Is Peanut Butter Vegan? A Guide to Nutty Spreads

Is peanut butter vegan? Nut butter has become a staple in vegan pantries because it makes creating quick and healthy snacks easier. However, when shopping for peanut butter and other popular nutty spreads, you must know which ingredients to watch out for.

Protein-rich peanut butter is not a new idea. The concept for creating a peanut spread came from the people of the Inca Empire, who roasted peanuts and ground them into a healthy and delicious paste.

Since then, peanut butter has evolved into a salty and sweet spread millions of people enjoy globally. It is particularly popular in the U.S., where estimates indicate the average consumption is 3 pounds per person per year.

The nutritional value of peanut butter and other nutty spreads depends on the types of ingredients they contain.

For the most part, peanut butter is vegan, but it’s imperative to know what to look out for when shopping for peanut butter and other nutty spreads.

Therefore, this guide to nutty spreads will best answer the question: Is peanut butter vegan?

How it All Started

The National Peanut Board provides a short history of modern peanut butter. The first version appeared around the late 1800s when Canadian chemist Marcellus Gilmore Edson created a patent for making the peanut spread. He called it peanut candy.

By the early 1900s, John Harvey Kellogg, the cereal industry’s founder, patented a peanut butter recipe. The physician and inventor recommended his patented version as an alternative to meat for his patients.

The peanut butter market started to grow after the discoveries of two people. Ambrose Straub built a machine for making peanut butter. George Washington Carver, an agricultural scientist, helped modernize the industry by discovering hundreds of peanut uses.

From the Incas to the discoveries of hundreds of uses for peanuts, these are the people who helped create a $5 billion industry.

Is Peanut Butter vegan? A Closer Look at Peanut Butter Ingredients

Whether you enjoy peanut butter smooth or crunchy, spread on bread with jelly or sliced fresh fruit, depends on you. However, if you follow a vegan diet, it’s essential to know that your peanut butter contains vegan ingredients.

The vegan peanut butter will contain only peanuts, sometimes some form of vegetable oil, and salt.

Let’s look at what ingredients your vegan peanut butter mustn’t contain:

Sugar – White sugar is on the non-vegan list here because although most vegans consume it, it remains a controversial ingredient for some vegans. The reason, manufacturers often may use animal bone char to process white sugar, forcing many vegans to avoid its consumption. Natural peanut butter that is vegan-friendly doesn’t contain sugar.

You won’t usually find sugar in the vegan-friendly, natural brands of peanut butter. White sugar-free peanut butter brands include Earth Balance (which contains agave syrup), MaraNatha (just peanuts and salt), Justin’s Natural, and Smuckers Natural peanut butter.

Honey – Even though honey is not a usual ingredient in peanut butter and other nutty spreads, some brands have a variety that includes it as a sweetener. Some of the most popular brands, including honey as an ingredient, are Natural Jif with Honey, Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread with Honey, and Roasted Honey Nut Skippy Peanut Butter.

Fish Oil – Watch out for nutty spreads and peanut butter that use non-vegan oils like fish oil. They use fish oils to add the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. One example is Jif Peanut Butter with Omega-3’s.

Does Peanut Butter Ever Contain Butter?

Even though “butter” may confuse you, peanut butter mostly doesn’t contain dairy products like milk, cream, or butter. The term refers to the consistency and texture of these nutty spreads.

However, always read the labels. Like honey, a vegan nut butter must also never contain any form of dairy, including milk powder or whey protein, collagen, or egg whites.

Make sure you know what vegetable oil is used in nutty butter-containing oil. Many vegans avoid consuming palm oil because of its controversial farming methods and ties to deforestation and destroying natural habitats.

Understanding Food Labels

All food items are required to follow a policy of transparency. Therefore, all foods must have a label listing every ingredient in the packaging. As the consumer, it’s up to you to check the list of ingredients and find out more about them if you are in doubt. The internet is a valuable source, allowing you to double-check any elements or contact the company. Most food manufacturers are happy to advise on whether an ingredient is vegan.

Making Your Own Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is easier to make at home than you thought. All you need is raw or roasted peanuts and a reasonably powerful food processor. You don’t need to add any other ingredient to the mixture, but you will need patience while waiting for the peanuts to release their butter. Here’s an easy recipe from Jessica in the Kitchen to try with raw or roasted peanuts at home.

Which Nutty Butters Are Best for Vegans

In our quest to find out “Is Peanut Butter Vegan?” we have concluded that as long as peanut butter has no honey or animal products, it’s vegan. The same applies to nut butter you buy or make at home.

Like tahini, made from sesame seeds, nutty butter from almonds, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, peanuts, and cashews contain several healthy ingredients. These include protein, vitamins, fat, minerals, fiber, and essential phytochemicals like zinc. One of the primary rewards of making peanut butter and nutty spreads is that you can make no mistakes when experimenting. Therefore, you can add dates, cocoa powder, and other natural ingredients to create delicious combinations. For example, hazelnuts and cocoa powder blitzed together to make a divine homemade Nutella spread.

Final Take

Is peanut butter vegan? Yes, if you make your own. If you prefer the shop-bought variety, these are primarily vegan, as long as you read the labels to ensure they contain no ingredients you prefer to avoid.

Is peanut butter vegan?

Yes, as long as it contains no honey or animal products. Most commercial brands of peanut butter are suitable for vegans if you read the labels to check they contain no non-vegan ingredients. You can also easily make nutty spreads with raw and roasted nuts at home.

Is there sugar in natural peanut butter?

No, most natural peanut butter doesn’t contain added white sugar because some vegans avoid its consumption because manufacturers often use animal bone char to process white sugar. Natural peanut butter brands free from white sugar include Earth Balance, MaraNatha, Justin’s Natural, and Smuckers Natural peanut butter.  

Is there dairy in peanut butter?

No, peanut butter doesn’t usually contain dairy products like milk, cream, or butter. However, always read the labels as some brands of nutty spreads may contain dairy-based ingredients such as milk powder or whey protein. Avoiding vegan ingredients is important if you eat a plant-based diet.

Does peanut butter contain any oils?

Yes, some types of peanut butter may contain vegetable oil and sometimes fish oil to add omega-3 fatty acids. If you follow a vegan diet, ensure that your nutty spread has no fish oil added. You can find out more by reading the packaging labels before buying it.

Can I make my own nutty spreads?

You can easily make peanut and other nut butter with raw or roasted nuts at home. All you need is some nuts, a reasonably powerful food processor, and perhaps some patience while the ingredients blend. You can add extra ingredients such as dates, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract to create delicious combinations like homemade hazelnut Nutella spread.

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