Please Don’t Tell Me Sugar Isn’t Vegan?!

sugar and strawberries photo

Alright, so what on earth is wrong with sugar? Sugar is derived from a variety of sources. The most common sources in the United States are beets and sugar cane (roughly half the sugar market is from each source). Unfortunately, cane sugar is often whitened using charcoal from the bones of cows. Yuck!

That’s gross, but is that really a good reason to avoid eating something? Is it really any worse to spend money on products from companies whose workers aren’t vegan? I mean then my money is still indirectly being used to support someone else eating meat.

That’s a good point, but it’s tough to live in this society without making some compromises. If you want to raise your own food, more power to you!

But, if not, avoiding sugar that’s been processed with bone char is a relatively simple thing one can do that can really make a difference.

Since the majority of the sugar in this country is not processed with bone char, companies generally respond positively to making a switch when they find out that many vegans won’t eat their products otherwise. All animal advocacy campaigns should be this easy!

So is brown sugar OK since bone char is just used to whiten it?

You would think so, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, brown sugar falls into the same category as white sugar . “Brown sugar” is actually just white sugar that has had coloring and flavoring (molasses) added to it after it already had its natural brown coloring removed. Will the wonders of science never cease?

But, all beet sugar is safe?

Yes! Beet sugar is fine, and tastes just the same as cane sugar. In fact, it’s also generally better for the environment as well. On the down-side sugar beets are sometimes genetically engineered.

What about fructose, dextrose and sucrose?

You might think fructose only comes from fruit, but actually the majority of commercial fructose on the market is derived from corn or beet source (both of which are fine). Dextrose is derived from corn as well, so go ahead and eat those french fries. Sucrose could be just about anything, so you’ll need to verify with the company whether it’s from cane sugar (and if so, whether bone char was used to process it).

Well, how about turbinado sugar, organic evaporated cane juice, organic dehydrated cane juice, and organic cane sugar?

All of the above are bone-char free! See, this isn’t so hard afterall is it?

How do I know whether a particular brand of sugar has been processed with bone char?

Read on and you’ll find a list of companies selling bone-char-free sugar, as well as a list of companies who have confirmed that they do use bone char. If you don’t see your local brand of sugar on this list, drop us an email or check back later, as this list will continue to be updated as we confirm more companies.

Companies verified to sell bone-char-free sugar

American Crystal Sugar Company
Corporate Office
101 North 3rd Street
Moorhead, MN 56560
Labels: Crystal Sugar
Note: Uses beet sugar

Florida Crystals Refinery
P.O. Box 86
South Bay, FL 33493
Labels: Florida Crystals
Note: Organic naturally milled sugar cane

Irish Sugar Ltd
Athy Road, Carlow, Ireland.
Label: Siucra
Note: Irish company selling beet sugar

Monitor Sugar Company
2600 S. Euclid Avenue
Bay City, MI 48706
Label: Big Chief
Note: Uses beet sugar

Refined Sugars Incorporated
One Federal St.
Yonkers, NY 10702
Labels: Jack Frost, Country Cane, 4# Flow-Sweet
Note: Uses granular carbon filter instead of bone char

Wholesome Sweeteners
8016 Highway 90A
Sugar Land, Texas 77478
WARNING: Some sucanat is made with honey
Note: An organic cane sugar product that is not very refined

Supreme Sugar Company (subsidiary of Archer Daniels Midland)
P.O. Box 56009
New Orleans, LA 70156
Labels: Supreme, Southern Bell, Rouse’s Markets

Sugar in the Raw
Cumberland Packing Corp.
2 Cumberland St., Brooklyn, NY 11205
Note: This is another less processed sugar and as a result does not need be filtered in the same way as white sugars

  • I appreciate all the good information I have read here!
    My husband and I are about to market a brownie made with organic, gluten free, vegan ingredients. I’m wondering what you think. The * means they are certified organic ingredients. The ingredients are *sweet potato purée, *peanut butter, *coconut flour, garbanzo bean flour, *flax seed, *chia seeds, *hemp seeds, *maple syrup…. there’s more- but I’ve never talked to you- so… I’d like to be in touch if you can reach the gf/vegan market and let them know we exist.
    I’m a 5th grade teacher and mom who has baked gf for 20 years for myself and family. It’s always disappointed me what is sold as gf and vegan has rarely tasted good to me – or it’s Not nutritious. I set out to make a delicious and nutritious treat that could be marketed. We are about ready to sell to our local area. After we do that well, I expect to figure out how to market to a bigger crowd. The world needs better gf/vegan options for when we would like to buy a treat. What do you think?

  • How about coconut sugar ? My oldest granddaughter is Vegan and I’m always finding a treat or protein booster to make her. I just made the banana bread and kept a slice for myself. Yum.

    • I believe it is vegan. I’m vegan and I use organic coconut palm sugar all the time to make oatmeal cookies. For me organic usually signals the sugar is safe and with no bone char.

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