Is Maple Syrup Vegan? How Are They Made?
Pancakes and maple syrup make the most beautiful pair for most of us. Yet being on a vegan diet, we hesitate before pouring it on our pancakes. Is maple syrup vegan? Let us quickly check.
Vegans know how sugary syrups may not be vegan-friendly. It all depends upon the ingredients they have. Sugar itself is a controversial ingredient for vegans since it is processed with bone char. Most of the sugary syrups may not turn out to be vegan for this reason.
Your favorite maple syrup is no exception. It is produced by different brands that follow different processes. Hence, we will check all the ingredients of the commonly processed maple syrups to find out whether these are safe for vegans. Also, we will present some of the vegan maple syrup brands and check their ingredients so that you can easily find a healthy and safe option.
What is Pure Maple Syrup?
Maple syrup is given grades based on its color, which depends upon its density and sugar content. The pure and real maple syrup follows the production process of a concentration. It is produced from maple sap or dilution of maple sap products with portable water. The most common ingredients of pure maple syrup are xylem sap, sugar maple, red maple, and black maple.
Is Maple Syrup Vegan?
Yes, Maple Syrup is vegan as although it is produced through extraction, the process doesn’t do any harm to the animals or the environment. Hence, it is known as a green choice by vegans. It is a great alternative to sugar for vegans.
Ingredients in Maple Syrups
The main ingredient of maple syrup is the sap from the xylem of sugar maple trees. It is the source of the finest maple syrup available. Also, there are other common variants of maple trees, which are the sources of maple syrup. If we analyze the main ingredient, i.e. the sap extraction, we will get sucrose and water.
While maple syrup contains these two elements in higher amounts, very small amounts of monosaccharides glucose and fructose are created during the boiling process that generates invert sugar. Pure vegan maple syrupcontains these ingredients while the commercial products may contain honey and other ingredients.
How Are Maple Syrups Made?
The first step is to extract the sap from the maple tree. This process has a little similarity with the preparation of table sugar. Now, we need not confuse maple syrup with the pancake syrup that contains corn syrup and maple flavor. But you can use this vegan maple syrups over your pancakes made from vegan pancake mixes. The real maple syrup is sourced from the maple tree of different species like red maple, black maple, and sugar maple. Then, it goes through a lengthy production process.
Interestingly, the production process differs as the maple tree goes through multiple changes throughout the year. Firstly, one has to wait until the spring season for the trees to get warm and convert the starch back to sugar. The sugaring season precisely lasts for 4 to 6 weeks during summer. Then follow the steps, which are: collecting by tapping trees, reverse osmosis, evaporation, filtration, density adjustment, and finally grading.
Benefits Of Using Maple Syrup
Plant based maple syrup contains 24 antioxidant compounds which can assist to avoid damage caused by free radicals, that can contribute to inflammation and lead to a wide range of ailments.
Below are a few benefits of using Maple Syrup:
1. Defends Against Inflammatory Diseases
Maple syrup contains anti-inflammatory polyphenol antioxidants, thus it can be included in a healthy diet to help avoid diseases including arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and heart disease.
2. It Has The Potential To Protect Against Cancer
While some data suggests that sugar can cause or contribute to cancer in some people, maple syrup appears to be a considerably less dangerous sweetener. This is because maple syrup contains antioxidants that help protect cells from DNA damage and mutation.
3. Protects The Skin’s Health
This natural concoction, which may be applied to the face as a mask contains raw milk or yogurt, rolled oats, and raw honey. These ingredients can moisturize skin while minimizing bacteria and indications of irritation.
4. Sugar Substitute For Better Digestion
Reducing refined sugar intake and replacing it with tiny amounts of natural sweeteners is one of the most important measures you can take to treat leaky gut and autoimmune illnesses.
5. Antioxidants Are Plentiful In This Food
Benzoic acid, gallic acid, cinnamic acid, and different flavonols such as catechin, epicatechin, rutin, and quercetin are only a few of the key antioxidants contained in maple syrup. While most are found in little amounts, others are found in larger amounts, thus the antioxidants may be able to offset some of the negative effects of the syrup’s high sugar content.
What Can Make A Maple Syrup Non-Vegan?
The sap of the maple tree is collected and cooked to caramelize and thicken the syrup. That is vegan all by itself. However, just like with wine, manufacturing flaws might make it inappropriate for vegans. There is ahead of froth on top of the sap after it has been boiled down, and it can be removed in several methods. The use of animal fat is one of them. Lard, which is white pig fat, is the most common one stated by many. That is not acceptable if you are on a plant-based diet.
While the fat aids in the defoaming of the syrup, manufacturers aren’t required to include it on the label, thus many bottles may be misleading to vegans looking for a honey substitute. To defoam maple syrup, you don’t require animal products; vegetable fat will suffice. Maple syrup is vegan when this is employed in the procedure.
So, how can you know if a maple syrup brand is vegan-friendly? Check the labels and search for the ingredient list, much like you would with certain table sugars in the US — which use bone char — and other honey-based pancake syrups. If the list isn’t clear enough, contact the maker.
Below are a few problematic ingredients:
Because it’s derived from bees, it’s another element that most vegans dislike.
2. Butter Flavor
If this milk-derived component is added to the maple syrup, it can no longer qualify as vegan. However, some maple syrups use the word “butter” while remaining vegan-friendly; some of these brands are listed below.
3. Animal Fat
Finally, some maple syrup producers have been accused of using animal fat in the defoaming process. We were unable to verify this as of yet. You should also keep an eye out for allergy warnings on your maple syrup bottle, such as “may contain traces of milk” or anything similar, as this could indicate the usage of a dairy-based defoaming agent.
Animal components, such as animal bone char, are frequently used in the manufacturing of white sugar, which is a deal-breaker for strict vegans.
5. Flavors and Food Coloring
These additives can be found in a wide range of processed foods, including maple syrups. Some of these flavorings and colors, such as castoreum or red food dye generated from insects, maybe animal-sourced.
To summarize, maple syrup is a good sugar replacement for vegans. However, you should always check labels and brands to see if the syrup is vegan or not.
Vegan Maple Syrup Brands
As not all brands produce vegan maple syrup, here are some of the vegan syrup brands that are absolutely safe for you. These maple syrups do not contain any additives or in other words, these are not the fake corn syrups with maple flavor. These are little expensive but pure.
1. Coombs Family Farms Maple Syrup
Coombs Family Farms has been producing this maple syrup for seven generations and they specify the source to be sugar maple tree. With no artificial flavors, preservatives or dyes, and a dark brown color, it is an A-grade maple syrup. The QAI and kosher certified product come in BPA free plastic jug, which is easy to store.
2. Log Cabin Maple Syrup
Log Cabin is a very popular name as it has been making delicious syrup for 120 years. The maple syrup comes in a transparent plastic jar. It contains no high fructose corn syrup. However, the ingredients list mentions the regular corn syrup at first, with sugar following soon after. According to us, this one is corn syrup with maple flavor.
3. Stonewall Kitchen Maine Maple Syrup
The award-winning brand introduces its real maple syrup in a beautiful glass container. The smooth and expertly crafted syrup is rich in flavor and color. Besides pouring it on pancakes and waffles, you can add a generous amount to your homemade granola, applesauce, and even baked beans. You can also pour it over your coffee cake and donuts (check vegan status). This one is vegan, gluten-free, and a little expensive.
4. Butternut Mountain Farm Maple Syrup
Naturally sweet, smooth, and dense, this tasty syrup from Butternut Mountain is a favorite for table and all-around use. This 100% pure Vermont maple syrup is produced while maintaining the health and sustainability of forests. It can make a great companion with your cocktails, cereal, fruit, yogurt, and pudding. The jug is easy to open and store.
5. Now Real Food Organic Maple Syrup
This one is another A grade maple syrup known for its rich brown color and dense texture. It has a deeper, richer flavor than Grade A light syrups. There is a long list of its authenticity. It is a non-GMO project verified, USDA certified organic, corn-free, kosher, low sodium, paleo-friendly, soy-free, and vegan. The price is quite high as compared to the others.
6. Maple Grove Farms Syrup’s
This exclusive product from Maple Grove Farms is basically a low-calorie syrup in maple flavor. Instead of sugar, it uses Splenda as the sweetening agent. There are natural and artificial flavors added to it. However, this fat-free syrup is considered safe for vegans. Packaged into a stylish container, it is a great alternative to unhealthy sugary syrups.
7. Kirkland Maple Syrup
This pure maple syrup from Kirkland has pure A grade for its rich amber shade. When it comes to taste, it is incredible. The product is USDA organic, kosher, and gluten-free. It comes in a 1-liter plastic jug, which is a little heavy in weight. As per the quantity, the pricing is affordable.
Your breakfast table reflects your weakness for sweets and the bottle of maple syrup says it all. Some also prefer having peanut butter (check Jif peanut butter’s vegan status) in their breakfast. Now that you know everything about maple syrup, there won’t be any difficulty in looking for the best vegan pancake syrup.
No more guilt since it is definitely a healthy option to start the day with or to treat yourself any time of the day. Two tablespoons of maple syrup provide you with essential minerals, including calcium, zinc, magnesium, and potassium. Also, keep in mind that it’s ultimately a sweetener, and having it in moderation will help you to avoid the chances of associated side-effects.
My life literally revolves around optimum health and sustainable living by being a devotional vegan. My mission is to create a community of like minded vegans to go forth in creating a better and brighter world for humans, animals and the planet. Just like Gandhi once said: “The greatness of a nation and it’s moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Gandhi
Defoaming Agents that are used in the process of making Maple Syrup is not necessarily Vegan as a matter of fact could possibly be synthetics being used to calm the foaming which speeds up the evaporation process. There are a lot of Maple Syrup Makers who use these Defoaming Agents.