their vegan market share, you should still check the product label before buying the syrup.
4. Flavour and added colour
Though reputable brands don’t use any additional colour or flavour in their Maple syrups, a few new entrants in attempts of lowering their prices and gaining market share, add some colours and artificial flavours to give the low-maple-content syrup a richer taste. These colours and flavours usually contain animal-based ingredients. You have been warned!
Determining whether your Maple syrup is vegan or not?
Don’t let the information above worry you too much. Most of the Maple syrup-producing brands know how huge the vegan market is and how much love they have for this tree-extracted syrup.
There are numerous brands that produce a 100% vegan Maple Syrup that is natural and safe for consumption.
But if you’re having doubts about the manufacturing process of your favourite brand’s Maple syrup; then, by all means, ask away! You can reach out to them via email, or post your concern on the company’s social media platforms.
In a nutshell, you don’t have to give up your favourite breakfast delicacy because 100% pure Maple syrup is completely vegan. But you do want to make sure that it is actually 100% pure and contains no animal-by-product at any manufacturing stage.
Read the ingredient list keenly, and if still in doubt, contact the brand to double-check their Double check their manufacturing process so you can rest assured that your favourite brand is a vegan one!
After being sure that your delicious sweetie syrup is completely vegan; you can go ahead and enjoy this fall staple with all your favourite recipes, worry-free!