What You Should Consider Before Drowning Your Pancakes in Maple Syrup
The Vegan Diet has become a buzzword in the internet debates online. This diet is unique in a sense that it proclaims itself as ethical in the first place. Indeed, people properly following this diet gets a number of health benefits, yet the concern about the exploitation of animals remains the primary reason for becoming vegan. However, the specific restriction the Vegan Diet places on your menu makes a lot of products problematic, and sometimes determining whether some product is vegan or not becomes a tricky question. This is exactly the case of maple syrup. Is maple syrup vegan? Follow this article to sort it all out.
What is a Vegan diet?
Veganism is a lifestyle. People becoming vegan try their best in order not to harm any living creature. That’s why they not only refuse eating meat and fish, like Vegetarians, but also avoid the consumption of any animal-based product. According to vegans, the production of animal-based foods is inherently cruel and exploitative towards animals. That’s why even products containing a small amount of milk or butter are considered non-vegan, which significantly restricts your diet. However, with the right approach, veganism can be a totally healthy dietary plan, you just need to know how to substitute nutrients from foods banned on this diet with plant-based alternatives.
- All kinds of fruits and vegetables;
- a group of nuts and seeds (walnuts, cedar, chestnut, cashew, almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, macadamias, pistachios and, of course, coconut);
- the whole variety of cereals and grains; and
- legumes (peas, beans, beans, lentils of almost 10 varieties and colors: red, yellow, green, chickpeas, mung bean, soy).
However, some products may become a tangled issue for vegans. Maple syrup is ostensibly a strictly vegan product – it is extracted exclusively from trees, after all. Yet, due to the peculiarities of the process of production, the one you buy might be a no-go, and you wouldn’t know it at all.
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Benefits of Maple Syrup:
Maple syrup is made from maple tree sap that’s been boiled down to reduce the water content and concentrate the sugars. Those sugars caramelize, resulting in maple syrup’s characteristic rich color and flavor. While natural maple syrup is considered healthier than refined sugar, you should consume it in moderation, as with any sweetener, and it should be considered a replacement of sugar, not an add-on to your diet. As such, maple syrup has the following benefits:
- high in riboflavin, which aids in metabolic processes;
- has a slightly lower glycemic index than table sugar, which means that it may raise blood sugar more slowly than table sugar;
- is a source of some vitamins and minerals;
- contains antioxidants that have protective value and can help the body fight against cancer and diabetes;
- high in manganese, which aids in brain function;
- high in zinc, which helps support the immune system (4); and
- contains potassium which aids in reduction of hypertension and chances of stroke.
Looks totally fine for vegans, right? – Not exactly.
Is Maple Syrup Vegan?
One problem originates in how the final product is made. After the sap is collected, it’s taken to the sugarhouse to be boiled down; this process evaporates the water and caramelizes the sugar, leaving the mixture nice and thick. However, it makes a lot of foam in the syrup; so many brands use one non-vegan product to reduce the foam.
To put it bluntly, animal fat is used in the production of maple syrup to defoam the product after it has been boiled. What’s worse is that animal fat isn’t even listed in the ingredient list on product labels, so people could live through their lives with pancakes without realizing they’re actually eating lard.
Why is Maple Syrup not Vegan?
Another reason maple syrup wouldn’t reasonably be vegan is because it contains added honey in it, or because it contains milk-derived “butter flavor”. Some that include “butter” in their name are vegan-friendly still, but others apparently aren’t, so if the one you’re looking at isn’t listed above but says “butter” it would be better to skip it, and buy a different one. If it says “honey” you should definitely give it a pass, as those seem to always include real honey.
How to understand whether your particular maple syrup is vegan? For the most part, look at the labels. If your syrup isn’t labeled as certified organic, kosher, or vegan, you can always do a bit of research. Write an email to the specific maple syrup company or contact them on Facebook to find out whether they use animal products in the production of their syrup at any stage of the process.
To sum it up, maple syrup is a good substitute of sugar for vegans. However, you should always be careful with brands and labels to understand whether this particular syrup is vegan or not.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A Low-Fat Vegan Diet Improves Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in a Randomized Clinical Trial in Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes (2006, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial of a Plant-Based Nutrition Program to Reduce Body Weight and Cardiovascular Risk in the Corporate Setting: The GEICO Study (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Vegetarian, Vegan Diets and Multiple Health Outcomes: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Zinc (n.d., webmd.com)