Ingredients - Vegan / Vegetarian

If you are new to Vegan / Vegetarian Baking you may find yourself wondering about all of the different ingredients included in a recipe.  It's best to read ingredient labels to find out for sure.

There are obviously many reasons people turn to a vegan or vegetarian diet, but I feel that these two are the most common types:

Vegan: The ingredient contains no animal-derived products or byproducts whatsoever. Its processing occurs solely with or by non-animal substances.

Vegetarian: The ingredient contains no meat, poultry, fish, or seafood, nor any products derived from them or any other part of an animal's (including insect's) body. The ingredient was not processed using animal-derived substances (such as bone char). Eggs and dairy, and substances derived from them, are vegetarian. Insect secretions, (such as honey), are vegetarian.
(definitions by Vegetarian Resource Group Organization)

A non-vegetarian uses ingredients, or substances used to process the ingredient, derived from meat, poultry, fish, or seafood, or some other part of an animal's (including insect's) body (such as cochineal, rennet or gelatin).

Ingredient SUBSTITUTIONS can be made in a recipe, but make sure you know the rules for baking. We have extensive information about how to exchange ingredients. For example, when substituting fats, vegan stick butter, such as Earth Balance Buttery Sticks can be exchanged for butter in a baking recipe calling for the creaming mixing method, but coconut oil cannot. Coconut oil can be used for vegetable oil in a baking recipe, even though it is melted beforehand; coconut oil is not considered a solid plastic fat and thus, cannot be used for an effective creaming mixing method in baking.

So, now that we know vegans don’t partake in meat or animal by-products, we’ll talk about what vegans do and don’t eat. Vegans, for the most part, won’t ingest any dairy (butter, milk, cheese, etc.), meat (including poultry, fish, and of course, pigs, cows and other farm animals typically consumed by humans), and eggs. Some vegans don’t use honey, some do. As for the “rabbit food” myth of veganism? Yes, many of us like carrots and lettuce. But, trust me on this; our diet is far more extensive than that. And, though you may not realize it, much of the food you’re already eating is “accidentally” vegan. Pasta Primavera or pasta with Marinara sauce? Vegan. Spring rolls from your favorite Thai restaurant? Also Vegan. Oreos? Yeah, they’re vegan. Seriously. 

Many vegans get their protein from sources more nutritionally valuable than cookies. Quinoa, an ancient grain, is a wonderful source of protein, as is amaranth. Broccoli is one of the best vegetable sources of protein. And nutritional yeast, a staple in every vegan’s pantry, is chock full of B12 vitamins. Other protein-laden powerhouses include: Hemp hearts, or seeds (also very high in Omega3’s), nuts, beans and other legumes (shout out to lentils!), buckwheat, chia (which, combined with water, makes a fantastic egg-replacer), soy (including tofu), and the most controversial, seitan (not because of the name, but mostly because it is literally wheat gluten). Being vegan is not difficult, especially in the age of the Internet. For an intimidated beginner, finding plant-based recipes is now as simple as clicking a button. There are even ways for you to enjoy your favorite baked goods, veganized! And we here at will show you the best ways to satisfy your sweet tooth, no animals involved!

Agar Agar or Agar

Aquafaba: Recently, we have been hearing about “Aquafaba” or "water-bean", which has been described as a “magic raw egg white replacer.” For those of you who don’t know, aquafaba is simply the juice that forms when beans (legumes) are cooked, which can be obtained from strained canned beans (One 15-ounce can yield a scant 1 cup, however, the average can of garbanzo beans, drained, contains about 2/3 to 3/4 cup of aquafaba)A legume (/ˈlɛɡjuːm/ or /ˌləˈɡjuːm/) is a plant in the family Fabaceae (or Leguminosae), or the seed or fruit of such a plant.  (Wikipedia, 9-9-2015, 10:47am) They are considered to be a from a class of vegetables.
Most of our experimentation (to date) has been done with our Strawberry Cream Aquafaba Vegan Cake recipe with garbanzo bean (chickpea) aquafaba as an egg white replacer. Most bakers have generally found that using the juice from white beans (chickpeas or garbanzo beans, soy, and great northern) imparts no beany taste and work the best so far. 

More about aquafaba:
It has been discovered recently that aquafaba has some of the properties of egg yolks and some of the properties of egg whites, but not all of both. Aquafaba is Latin-ish coined by vegan baker Goose Wohlt, In 2014, French tenor singer Joël Roessel was experimenting with “vegetal foam”, or the brine normally discarded from canned vegetables like chickpeas, for an egg white replacer. Roessel tested stabilizers such as guar gum and lemon juice to manipulate the brine into a fluffy consistency, which helped create an incredible egg replacer. Inspired by Roessel’s discovery, American software engineer Goose Wohlt turned vegetal foam into meringue by adding sugar and then baking it. Wohlt coined the term “aquafaba” to describe “water from beans.”

Beans (and peas) are members of the legume family. Legumes are high in starch (carbohydrates) and protein, as well as nutrients and contain some oil (chickpeas are notable in that they have 5% oil by weight; most others have 1 - 2%). Starch is a polymer of glucose (dextrose) and is found only in the vegetable kingdom. It is produced by all green plants and is stored in varying proportions, as microscopic grains throughout the plant structure. 

When dried beans are cooked, color, flavor, and nutrients are leached out of the beans into the liquid, as well as starches and protein - this is called Aquafaba. The starches that burst from cooking and saturate the liquid contain compounds that have water-soluble and fat-soluble capabilities, so they can act as emulsifiers and and foam stabilizers. Starches also have water binding capabilities and provide for texture and mouthfeel. You can observe the presence of starch by the thickening of the liquid as it cooks, especially as it cools. Starches, along with gums and other carbohydrate ingredients provide some of the functions of fat in foods by binding water and providing texture and mouthfeel.

Not all beans work well as Aquafaba in baking recipes - some report that white beans - great northern, chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and soy beans work the best. Cold aquafaba is optimal to use as a whipped egg replacer; as the liquids cools, it thickens from the starches coagulating and provides for a more viscous liquid to beat. However testing on aquafaba is still being done.

Baking Powder

Baking Soda

Brewers' Yeast*: A yeast product which is rich in vitamins, especially B vitamins. 

Butter: Vegan butter, such as Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, can used for the creaming mixing method; make sure it is very cold when using.

Chocolate: Some ingredients in chocolate are vegan and some are not; make sure you read the labels carefully. Cocoa butter is vegan, but lecithin, an emulsifier often added to chocolate is not, unless soy lecithin is used.

Cocoa Butter

Coconut milk, Full fat - can be used to make vegan ice cream, as well as vegan whipped cream (when refrigerated overnight)

Coconut Butter - cannot be used for the creaming mixing method in recipe as it is not effective in holding air.

Coconut Oil - is considered to be a liquid fat in recipes.

Coconut Yogurt - made from coconut milk.

Corn Syrup

Cream of Tartar

See butter, eggs, milk

Eggs: Eggs are one of the backbones of baking. You can substitute them with vegan options, such as flaxseeds, fruit or vegetable purees, starches and tofu, for example. An egg white replacer is Aquafaba. (see above)

Fats: See butter, oils

Guar Gumvegetable gum used to thicken 

Lecithin: An emulsifier found in egg yolks, the tissues and organs of many animals, some vegetables such as soybeans, peanuts, and corn. Soy lecithin products do not contain animal products or by-products and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Read chocolate labels to find out the type of lecithin used.

Maple Syrup: vegetable source, however, sometimes the maple syrup is treated with a very small amount of animal (cow or hog) fat, or a dairy product, such as butter or cream as a defoaming agent.


Molasses: vegetable source. Typically not been filtered through bone char. 

Nutritional Yeast*: Fungal source of Inactivated yeast used as a source of protein and vitamins, especially B vitamins. Make sure that no cow bone filter was used in the processing of the molasses used in their growth media.

*Nutritional Yeast versus Brewers' Yeast: Not to be confused with yeast used for fermentation and bread-making, dried deactivated yeast, derived from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, such as Nutritional yeast offers substantial amounts of niacin, folic acid, zinc, selenium and thiamine. Manufacturers often fortify nutritional yeast with vitamin B-12. For vegans, this is an essential addition because they are susceptible to B-12 deficiency since the vitamin is usually found only in animal-derived products. Nutritional yeast also offers a number of essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein.

Another dried deactivated yeast, Brewers' Yeast, derived from Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a byproduct of beer-making, is also rich in chromium, a trace mineral that regulates blood sugar levels. Brewer's yeast does not provide vitamin B-12, while nutritional yeast does not provide chromium. Vegans looking for a B-12 supplement should stick to nutritional yeast rather than brewer's yeast.  

Nutritional yeast is cheesy and nutty without the bitterness of brewer's yeast. Brewer's yeast, however, has a bitter, beerlike aftertaste, which reveals its origins. Both are found in health food stores. 

Oil or Liquid Fats: Use vegetable oils not melted vegan buttery sticks or vegan "butter" in tubs.

Paraffin: Used as a coating in chocolate confections. A synthetic petroleum derivative.

Sugar: Make sue it is not processed through cow bone char, to decolorize it, to be classified as vegan. It has been reported that most sugar in the United States is processed this way, with some exceptions. List of vegan sugar sources. However, when using raw sugar instead of refined white sugar in a recipe, expect some differences in texture because the sugar crystals are not as small and uniform. This is important when using the creaming mixing method when creating small air holes in plastic fat or aeration; the air holes will not be as uniform in size and shape, thus affecting the final rise and texture of the recipe.

tofutti brand sour cream is a VERY good tofu-based store-bought substitute.

Vinegar - white vinegar or white distilled vinegar 

Vegan Ingredients, above

Honey - a sweet, syrupy liquid produced by bees (animal)

Sour cream and yogurt - is ok if you’re a vegetarian, not vegan


​Invert Sugar / Invert Sugar Syrup - Beet sugar that is usually processed through a cow's bone filter. If the sugar was derived from sugar cane, a cow bone filter was most likely used in the manufacturing process.

Lard - Animal (hog); used in refried beans, chewing gum, baked goods, processed foods, some maple syrup production.

Maple Syrup: vegetable, however, sometimes the maple syrup is treated with a very small amount of animal (cow or hog) fat, or a dairy product, such as butter or cream as a defoaming agent.

Sugar: Make sue it is not processed through cow bone char, to decolorize it, to be classified as vegan. It has been reported that most sugar in the United States is processed this way, with some exceptions.

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