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Is Synthetic Leather Vegan?

Veganism doesn’t just end with what you eat; it also extends to every other aspect of consumption, including clothing and upholstery materials. Some of today’s textiles are a product of animal cruelty.

The most common one is leather, which is used to make shoes, clothing, accessories, furnishings, and more. Once you realise that wearing these animal-based clothing is literary at the expense of an animal’s life, it’s hard to see it as anything besides cruel. The good news is there are just as many vegan-friendly alternatives. One new textile material in the fashion industry that is getting so much buzz is synthetic leather. But before we get into the specifics of what this material is all about, we need to answer one important question that probably made you click on this article.

Is synthetic leather vegan? Yes, it is. Synthetic leather is basically fake ‘leather’. It is not derived from animals but from materials such as paper, polyurethane, cork, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and waxed or glazed cotton, just to name a few. Synthetic leather is also known as vegan leather, faux leather, or Pleather.

Synthetic leather was introduced as a cheaper version of real leather but later on, it started serving as ‘leather’ for vegans. This became a perfect material for marketing experts, especially given the surging number of vegans in the world. But while vegans might never consider wearing leather, choosing an alternative is more complicated than you think. Synthetic leather has some impact on the environment. Remember veganism is not only about preventing animal cruelty but also leading a healthy and environmentally-friendly lifestyle. There’s also the challenge of balancing manufacturing practices, quality, and cost. People become vegans for different reasons, so read through to find out whether synthetic leather is suitable for your vegan beliefs.

How is Synthetic Leather Made?

The first step to determining whether synthetic leather can be part of your life is to know what it’s made of. Well, much like regular leather is made from different animals’ skin, the synthetic leather is also made from a variety of non-animal materials. This includes:

Plastic Materials

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is the most commonly used material in synthetic leather. It is a plastic material produced through polymerization; a process where the molecules of vinyl chloride monomers are combined. Since it is a rigid plastic, it is treated with phthalates to make it pliable.

Polyurethane

Polyurethane is a micro-fibre based material used in liquid form to paint fabric. This gives the fabric a leather-like look and feel. The process of turning it into a liquid requires various chemical solvents that can be harmful to the environment and humans.

Natural Materials

Although PVC and polyurethane materials are the most commonly used materials in synthetic leather, there are natural options as well. These are both cruelty-free and eco-friendly. Cork is the most common natural material for making synthetic leather, but pineapple leaves, kelp, and waxed cotton are also available. Natural synthetic leather is produced by companies that support veganism and environmental sustainability. Below is an in-depth look at these materials:

Paper

Surprising, right? It is not the loose-leaf paper used in school though, but more of the hard type used in cardboard boxes. An example of paper synthetic leather is washi. It is obtained from the back of a tree named Kozo. In case you are worried about deforestation, there is no need to since the Kozo tree is a sustainable fast-growing relative of the mulberry.

Cork

Cork is very familiar in the fashion industry, especially in wedged shoes. In comparison to other synthetic leather materials, it is considered the most eco-friendly. Cork is totally natural, waterproof, has an organic texture, and is easy to recycle.

Recycled rubber

I have seen so many backpacks made from recycled rubber and they have a leathery texture. Recycled rubber looks appealing and is quite durable.

Tree bark leather

Tree bark leather is obtained from sustainable timber and it is strong and durable. Every piece made from tree bark leather is unique due to different variations of its natural grains. The trees where this fabric is sourced from are fast-growing, therefore no deforestation. Unlike most textile materials, the chemicals used in tree bark leather to make it flexible and durable are non-toxic.

Waxed cotton

Organic waxed cotton has been in use for decades as an alternative to leather jeans and bags. It is waterproof, easily washable, and pliable.

Coolstone leather

It is a synthetic leather material produced from thin sewable slices of slate stone. Coolstone is totally vegan as it is not derived from animals. The fabric has the feel of paper and leather with a smooth matte grey finish.

Pinatex and apple fibres

Apple cores, banana, and orange peels are recycled and used to make items such as handbags. This already sounds awesome, right? Well, that’s not all! The wasted part of the pineapple is used to make pinatex; a fabric that feels a lot like cowhide leather.

These are just a few of the natural materials that can be used to make synthetic leather but one thing is for sure, they are all plant-based. Even the process of changing the raw materials to synthetic leather doesn’t make use of any animal-based products or by-products.

Is Synthetic Leather Safe For The Environment?

Despite being animal cruelty-free, most synthetic leather is not eco-friendly. Plastics such as PVC have the worst effect on the environment. It releases dioxins when burnt, a compound that is very dangerous in confined spaces. The phthalates used to make the plastic malleable can be extremely toxic.

Organic materials used as synthetic leather such as cork, kelp, fruit peels, tree barks, and paper also require certain chemicals to make them durable. Otherwise, they would decompose so fast. Other chemicals are also added to the fibres as adhesives. Plant-based adhesives are produced using fossils fuels, which also cause a negative impact to the environment. That being said, it’s worth noting that plant-based leather is less destructive in comparison to tanning real leather and burning PVC.

It goes without saying that synthetic leather is 100% vegan in the basic sense that it doesn’t contribute to the killing of animals for human consumption. But as a vegan, you also need to be environmentally conscious. While most eco-friendly products are animal friendly, the vice versa is untrue. Plastics, to be specific, are non-biodegradable and leave an intensive carbon-footprint. So, if you went vegan for environmental purposes, you may have to stay away from any type of leather and wear other fabrics like cotton.

What Else Should You Watch Out For In Synthetic Leather?

Bi-cast leather

Bicast leather is not vegan at all. It is real leather with a top coating of PU. This is a grave mistake that you can make as a vegan. Since synthetic leather is made specifically resembling actual leather, it can be difficult to tear the two apart. Don’t worry, although the two look very much alike, they have a few differences that will come out in the next points.

  • Synthetic leather is fairly cheaper compared to real leather
  • Actual leather has a distinct smell, so try smelling a few and it will become obvious. Synthetic leather smells like plastics and chemicals.
  • Synthetic leather has a very symmetrical pattern and pores unlike real leather since skins are very different
  • Unlike real leather, synthetic leather does not absorb water
  • Synthetic leather has a wider variety of colours, thickness, and textures while traditional leather maintains its authenticity.

Although the above features will help you tell the difference between the two, the easiest way is to check the cloth tag. It is also very important to take note of the vegan-status and sustainability of clothing brands. Some clothes and industries are strictly vegan-friendly. Nowadays, vegan or synthetic leather products are clearly labelled and widely advertised, making life easier for vegans.

What Is The Verdict For Vegans?

As I had mentioned earlier, people become vegans for different reasons. Most lead a vegan lifestyle based only on the reason they became vegans while others consume only what is cruelty-free, healthy, and environment-friendly.

Synthetic leather is considered vegan as it’s not derived from animals but its production does release toxic chemicals that are harmful to both humans and animals. It might, therefore, seem hypocritical to save an animal’s life by avoiding real leather only to destroy the ecosystems that sustains them. The good news is not all types of synthetic leather are that bad. Besides plastic leather, organic synthetic leather is not as harmful to the environment.

Wearing real leather is one of the cruellest things to do. Imagine losing millions of animals just to sustain the rapidly-growing leather industry. In fact, when you wear real leather, you become a walking advertisement for that object. Therefore, when someone else desires it, you are creating a demand for more animals to be killed.

Luckily, people can now satisfy their love for leather without hurting animals or the planet. Even though it has a few downsides, synthetic leather is the bona fide vegan leather.

Is calcium propionate vegan?

When following a vegan diet, it’s important to read the ingredients list on every food package before purchase to ensure it is 100% vegan. But some ingredients can be quite tricky to spot because they are unfamiliar. This is especially true for ingredients used as additives in processed foods; these are not as easy to identify as the obvious no-no’s like milk, meat, and eggs. One common ingredient that you’re likely to come across on food packages is calcium propionate.

This ingredient is extensively used as an additive to help improve the volume, texture, and shelf life of a food product. It also contributes to a nutritional value in food products.

Is calcium propionate vegan? The simple answer is yes. Calcium propionate occurs naturally in some foods like cheeses and acts as a natural preservative. However, commercial calcium propionate, which is what is used as an additive in food products, is synthesized in a lab without the use of any animal-based ingredients and is, therefore, vegan-friendly.

With the increasing popularity of plant-based diets and veganism in general, consumers are increasingly demanding vegan-friendly foods. And, food manufacturers have no choice than to heed their demands. This has further driven the adoption of vegan additives like calcium propionate for different food applications.

Veganism is just like developing any other habit; it will get easier with time as ingredients and products in general, get more familiar. Today, I’m going to offer you everything you need to know about this ingredient so you can make an informed decision about adding it to your vegan diet. Without further ado, let’s get into it:

What Is Calcium Propionate And Is It Vegan?

Calcium propionate (calcium propanoate or E282) is a popular food additive used in the food industry mainly as a preservative. It occurs naturally in some foods where it acts as a preservative but today I’m talking about the commercial E282, which is industrially obtained from the reaction of neutralizing calcium hydroxide with propionic acid (propanoic acid). The compound occurs in either powder or crystalline form. It is highly soluble in water but very slightly soluble in alcohol.

E282 mainly functions as an inhibitor and has broad antibacterial activity against yeast and mould bacteria. It often inhibits the propagation of microorganisms, thus stopping mould and other bacterial growth in a number of food products.

Mould and bacterial growth are one of the most costly issues in the baking scene because baking provides favourable conditions for their growth. By prohibiting the growth of mould & other bacteria, calcium propionate is able to extend the shelf life of baked goods. This ingredient can help cut down on food spoilage and wastage, which will save you a lot of money, especially in large scale baking operations.

In addition to preserving food, calcium propionate is also a source of calcium and as such, contributes to the nutritional value of the food. Calcium is a very important mineral for the body as it promotes healthy teeth and bones, hormone and chemical regulation, nerve function, and even heart health.

Why It Is Vegan

The first thing that pops into people’s heads when they think of calcium is dairy products. This is because of the many years of milk advertising and how it is a great source of calcium.

It’s easy to see why vegans may be worried when they see an ingredient like calcium propionate listed on food products. For an ingredient to be considered vegan-friendly, it shouldn’t be sourced from animals or require the use of animal products or by-products in its production. Luckily, calcium propionate is synthetically formed in the lab by the reaction of calcium hydroxide with propionic acid. Both of these raw materials are manufactured without the use of any animal-derived products or matter. From this description, calcium propionate is, without a doubt, vegan-friendly.

Aside from the chemistry talk, E282 is vegan by the simple fact that it is used a preservative in many vegan products. You cannot say a food product is suitable for vegans and question one of the ingredients used to make it. In order for a food product to be certified as ‘vegan’, all the ingredients included in its creation must be vegan.

What Are The Uses Of Calcium Propionate?

This food additive has several applications in the food industry as highlighted below:

Bread and bakery products

Calcium Propionate is commonly added to bread and baked goods during the dough-mixing process because it helps to prevent mould growth, which would otherwise cause them to go bad, without interfering with its fermentation. While sodium propionate has the same preservation properties, it’s not recommended because it can delay the fermentation of yeast. In addition to preserving baked foods, E282 also enhances calcium nutrition in these foods.

Acts as a shelf-stable food additive

E282 is added in a lot of processed foods to prevent spoilage and extend shelf life. For starters, it can be used as a fungicide on fruits like grapefruits, lemons, oranges, and other citrus fruits. It’s also used in a lot of packaged food products where mould growth can occur. This includes in batter mixes, as well as processed nuts, fruits, and vegetables such as canned beans, canned fruits, soy sauce, nut butter, soups, dried or processed mushrooms, and mustard, just to name a few. Last, but not least, some beverages, including soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, and sports drinks also contain calcium propionate.

There are also a number of non-vegan foods that contain calcium propionate, including milk and dairy products, as well as processed meats. While E282 is vegan friendly, the presence of these animal-based products makes the entire food not vegan-friendly.

Beyond its role as a food additive, E282 finds some applications in non-food products, including the manufacture of butyl rubber. It is added to the raw material, which is rubber, to make it easier to process and prevent it from scorching during the manufacturing process. Cosmetics and personal care products are the other common non-food applications for calcium propionate.

Is Calcium Propionate Safe?

This food additive is generally recognised as safe and has been approved by several reputable health authorities, including the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), JECFA (The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives), as well as EFSA (European Food Safety Authority). It’s also worth noting that these reputable authorities have not put a maximum daily intake limit for calcium propionate, which means they generally consider it low-risk.

Some researchers, however, have speculated that E282 can cause migraines, allergies, diabetes, and autism, but there’s not enough scientific proof to support all that. Another study conducted in kids also found that they experienced restlessness, sleep issues, poor attention, and irritability from consuming bread with calcium propionate daily. But this doesn’t necessarily prove that it was the E282 that caused all this.

Others have described it as slightly toxic, although this is common for all artificial food additives. Plus, toxicity will require far large amounts of calcium propionate than what you can eat even if you consumed huge quantities of foods that contain it.

As mentioned earlier, your body doesn’t store calcium propionate; instead, it is broken down by the digestive system and readily absorbed, metabolised, and eliminated. This means that it won’t build up in your cells to cause any serious harm.

The Bottom Line

With the growing popularity of vegan foods, there’s always concern over unknown ingredient(s) lurking in plant-based foods that may prevent them from being 100% vegan. If you are a conscious vegan like me, you’ve probably seen calcium propionate on different food labels. And after reading this entire article, you now have a deeper understanding of this preservative, including the manufacturing process, its uses, safety issues, and more.

Calcium propionate is not only vegan but also safe for consumption. Therefore, if you find it listed in otherwise vegan foods, you can consume the food without any vegan guilt or causing harm to your body.

The truth is there isn’t much scientific evidence providing a definitive connection between calcium propionate and the speculated health risks. This is not to say they are impossible though. If you think calcium propionate might be causing you issues, consult with your healthcare provider.

is natural smoke flavour vegan?

Smoking is an old millennial technique that was used to preserve food and also provide a nice smoky flavour. But how can you achieve this in non-grilled foods? Well, thanks to modern food technology, one way that has been successful at bringing the much-loved barbecue flavour in food is using natural smoke flavour.

Today, you can spot natural smoke flavour in various foods for the purposes of preserving them, as well as increasing their palatability by imparting a rich brown colour and adding flavour. When you talk of barbecue flavours, grilled meat and fish are what comes to mind. It, therefore, only makes sense for a vegan to wonder what this ingredient is all about.

Is natural smoke flavour vegan? Yes, it is generally considered vegan-friendly. The natural smoke flavour is simply real smoke that has been captured from burning woods and condensed. The end-product is a clean, all-natural smoke flavoured liquid that gives a barbecue flavour. Animal-sourced products are rarely if ever, added when making this ingredient.

The natural smoke flavour is quite a controversial condiment. Health experts often voice concern over the possible health risks while barbecue purists give it a strong nay. But despite all that, the marketing trends are showing that natural smoke flavour is becoming more and more popular as a flavour additive. Why? You may wonder. Well, I have done some research on this common food additive and hopefully, by the end of this text, you will be able to make an informed decision about whether or not to include it in your current diet or consume foods that contain it. Without much delay, let’s get right into the discussion.

How Is Natural Smoke Flavour Made?

The origin of natural smoke flavour dates back to 1985. Ernest H. Wright discovered that when hot smoke from fire came into contact with the cool air above, a smoke-flavoured liquid was formed that could be collected, purified, and used for cooking purposes.

Today’s natural smoke flavour is manufactured through an innovative process that involves burning various types of wood at a high temperature. Hardwoods like pecan, hickory, and mesquite are typically used to produce the taste and smell of the real wood-fired grill. The smoke is channelled through a condenser, which quickly cools the vapour causing it to liquefy. The liquid is then distilled and filtered to remove impurities, which are basically soot and ash. What is left is a yellowish-brown liquid that has a concentrated essence of smoke. Alternatively, the liquid can be dehydrated to make natural smoke flavour in powder form.

What makes it vegan-friendly?

From the text above, it’s evident that natural smoke flavour is primarily made from just smoke and water, which makes it 100% vegan-friendly. But it should be noted that some manufacturers add seasonings, colourings, and flavourings. Common add-ins includes vinegar, caramel colour, sugar (sometimes considered non-vegan due to the use of bone char), salt, soy, paprika and other spices, molasses, etc.

Since commercially produced natural smoke flavour can have added ingredients or chemicals, which may not be safe for your dietary restrictions, it’s best to always read the label before purchase to ensure it is 100% vegan.

Uses

There are plenty of ways to use natural smoke flavour. For those who don’t have a smoker or grill but want to prepare some vegan smoked recipes, brushing a few drops of liquid smoke on the food or using in a marinade is all you’ll need to get that much-desired barbecue flavour.

Liquid smoke has such a concentrated taste, so it should be used sparingly –no more than ¼ teaspoon. If you want a more subtle flavour, dilute it with some water or vinegar. Keep in mind that natural smoke flavour tastes differently, depending on the type of wood used to produce the smoke. Those with added ingredients will often take a more artificial flavour.

What if you don’t include liquid smoke in your diet? Well, it’s still hard to avoid it completely because it’s widely used in commercial food production to give different foods a wonderful smoky taste and aroma without having to grill them. Additionally, the smoke has natural bacteria-killing properties that improve foods shelf life.

Nutrition and Benefits

Natural smoke flavour allows you to add flavour to your dish without investing too much time and effort and without adding any fats and calories. And, contrary to popular belief, it contains low levels of sodium, between 0-10 milligrams per serving. This is, of course, for the simple natural smoke flavour and not the kind that includes additional ingredients. Read the labels carefully!

Natural smoke flavour has effectively replaced the traditional smoking method that involved long cooking hours. It uses less wood and includes additional flavouring ingredients that provide an even better smoky flavour and texture to foods.

Trusted Brands That Sell Natural Smoke Flavour

Wright’s liquid smoke

This natural smoke flavour is produced by simply burning wood and condensing the smoke. The only other ingredient is spring water. As you can see, there’s nothing sourced from animals in this additive, making it 100% vegan. It is available in three different flavours, including apple wood, mesquite, and hickory.

Colgin liquid smoke

This natural smoke flavour is made like the one above although the company adds vinegar, caramel colour, and molasses to give it a more mellow flavour. It can be found in four different flavours: hickory, pecan, mesquite, and apple wood.

Lazy Kettle liquid smoke

This company produces pure natural smoke that is highly concentrated. It is made by burning hickory wood, thus providing a rich hickory flavour to all your favourite foods.

Durkee liquid smoke

This smoke flavour is created by burning hickory wood and condensing the smoke. Other ingredients include water, caramel colour, molasses, vinegar, and sulphites, all of which is vegan, gluten-free, and MSG-free.

Figaro liquid smoke

Ingredients used to make this natural smoke flavour are hickory smoke flavour, water, caramel colour, spices, sugar, vinegar, and hydrolysed soy protein. Everything is plant-based although some vegans may have an issue with sugar is it makes use of bone char.

Stubb’s liquid smoke

The ingredients here include natural hickory smoke, water, cane sugar, caramel colour, salt, organic Tamari sauce (organic soybeans, water, and salt), organic distilled vinegar, garlic, and onion. All these are 100% vegan.

Is Natural Smoke Flavour Safe?

As we’ve seen before, this food additive is made by passing wood fumes into a condenser where the vapour is liquefied. Smoke, no matter the source, contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are considered carcinogenic. While it’s true that some PAHs are created in the process of making natural smoke flavour, the liquid goes through filtration to remove impurities. But some of these cancer-causing chemicals may still persist in the extract.

Does this make natural smoke flavour a potential cancer risk? Not really. Natural smoke flavours contain different levels of PAHs, depending on the type of wood used and the temperature at which it was burned. Even so, experts agree that the concentration of these cancer-causing chemicals in natural smoke flavour is far too low to cause concern. The recommended maximum daily PAHs intake is 47 ng/day and most natural smoke flavours contain about 0.8-1.1 ng per teaspoon. Most recipes will require you to use ¼ teaspoon of this food additive, so you should be safe if you are consuming just the normal amount.

Secondly, liquid smoke is said to contain pyrogallol-like polyphenols (PLPs), which are potentially harmful naturally existing plant compounds often found in tea and coffee. The good news is there are substances in the blood and saliva that may naturally prevent any potential damage from PLPs.

Another study found that some brands of natural smoke flavour activated P53 protein activity nearly as much as chemo drugs that are specifically intended to cause DNA damage. But these were high amounts of liquid smoke. This should, therefore, not be a cause for concern if you are consuming the normal amounts as stated above.

Bottom Line: Vegans and Natural Smoke Flavour

When you think of a smoky flavour, the first thing that comes to mind is perhaps grilled meat or fish. Many vegans, especially the new ones who are still craving meat, often miss the smoky flavour.

But with the increasing plant-based substitutes for otherwise animal-based products, vegans no longer have to sacrifice their previous favourite foods and treats. This is seen with vegan meat, vegan candy, and several other vegan junk foods. And, from this text, it’s evident that the smoky flavour is no exception.

The natural smoke flavour is generally a great and suitable product for vegans. And, while there are a few concerns, I wouldn’t worry about them because only a drop or two is needed to impart flavour. This is far too low to cause harm to the body. It may, however, be worth avoiding natural smoke flavour if you have a history of cancer.

If you find otherwise vegan foods with natural smoke flavour as one of the listed ingredients, you can consume it without any guilt. And, don’t forget to include the liquid smoke in your vegan recipes for an excellent aroma and smoky flavour.

Is Thiamine Mononitrate Vegan?

The vegan diet can be quite strict. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of reading the ingredients listed on the package of every food before purchase to ensure everything is 100% vegan. But determining vegan-friendly foods is not always an easy task, especially with processed foods, as they contain ingredients that you may not be familiar with.

You have probably seen Thiamine Mononitrate on the package of your vegan foods. Well, that’s because it’s added to different kinds of foods as a source of vitamin B1. Stay with me as I take you through everything you need to learn about this ingredient.

Is Thiamine Mononitrate Vegan? Yes, Thiamine Mononitrate is definitely vegan-friendly. It is found in several plant foods but can also be produced via chemical synthesis by removing a chloride ion from thiamine hydrochloride and mixing it with nitric acid. In fact, a number of thiamine mononitrate supplements that are sold today are specifically labelled ‘vegan’.

Vitamins are considered essential nutrients, which is why you hear about them quite a lot in today’s media. And today we are going to take a closer look at vitamin B1, also known as Thiamine, which is just as beneficial as the other popular vitamins A and C. Thiamine mononitrate is the synthetic form of vitamin B1 and it’s often added in processed cereal products for reasons I will cover later on.

Stay with me as I take a closer look at this ingredient and help you understand how it is produced, its role in your favourite foods, and more so you can make an informed decision about including it in your vegan diet. Without much delay, let’s get right into it:

What Is Thiamine and What Does It Do?

Thiamine is one of the B vitamins and is naturally found in various foods. Since it’s a water-soluble vitamin, it washes out of the body in urine and doesn’t accumulate in the body like the fat-soluble ones. Thiamine is essential for glucose metabolism as it helps the body to convert carbohydrates to energy. Other benefits include:

  • Regulate the flow of electrolytes in and out of the cells of your nerves and muscles
  • Breakdown of alcohol
  • Aid in digestion to prevent digestive problems
  • Support normal growth and development
  • Metabolizing amino acids
  • Prevent diseases like beriberi
  • Boost the immune
  • Create adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is responsible for carrying energy within cells
  • Health professionals even give thiamine shots to manage a memory disorder called Wernicke’s encephalopathy syndrome.

Thiamine is an important vitamin that is quite beneficial to the human body. We need a continuous supply of it since it’s not stored in the body; it’s carried through the bloodstream and whatever the body doesn’t use is eliminated in urine. In fact, health experts haven’t set a specific upper limit for consuming thiamine.

Thiamine occurs naturally in various foods, including cereal grains, nuts, yeast, beans, fruits, vegetables, and even animal products. The one that comes from animals is called thiamine triphosphate and not thiamine mononitrate, and today we’re talking about the latter.

Heating, cooking, boiling, or processing these foods destroys thiamine. Given its importance in the body, as described above, manufactures are forced to add it back to processed cereal products, along with some other vitamins, to enhance their nutrient content. This is especially common in breakfast cereals, white rice, or products made with white flour.

We already know that Thiamine mononitrate is the synthetic form of vitamin B1, but how exactly is it made? A short explanation is that it is derived from thiamine hydrochloride and thiamine hydrochloride comes from thiamine sulphate.

Thiamine Mononitrate VS Thiamine Hydrochloride

As you read about vitamin B1, you will come across these two terms. That’s because they are both synthetic forms of vitamin B1 but are manufactured by adding different groups of thiamine. They have different physical and chemical properties, as well as molar weight but the most identifiable difference is that Thiamine mononitrate is non-hygroscopic while the other is hygroscopic.

From all the above information, it’s evident that no animal-based ingredients go into the formation of Thiamine mononitrate. Therefore, if you find it listed as one of the ingredients in otherwise vegan-friendly products, then you can enjoy that food without any vegan guilt.

Do Vegans Experience Thiamine Deficiency?

The recommended daily allowance of thiamine is about 1.2mg but pregnant or breastfeeding women should consume 1.4mg daily. There’s no set upper limit for daily thiamine intake. Some people like those involved in strenuous physical activity may have a higher need for thiamine.

Thiamine is much plentiful in the liver, pork, and other meats. Since vegans generally consume a plant-based diet, they may end up consuming less thiamine than those who eat meat.

A lot more vegans got thiamine deficiency in the past but thanks to thiamine fortification in foods, most of us don’t need to worry about it any longer. However, people with cancer, HIV, morning sickness, a poor diet or one that is high in processed grains, and alcoholics, are at risk of thiamine deficiency. Other conditions that may result in vitamin B1 deficiency are bariatric (weight loss) surgery, malabsorption conditions, and anorexia. As you can see, thiamine deficiency has nothing to do with being vegan but rather an individual’s general health.

Early symptoms might include loss of appetite, muscle weakness, blurry vision, reduced reflexes, irritability, fatigue, and shortness of breath among others. A severe thiamine deficiency can, however, result in beriberi – a disease that takes many forms (dry, wet, cerebral, and gastrointestinal beriberi) and affect many systems in the body. Other serious symptoms include mental problems like confusion and short-term memory loss and cardiovascular symptoms like an enlarged heart.

Vegan Thiamine Supplements

Individuals on a regular healthy diet, including vegans, infants, and pregnant or breastfeeding women, can get enough thiamine by consuming a variety of foods. Vegan foods that are a natural source of thiamine include oranges, nuts, seeds, peas, yeast, legumes, etc. Vegan foods that are often fortified with thiamine include flour, pasta, bread, rice, processed cereals, and veggie burgers.

For those who are suspected or confirmed to have a thiamine deficiency, health professionals recommend thiamine supplements. Thiamine supplements are generally considered vegan as they don’t make use of any animal-based ingredients. There are even some that are labelled ‘vegan’ for easy identification. Some of the best thiamine supplements include:

  • Solgar – Vitamin B1
  • Solaray B1 Supplement
  • Nutricost Vitamin B1
  • Nature Made Vitamin B1
  • Swanson Vitamin B-1
  • Source Naturals Vitamin B1
  • NOW Foods Vitamin B1
  • BulkSupplements Pure Thiamine Mononitrate
  • Mason Vitamins B-1, and much more

These supplements come in children’s chewable, softgels, lozenges, tablets, and liquid drops. Intramuscular or intravenous injections may also be administered in the case of severe deficiency.

Medical experts recommend different doses of thiamine supplements, depending on the level of deficiency. For this reason, consult your physician before starting new supplements.

Is Thiamine Mononitrate Safe?

Thiamine Mononitrate is generally recognised as a safe food additive. As mentioned earlier, there’s no upper limit that has been officially set for thiamine intake, so overdose is practically impossible. Also, excessive thiamine is removed from the body through urine. Even so, I wouldn’t recommend you go crazy on it as it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Consuming very high doses of thiamine can cause a few side effects such as nausea, restlessness, sweating, itching, flushing of the skin, blue lips, etc. It’s been noted that these symptoms generally remain mild and will diminish over time.

Secondly, thiamine can have interactions with certain drugs. For starters, it can affect the performance of antibiotics, as well as nervous system medications and thyroid medicines. It can also interact negatively with drugs used for birth control, cancer, heart conditions, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Last, but not least, mild to a severe allergic reaction is possible in certain people and symptoms may include swollen face, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, chest pain, coughing up blood, anaphylactic reactions, and even death. This is especially possible after repeated intravenous infusions but also possible for oral supplementation (though rarely). If you experience any of the serious side effects after taking thiamine supplement or eating foods that contain thiamine, you need to seek emergency treatment.

When you see this ingredient listed in your food products, it’s a good thing. But perhaps you should consult with your local doctor before you start taking thiamine supplementation.

Is Cellulose Gum Vegan?

As a vegan, I cannot stress enough the importance of reading the ingredients list on every food package to ensure you’re eating healthily while also maintaining your commitment to vegan ethics. But determining vegan-friendly products is not always an easy task, especially with processed foods.

That’s because they are likely to contain a lot of unfamiliar items whose vegan status may not be that obvious. One such ingredient is cellulose gum, also known as CMC or carboxy-methylcellulose. CMC is a modified natural cellulose product with some major uses in the food industry, as well as in non-food products. If you are a cognizant vegan, you may be wondering how this ubiquitous ingredient is made and whether it should be part of your diet.

Is cellulose gum vegan? Yes, this food ingredient is generally considered vegan because it is derived from cellulose. Cellulose is the most abundant organic compound on earth as it’s found in the cell walls of all plants. Unlike the normal cellulose that’s not water-solvent, cellulose gum is artificially charged to be more soluble, thus giving it helpful properties as nourishment and non-nourishment additive.

If you are a vegan, you need to be very careful when shopping to avoid hidden ingredients in your food products that are animal-based (whether derived from or tested on animals). Food products are legally required to include an ingredients list, which makes it easy to see everything included in them. The same doesn’t apply to non-food products, meaning you’ll have to do a little more research to make sure you are buying 100% vegan products. Cellulose gum is one such ingredient that is applicable in both food and non-food products, and today we are going to cover the capacity it serves in different applications.

Is Cellulose Gum Vegan?

As I had mentioned earlier, CMC is a cellulose derivative. Cellulose is made up of a group of glucose molecules and is typically the biggest source of insoluble fibre found in plants. Manufacturers of cellulose gum make this food additive from the structural parts of various plants, including cotton, trees, etc.

When this odourless, tasteless, and white/milk-white fibrous powder is dissolved in water, it forms a viscous consistency depending on the amount that is added. The end product is completely stable to heat, microorganisms, and weak alkalis or acids. Unlike other food additives in the same class (gelatine for instance), CMC is favourable because it’s classified as vegan.

Cellulose Gum Applications in Foods

As a Thickener and Emulsifier

CMC is often used in food products as a thickener or thickness modifier and to help balance out emulsions in foods. As an emulsifier, it allows fat to be scattered consistently throughout the batter blend, thereby making the mixture simpler to work with. CMC can also be used to slow down the formation of ice crystals in ice cream; after all, nothing spoils a delicious bowl of a vegan scream than freezer burn.

Thickeners as Fat Substitutes

Fat makes foods more delicious and improves mouth-feel but as we all know, it’s not the healthiest food choice. Cellulose gum is often used as a replacement for fat in low-fat foods to give them a creamier and thicker texture but without all the fat. It offers alluring fat-like properties such as shiny appearance, surface alteration, expanded thickness, fatlike mouth-feel, and strength (helps the fixings remain decent and blended).

Needless to say, foods that use cellulose gum are not only ideal for a vegan diet but also suitable for low-fat diets or if you are trying to reduce your fat intake, whether to help lose weight or for health purposes.

Acts as a Stabiliser

CMC maintains homogeneity as it keeps oil and water-based ingredients properly combined, thereby ensuring all nutrients remain mixed. It also locks in moisture to keep foods from going stale, thus extending shelf life. Still, on its function as a stabiliser, it produces an appetizing texture in foods.

Gluten-Free Products

This food additive is a common replacement for gluten in gluten-free products because it has a great deal of equivalent properties. Just like gluten, CMC provides strength and elasticity that causes fixings to follow and extend, which in turn permits dough ingredients to rise.

Candy

CMC in candy allows for a smooth scattering of fixings while improving quality and surface.

Acts as Filler

Cellulose is a type of fibre, which as you may know, is good for digestion and for blocking the absorption of cholesterol. Cellulose gum is available in many diet food products where it acts as filler, meaning it keeps you feeling full. It does, however, increase the fibre content in foods. For this reason, eating too many foods that contain cellulose gum might have laxative effects, thereby resulting in loose bowel movements.

Cellulose Gum Applications in Non-Food Products

The general definition of veganism is people who abstain from consuming any animal products or by-products, and this extends beyond food. When you choose to adopt a vegan lifestyle, every product that you use, from food to clothing to household things and even services you get, should not contribute to animal exploitation. Some go as far as boycotting otherwise vegan-friendly companies that contribute indirectly to animal exploitation.

Clearly, vegans should pay attention to the vegan status of non-food products as well. Consequently, CMC is a common constituent in several non-food items, including toothpaste, pharmaceuticals, water-based paints, different paper items, detergents, reusable heat packs, and so on. These items make use of CMC because it is non-toxic, has a high viscosity, and is generally considered to be hypoallergenic. It also has good compatibility with other water-soluble glues, resin, and softeners. Other common uses include:

  • In counterfeit tears where CMC is used as an ointment in eye drops
  • Clothing cleansers where it’s helpful as a dirt suspension polymer
  • Ice packs where it’s utilized to form a eutectic mixture, thus resulting in a lower freezing point with more cooling capacity than ice.

Is Cellulose Gum Bad For You?

Cellulose gum is generally considered safe as it’s naturally and minimally processed. However, since it’s just an additive and not a whole food ingredient, there could be some unknown health risks from consuming it. It’s unfortunate that studies looking into that have not yet been conducted.

While it’s unlikely to cause harm in most people, a recent case study has shown that some people are allergic to this food additive. If you experience stomach problems like diarrhoea, gas, and/or bloating after consuming cellulose gum, then you can confirm that you are allergic to it and eliminate any food product that contains it from your diet. People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) who develop symptoms from various foods may also be sensitive to cellulose gum. Be sure to consult with your doctor before cutting foods out of your diet though. The good news is cellulose gum isn’t digested or absorbed, which makes risks like allergic reactions very rare.

Even though CMC is derived from cellulose, which is the biggest source of dietary fibre, you cannot include fibre from cellulose gum when counting your total daily fibre intake because it’s not the healthy kind. For this reason, you should still strive to get your dietary fibre from whole foods. That being said, CMC is very fibrous and consuming too many products that contain it can cause issues for people with stomach sensitivities. Symptoms will include bloating, gas, and loose bowel movement.

Vegan Cellulose Gum – Final Thoughts

Cellulose gum is a fairly safe food additive as seen from the uses, benefits, and risks outlined above. It is not only suitable for vegans, but also those trying to reduce fat intake for weight loss or general health. It’s a very useful additive to all kinds of food products although nutritionally speaking, it offers no real value.

While most people don’t need to worry about avoiding CMC or limiting its intake, I believe knowledge is power. As you keep reading labels on food products, especially the ingredients list and nutritional facts, you’ll become better equipped at identifying unfamiliar ingredients and ensuring they are in line with your vegan ethics and good for your body. From there, you can make an informed decision about any food changes you need or want to make to have healthier, ethical habits.

Are Nestle Chocolate Chips Vegan?

Chocolate chips are small chunks of sweetened chocolate that are often used in sweets, biscuits, cakes, and other desserts, as well as in trail mix and sometimes in breakfast foods like pancakes and waffles. Today they come in milk, white, semi-sweet, and dark chocolate assortments; plus, one that has been gaining traction is the butterscotch kind.

Nestle Toll House is one of the most popular brands for chocolate chips and most of us grew up consuming them. Since you’re likely to run into Nestle chocolate chips in your day-to-day food products, you might be wondering if you should include them in your current diet.

Are Nestle Chocolate Chips Vegan? Well, most Nestle chocolate chips are considered non-vegan because they contain a variety of animal-based ingredients, which I will cover later on. But in a major win for vegans and people with allergies everywhere, the company unveiled a new line of vegan-friendly chocolate chips. While there are just a few options, it’s a good step forward.

Chocolate, which is the base ingredient in chocolate chips, is vegan as it’s made from cacao beans. But companies often use recipes that contain dairy, which makes most chocolate chips non-vegan. Food companies have been heeding the vegan community’s needs by producing plant-based alternatives to popular animal-based foods, and chocolate chips are no exception.

The easiest way to identify vegan from non-vegan chocolate chips is if they have the vegan label. Even so, it’s still important to read the ingredients list to be 100% sure. In this text, we are going to cover what makes some Nestle chocolate chips non-vegan and what vegan options you have so you can start enjoying this delicious treat.

The Vegan Status Of Nestle Chocolate Chips

There are many flavours of Nestle chocolate chips and as I had mentioned earlier, most contain animal-based ingredients with just a few being suitable for a vegan diet. It is essential to know which ones fall under what category so you don’t consume the non-vegan ones accidentally.

The easiest way to shop for these chocolate chips is to keep in mind that the classic yellow packages of Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chips are considered non-vegan. This includes:

  • The Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips: These are the most popular variety of Nestle chocolate chips and the kind that’s often synonymous with the brand.
  • The Dark Chocolate Chips
  • The white chocolate chips
  • Milk chocolate chips
  • Peanut Butter & Milk Chocolate Morsels, etc

What Makes These Nestle Chocolate Chips Non-Vegan

These chocolate chips contain several dairy products, including nonfat milk, whole milk powder, casein, whey protein, as well as milk-derived fat (milk fat, cream, butter, and butterfat). These ingredients are often used in food production, including making Nestle chocolate chips, to provide thick and creamy foods with a pleasantly smooth mouthfeel.

Vegans don’t consume milk derivatives for the simple reason that they are gotten from animals. The truth about dairy farming is cows are treated as machines; they are repeatedly artificially inseminated so they get pregnant and begin to lactate. Once they give birth, their young ones are taken from them almost immediately, causing distress to both the mother and the calf. As if that wasn’t enough, factory farming is conducted in unfavourable conditions where cows spend their entire lives in confined, small spaces never to see the light of day. There’s no happy ending for these female cows either as they are discarded (slaughtered) once their level of milk production goes down.

I know most of us don’t think about the amount of cruelty that these animals go through just so we can satisfy our appetites. The worst part is animal-derived foods are avoidable as there are several plant-based alternatives. Perhaps after reading this text, you’ll think twice before consuming Nestle chocolate chips that contain dairy products.

Sugar is another common ingredient in these Nestle chocolate chips. While it’s derived from a plant, the production process may not sit well with stricter vegans. Manufacturers often use bone char, which is derived from charring animal bones, to bleach sugar and give it a pure white colour. Brown sugar is then derived from the white sugar.

Vegans who avoid sugar say that its production contributes to the exploitation of animals, however minimal it may seem. While more plant-based filtering agents are emerging that can be used to purify sugar, it’s hard to tell what filtering agent was used to process the sugar in your Nestle chocolate chips.

Last, but not least, these nestle chocolate chips contain natural flavours, which can be sourced from both animals and plants. The only way to be sure is to contact the company and ask about their source of natural flavours.

Vegan-Friendly Nestle Chocolate Chips

For vegans who want to indulge in delicious chocolate chips, Nestle Tollhouse has you covered with their full line of dairy-free, allergy-friendly morsels. The Simply Delicious line is available in the following varieties:

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

Consisting of only three ingredients: organic cane sugar, 100% real chocolate, and organic cocoa butter, these chocolate chips allow you to add a vegan chocolate twist to your favourite desserts.

Dark Chocolate Morsels

These chocolate chips also contain organic cane sugar, 100% real chocolate, and organic cocoa butter. They are perfect for snaking, melting, and baking vegan foods.

White Chocolate Morsels

Nestlé Toll House has released these vegan chocolate chips as the newest addition to their Simply Delicious line. They are made with six ingredients, including cocoa butter, tapioca starch, rice syrup solids, cane sugar, rice maltodextrin, and salt, all of which are organic. These are great for making brownies, dips, and cookies.

Every pack is certified USDA Organic, made with no GMO ingredients, vegan, and free from all eight major allergens, including milk, soy, peanut, tree nut, egg, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Nestlé Toll House allergen-free morsels offer the same great taste as the company’s traditional chocolate chips without artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives.

The vegan-friendly Nestle chocolate chips are available in new and updated packaging for easy identification. They feature a teal ribbon across the top –a colour widely recognized as a symbol for allergen-free foods.

Concerns in Otherwise Vegan-Friendly Nestle Chocolate Chips

While these chocolate chips are vegan-friendly in the sense that they don’t contain any obvious non-vegan ingredients, there are a few grey areas that may be of concern to some vegans.

The first and major concern is the risk of cross-contamination or cross-contact. Vegan Nestle chocolate chips are made in the same facilities as the non-vegan kind. For this reason, there’s likely to be trace amounts of animal-based ingredients in otherwise vegan chocolate chips. Most vegans don’t judge such products harshly as it’s difficult to find 100% vegan food products unless you are making them at home. However, for some vegans, this slightest possibility that this can happen is enough to disqualify a food product as being vegan.

Sugar is also a common ingredient in otherwise vegan chocolate chips. And as I already said, it’s considered non-vegan by some due to the use of bone char during processing. The good news is this is not the case for the above vegan Nestle chocolate chips as they make use of organic cane sugar. I just thought you should know in case you buy other vegan chocolate chips that might contain refined sugar.

There are different levels of veganism, which is why I must give you every bit of information so you can make an informed decision about including these chocolate chips in your current vegan diet.

Are Nestle Chocolate Chips Healthy?

There are different reasons people adopt a vegan lifestyle and one of them is for health purposes. A vegan diet mainly constitutes of wholesome plant-based foods, which are generally healthier than meat, dairy, and other animal-based foods. If you have gone vegan for its health benefits, let’s see if you can still include these chocolate chips in your diet.

Chocolate contains an impressive ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) value. The powerful antioxidants in Nestle chocolate chips have been found to increase the good cholesterol, thus contributing to better heart health. Some research says that these antioxidant benefits are prevented when chocolate is combined with animal milk. This makes vegan chocolate chips healthier than the non-vegan kind. Chocolate is also rich in flavanols, which helps to increase blood flow and, in turn, improve brain health.

Indulging in Nestle chocolate chips offers a multitude of health benefits but moderation is key. That’s because they still contain a significant amount of sugar and fat, which can be bad for your health when consumed excessively.

Nestle chocolate chips have been part of several different foods and baked products for years. As such, finding the right kind is imperative to a tasty and ethical final product. That’s it for today and I hope this text helps you make the right decision about this product.