How can we live without ketchup along with our fries or hamburger? I even love to eat ketchup on my vegetables. There is just something about that sweet, tangy flavor that enhances everything I eat!
Ketchup is one of my fave condiments and I recently did some some digging to find out whether ketchup is vegan or not.
I found that for the most part, ketchup is vegan. However, depending on your views on certain issues, it might still be something you need to shy away from!
Also, not all ketchup brands are vegan. So keep reading to learn which are, and which are not.
Catch Up With Ketchup…
If someone told me that they don’t know what ketchup is, I would probably think they are lying.
But just to give everyone the general idea of what ketchup is, it’s a sauce that’s usually used as a condiment and is made of tomatoes mixed with sugar and vinegar.
The ketchup we know now is quite different from what it was in the past. Have you ever wondered where ketchup is from?
Where Is It From?
It is believed that the word ketchup came from the Chinese word “like-tsiap” which meant pickled fish sauce. The fish sauce mixture was mainly used as a seasoning in dishes.
From its Chinese origins, the fish sauce became popular in Vietnam and then in places like Malaysia and Indonesia. In those parts, the name “ke-tsiap” became kechap and ketjap respectively. In the 17th century, the English took a liking to the seasoning and they brought it back home to see if they could create something similar.
To recreate the flavors, the British made some tweaks here and there to their version by adding stuff like mushrooms, walnuts, oysters or anchovies.
When some English settlers came to America, they brought along their mushroom version of ketchup.
Tomatoes were first mentioned as an ingredient of ketchup in a recipe that was included in The Sugar House Book by Sandy Addison circa 1801.
The recipe mentioned the squeezing tomatoes, adding salt and boiling them. Once that process was done, different spices, ginger, and pepper were added. Once mixed, they were then boiled again until the consistency thickened. When it was cooled, it was bottled and kept for years.
Modern Day Ketchup
When we see a bottle of ketchup on the table, we would probably never think that it has a very long history! But alas…it does!
Over the course of its history, we have seen the evolution of ketchup from being a Chinese fish sauce flavoring to the one we know now.
When you go to a grocery store and check the labels on ketchup bottles, you would most likely see these common ingredients:
- Sweetener (usually high fructose corn syrup or sugar but there are other types)
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Various spices
Based on these common ingredients, it seems like nothing screams non-vegan friendly. But like always, it pays to check the labels for yourself and see if anything out of the ordinary jumps out.
Ingredients That Would Raise Some Vegans’ Eyebrows
As mentioned earlier, if based on the most common ketchup ingredients, it qualifies as vegan. However, upon closer inspection, there are some factors that might not go well with the moral stands of some vegans. Let’s take sugar as an example:
1. White or Brown Sugar
Perhaps one of the main concerns for vegans is the presence of sugar in ketchup. While sugar is derived from plants, it’s the way by how it is processed that has become an issue.
According to PETA, bone char (made from the bones of animals particularly cattle) is used in the refining of white and brown sugar. It is usually used by the sugar industry as a decolorizing filter that helps sugarcane get its white color.
Given the demand, companies most often work with different sugar suppliers and that can make it difficult to detect which ones are using bone char to refine their sugar and which are not.
While bone char is not a primary ingredient in the production of ketchup, the fact that bone char could have been used in the sugar that’s added to the mix, is what pretty much turns most vegans off.
For a much more in depth discussion on the topic of sugar, check out my blog post “Is Sugar Vegan? The Complete And Sweet Answer You Crave!”.
Are These Ketchup Brands Vegan?
Unfortunately not all of the popular ketchup brands that we can find in almost any grocery store is vegan. And to make it even more complex, some varieties of a specific brand are vegan and some are not.
Lucky for you, I already did the homework and answered the most common questions vegans have about ketchup:
1. Heinz Organic Ketchup
When people hear “ketchup”, I bet most of them would automatically think Heinz! Well, who can blame them?
While Heinz may not have been the first bottled ketchup to be sold (the honor goes to a man named Jonas Yerkes), it certainly became one of the most (if not the most) popular brands of ketchup in the world today!
If you are leaning towards getting Heinz ketchup, make sure you GET the organic variety.
There are several Heinz ketchup varieties so you have to be careful of the others. Vegan and organic ones do not include sugar that has gone through the bone char refining process.
Felix is one of the popular food producers in Austria. And among the food items they produce is ketchup. Of all the several varieties of ketchup, the vegan options are:
- FELIX Ketchup
- FELIX Pure Organic Ketchup
This is based on the list of vegan items that Felix has which you can find on the company’s FAQ sheet.
When you check Hunt’s current roster of ketchup, you will find a couple of varieties available. Perhaps one that might catch your attention is its 100% Natural Tomato Ketchup.
Don’t let the name deceive you though. While the ingredients claim that it is 100% natural, it actually contains sugar which might have been refined from beet or cane sugar. Given that information, maybe you should consider looking for other options!
Vegan Tomato Ketchup Brands You Should Check Out
To make sure you are on the safe side, perhaps it’s high time you checked out the various vegan ketchup alternatives that you can find in your fave stores! So let’s take a look together…
1. Veg’d Organics Vegan All-Natural Ketchup
Made not only from tomatoes but also of carrots, butternut squash, beets, and sweet potatoes, this brand of ketchup is Gluten-Free, diabetic friendly and of course… vegan!
This ketchup is also fortified with the following:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K2
2. Tessemae’s Organic Ketchup
When it comes to this brand of ketchup, there is absolutely no hint of any refined sugar at all. It is made from all these ingredients:
- Organic Tomato Paste
- Organic Date Puree
- Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
- Organic Lemon Juice
- Organic Garlic Powder
- Organic Onion Powder
- Sea Salt
All these ingredients are mixed together to produce a ketchup that is non-GMO, Gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan!
3. Annie’s Organic Ketchup
With its rich, ripe organic tomato flavor, Annie’s Organic Ketchup is a brand that vegans would surely love!
It contains no artificial flavors, synthetic colors or preservatives, and no high-fructose corn syrup (in general, you should stay away from anything that has high-fructose corn syrup).
Also, it is certified organic and non- GMO Project Verified. It is of course gluten-free and vegan!
4. Primal Kitchen Organic Unsweetened Ketchup
Made with USDA organic ingredients, this brand of ketchup contains no added sugar such as dates, maple syrup or honey.
With its very straightforward list of ingredients (see below), it’s a great vegan ketchup alternative you should consider:
- Organic Tomato Concentrate
- Organic Balsamic
- Organic Garlic Powder
- Less than 2% of Salt
- Organic Spices
- Organic Onion Powder
Make Your Own Ketchup
If you want to be super sure that your ketchup is vegan, maybe you should consider making some on your own! How hard can it be, right?
This fairly easy vegan ketchup recipe sounds like something that we can all try in our respective kitchens! Well, to get the ball rollin’, here’s the DIY ketchup recipe that you can try making at home:
- 1 cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons sweetener
- (consider maple syrup, vegan sugar, etc)
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoons salt (or to taste)
Once you have all the ingredients, all you have to do is mix them together! If you want to give your homemade ketchup a little kick, perhaps add some spices or peppers to the mix.
From its Oriental beginnings up to its now more modern version, ketchup has certainly come a long, long way! As you have now learned, there is even vegan ketchup!
However, keep in mind that you have to watch out for where the sugar in your favorite ketchup brand in being sourced from.
Or if you want to make things easier on yourself, just pick from one of the vegan ketchup brands I listed above.
And please let me know in the comment section below, if there are other vegan ketchup brands that I did not mention in this blog post, so I can add them.
Also, if you know a fellow vegan who loves ketchup as much as we do, please share this blog post on their social media page today!