For many people, bagels are standard breakfast fare. The fresh, chewy, doughy rings make for a filling morning meal that is perfect for anyone the go. Not only do bagels come in a wide variety of flavors, but you can also dress them with countless toppings and spreads.
Bagels make a convenient, delicious, and economical meal or snack, but are they suitable for vegans? In this post, we will look at whether or not bagels are vegan-friendly, how to identify a vegan bagel from a non-vegan bagel and point out some go-to bagel brands vegans can trust.
Why Wouldn’t Bagels Be Vegan, Aren’t They Just Bread?
If you are a vegan, you will be familiar with how difficult it can be to determine if a particular food is vegan-friendly or not. It is not always straightforward; some foods that may seem like they would only consist of plant-based ingredients can surprise you. Unfortunately, this is particularly true of baked products. Often they will contain milk by-products, egg yolks, and other animal-derived additives that are not vegan-friendly. While plenty of bagels are vegan, some fall short.
The most common non-vegan ingredients found in bagels are egg yolks, milk by-products, and a dough conditioner called L-cysteine. Eggs are sometimes added to the dough to alter the flavor and color while milk is often used in place of water. Certain recipes also use honey in place of sugar to give the bagel a distinct flavor. Naturally, any bagel containing eggs, milk, or honey is not vegan-friendly. More difficult to detect is an additive called L-cysteine. L-cysteine is an amino acid used to soften dough in some commercial bagel products. It is often derived from poultry feathers and, therefore, doesn’t fit into a vegan diet.
Aside from the bagels themselves, it is also important to note that many bagel fillings and toppings are not suitable for vegans. Commonly used dairy products, such as cream cheese, hard cheese, and butter are certainly not vegan-friendly. The meats, smoked fish, and eggs that are often served on bagels are, of course, unsuitable for vegans.
How to Ensure Your Bagel is Vegan
There are a few ways to ensure that the bagel you are eating is vegan. You can make bagels yourself using a vegan recipe so you know for sure that your bagel is free of any animal products. Or, if you plan on buying your bagels pre-made, check the ingredient list to make sure the product contains no animal-derived ingredients. Finally, you can check the packaging for vegan certification.
Make Your Own Bagels
Most recipes for bagels are vegan-friendly. Even when they are not, by making them yourself, you can substitute vegan ingredients and control exactly what goes into your bagel. Substituting vegan ingredients can add flavor and a personal touch. Personalizing your bagel dough is easily done by adding seeds, nuts, fresh herbs, onions, and plenty more.
Read the Label
Even at non-specialized health stores, most bagels you see for sale are vegan-friendly. You still should make a habit of reading the ingredient list to check for non-vegan items. Keep an eye out for eggs, honey, honey powder, L-cysteine, milk, and milk byproducts like casein, lactose, and whey. If you have any doubts about the vegan status of a particular bagel brand, you can always contact the manufacturer to verify or go with another brand.
Check for Vegan Certification
Some brands have begun labeling their products with vegan certification. Unfortunately, these certifications are not legally regulated so you should remain somewhat sceptical. Check the requirements of the organization that certified the product and make sure its vegan standards meet your expectations.
Vegan Bagels You Can Trust
Although most of the bagels you see at grocery stores, in coffee shops, and at restaurants are vegan-friendly, it is still a good idea to know which retailers offer bagels that are definitely suitable for the hungry vegan on the go. To make things easier, let’s go through some of the popular bagel brands and chains so you can easily identify them.
Einstein Bros. Bagels
Are Einstein bagels Vegan? Luckily for vegans, seventy percent of the bagel menu at Einstein Bros. is vegan-friendly. Although you should still ask to make sure, the few bagels they offer that are not suitable for vegans are pretty easy to identify. Any cheese flavored bagels should be avoided. As an added bonus, Einstein Bros. offers a delicious vegan-friendly cream cheese alternative. Their Daiya dairy-free spread is not only delicious, but it is also both gluten-free and vegan.
Starbucks is everywhere. The coffee chain seems to have a location on every corner. So the question is, “Are Starbucks bagels Vegan?” Luckily they do carry vegan-friendly bagels! According to their website, their Sprouted Grain bagel is completely vegan. Some of their other flavors, such as raisin, are vegan-friendly, but it is still worth asking to be sure. The convenience of having vegan options at a chain as popular as Starbucks really is a beautiful thing. If you are ever in need of a quick vegan snack and a coffee, finding a Starbucks should not be difficult.
Are Dunkin’ Donuts Bagels Vegan? You might be surprised to discover that quite a few of this famous coffee chain’s bagels are vegan-friendly. Their cinnamon raisin, multigrain, plain, sesame, and everything bagels all meet vegan standards. As with Starbucks, the convenience factor is huge here. Just make sure your bagel is not served with non-vegan toppings like butter or cream cheese.
Are Panera Bagels vegan? Yes! In fact, many of Panera Bread’s bagels are specifically marketed as meeting strict vegan standards. Their plain, blueberry, cranberry walnut, and sesame seed bagels are all vegan-friendly. Panera Bread is a great chain for vegans because they often specifically label which menu items are vegan. It really is nice when a retailer makes things easier for their vegan customers.
Are Thomas’ bagels vegan-friendly? Thomas’ New York Style Bagels are one of the most popular bagel brands in the United States. Luckily for vegans, many of the bagels they offer do meet vegan standards. Their blueberry, cinnamon swirl, everything, and plain flavors are vegan. Since Thomas’ bagels are easy to find in most grocery chains, they are a great choice for vegan bagel lovers.
Dave’s Killer Bread
Dave’s Killer Bread advertises its bagels as being organic, whole grain, and vegan. Dave’s offers delicious flavors like cinnamon raisin, booming berry, and epic everything. With the exception of their honey and flax variety, even their regular bread is vegan-friendly.
What About Other Bagels?
Again, the best practice is always to check the ingredient list. If you are not sure, or some of the additives are listed vaguely, you can always check with the manufacturer, or just choose a clearer bagel option. You can find some great vegan bagel options at retailers like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
So, Are Bagels Vegan?
In short, the answer is most bagels are usually vegan. Although bagels were traditionally made using eggs, they are now almost always made using only vegan ingredients. You should still check to make sure that they do not contain non-vegan ingredients as sometimes they can be subtle. L-cysteine is easy to miss, as is the honey sometimes used as a sugar substitute. By paying attention to ingredient lists and asking when you are unsure, you can definitely keep bagels in your diet without compromising your vegan lifestyle.
Bagels are a great choice for vegans. Although carbohydrates do have a bit of a bad reputation, they can be a great form of food fuel to keep you going throughout the day. Make your vegan bagel even more nutritious by pairing it with other healthy vegan foods.
Remember that your morning bagel does not have to be boring. There are plenty of vegetable and fruit toppings you can put on your bagel. Also, with all of the vegan spreads now available, you can cover your bagel in vegan-friendly cream cheeses and nut butter.
Check your bagels and spreads to make sure they do not contain animal byproducts. Once you know they are vegan-friendly, make them part of your morning routine!