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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Lets talk about sugar

In my journey towards becoming vegan, I learned that some sugar is not vegan. This was a surprise to me. I would have never thought something like sugar would not be suitable for vegans. I started doing research on the subject and came across quite a few interesting articles on the internet that I am going to post here. It is alot of information but answered many of my questions. And helped me in choosing what to buy. When I went out looking for the sugars I found it quite easily. The first grocery store was a negative but the second general grocery store had a Florida crystal brand (which when you read through the post you will see the names of vegan and nonvegan sugars). Then I noticed it was at the natural store I go to as well. And if you can not find it, if you go to my first post, you can order the sugars from the online stores I posted. I hope you will find the information useful and that it will answer your questions about sugar. I will be copying and pasting the information, so please note any opinions in the excerpts are of the writer and are not mine.

Article one:

The Great Sugar Debate: Is it vegan?

I don't know how many times I've had this conversation with people. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on the subject. Most vegans I've come into contact with know there is something non-vegan about sugar, but not everyone knows what that is. So we went to PETA and asked them. Here's what they told us...

Bone char, made from the bones of cows, is at times used to whiten sugar. Some sugar companies use it in filters to decolorize their sugar. Other types of filters involve granular carbon or an ion exchange system rather than bone char.

The following sugar companies DO NOT use bone-char filters:
Florida Crystals Refinery
P.O. Box 86
South Bay, FL 33493
Labels: Florida Crystals

Refined Sugars Incorporated
One Federal St.
Yonkers, NY 10702
Labels: Jack Frost, Country Cane, 4# Flow-Sweet

Makes powdered brown sugar

Supreme Sugar Company (subsidiary of Archer Daniels Midland)
P.O. Box 56009
New Orleans, LA 70156
Labels: Supreme, Southern Bell, Rouse's Markets

The following sugar companies DO use bone-char filters:
1114 Ave. of the Americas
25th Fl.
New York, NY 10036

Savannah Foods
P.O. Box 335
Savannah, GA 31402

California & Hawaiian Sugar Company (with the exception of its Washed Raw Sugar)
830 Loring Ave.Crockett, CA 94525-1104

Supermarket brands of sugar (e.g., Giant, Townhouse, etc.) buy their sugar from several different refineries, so there is no way of knowing whether it is vegan at any given time.

Brown sugar is generally made by adding molasses to refined sugar, so sugar companies that use bone char in the production of their regular sugar will also use it in the production of their brown sugar. Confectioner's sugar (refined sugar mixed with cornstarch) made by such companies also involves the use of bone char. Fructose may, but does not typically involve a bone-char filter.

If you want to avoid all refined sugars, we recommend alternatives such as Sucanat and turbinado sugar. Neither of these sweeteners are ever filtered with bone char. Additionally, beet sugar--though normally refined--never involves the use of bone char.

Article two:

More about sugar and alternatives

Half of the white table sugar manufactured in the United States is cane sugar and the other half is beet sugar. Beet sugar accounts for about 40% of the world's sugar, and the United States is the third largest producer. Sugar beets, which naturally contain 16 to 18 percent sucrose, flourish in temperate climates where the soil is rich and the growing season is about five months long. Thirteen U.S. states currently grow sugar beets. Sugarcane, which contains 12 to 14 percent sucrose, is a tropical grass and is grown in four U.S. states: Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Texas. Both cane sugar and beet sugar are considered to be among the "purest" foods available because they are 99.9 percent sucrose.
The primary distinction between cane sugar and beet sugar, other than being derived from different plants, is the processing method. Unlike beet sugar, cane sugar processing typically takes place at two locations, the sugar mill and the refinery. During the final purification process, cane sugar is filtered through activated carbon (charcoal) which may be of animal, vegetable, or mineral origin. This step is unnecessary for beet sugar and therefore is never done.
Over half of the cane refineries in the United States use bone char (charcoal made from animal bones) as their activated carbon source. The bone char used in this filtering process is so far removed from its animal source that cane sugar processed in this method is deemed kosher pareve, which, according to Jewish dietary laws, means that it contains no meat or milk in any form as an ingredient. A number of vegans disagree with this perspective.
Consumers cannot discern any differences between beet sugar and cane sugar in taste, appearance, and use. Beet sugar is frequently not labeled as such -- the packaging may just list "sugar." Cane sugar is more often labeled specifically, but not always. For consumers wishing to differentiate, the issue has become convoluted. Many vegans prefer to avoid white table sugar altogether rather than chance using a product that was filtered through bone char.
Brown sugar consists of sugar crystals (cane sugar or beet sugar) combined with molasses for taste and color. Confectioner's sugar (also known as "powdered sugar") is white table sugar that has been pulverized into a very fine powder and sifted.
Some vegans replace white table sugar with unbleached cane sugar or dehydrated and granulated cane juice, both of which are available in natural food stores. Most of these products can replace white sugar measure for measure for general use (such as on cereal or in beverages) and in recipes. These products are typically darker in color than white table sugar -- ranging from light amber to rich brown -- due to their naturally higher molasses content. This can sometimes alter the flavor of recipes and may also affect the color of the finished product.
Unbleached cane sugar is considered by some to be more healthful than white table sugar. Although it may contain minimal trace nutrients, one would have to eat massive quantities of this sugar in order to obtain any reasonable nutrititive value. And, of course, there are numerous drawbacks associated with the overconsumption of sugar including tooth decay and obesity.
Nutritionally speaking, sugar is sugar is sugar, whether it is white table sugar, maple sugar, or a natural alternative. A 1948 federal law requires all products sold as sugar in the United States to be at least 96 percent pure sucrose, so even "raw" sugar (sometimes called "turbinado sugar") is by law compositionally close to white table sugar -- about 96 to 98 percent sucrose.
Beyond the bone char concerns and health-related issues, there are many factors to consider when purchasing sugar and products that contain it. The vast majority of sugarcane is not organically grown, and most sugar plantations employ environmentally unsound agricultural methods, such as heavy insecticide and pesticide use and crop burning, which negatively impact soil, air, water, and the health of the workers. Sugarcane production is labor and energy intensive and utilizes large amounts of fossil fuels in processing, filtration, packaging, and transport. Plantation owners typically pay meager wages and provide no benefits while workers are forced to endure brutal, substandard conditions.
There are many reasons why vegans avoid white table sugar, why some purchase only organically-grown unbleached sugar, and why still others eschew sugar products altogether. A prudent approach may be to reduce our use of all types of sugar, including sugary processed foods, and to train our taste buds to more fully appreciate the natural sweetness of fresh and dried fruits, grain sweeteners, and other whole foods. Still another option is to purchase granulated natural sweeteners such as maple sugar, granular fruit sweetener, and date sugar, or to use natural liquid sweeteners such as pure maple syrup, agave syrup, malt syrup, brown rice syrup, and mixed fruit juice concentrates. These products are available in natural food stores and many supermarkets.


Article three:

What is Sugar In The Raw?
Sugar In The Raw is a natural, unrefined sugar made from sugar cane grown in Maui. Juice is extracted from the sugar cane, and then crystallized through evaporation. These crystals are rinsed with a very small amount of water to remove just enough stickiness to make the product free flowing. We pack this turbinado sugar and market it as Sugar In The Raw.

What makes Sugar In The Raw different from other sugars? Is it healthier for me than regular sugar?
Sugar In The Raw's distinctive color and taste comes from the sugar cane juice flavor that naturally occurs in the crystals. By contrast, white sugar is obtained by refining the sugar cane crystals to remove all the sugar cane juice flavor (and with that, all of the nutrients). Thus white sugar is basically 100% sucrose whereas Sugar In The Raw contains very small amounts of nutrients. Some nutritionists believe that these very small amounts of nutrients contribute to the advantages Sugar In The Raw over refined white sugar. Some commercial brown sugars are made by adding coloring and flavor back to refined white sugar; this is not the case with Sugar In The Raw.

How many calories in a packet of Sugar In The Raw?
One packet (approximately 1 teaspoon) of Sugar In The Raw has 5 grams of carbohydrate and only 20 calories.

How may I use Sugar In The Raw?
Add it to your coffee, tea, cappuccino or latte. Replace white sugar in recipes with an equal quantity of Sugar In The Raw. Sprinkle over cereal or fruit. Mix with cinnamon and sprinkle over pancakes, waffles, or French toast. Use as a topping on muffins, cookies and other baked treats. Blend with fruit and skim milk or yogurt for a healthy smoothie. Use in glazes and sauces for meat and poultry.

Is Sugar In The Raw kosher?
Yes. Sugar In The Raw is certified kosher.

Is bone char, or any other animal byproduct used in the manufacture of Sugar In The Raw?
Sugar In The Raw does not contain any animal by-product, nor does it come into contact with bone char or any other animal by-products during its manufacture. Sugar In The Raw is appropriate for vegan diets.

Is Sugar In The Raw safe for people with celiac disease?
Yes, Sugar In The Raw is safe for people with celiac disease. Sugar In The Raw contains no gluten, nor does it come into contact with glutinous products such as wheat during its manufacture.

Is Sugar In The Raw safe for diabetics?
Sugar In The Raw is metabolized in the body in the same manner as regular sugar. Accordingly, it is not recommended to individuals who must restrict their sugar consumption such as diabetics.

What is the shelf life of Sugar In The Raw?
Like table sugar, Sugar In The Raw has an unlimited shelf life when stored under cool and dry conditions. Exposure to high humidity and/or temperatures may result in caking, but the product is still safe to consume.

My box of Sugar In The Raw has hardened. What should I do?
Because of its sugar cane juice flavor, Sugar In The Raw may become hard and caked if stored under humid conditions. Avoid exposure and storage in humid environment. Sometimes it is possible to loosen the lumps by placing the Sugar In The Raw in a tray and putting it into a low heat oven (up to 160F) for 15 minutes to a half hour. Please use caution not to overheat or burn the product.

Why, if it's less refined, is Sugar In The Raw more expensive than white sugar?
Sugar In The Raw is a Premium Hawaiian turbinado sugar made from all natural cane grown in limited quantities on the island of Maui. Worldwide, there are few growing and manufacturing facilities devoted to producing high quality turbinado sugar, and so the supply is much more limited than the supply of white sugar. As a result, Sugar In The Raw costs more than white sugar.


Article four:

Why Some Vegetarians Will Not Consume Sugar-

Some vegetarians, usually strict vegans, will not consume sugar. This is because sugar is often whitened with the bone char from cows.
If you are a vegetarian and you want to continue eating products that contain sugar, but do not want to cause suffering in the process, you have a number of options.
Your first option is to only consume products made with beet sugar. There are two major sources of sugar in the U.S.A: beet sugar and cane sugar. Cane sugar is often whitened with bone char from cows; in contrast, beet sugar is never whitened with bone char.
So, if you want to completely avoid the bone char, you can do so by eating only beet sugar. The only challenge, and it is a big one, is to find out which foods contain beet sugar and which foods contain cane sugar.
To make things more complex, you can also consume a number of types of cane sugar, as long as you are willing to find out what the source of the sugar is.
You can do this in a lot of cases by looking at the nutritional panel on food before you buy it. If it says fructose or dextrose, the sugar is from a plant source (either beet or corn). If it says sucrose, it could be from a number of sources, which could include bone char-whitened cane sugar.
Now, if you are cooking with sugar, you can personally verify that is bone-char free by purchasing from the following companies, which have publicly-stated that they do not use bone-char: Florida Crystals Refinery, Imperial Sugar Company, Irish Sugar Ltd., Sugar In the Raw (which is also less-refined), and American Crystal Sugar Company.
If you can’t find these brands, but want to avoid consuming bone-char sugar if possible, you can avoid these brands, which have publicly-stated that they do use bone-char: Domino, Savannah Foods, and C&H Sugar Company.Source:

Thank you for coming to my blog. Please come back again soon.

Happy Vegan cooking



LK said...

Wow! Great information!

I've been concerned about sugar and other hidden animal products in my foods just recently, and your post hit the spot! Thanks for the information....

Do you have a favorite sugar brand/sugar type that you would recommend?

Gnewvegan said...

I am so glad that you have found the information helpful. I am always learning something new In my new vegan life and want to help others as I am learning. Comments are very helpful because not only can vegans connect but it lets me know if the information is being received well. I do not have a particular brand that is my favorite. I buy what I know is animal free and available. I have been using Sugar by Florida Crystals . A friend bought me sugar from a whole food store. I think it said "365" vegan white sugar. My suggestion is to look at your local grocery store and see what they have, keeping in mind names from the list on my post. And if that fails go to the local whole food store. I had found the Florida Crystals at the local store and also at the whole food store. When I needed powdered sugar for the holidays I ordered it online, not sure if the store had it. So there is always a way. :) Happy vegan cooking..


Niro said...

This is very informative and I express my gratitude. Can you please let us know what bone do they use in the Philippines as there are less cows? And also please let us know the vegan sugar companies or the brands available in the Philippines.