Waffles are one of the most iconic breakfast foods in existence, along with pancakes, French toast, and bagels.
Although the modern grid-shaped pattern with the square pockets is a relatively new addition, humans were cooking sweet dough between metal pans as early as the 13th Century! Unfortunately, not all ancient recipes are as vegan-friendly as they may seem, though.
So, are waffles vegan-friendly?
Sadly, most waffles are NOT vegan. Most waffle recipes contain both dairy and eggs, which are non-vegan additives that are obtained through animal exploitation. Additionally, most waffle recipes also call for white sugar, which most vegans abstain from for ethical reasons.
Below, I’ll answer some of the most common vegan-related questions about waffles and show you exactly what waffles are made of, so you can see why they’re not vegan.
Do Waffles Contain Eggs?
I’ll admit, waffles look innocent enough. Until I went vegan, I never even thought to look at the ingredients. I thought that waffles were made with the same ingredients like bread, which is usually vegan-friendly.
I couldn’t be more wrong.
Looking at the ingredients, waffles are more similar to cake than they are to bread.
Unfortunately, this means that most waffles contain eggs, egg whites, or egg by-products.
Eggs are a common ingredient used in baking, as they help to strengthen the dough and improve its texture and consistency of it. Eggs are one of the reasons why waffles have such a crispy outside and such a soft inside.
Additionally, the eggs add some extra protein and fat content to the dough. This, in turn, makes them a good option for breakfast, when people are looking for some extra protein to fill them up in the morning.
That being said, eggs are not at all vegan.
The commercial egg industry is notorious for its cruelty to mother hens and chicks. Mother hens are typically kept in packed conditions while temperatures rise and disease runs rampant.
Female hens can be seen with their eyes bulging and gasping for air throughout the summer in massive egg farms:
Many injured hens are just left to die in their cages until their bodies are later scooped up and shredded. So, even though eggs may not be “alive,” they’re still non-vegan due to the cruelty inflicted on chickens to obtain them.
Do Waffles Contain Dairy?
Remember how I mentioned that waffles are more similar to cake than they are to bread?
Like most types of cake, most waffle recipes also contain dairy.
The most common types of dairy you’ll find in waffles include:
If you thought the commercial egg industry was bad, just wait until you learn more about the dairy industry. The dairy industry is incredibly cruel to both female cows and bulls alike.
The bulls are purely used as studs for their meat, while the female cows are kept in a constant state of pregnancy to ensure they’re producing as much milk as possible.
Not only does this involve the literal rape of the female cows but it also puts excessive strain on the female cow’s body, resulting in premature disease and death.
When baby cattle are born as a result of this process, they’ve been stripped away from their mothers. In nature, they typically remain together for around eight months, as the calf learns to live and walk from its mother.
However, the meat industry cares little for the actual life of the calf.
Instead, most of the calves are placed in small pens where they’re tied and prevented from walking. This prevents muscular development. Before the baby calves reach maturity, they’re slaughtered for their extra-soft, ultra-tender meat.
It’s all pretty barbaric and inhumane.
Anyways, sorry for the long story… I just think it’s important for people to understand why vegans don’t consume dairy (even though vegetarians think it’s still alright).
Can Vegans Eat Belgian Waffles?
Belgian waffles are those large, extra-thick waffles that you often find at fancy breakfast diners, resorts, and hotels. As a kid, I used to love going to hotels with my parents solely because of the Belgian waffle machine in the lobby!
If you’re asking this question, then you’re most likely hoping that Belgian-style waffles don’t contain the same egg and dairy ingredients that your average American waffle does.
Unfortunately, I have to disappoint you.
Like American waffles, Belgian-style waffles also contain dairy and eggs. The main difference is simply that they’re bigger, which means that they contain even more dairy and eggs than your typical small American waffle.
Can Vegans Eat Eggo Waffles?
I know what you’re probably thinking… “Well if homemade waffles are off-limits for vegans, maybe the frozen store-bought waffles are a better option.”
Sadly, this is not the case. It turns out that the “Egg” in “Eggo” is meant quite literally.
Even though store-bought Eggo Waffles certainly contain fewer animal ingredients than homemade waffles, they still contain both dairy (in the form of whey) and eggs. Eggo Waffles also contain white sugar, which is non-vegan as it’s processed using animal bone char.
For a full list of the ingredients and an explanation as to why Eggo isn’t a vegan-friendly company, check out my latest post on Eggo Waffles!
What Are Waffles Made Of? Breaking Down The Batter
Whenever I write these posts, I always like to be as thorough as possible. I never expect my readers to just “take my word” for it without any evidence to back it up.
Plus, I always tell my readers that they should do their best to educate themselves on the most common food additives, so they know what to look out for when shopping.
So, with that in mind, here’s a full breakdown of all of the most common ingredients used to make waffle dough.
1) Wheat Flour
Wheat flour is the main ingredient in all waffles. Wheat flour, itself, is always vegan-friendly. It’s one of the most common baking additives in the world and has been for thousands of years.
Wheat flour, of course, comes from wheat. Once the wheat reaches full maturity, it’s harvested and the wheat berries are separated from the stalk. The wheat berry contains most of the nutrients in the plant.
The wheat fruit is then dried and ground into a fine powder using a mechanical milling process. This makes wheat flour a 100% plant-based food, which is why it’s also used in specialty vegan waffles.
Without water, you wouldn’t have a dough. The water is mixed down with the wheat flour to create a thick, malleable dough.
Like flour, water is always vegan, so there’s nothing to worry about here.
Some waffle recipes call for milk in addition to water. Some recipes don’t use any water at all, instead opting for a milk-based dough. Since milk is mostly water, it creates the same texture and consistency as dough.
The main reason why milk is added is to improve the taste of the waffles. Milk is naturally sweet, which lends itself to a sweeter-tasting waffle dough. Milk also traps air easier, which can help make the dough more light and fluffy, resulting in a softer waffle.
Some recipes may also use buttermilk. This is a slightly cultured, sour-tasting variety of milk that’s commonly seen in biscuits, pancakes, and other breakfast foods.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, all milk and dairy products are off-limits for vegans due to the incredible amount of cruelty involved in today’s commercial dairy industry.
4) Butter or Vegetable Oil
All waffles call for some type of fat. The fat helps to thicken the dough and keeps the consistency perfect. It also helps the waffles cook evenly, as fat is a good conductor of heat, helping to disperse it throughout the waffle.
When it comes to homemade recipes, it’s more common to see butter used. Butter is a dairy product, though, that comes from cow’s milk, so it’s another no-no item for vegans.
Conversely, some waffles use vegetable oils like canola oil or sunflower oil. While vegetable oil is certainly a more vegan-friendly, plant-based alternative to butter, the rest of the ingredients in waffles still make this a non-vegan breakfast food.
As I mentioned above, eggs are another commonly added ingredient found in waffle recipes. Eggs not only create a crispy outer texture but they make for a stronger, firmer dough that doesn’t fall apart as the waffle is being pressed in the waffle maker.
Eggs are non-vegan, though, as female hens are violently exploited to obtain their eggs.
Sugar isn’t always added to waffles. However, it’s commonly found in sweet Belgian waffles and other homemade waffle recipes.
Many first-time vegans may be surprised to learn that sugar isn’t as vegan as it seems. This is because cane sugar must first be filtered through animal bone char to remove the outer layer of malt flavor and brown coloring so that it can be turned into the more concentrated white sugar.
7) Baking Soda
Baking soda is typically added to waffles to prevent them from rising too much as they’re cooked. Otherwise, waffles would be large and puffy instead of firm and fulfilling.
Baking soda is perfectly safe for vegans and is used in most chips, bread, and a variety of other plant-based snacks. Baking soda is simply sodium bicarbonate, which is an abundant mineral found in salt deposits.
8) Vanilla Extract
Depending on what type of waffles you’re looking at, it’s common to find a variety of different natural and artificial flavors being used. The most classic waffle flavoring, though, is vanilla extract. This ingredient is vegan-friendly, as it’s simply vanilla soaked in alcohol.
Are Pancakes Vegan?
So, waffles may be a no-go for vegans… But what about pancakes? Are pancakes vegan?
Most pancakes are made using the same (or similar) dough as waffles. This means that they often contain dairy and eggs, making them non-vegan.
The Verdict – Can Vegans Eat Waffles?
I’m sorry to disappoint the breakfast lovers out there, but waffles simply aren’t vegan. They’re almost always made with sugar, eggs, and dairy – all of which are non-vegan products.
That being said, some specialty vegan restaurants offer custom vegan waffles, which are dairy and egg-free. They just taste a little bit different than their non-vegan alternatives!
If you’re looking for a safer, more vegan-friendly breakfast, then I recommend checking out my post on the best vegan cereal brands instead!