A bagel sandwich or a toasted bagel topped with cream cheese with a freshly-brewed cup of coffee. This makes a perfect breakfast for a large number of bread-loving Americans (which most of us are).
However, your mornings may not be as simple and smooth as picking up a bagel from any coffee shop while on your way to work without having to worry about what the bagel is made of if you follow a vegan lifestyle
You have to first consider the big question:
Are Bagels Vegan?
Like most other store-bought items, the answer to this question is – it depends on the ingredients it contain. However, to help calm your anxious nerves a bit, let me tell you that there are many vegan bagel options available out there.
Let’s put our investigative hat on and dig into the bagel world to figure out which ones are fit for us vegans and which ones we have to bid farewell to (well, it’s for greater good, so cheers!).
What Could Possibly Make Bagel Non-Vegan? It’s Just Bread!
Breads are supposed to be vegan (the traditional method doesn’t require any non-vegan ingredient). However, they are not always! The same goes for bagels.
Many types of breads and bagels available on the market contain ingredients that are not plant-based. Therefore, you need to check the label before buying any type of bagel to make sure it is vegan-friendly.
Non-Vegan Ingredients in Bagels to Look Out For
Following are some non-vegan and controversial ingredients that can be used in bagels:
There are no two views about the vegan status of eggs; they’re non-vegan. However, many people do not realize that egg can make its way into their bagel sandwich in form of sauces. If you often buy bagel sandwiches from your local coffee shop, make sure to avoid sauces like mayonnaise and hollandaise as they contain eggs.
Some companies use milk products instead of milk, which can confuse some new converts. Therefore, when checking the label, look out for the terms whey, lactose, casein, and sodium caseinate. They are all milk products and hence, should be avoided on a vegan diet.
It is a type of amino acid used as a flavor enhancer and dough conditioner in many baked goods, including bagels. It can be taken from multiple sources. But, it is most commonly derived from animal hair, feathers, and human hair. Whether vegans can or should eat animal hair/feathers or not; that’s a completely different debate. I feel, it’s more of personal choice than adhering to some rules.
Honey has long been a debated ingredient in the vegan community. Some people argue that honey is vegan because it’s naturally made by bees; you’re not forcing them to do it. So, no animals are harmed in the making of honey. However, most vegans avoid honey because the vegan societies consider it as unsuitable for a vegan diet. Here’s what the American Vegan Society and says about the natural sweetener:
The Vegan Society (UK) offers a more detailed answer regarding the status of honey in the vegan community:
Are There Any Other Ingredients Vegans Should Look Out for When Buying Bagels?
Following are a few more ingredients used in many bagels that, similar to L-cysteine, can be derived from both animal and non-animal sources and hence, are best to avoid:
- Monoglycerides and diglycerides
- Diacetyl Tartaric Ester of Monoglyceride (DATEM)
Some strict vegans also try to avoid products that contain bleached flour because there is some evidence that it is sometimes bleached using bone char.
However, when I did my research on it, I found that most sources consider bleached flour as fit for vegan consumption because there isn’t enough evidence to support the claim that flour is bleached using bone char. Hence, it’s fine to consume.
Which Bagels Are Vegan?
Let’s take a look at what some of the most popular types of bagels contain to find out if they’re fit for vegans or not:
· The Good Old-Fashioned Basic Bagel
Basic bagels are made of flour, yeast, sweetener, salt, shortening or vegetable oil, and water.
The only ingredient the classic bagel that can raise an eyebrow is shortening as it can be made from animal fat. However, it’s not the preferred method nowadays. Manufacturers most commonly use vegetable oils to make shortening.
So…are basic bagels vegan?
Yes! The good ol’ classic bagels are vegan-friendly, as long as they’re made using the classic recipe.
I know, they’re not the preferred choice of most bagel lovers. But, hey, you at least have a vegan bagel. Even if all other bagel types, which we’re going to discuss now, turn out to be non-vegan (don’t you dare say that), you’ll have something to rely upon. And you can always let your inner chef take the lead and turn this plain (kind of boring) bagel into a mouthwatering sandwich.
What about the Other Types of Bagels?
Well, you have to check the ingredients to figure out. If a bagel contains dairy, eggs, or any of the debated synthetic ingredients that I have mentioned above (if you choose to avoid them), give it up. Otherwise, go ahead and grab the bagel.
Be Careful of Toppings
It is common knowledge that you cannot enjoy all the traditional bagel toppings as a vegan. However, I deemed it necessary to highlight it to eliminate the risk of any confusion. Most traditional toppings used on bagels are unfortunately non-vegan.
However, it’s not all bad out there!
In view of the increasing popularity of veganism, many companies have started offering dairy-free cream cheese. If you’re getting a bagel from a restaurant or coffee shop, ask for vegan cream cheese. Or pick one up from your local grocery store to enjoy with your frozen bagels.
Are Their Brands That Offer Vegan Bagels?
Fortunately, yes! There are quite a few food chains and brands that cater to the needs of their vegan customers and offer vegan-friendly bagels.
Are Einstein Bagels Vegan?
Einstein Bros Bagels probably offers the largest variety of vegan bagels in the country. All of their classic bagels are vegan. They also offer many vegan options in their Signature, Gourmet, and Thintastic range.
Einstein Bros has also started offering vegan cream cheese in many of their stores for the past couple of years.
Are Panera Bagels Vegan?
Panera Bread offer four vegan options in their bagel category – plain, blueberry, cranberry, walnut, and poppy seed.
You can also find a ton of other vegan-friendly breads at Panera.
Are Starbucks Bagels Vegan?
Not all bagels available at Starbucks are vegan – only four are! These include plain, raisin, sprouted grain, and blueberry.
Are Dunkin’ Donuts Bagels Vegan?
There are quite a few vegan bagels available at Dunkin’ Donuts. Plain, salt, poppy seed, onion, garlic, sesame, raisin, cinnamon, and everything bagels are vegan at this popular donut and coffee chain.
Are New York Bagels Vegan?
New York Bakery Co. also offers several vegan bagel options. These include the original, gluten-free original, gluten-free seeded, cinnamon & raisin, sesame, wholemeal, red onion & chive, and deli loaded everything.
The soft seeded and tomato & herb bagel thins available at New York Bakery are also vegan-friendly.
If you’re a New Yorker or visiting the Big Apple, check out this video to know where you can find some good vegan bagels and cream cheese in the city.
Are Thomas Plain Bagels Vegan?
Yes! Not only Thomas’ plain bagels are vegan, but also their whole grain, whole wheat, onion, cinnamon raisin, cinnamon swirl, blueberry, and everything bagels adhere to the principles of vegan diet.
In addition to all these brands, you can also find vegan-friendly bagels at Trader Joe’s (their own brand).
So, Can You Eat Bagels as a Vegan?
Not all of them, but there are a good amount of bagel varieties you can eat while following the vegan lifestyle. Victorian Moran, a vegan author, sums it up pretty well while answering a question on Quora:
Always confirm by checking the label or by asking the barista.
If you live outside the US and can’t find any vegan bagel options in your area, you can try making some at home. They are not that difficult. Here’s a vegan cinnamon-raisin bagel recipe I love!
Interested to learn about the vegan status of other commercially available products? Check out my article Are Doritos Vegan to find out if these favorite corn chips are vegan or not!