Growing up, I remember that my grandma used to always keep a tub of Country Crock spread in her fridge. She used it for baking, spread it on toast, and everything in between.
Country Crock is a dairy-free butter alternative that has fewer calories and less saturated fat than a regular stick of butter. Diary-free doesn’t always mean vegan, though, so is Country Crock vegan?
Unfortunately, the original Country Crock spread is NOT vegan. Although the product is dairy-free and is mostly plant-based, it contains vitamin D3, which is an animal-derived vitamin supplement.
Bummer right? Thankfully, that’s not the end of the story.
Given the massive popularity of veganism, Country Crock also has a line of 100% vegan food products, including a plant-based vegan spread that’s dairy-free and contains no vitamin D3!
In today’s post, I’ll explain why the vitamin D3 in Country Crock isn’t vegan and break down the difference between the original Country Crock and Country Crock’s vegan spread.
Let’s butter some biscuits!
Adding extra vitamins and minerals to food and drinks is pretty commonplace in today’s commercial food economy.
Unfortunately, most people don’t eat anywhere near as many fruits and veggies as they should. Without the added vitamins and minerals in processed food, most people would probably experience severe vitamin deficiency.
While most vitamins are naturally derived from organic chemicals and plant-based sources, certain vitamins are derived from animal-based sources. Unfortunately, vitamin D3 happens to be one of these.
Recently, I wrote an article on why most breakfast cereal isn’t vegan. Like Country Crock’s original spread, the majority of non-vegan breakfast cereals contain added D3.
Vitamin D is an important nutrient that our bodies need to help break down and process calcium. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a whole host of bone-related issues and diseases.
To be honest, though, most people don’t need to supplement vitamin D3, as your body can easily make its own when exposed to the sun.
Of course, too much sun exposure isn’t good. But spending 10-15 minutes outside in the sun per day should provide all of the necessary UV light that your body needs to manufacture its own Vitamin D3.
Unlike most plant and mineral-derived vitamins, D3 is produced using a by-product of sheep’s wool. Kind of strange, right?
The process goes as follows:
- A mature sheep can produce up to 30 pounds of wool per year.
- While the wool is being cleaned and processed, a fatty compound called lanolin is extracted from the hair.
- The lanolin is then refined into a thick cholesterol-like substance.
- The cholesterol is then further refined until it yields pure vitamin D3, which is used in supplements and various food products.
Wool is considered to be an animal product and is therefore not vegan. If the wool were naturally harvested from wool that was voluntarily shed, it would be a different story.
Although some cruelty-free wool exists, 99% of wool in the world is not cruelty-free and the sheep-shearing industry is notorious for its cruelty.
Sheep are often kept in overcrowded environments, where disease and death are rampant. The sheep are typically sheared in a violent manner that often leaves them covered in cuts and bruises.
Then, when the sheep are older and can’t produce enough wool, they’re shipped off to the slaughterhouse to make dinner for somebody.
If you want to learn more about why most vegans are against the wool industry, check out the following video:
By consuming vitamin D3, you’re supporting this cruel industry, which is why vegans try to avoid this particular vitamin along with all other wool products.
In addition to the original Country Crock spread, the company also makes a line of baking sticks designed to replace butter sticks. Country Crock Baking Sticks are not vegan, though.
One of the top ingredients in baking sticks is whey, which is a direct by-product of dairy that comes from cheese production.
Although Country Crock’s original products may be off-limits for vegans, they started making a vegan plant butter spread that tastes almost exactly the same!
Country Crock’s plant butter is 100% vegan, dairy-free, and doesn’t contain any “mystery ingredients” like vitamin D3 that could cause vegans to question their product.
Let’s start by looking at a quick snapshot of the ingredients in the original Country Crock versus the ingredients in Country Crock’s Plant Butter:
Original Country Crock Spread:
As you can see, most of the ingredients are vegan, with the exception of the added vitamin D3. Also “natural flavors” is suggestive of dairy-derived flavoring, which is another no-no for vegans.
Now, take a look at the ingredients in Country Crock’s Plant Butter spread:
The only questionable ingredient, in this case, would be “natural flavor.” However, since this product is 100% certified vegan, you can rest assured that it doesn’t contain any animal-derived flavoring.
Another fun fact about Country Crock’s Plant Butter is that its production produces over 50% FEWER greenhouse gasses than the dairy industry and traditional butter production!
Eating vegan is all well and good, but let’s be honest, not all vegan products taste that great. So, how does Country Crock’s Plant Butter compare to the original spread in terms of taste?
In my opinion, the vegan plant butter tastes nearly identical to the original Country Crock spread. If you look at the ingredients, they’re mostly the same. Vitamin D3, itself, is pretty much tasteless. So removing it from the recipe clearly didn’t result in any significant flavor changes.
Here’s a full list of Country Crock’s vegan and non-vegan products, so you know what you are and aren’t allowed to eat:
|Country Crock Vegan Options||Country Crock Non-Vegan Options|
|Country Crock Plant Butter||Original Country Crock Spread|
|Country Crock Plant Cream||Country Crock Light Spread|
|Country Crock Salted Baking Sticks|
|Country Crock Churn Spread|
|Country Crock With Added Calcium|
After the success of Country Crock’s Plant Butter, the company decided to make a secondary product to compliment their dairy-free butter – plant cream!
If you enjoy baking or you need something to thicken a sauce, then you can’t go wrong with Country Crock’s new Plant Cream. This cream is designed to be substituted in recipes that require heavy whipping cream.
It’s a thick plant-based cream made from plant milk (a combination of water and lentil protein), vegetable oil, and a few other ingredients:
Personally, I’ve used Country Crock’s plant cream to make my own homemade vegan whipped cream! In a bowl, mix:
- 2 cups of Country Crock Plant Cream
- 2 tablespoons of vegan powdered sugar (derived from unrefined sugar)
- 2 teaspoons of natural vanilla extract
Whisk them for a couple of minutes (or use a handheld frother) and you’ll have some of the best homemade whipped cream you’ve ever had.
Although vegans should avoid Country Crock’s original spread and salted baking sticks, Country Crocks’ Plant Butter and Plant Cream are 100% vegan.
Both the plant butter and cream are great alternatives to dairy-based butter and heavy whipping cream. They also have far less fat and fewer calories per serving!
If you enjoyed this post and want to learn more about vegan baking, then check out one of my latest posts answering, is all-purpose flour vegan?