Vegan Sweeteners

Sugar photo courtesy of Chrisadas.[/caption]

Going vegan and adjusting to a plant-based diet can be quite the learning experience. While most of us know that being vegan involves avoiding meat, dairy & eggs, many don’t consider the other everyday ingredients that are derived from animal sources (such as honey which is made by bees), or which are processed using animal by-products.

Such is the case with refined white sugar, which is commonly filtered through animal-based charcoal during the refinement process. Even those of us with the best intentions of living a cruelty-free lifestyle sometimes don’t realize the unsavory reality of how some things are made. Thankfully, there are many delicious sweetener alternatives to refined sugar.

The following list is by no means complete. Help us expand it by letting us know what your favorite vegan sweetener alternatives are in the comments… your reply enters you to win free Earth Balance® products!

Labels to look for to ensure your sugar is vegan-friendly include: unrefined cane sugar, evaporated cane sugar, beet sugar, turbinado sugar and raw sugar.

Pure Maple Syrup: Maple syrup has a warm, luxurious flavor. Grade A is the lightest and mildest, Grade B has a nice balance that’s neither too bitter or too sweet, and Grade C is the strongest in. Grade B is suggested for most baking or topping purposes.

Agave Nectar: Agave is nearly twice as sweet as sugar and is often used to replace honey. Light agave has a mild flavor. Amber agave has a light caramel flavor, while dark agave has stronger caramel notes. Raw agave nectar also has a mild, neutral taste.

Brown Rice Syrup: This thick liquid is reminiscent of honey, but less sweet. It has a warm, almost butterscotch-like taste.

Barley Malt Syrup: This syrup is thick, dark and has a malty flavor. It can be bitter and it is reminiscent of molasses, but milder.

Molasses: A little goes a long way. Blackstrap molasses contains some B vitamins and minerals, but can be quite bitter. Light molasses (aka, Barbados molasses) is the sweetest.

Date Sugar: Made from dried and granulated dates, this sweetener is course & gritty, though quite tasty. It also lends brown flecks to desserts.

As we mentioned, this list could do with some additions…

Tell us what your preferred vegan sweeteners are in the comments below to be entered in our Everyday Giveaway. The winning comment will earn you coupons for free Earth Balance® products!

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26 Responses to “Vegan Sweeteners”

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  1. Maggie Kunc says:

    I LOVE brown rice syrup, plus it’s gluten free, which for my crew is a must!

    For baking Florida Crystals work well as a replacement for conventional white sugar, I’ve also used Sucanat with very good results in baking and homemade puddings. For candy making Turbinado sugar works perfectly. It’s my number one choice for old fashioned boiled fudge or butterscotch.

    The only reliable replacement I know for conventional powdered sugar is organic powdered sugar.

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  2. Melanie Yo says:

    I have yet to try brown rice syrup yet, but with that description I super want to!

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  3. I suggest using frozen fruit juice concentrates, fruit-sweetened jams and such. Works good in some recipes. Other dried fruits besides dates work too, and frozen cherries are very sweet! I used orange marmelade to make sweet and sour sauce once.

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  4. Coconut palm sugar!

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  5. I usually use maple syrup or honey for baking (I’ve also made a great Pecan Pie and Pumpkin pie using only dates, which are fabulous!), but nothing beats a teaspoon of good old turbinado sugar in a nice cuppa tea!

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  6. Nancy Gable says:

    Florida Crystals and pure mapel syrup have been my favorites, and now I’m experimenting with date syrup, paste, and sugar. I also grow stevia plants and include some leaves in my green smoothies to sweeten them.

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  7. Jessica K says:

    Wholesome Sweetners does not use bone char to produce its sugars.

    http://www.wholesomesweeteners.com/faqContent.html

    Like to use agave and stevia too…

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  8. I often use stevia, but also really like agave nectar. and dried dates or raisins!

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  9. Jen Eldred says:

    I haven’t seen earth balance at meijer yet, but the last time I got it from kroger and it was around $3. We use brown rice syrup, molasses & stevia.

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  10. WalMart and Meijer(Midwest) carry Earth Balance original and soy free for around $3.56 compared to $5+ at Natural food stores.

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  11. We have been getting sucanat for hot drink sweetening needs. I love how it has the molasses flavor and a little goes a long way.

    I also have found a great deal on orgainic/fair trade evaporated cane juice at Costco. (I sure wish they would carry some Earth Balance products!)

    We also enjoy local honey as both sweetening and as allergy control. Thanks to the drought, the honey is more concentrated and is very flavorful.

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  12. Beth Mickens says:

    I absolutely love using Sugar in the Raw (aka turbinado sugar) It has such a rich taste that adds a unique touch to everything I make. You can definitely taste a difference. (Wonderful in Iced Tea!) If I need granulated sugar or powdered sugar, I just put it through a processor until I reach the desired consistency I am looking for. It’s my number one go to.

    If I need a liquid based sweetener I’ll use Maple Syrup and every now and then Agave.

    As for a no cal sweetener, Stevia is the best! Especially in coffee :) Never baked with Stevia though…

    As for a natural sweetener, date paste/syrup is great! I like to use it to make date balls or baked cookies.

    I am interested in Coconut Palm Sugar and Date Sugar and how they taste…

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  13. Florida Crystals Sugar is also supposed to be Vegan. :)

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  14. The above comment should read- “When the coconut tree is tapped, it produces… I also enjoy Stevia in my tea and lemonade. I mix it with cinnamon to sprinkle on toast, oatmeal and the tops of muffins before baking.

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  15. Coconut nectar- “When the coconut tree is tape, it produces a naturally sweet, nutrient-rich “sap that exudes fromt he coconut blossoms. This is very low glycemic and containes 17 amino acids, minerals, vitamin C, broa-spectrum B vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH.” Raw, 100% Organic, gluten-free, vegan and gmo-free. http://www.coconutsecret.com/nectar2.html

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  16. Here aremy top ten Vegan Sweeteners 1. Agave nectar 2. Maple syrup 3. Dates/date paste 4. Coconut palm sugar 5. Lucuma powder 6. Carob powder 7. Mesquite powder 8. Stevia 9. Yacon syrup 10. Yacon root powder

    *Raw honey *Honey is listed, because some vegans, do use honey. Technically if a vegan uses honey he/she is not a vegan, because honey comes from a honey bee. But if you don’t care about that, then honey is also a good sweetener to use.

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  17. Mmmm, this post and all your comments are activating our collective sweet tooth today. Maple syrup, date sugar, agave, brown rice syrup… wishing we could spend the day baking!

    Have any of you ever tried baking with stevia?

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  18. Amy Davidson says:

    My favorite sweetener is stevia :)

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  19. Cathy L says:

    I’ve been using agave a lot in my coffee and baking now.

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  20. Kelly Reckas says:

    I love to use fresh dates whenever I can in baking.

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  21. I just posted about this on Veggie Kids a few days ago! There are so many great sweeteners out there, both dry and liquid. Date sugar is my favorite because it not only replaces white sugar so nicely, but it has vitamins and minerals! Sugar that’s healthy?? So cool.

    -Sarah (Veggie Kids)

    veggiekids.blogspot.com

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  22. Naomi King says:

    In our house we use Maple Syrup mostly, but depending on what we’re making we also use Brown Rice Syrup, sometimes agave, and thankfully a commuity grocer in our neighbourhood carries a variety of fruit/nut sugars as well as vegan sugar.

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  23. bone char??? oh sweet Lord! i had no idea! and another one bites the dust, in my house!

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  24. I also prefer agave, but use maple syrup sometimes. I also use bananas for sweetness if the situation seems appropriate

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  25. Whole Foods Market sells big bags of Vegan Sugar (no bone char in the processing of it) :-*

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  26. Kiko says:

    The simplest cup for cup substitution is Mexican unbleached sugar such as Zulka brand. It’s cheapest in Mexican groceries, but is now in mainstream markets, too. Zulka is just like the vegan-labeled stuff but a fraction of the price. Zulka is “sand sugar”–it has larger crystals and is very light beige.

    To replace powdered sugar I would whiz up some Zulka in the blender.

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