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Is peanut butter vegan?
The easy answer is, yes. Peanut butter is vegan. But sometimes it’s not that clear, and you have to watch out for additional ingredients!
There are a lot of hidden animal products in so many of the foods that we eat. Milk, butter, and honey are so pervasive in the creamy sweet foods that we eat that sometimes it can feel as if there’s nothing left for those of us that are vegan.
How is peanut butter made?
Let’s go over the notable stages of peanut butter production:
Planting and harvesting
Depending on the climate, peanuts are typically planted in April or May. In September and October, harvesting occurs, and mechanical pickets remove the peanuts from their vines. They’re then transported to a peanut sheller and the drying phase commences.
Shelling and processing
Once the peanuts have dried, they’re graded based on size and meticulously checked for defects, spots, and broken skins. The nuts that pass inspection are either cleaned for sale as in-shell peanuts or shelled for further processing (e.g. for the making of peanut butter!)
Making (roasting, cooling & blanching)
Once manufacturers receive a shipment, peanuts are roasted in one of two ways: with oil or without oil. The roasting oven often reaches up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit! After cooling off, peanuts are usually blanched, which means they are separated from their heart and skin before they move on to the grinding phase.
The stage where peanuts become “butter”. The manufacturer uses devices to adjust for the texture of the product (simply put, they decide whether the butter will be “smooth” or “chunky”) and for how much oil is freed from the nuts.
Note: You know how in some jars, you see the oil kind of floating at the top, while in others, it’s seemingly invisible? During grinding, most peanut butter manufacturers add ingredients to the peanuts to achieve that flawless consistency you know and love, and further, to create a specific taste or special flavor.
Lastly, manufacturers typically use vacuum packaging to reduce oxidation (extending shelf life) as the peanut butter is jarred and capped. Jars are then labeled, placed in cartons, and stored until they’re ready to be shipped to retail outlets or directly to customers.
As you can see, there’s a lot of time and effort that goes into every jar of peanut butter that lines the shelves of your local grocer.
Non-vegan ingredients used in peanut butter
Countless peanut butter manufacturers implement additives in their products. Each serves a function, from enhancing taste to extending shelf life to preventing oil separation, and these “extras” can total up to 10% of the total product!
While the most common, run-of-the-mill additives in popular peanut butter, such as salt, sugar, and oils, aren’t very healthy or nutritionally dense, they are, however, almost always vegan.
Generally, it’s the fancy flavored peanut butter at the greatest risk of having a “non-vegan” status. Below, we’ve listed the most common, non-vegan additives, with a few brands and flavors to watch out for as you peruse aisles and read labels.
Is peanut butter made from butter?
Some people might think that peanut butter isn’t vegan and that the clue is very much in the name – butter. Traditional butter made from dairy milk is, of course, non-vegan. But peanut butter isn’t just butter with the addition of peanuts and is one of many nut butter, such as almond and cashew, that are made more or less from nuts alone.
So, what might we expect to find in a typical jar of peanut butter? The phrase “more or less” sounds like it could lead to “but” at some stage so a little further examination is needed. The best quality peanut butter will usually be made from 100% peanuts. Nut kinds of butter are made simply by grinding nuts into a smooth paste and products made this way will be as healthy, wholesome, and vegan as the nuts themselves.
However, as with many mass-produced food items in the modern world, there are potentially a whole host of other ingredients that can find their way into the jar. Such unnecessary additions are usually employed to preserve the shelf-life or stability of the product, make it cheaper, make it easier to produce, or make it taste nicer (where “taste nicer” usually equates to more sugar, salt, or fat, nutrients humans are primed to like by the full force of evolution).
Common additions include sugar, oil, and salt but you might also find E numbers in there as well, usually used to stabilize the peanut butter.
Making your own peanut butter
The following recipe only takes 2 minutes to make this creamy and delicious peanut butter, and you only need peanuts and a blender to make it. It’s the healthiest peanut butter you can eat!
- 3 cups peanuts (450 grams)
- Place the peanuts (skinless) and blend until then until you get the desired consistency.
- The peanut butter will be ready in 1 or 2 minutes.
- Store the peanut butter in a sealed container in the fridge.