Is Sourdough Bread Vegan? – How to Identify Vegan Sourdough

Published Categorized as Sourdough Tips

Vegan breads can only be categorized as vegan once they’ve met the definitive requirements by containing pure, plant-based ingredients. Typically for bread, this would include ingredients like flour, yeast, water and salt. Of course there are other ingredients that can be added to the bread that can still be considered vegan. But if you’re wondering whether sourdough bread is vegan, then look no further, your burning questions are about to be answered!

bread with vegetable and bread on brown wooden chopping board

About Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread is prepared through fermenting dough by using natural ingredients like lactobacilli and yeast. When compared to other breads, sourdough bread gets its distinct sour flavor from the lactic acid, typically found in soy sauce, that is produced from lactobacilli.

What is Sourdough Starter and is it Vegan?

Sourdough starter is an activated population of wild yeast and good bacteria, they are a result of flour and water being combined and fermented.

As long as you’re comfortable with wild yeast organisms living in your bread, then sourdough bread is perfect for those on plant-based diets, like vegans. If your starter consists of flour and water, then its a vegan starter.

Wild yeast is attracted to room temperature flour and water combined, that has been permitted to sit exposed in open air. Through a process called fermentation the sourdough culture is born and strengthened, puffing up as it grows and digests the flour and water that it feeds from.

Although sourdough culture is considered vegan, bakers might add other ingredients to their starter. Some might include animal products such as milk, honey and butter.

How to Identify Vegan Sourdough Bread?

Knowing the ingredients used to make the sourdough bread is always the best indication to whether the bread is vegan or not. Vegan breads do not contain eggs, milk, animal products or animal by-products.

Some enzymes used in the starter might be from animal base products. Identifying whether the sourdough bread is vegan friendly can be translated through the key ingredients that are usually found in vegan sourdough bread such as: flour, water, salt and the starter.

Here are some common ingredients to look out for that are not vegan:

The ingredients listed below can be extracted from plants or animals:

When buying from a bakery, utilise the advantage of being able to speak directly to the staff, to find out exactly how the bread was made.

Is Sourdough Bread Vegan?

Sourdough bread includes a wide range of recipes and doughs that are made with sourdough bread starter are considered to be sourdough bread. For instance, French bread, baguettes, many types of rye bread, are all sourdough bread.

Although its not impossible to find non vegan elements in sourdough bread, the basic ingredients include flour, water, salt and wild yeast – sourdough starter.

Is Sourdough Starter Always Vegan?

Sourdough starter is basically flour and water, which are of course vegan friendly. However some bakers might choose to enrich their sourdough bread and add a drizzle of honey, a splash of milk, or crack a couple eggs to enhance the flavor or texture of the bread.

Here are some other factors to look out for, when unsure about sourdough bread:

  • Bread Tin Grease
  • Sweetened Sourdough Bread
  • Sourdough Starter

Bread Tin Grease

Even though the sourdough bread doesn’t contain any additional ingredients, if it has been baked in a loaf tin, chances are the loaf tin might be greased with non vegan oils, such as butter or margarine. Some bakers might even butter the bread once its emerged from the oven, to soften the crust a little, this might be a question for your baker.

Sweetened Sourdough Bread

Some sourdough breads are sweetened with non vegan ingredients. Sometimes it is added to provide a boost of energy giving it some ultimate rising powers. Sometimes they are added to lessen the potent sourness of the dough, sweetening the flavor. Different sweeteners can be used, but more often that not bakers tend to use honey.

Sourdough Starter

Sourdough starter is maintained initially by using just flour and water, but some starters are artificially boosted with other ingredients like pineapple juice, honey, milk, and other ingredients.

Vegan Black LT Sandwich

How to Easily Identify Vegan Sourdough?

If you’re shopping at your local supermarket, and stumble across a nice fat loaf of sourdough bread, which gets you questioning whether it could be vegan, then you need to take note of the ingredients. Vegan bread does not contain ingredients like eggs, milk or any sort of animal product. Also check for enzymes used in starters that can possibly be extracted from animal-base products. It helps to skim through the ingredients to be absolutely certain before making the purchase.

Is Sourdough Starter Vegan?

Vegans can confidently eat sourdough bread without ingesting a smidge of animal products, as long as you are comfortable with wild yeast organisms culturing in the bread. If your starter is using flour and water then the end result will be perfect for vegans to eat and buy confidently.

Common Types of Vegan Bread

Many types of bread are naturally void of animal products.

Here’s some types of bread that are usually vegan:

Sourdough

This is a type of fermented bread made from flour, water, salt and sometimes commercial bakers yeast. Though not always such a common occurrence, some varieties use milk instead of water making them non-vegan. Although sourdough gets its unique taste and texture from thriving organisms it’s still safe to call it vegan.

Pita

The basic pita bread is made from flour, salt and yeast. It happens to be a great candidate for sandwiches, or a great way to consume most of the favored vegan dishes, like pita and hummus.

The only semi-common additional ingredient that might be added to pita is fruit, so vegans don’t have to worry about this particular type of bread.

Flat-bread baked in an open fire oven, Serbian-style flatbread, Lepinja, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, fresh bread, warm bread

Ezekiel

This bread has become a natural choice amongst vegans. It’s a flourless bread made from whole sprouted wheat, often backed with no added milk, honey, or eggs. This bread is a great source of protein, typically having a dense texture with an abundance of nutrients.

Ciabatta

An Italian bread that works as a delicious appetizer, great for the entire family or for hosting a party. It’s very versatile, and will taste tremendous with anything you’d think to pair it with. Most of all ciabatta breads are vegan-friendly, with olive oils as its main fat source. The rest of the ingredients consist of water, salt, yeast and sometimes sourdough starter.

Baguette

Sourdough bread covers a wide variety of recipes, with doughs that are typically made with a sourdough starter being considered as sourdough bread, like French bread, baguettes, many types of rye bread, are all types sourdough bread. The basic ingredients of sourdough bread are flour, water, salt and wild yeast. From this we cans safely determine that most sourdough bread or bread made from sourdough starter is considered as vegan-friendly.

Although it isn’t uncommon but you can find sourdough bread with dairy products in them or honey as a sweetener.

Baguette

Vegan and Non-Vegan Breads

Check out the table below, to help you identify what kinds of breads are safe for vegans to eat and which ones are not. Many individual breads can vary, here is a list of breads that typically would, or would not have vegan-based ingredients in them:

Breads that are usually VeganBreads that are usually Not Vegan
Sourdough Bread Challah
CiabattaNaan
FocacciaSandwich Bread
Ezekiel BreadBrioche
Pita BreadGarlic Bread

Making Sourdough Bread at Home

One way to be super confident about the status of your sourdough bread followed by the contents that are essentially going to meet your stomach, is by making your own home baked sourdough bread. Sourdough bread takes its sweet time to develop some flavour, but most of the bread is all done by the bread itself, without you having to lift so much as a finger.

A basic sourdough loaf will contain 4 basic ingredients: flour, water, sourdough starter and salt. With a sourdough starter being available its a simple matter of combining all the ingredients together, leaving it to ferment, shaping then baking.

How to Adjust Sourdough Recipes to Make Them Vegan Friendly

If your recipe requires eggs, then you can use a vegan alternative with one batch being equivalent to one egg in a recipe:

  • 1 tbsp flaxseed
  • 3 tbsp water
  1. Put the flaxseed and water into a small bowl, mixing it thoroughly.
  2. Let it stand for 5 minutes or so until it has thickened.
  3. Use this as an alternative to any recipe that acquires an egg.

Here are some other vegan replacements for non-vegan ingredients:

  • Almond Milk
  • Vegetable Based Oil
  • Vegan Sugars

Almond Milk

A normal milk replacement in any recipe calls for vegan alternatives like coconut milk, almond milk, rice milk and more. The only thing to keep in mind is the overall thickness of the milk.

If you’re using something like almond milk, then bear in mind that this type of milk, is quite runny. It might be worth adding a little oil to your recipe, especially if the recipe calls for full fat.

almond milk

Vegetable Based Oil

Any vegetable based oil can be used in place of butter and margarine. The oils can actually help your bread last longer, with some examples of alternatives including:

  • Sunflower Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Rice Bran Oil
  • Coconut Oil

Vegan Sugars

Honey is often used in sourdough recipes to help boost the leavening power of the bread, but other sweeteners can be just as effective. Although they have to be sweeteners that can be absorbed during the fermentation process.

Some vegan friendly alternatives to honey include:

  • Maple Syrup
  • Agave Nectar
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Molasses
  • Beet Sugar

Is Sourdough Bread Good For You?

Traditional sourdough bread is fermented, meaning that the wheat in the bread is way more nutritious and easier for the body to digest. It also contains a diverse range of naturally occurring forms of yeasts which are considered plant based or vegan.

So is Sourdough Bread Vegan?

Sourdough bread is normally considered vegan without a shred of doubt, unless the baker decides to add a little touch of flavoring, from milk, eggs, or sweeteners like honey.

It’s always strongly advised to check the ingredients before making purchasing the bread, just to be on the safe side.

FAQs

Can Vegans Have Sourdough Bread?

Essentially, traditional sourdough bread is made with three simple ingredients: flour, salt and water. So if the bread is made with these ingredients then it is most definitely vegan friendly.

What Kind of Bread is Vegan?

The most common vegan bread types are: sourdough, Ezekiel bread, ciabatta, focaccia and baguettes.

Is there any Dairy in Sourdough Bread?

Most homemade sourdough bread does not have any dairy, as it is commonly made with a sourdough starter which is made up of flour and water.

What Brands of Sourdough Bread are Vegan?

Here are some vegan sourdough bread brands: Berlin Natural Bakery, Eatsane, Bavarian, Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Simple Knead, Young Kobras Original and more.

By Natasha Krajnc

Hi! My name is Natasha and I'm specialized in home sourdough bread baking and currently based in Slovakia - a very small country in Central Europe. My bread baking story began in 2011 when I decided to give up commercial yeast. I felt tired all the time (especially after eating bread and other foods made with yeast), I wasn’t motivated to do anything, had trouble concentrating throughout the day, my abdomen was bloated and I was like a trumpet on steroids – basically, I was quite a wreck. I was a big bread lover (and still am) and having to stop eating bread was quite hard at that time but I felt I was on a right way to give my body a chance to heal itself.

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