Is Sourdough Bread Suitable For Vegans?

Is sourdough bread suitable for vegans
Published on
22 June 2021
Gareth Busby
Gareth Busby

A vegan diet is arguably the most sustainable and healthy life choice anyone can adopt. It’s not uncommon for people to wonder if sourdough bread is suitable for vegans, especially if they are new to it. This is because bread can be made with animal-derived ingredients.

The answer, fortunately, is a resounding yes! Sourdough bread can be eaten by vegans!!

Sourdough is an ancient type of bread that not only tastes good but is increasingly popular in the vegan community. Making it yourself ensures a plant-based product. But generally, a standard sourdough without non-vegan additions like cheese is vegan friendly.

Sourdough bread dough only consists of flour, water, salt and sourdough starter. A starter uses flour and water. There is no need to add any animal-derived products to make sourdough bread. The tangy flavour in sourdough bread is due to organic acids, there isn’t any dairy or eggs involved.

The quickest way to check if bread is suitable for vegans is to review the label. Allergy information should be easy to locate on the packaging and will tell you if the product contains dairy, milk or eggs. 

Depending on the legislation of your country, fresh bread packaging may not display allergies. In this case, it’s best to ask the baker. You’ll want to check if there are any fats or sweeteners used. Or if they use a dough mix or conditioner if it is vegan approved. Also check how the baking tins are greased, or if butter or egg wash are brushed on the bread before or after baking.

Non-vegan ingredient list commonly used in bread

What are the common non-vegan ingredients used in bread making:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Lard
  • Margarine
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Ghee
  • Buttermilk
  • Sodium caseinate
  • Honey
  • Whey

Bread ingredients that can come from plants or animals

To ensure these products don’t contain any animal products, check for vegan authenticity statements on the packaging. Unless you are buying from reputable suppliers you might want to avoid completely if you see the following ingredients on the label. These ingredients can contain non-vegan products.

Mono-glycerides and diglycerides

These forms of fat are used to increase the texture and preserve moisture as emulsifiers. They mostly come from soybean oil but can be derived from animals.


Usually derived from soybeans but lecithin can also come from egg yolks.


Diacetyl tartaric acid ester of mono-and diglycerides. Also known as E472e, contains monoglycerides and diglycerides which can be animal-based.

sourdough bread suitable for vegans

These loaves of bread are usually vegan, however, it is a good idea to check the label if you are not making them yourself. I’ve also compiled a list of the most popular types to see which breads are safe to eat for vegans.

Breads that are usually not vegan

These breads are unlikely to be vegan unless specified as dairy products are integral to the recipe.

  • Challah
  • Naan
  • Pullman loaf
  • Brioche
  • Garlic Bread
  • Doughnuts

How to make sourdough recipes vegan friendly

Egg replacement

– Seeds

If your recipe uses eggs, try flaxseeds instead. They are a great vegan alternative. One tablespoon of flaxseed converts to one egg.

Take 15 grams or 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds or chia seeds and mix with 45 grams or 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Leave to stand for 5 minutes to thicken and use as you would eggs.

– Aquafaba

Egg whites can also be replaced with Aquafaba. This is made from the liquid that legumes have been cooked in. Chickpea Aquafaba is the most popular version. You can buy it, or use this Aquafaba recipe to make it at home.

Milk replacement

Dairy milk can easily be replaced with soy, coconut, almond or rice milk. These kinds of milk are more viscous than dairy milk so you may need to reduce the amount used in the recipe so you don’t end up with slop!

Butter Replacement

Plant oils like rape, sunflower, olive or coconut are great ways to include fat in bread, without using butter. Likewise, vegan margarine can offer more tenderising properties than liquid oil.

Sweetener Replacement

Maple syrup is a great almost like-for-like alternative to honey. Many other sweeteners can be used including:

  • Brown rice syrup
  • Molasses
  • Beet sugar
  • Agave nectar

Ending thoughts

Yes, sourdough bread and yeast made bread can be made vegan. It is easy to make at home, however, when purchasing bread it’s best to review the label and make sure it is declared safe for vegan diets. If you want a sourdough recipe that is vegan safe, take a look at my beginner’s sourdough recipe.

Is sourdough bread suitable for vegans frequently asked questions

Does sourdough bread have dairy in it?
French bread and sourdough may not contain dairy products in their listed ingredients. But bakers may bake these loaves in butter-filled pans or brush the crusts with butter. If you want to be sure, all you have to do is ask!
Is sourdough culture vegan?
Sourdough culture is vegan because it’s made from yeast fungi and bacteria with no animal products in the process. However, there are some sourdough cultures that use honey as an ingredient such as the Italian sourdough, lievito madre which is not vegan.
Is sourdough bread plant based?
A plant-based diet is based on whole-grain food with minimal processing. For sourdough bread to reach these demands, whole grain flour ( preferably stoneground) should be used instead of white flour.

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