Ibrahim Belo Written by Ibrahim Belo

Is sugar vegan?

As a branch of increased ethical consumerism, veganism has been one of the most transformative and fast-moving trends of the last decade. But, are pure sugars and syrups suitable for vegans and how does that impact the products they are used in?

What is veganism?

Veganism is a lifestyle choice in which an individual seeks to remove all forms of animal-exploitation from their life, including for food, drink, clothing, medicinal and entertainment purposes.

In terms of food, veganism goes beyond vegetarianism, meaning the individual removes not just meat from their diet, but also any product produced through the involvement of animals, such as eggs, cheese and honey. As a result, a vegan diet is mainly plant-based and contains specifically vegan-produced alternatives to foods that are traditionally manufactured using animal products.

At Ragus, we carefully audit our suppliers’ growing and refining processes to ensure all our pure sugar products are suitable for vegans. 

What has driven more consumers to veganism?

Within the last ten to fifteen years, veganism has risen to become one of the key consumer behaviour trends. Indeed, according to the Vegan Society, there are over 600,000 vegans in Great Britain today, a figure which has quadrupled from 150,000 in 2006.

This increase can partly be explained by the emergence and consolidation of social media in our daily lives. Initiatives such as the Veganuary campaign – in which people commit to a vegan lifestyle for the duration of January – have been a great example of how social media can draw attention towards, and gather momentum for, ethical issues. Heightened awareness of the environmental impact of mass food production has also prompted many consumers to turn towards veganism. 

How is sugar vegan?

With veganism playing such a pivotal role in many people’s lives, the question remains: is sugar vegan? Typically, the answer is yes. Raw and organic sugars are suitable for vegan diets because the sugars are partially refined. However, with industrial white sugar and syrups that often rely on fully refined sugars, the answer depends on the refiner’s production process.

The main inhibitor to these sugars’ vegan status is if a bone char filter has been used during the refining process. Made from charred animal bones, these filters typically operate as a decolourising and deashing agent, particularly during the refining of cane sugar. Refining processes, however, have since evolved, with most refiners now using activated carbon or ion-exchange resins in place of bone char filters.

For industrial sugar manufacturers, therefore, the significance of selecting partners that meet their production standards is crucial. At Ragus, we have long-term relationships with our suppliers, granting us full visibility and traceability of our supply chains. This means we are able to carefully source primary production materials that have not been refined using a bone char filter. As a result, all our pure sugar products are suitable for vegans, and we are proud to play our part in helping a growing community eat ethically produced foods.

The rise of veganism and golden syrup

With honey not being a vegan product, vegans must look to an alternative to replicate its taste and texture. A perfect substitute is golden syrup which possesses a similar sweetness and viscosity to act as a viable alternative. While the golden elixir was first used as a honey substitute by Ragus in the Second World War, its recent and growing application in the manufacture of vegan food products is testament to its versatility.

Golden syrup has been used as a honey substitute by Ragus since the Second World War.

Artisanal and industrial manufacturers are reminded, however, that honey and golden syrup have distinct properties, meaning that one cannot be directly substituted for the other, and should take this into account when manufacturing their products.

Ragus manufactures vegan pure sugars and syrups. Contact our customer services team on +44 (0)1753 575353 or sales@ragus.co.uk to benefit from our ethically sourced and produced pure sugar products. For more sugar news and Ragus updates, follow Ragus on LinkedIn.