Sourdough bread has become incredibly popular, especially following the first months of the pandemic when everyone suddenly decided to turn their home into a bakery. But how does this differ from normal bread? Is Sourdough Bread Vegan?
Sourdough is a form of bread made from the fermentation of dough instead of using store-bought yeast. Compared to normal bread, it has a sour taste and tons of health benefits. Just to mention a few, it’s easier to digest, more nutritious, has a lower glycemic index, and contains less gluten. But is sourdough suitable for a plant-based diet? Let’s find out!
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Can you eat sourdough bread on a vegan diet?
Sourdough is usually made from four main ingredients, flour, salt, water, and a sourdough starter, which usually consists of flour and water. However, nowadays, there are several products on the market containing all sorts of animal-derived ingredients which are still labeled as sourdough. This is why it is always fundamental to pay attention!
Things to watch out for when buying sourdough
Enriched sourdough: Many brands tend to enrich their sourdough with ingredients that are not fully vegan, such as milk, eggs, or butter. To see whether the brand you chose is among these, you will have to check out each ingredient. On average, the less the better.
Sweetened sourdough: Unfortunately, some brands also decide to smooth the sourness of their products by adding sweeteners. Even though most of these are suitable for vegan diets, others aren’t. The most common one among these is honey, so always read your label to make sure this ingredient has not been added to the mix.
Sourdough starters: As we mentioned above, a traditional sourdough starter should be composed of only flour and water. However, some companies add other non-vegan food to boost its activity, such as honey and milk. Unfortunately, many brands simply list ‘sourdough starter’ among their ingredients. Whether or not you decide to consume these products depends on your level of strictness.
Artificial flavors: There is no way to know whether artificial flavors were made by using animal products, so always try to avoid these ingredients when buying items from your local supermarket.
Mono-glycerides and diglycerides: Mono-glycerides and diglycerides are forms of fat often used to modify the texture of sourdough and preserve its moisture. Unfortunately, even though they often come from soybean oil, they can also be animal-based.
Lecithin: Similarly to mono-glycerides and diglycerides, Lecithin is often derived from soybeans. However, in some instances, it may come from egg yolks.
Datem: Datem, also known as E472e, is an emulsifier that can be derived from animals.
Questions to ask your baker
Ok, now you know how to get one hundred percent vegan sourdough bread when buying from a supermarket. But what if you get your bread from a baker? There are a few questions you may want to ask, to make sure the products are fully plant-based.
- First of all, ask whether their sourdough is enriched and, if yes, with what.
- Second, check whether it has been sweetened with honey or other animal products. If you are very strict with your diet, you may also want to ask what their loaf tins are usually greased with. Some bakers, in fact, use animal fat and you definitely want to avoid that.
- You may also want to ask if they tend to butter their bread after it comes out of the oven and whether they fed their sourdough starters with anything besides flour and water.
This way, you’ll be one hundred percent sure that these products are suitable for a plant-based diet.
A few sourdough types suitable for vegans
Injera: Injera is a flatbread that may resemble a sponge in texture. This product is typical of some countries in Africa including Ethiopia, Eritrea, and some areas of Sudan. Injera is fully vegan and is usually made from teff.
Pumpernickel: Pumpernickel is a typical product from Germany consisting of dense and sweet rye bread. This product is fully vegan, so you can enjoy it without worrying.
Borodinsky: Borodinsky is a sweet originally from Russia. This dark rye bread is sweetened with molasses and decorated with coriander and caraway seeds.
A few sourdoughs to avoid
Panettone: Panettone is an Italian sweet often made for the Christmas period. Unfortunately, it is not suitable for a vegan diet as it features lard among its ingredients. However, this product is so popular that nowadays you can easily find vegan-friendly options.
Sourdough milk bread: As the name suggests, sourdough milk bread is unfortunately not suitable for a vegan diet. This is a product typical of Asian cuisine and includes animal-derived ingredients such as butter, milk, and, at times, honey.
A few replacement suggestions to make your own plant-based sourdough
If after all this talking about sourdough, you feel a certain level of nostalgia for the early months of the pandemic, when we all spend our days stuck at home baking all sorts of goods, this is the section for you!
In fact, we decided to give you a few plant-based replacement suggestions to make whatever type of sourdough you want from the comfort of your kitchen! So, roll up your sleeves, and let’s start!
If your recipe asks you to add buttermilk, you can simply replace this ingredient with a drizzle of lemon juice and your favorite non-dairy milk. The quantities are roughly one tablespoon of lemon juice per 250 grams of vegan milk.
Do you need to use butter? No problem! You can opt for any vegan butter available on the market or a number of oils ranging from sunflower oil to walnut oil, and coconut oil. Just put the same amount required in the original recipe.
A great substitute for eggs is flax or chia seeds. Simply put one spoon of seeds in three cups of water and voilá! Your egg substitute is ready! Of course, you can also use the almighty aquafaba!
Honey can easily be replaced by all sorts of vegan sweeteners such as molasses, agave syrup, and maple syrup, while instead of milk you can opt for any sort of non-dairy milk available to you.
So, is sourdough bread vegan?
As often in the vegan world there is no easy answer. To put it as simply as possible, yes, traditional sourdough is vegan as it is made from three main ingredients, water, salt, and flour. However, it is always important to check all the ingredients on the labels of the products you buy at your local store and ask your waiter or baker for extra information as many brands use animal-derived ingredients in their bread.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is all sourdough bread vegan?
Unfortunately, no. Many brands often include sweeteners and other animal-derived products in their ingredients. However, traditional sourdough is vegan as it is made from water, salt, and flour.
Is Boudin sourdough bread vegan?
According to Boudin Bakery’s official website, their sourdoughs are made from unbleached flour, pure water, salt, and some of the original mother dough. Unfortunately, they do not specify whether their original mother dough contained animal-derived products, so if you decide to visit Boudin make sure to ask their employees.
Is Panera sourdough bread vegan?
This depends on the option you choose. For instance, Panera’s classic, rustic, and whole-grain sourdoughs are vegan. However, they also have non-vegan bread, so don’t hesitate to ask the staff for clarification.
Is San Luis sourdough bread vegan?
Yes, San Luis sourdough is fully vegan! It does not contain any animal-derived ingredients.