Is Flour Vegan?

Flour is a key ingredient in so many foods. Think baked goods like apple pie, croissants,  and cakes, and carbs like pasta and bread. It is such a versatile ingredient that has a few different types to make various delicious foods! 

However, as much as we love and use flour, we need to ask ourselves, is it vegan?

Is Flour Vegan

For vegans, it can be challenging to find foods to eat because many often contain ingredients or processes that actually cause suffering to animals.

There is a lot of ambiguity surrounding specific ingredients, such as flour, which makes it difficult for vegans to know what to put in their shopping carts, and what to put back on the shelf. 

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about flour and veganism. So, if this is of interest to you, read on for more! 

Is Flour Vegan?

Yes, flour is suitable for vegans to eat! So, if you are vegan, you can rest assured that you can buy flour and use it to make all of your favorite dishes without issues! However, there may be some issues that those who follow a plant-based diet should be aware of. 

How Is Flour Made?

Flour is made by using a pestle and mortar to grind roots and grains of a plethora of plants. This results in flour: a powder used in a variety of foods.

Flour has been around for almost as long as people have, and there is some evidence to suggest that it dates back to at least 30,000 years ago! 

Flour is most commonly made from wheat, but it can also be produced from a range of other things such as almonds, coconut, chickpeas, bananas, hemp, corn, potatoes, cassava, and rice.

All of these ingredients will result in a powdery, dry substance that varies in flavor and consistency. 

It is good to note that flour from cereals can be either refined (contains endosperm) or wholegrain (contains endosperm, bran, and germ.) 

So, it is clear that flour, in its pure form, is vegan-friendly. However, concerns regarding flour come from the additives introduced or techniques used to make the flour on a large scale. 

The flour will likely remain in your pantry or on your shelf for weeks and weeks, so it is important that it doesn’t spoil during this time. Most of this criticism is reserved for white flour and the additives listed in its ingredients.

However, in regards to white flour, in particular, some of these additives may be undesirable, but they are still vegan. 

L-Cysteine And Flour

L-cysteine is an amino acid that is made from pig hair, duck feathers, and human hair (yes, you read that correctly.) 

L-cysteine is used to improve the speed and strength of rising dough. However, this amino acid is rarely added to flour. And, if it is, it has to be clearly labeled as either: 

  • L-cysteine 
  • Cysteine 
  • E Number: E920 

So, this should not be a problem for vegans! 

Is White Flour Vegan?

Yes, white flour is vegan! Some people have expressed concern because of reports that white flour uses bone char as part of its bleaching process, much like refined sugar.

However, while the flour is indeed bleached, it is not bleached using a bone char process. So, it is perfectly safe for vegans to use! 

Is Flour Vegan

What Are Some Common Bleaching Agents And Additives In Flour?

Here are the most common bleaching agents and additives in flour! Please check the back of your flour packaging before you buy it.

Ascorbic Acid 

Ascorbic acid is an oxidizing agent that will help the dough made from flour to be stronger. It is another name for Vitamin C. 

Fumaric Acid

Fumaric acid is a reducing agent that causes the flour to weaken and therefore, reduces its proofing time and elasticity. It is an organic, chemical compound. 

Sodium Benzoate 

Sodium Benzoate acts as a preservative for flour. It is a naturally-occurring compound that can be found in many vegetables and fruits. 

Butylated Hydroxyanisole

This is a preservative for flour that is made up of two compounds that have been mixed. They are then synthesized, but this process is vegan-friendly. 

Potassium Bromate 

This is an oxidizing agent in flour. Potassium Bromate is a powder or white crystals that are produced when bromine is passed through a potassium hydroxide solution that has been heated. 

Benzoyl Peroxide 

Benzoyl Peroxide is a bleaching agent used in flour. It is made up of two benzoyl groups that have a peroxide link. 

Chlorine 

Chlorine is both a maturing and bleaching agent used in flour. The use of chlorine in flour is banned in the EU, and it is not hard to see why. 

While some of these ingredients (looking at you, chlorine) are unappetizing, none of them are actually unsuitable for vegans.

However, even though flour is suitable for vegans, that does not mean every recipe that uses flour is, because it may contain other ingredients that are not so vegan-friendly. 

Final Thoughts 

Flour is made by grinding up various plants using a pestle and mortar until it forms a powder. The common ingredient used for flour is wheat, but other ingredients such as almonds, chickpeas, rice, and hemp can be used. 

In a pure form, flour is vegan, and this includes white flour, also known as refined flour, even after all of the rumors surrounding its bleaching process. White flour does not use bone char as part of its bleaching process and is therefore vegan. 

Additionally, flour contains many bleaching agents and additives, but all of these are suitable for vegans.

Although, it is important to note that, although rarely, sometimes L-cysteine can be found in flour, which is made from duck feathers, and both human and pig hair, rendering it unsuitable for vegans to eat. You should always check the back of the flour packaging before purchasing. 

We hope this article taught you everything you need to know about whether or not flour is vegan. 

Clara Howie
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