Isn’t Cane Sugar Always Vegan?
Cane sugar comes from a plant, so it must be vegan, right? The answer is “not necessarily.” Some sugar companies use bone char – cows’ bones that have been heated to high temperatures – in their sugar production to filter out colorants.
How Much Bone Char Is Used in Sugar Production?
Jeanne Yacoubou, in her article, “Is Your Sugar Vegan?” reports that 1 cow produces approximately 9 pounds of bone char. Ms. Yacoubou then does some math. Commercial sugar producers have huge commercial filter columns that are made up of 70,000 pounds of bone char. If each cow produces 9 pounds of bone char, approximately 7,800 cattle would be needed to produce bone char for one commercial filter (and remember commercial sugar producers often have more than one filter!). Note: Ms. Yacoubou reports that she did not receive verification from another source regarding her calculations. Ms. Yacoubou’s full article can be found at:
How Can I Avoid Bone Char?
(1) Look At Labels And Conduct Research
Some brands like 365 Everyday Value that are not using bone char are labeling their sugar as vegan.
Additionally, some companies choose not use bone char in their cane sugar production. For a list of U.S. companies that do not use bone char, see the table in Ms. Yacoubou’s article.
(2) Purchase Organic Cane Sugar
Organic cane sugar is either not refined or only minimally processed. Certified USDA organic cane sugar can NOT be filtered through bone char, because bone char is not on the National Organic Program’s list of allowed substances for organic products.
(3) Use Sweeteners That Don’t Come From Cane Sugar
Yummy vegan sweeteners that don’t come from cane sugar include:
- Beet Sugar
- Maple Syrup
- Brown Rice Syrup
- Date Sugar
- Coconut Sugar
[caption id="attachment_1133" align="alignnone" width="640"] Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Cane Sugar Bag[/caption]
365 Everyday Value Vegan Sugar:
Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value Vegan Cane Sugar is refined using carbon instead of bone char. Hooray!
Another reason to feel good about purchasing this brand is that the Vegan Cane Sugar is part of the Whole Foods Whole Trade program. The Whole Trade Program requires a product to (1) meet Whole Foods quality standards, (2) provide more money to producers, (3) ensure better wages and working conditions for workers, and (4) care for the environment. Whole Foods also donates 1% of Whole Trade products to the Whole Planet Foundation, which funds micro-credit loans with the mission to help end world poverty.