Is Sugar Vegan?

Is sugar vegan?

Today we’re going to tackle the question “Is sugar vegan?” Nearly every time I look up a vegan recipe that has “granulated sugar” or a similar ingredient someone comments in an often not-so-pleasant tone that sugar is not vegan. However, SUGAR IS VEGAN. Sugar compounds are found in nearly everything we eat. Granulated sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, confectioner’s sugar, caster sugar, icing sugar, ect. are all processed forms of beet sugar or cane sugar. Sometimes, bone char is used to process the sugar, making it no longer vegan. Fortunately, there are many brands that sell regular, vegan sugar. Rejoice! Now that vegan sugar cookie recipe you’ve been dying to make that calls for granulated sugar can still be vegan!

Beet Sugar
Beet sugar is always vegan. That’s about half of all sugar produced! Unfortunately it is often genetically modified, so buying organic is always best.

As of 2009, sugar beets are primarily a GMO crop in Canada. They are modified to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup and are mostly grown in Southern Alberta. – Health Castle

Cane Sugar
May be vegan or may be processed with cattle bone char. According to The Vegetarian Resource Group, organic, unrefined, and raw sugars are always vegan. Therefore organic dehydrated/evaporated cane juice, organic cane sugar, and raw cane sugar are all vegan as they are not processed with bone char.

Here is a list of some sugar companies that process sugar without bone char. This list is not exhaustive. If you have others to add comment below. Compiled from: Vegan Bits, Vegan Products, Vegetarian Resource Group, and Ordinary Vegan.


Redpath Sugar

Rogers Sugar

– All products under the subsidiary Lantic and Taber trademarks are vegan

– Rogers sugar from Montreal and Alberta is vegan, but the Vancouver refinery uses bone char

– Rogers products with the code starting with the number “10” are from Vancouver, British Columbia



– all vegan except Royal Icing Sugar which contains egg white

Tate & Lyle
– all vegan except the Traditional Royal Icing Sugar which contains egg white


In December 2012, The VRG reported that Australia has not used cow bone char to whiten its sugar since 1990. Instead, Australians use non-animal activated carbon filters. Go Australia!


Crystal Sugar Company

Florida Crystals

Hain Organic Powdered Sugar

Imperial Sugar Company
Labels: Spreckles , Holly Sugar, Pioneer Sugar

Monitor Sugar Company
Label: Big Chief

Now Foods Beet Sugar

Rapunzel Rapadura

Refined Sugars Incorporated
Labels: Jack Frost, Country Cane, 4# Flow-Sweet

Sugar in the Raw

Supreme Sugar Company
Labels: Supreme, Southern Bell, Rouse’s Markets

Tate & Lyle North American Sugars Inc.

Trader Joe’s Organic Sugar Evaporated Cane Juice

Western Sugar

Wholesome Sweeteners

Woodstock Farms Organic Pure Cane Sugar

365 (Whole Foods brand)


C&H pure cane sugar is not vegan, but the raw and organic versions are.

– Raw and organic versions are vegan.
– 2/9 Dominos refineries are not vegan
– Dominos sugar from Yonkers, NY & Orlando Florida is vegan.
– The first number/letter on the package code reveals the plant in which the sugar was processed. The number “1” identifies the Yonkers plant as the processing location. The letter “X” means that the sugar was processed at the Orlando plant.

Other Sugars

Brown sugar is often white sugar with molasses added, so the same rules apply. If it is beet sugar it is vegan, if it is cane sugar it may be processed with bone char. The same goes for confectioners or icing sugar.

Demerara (except English London), muscovado, barbados, sucanat, turbinado, and any organic sugar are all vegan.

Vegan sugar alternatives:
– agave syrup
– maple syrup
– molasses
– rice syrup
– corn syrup
– barley malt
– date sugar
– coconut sugar
– stevia
and more!

Processed/Manufactured Products

When looking at processed/manufactured products that contain sugar ingredients, the source of sugar is often unknown. According to Vegan Bits, most manufacturers purchase the sugar that is cheapest at the time, often changing sources, so they don’t even know how it was processed. I would assume that vegan certified products must source their sugar from facilities that do not use bone char, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to be certified.

– Cane sugar may be processed with bone char

– Sucrose can be derived from cane sugar, so it may be processed with bone char

– Beet sugar is vegan

– Fructose and dextrose are usually corn or beet derived, so they are always vegan

– Turbinado sugar is vegan

– Organic dehydrated/evaporated cane juice, and organic cane sugar are all vegan!

I’ve always wondered if the sugar listed in ingredient lists was vegan. Unfortunately, aside from contacting the company who is also unlikely to have an answer, you really don’t know. What about pop/soda? Granola bars? Soy milk? Chips/crisps? Skittles? OREOS? Most vegans eat them anyways, myself included. But maybe this should change.

What do you think? Add your comments below.

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About the author

My name is Dana Hart. I am an anthropology student and traveller. Veganism is a passion I have discovered in the past few years, and the more I learn, the more I love. While I prefer to make vegan creations in my kitchen, I am often busy with school or traveling across the country and need food on the road. What Vegans Eat is my project to share my passion for vegan food with other vegans and the world.

View all articles by Dana Hart


  1. E. Klinzmann

    I am a vegan, which going to the store should be easier knowing that I can buy vegan food. This guessing game is affecting the foods I do buy, not knowing if it is vegan. Every store should be complied to having vegan foods, so vegan people can still eat and not have to submit to not buying a lot of food, because of the lack of vegan foods. They should by law make it easier for us vegans and have the aisles marked where the vegan foods are located.

  2. KayElle

    I am shocked to read about Redpath sugar being vegan! Organic sugar has always been too expensive for me so I focus on how the sugar is processed instead of whether it is GMO or non-GMO. Redpath is uber-cheap at my local Walmart so I would definitely want to buy that. Nearly all the Rogers sugar products at the local stores have the 10 in the bar code meaning they are from Vancouver and not vegan due to the bone char used in processing the sugar. I hesitate to buy Redpath because of that. It just sounds too good to be true; cheap sugar that is vegan! I always thought the only way white sugar (especially fine granulated sugar and powdered icing sugar) could be made was to use bone char to whiten the otherwise brown cane or beet sugar. Can we be 100% sure Redpath really is vegan and does not use any kind of animal products in processing all of their sugars?

    1. Layne Kelly

      Hi KayElle,

      I had the same thought myself so I googled it. On their website I found the below “FAQS” answer.

      Is Redpath Sugar suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans?

      We do not use animal products or by-products in our refining process for sugar, so Redpath Sugar products are suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans.

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