Are bagels vegan?

Are bagels vegan?

By Jinan Banna, PhD, RD

A lot of people have been asking me about whether bagels are vegan or not, and I’m here to answer that question! The short answer is no, they aren’t always vegan. However, there’s a way around it, so keep reading! One great thing about being able to make your own homemade bagel is that you get to control what goes into them, which means they’ll generally be healthier too. You don’t need any special ingredients either – just some flour, yeast, and a few others! Read on for everything you need to know about being a vegan who likes bagels.

What is a bagel and what are the ingredients typically in one?

Bagels are thought to have originated in Poland. Jewish immigrants brought bagels to America. Bagels generally contain flour, salt, yeast and water.  

Why do people think that bagels are vegan?

The vegan diet does not contain animal products, and most breads are considered vegan. Given the typical bagel formulation, it makes sense that people would think bagels are vegan. The four typical ingredients are not considered animal products, and you might not expect to find any eggs or dairy in the bagel.  While lots of the additions to the bagel, such as butter or cheese, are not vegan, these might not be considered when thinking of a basic bagel. 

Are there any non-vegan ingredients in a typical bagel?

While the traditional bagel might not contain non-vegan ingredients, bagels can certainly contain these. A quick search reveals recipes containing the following ingredients generally not considered vegan: 

  • Egg white
  • Egg yolk
  • Honey
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Butter

Some might be surprised to see honey on this list. If we consider that the bee is an animal, then the honey they produce is an animal product. Lots of people view honey as non-vegan and have also pointed out the unethical practices used to harvest honey from bees and the potential negative effects on bee health. 

You might have to ask some specific questions when purchasing a bagel as a vegan without being able to read an ingredients list. It may be the case that the dough is vegan, but bagels may also have an egg wash applied to give them a finished look. Boiling bagels may eliminate the need for the egg wash, so this may not always be an issue. 

What are some other breakfast options that don’t include eggs and dairy products?

The good news? Apart from a bagel made without egg and dairy, there are lots of other breakfast options that might come close to satisfying your craving for a grain-based product. If you want a delicious breakfast with no animal products, try out some recipes for banana walnut pancakes or blueberry almond scones that are both eggless and dairy-free. There’s plenty of other vegan bread options for you to try instead as well, like English muffins and tortillas! Here are a number of ideas: 

  1. Whole-wheat bread with peanut butter (could also try almond butter or other nut butter). For more on the nutritional content of these, check out this post on nut butter
  1. Oatmeal with plant-based milk, nuts and fresh fruit. If you are wondering about all of your options for non-dairy milk, check out this post on plant-based milk
  1. Avocado toast. Avocado is a great source of heart-healthy fat and makes for a filling breakfast. It also contains fiber and a host of vitamins and minerals, as does whole-grain bread if you choose this. 
  1. Overnight oats. Just like regular hot oatmeal, these can be prepared with plant-based milk, nuts and fresh fruit. You could also add other ingredients like chia seeds.
  1. Granola with plant-based milk. Check the label carefully to be sure you are not breaking the bank when it comes to added sugar. This breakfast can be a good source of fiber and vitamins and minerals. 
  1. Quinoa. You could eat this in a similar way to oatmeal, with plant-based milk, nuts and fruit of your choice. 
  1. Vegan pancakes with maple syrup. There are some great recipes online for these, and they are a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. 
  1. Vegan muffins. I just made these chocolate banana muffins and absolutely loved them. They are moist and full of nutrients. 
  1. Vegan french toast. These can be made without eggs, using ingredients like plant-based milk and others.
  1. Tofu scramble. This can be made to resemble scrambled eggs, and you can incorporate plenty of vegetables.

For many more ideas for breakfast without eggs, check out this blog post on breakfast without eggs.

The best way to make your own vegan bagels at home

We all now know that bagels are often not vegan. However, you can make your own vegan bagel and enjoy it just as much as a non-vegan one! If you’re interested in learning how to do this yourself, then read on for some recipes.

If you want to make your own vegan bagels, you’ll find lots of handy highly-rated recipes online. 

This recipe for homemade dairy-free bagels is pretty simple and has wholesome ingredients. The process involves mixing the ingredients, kneading the dough, shaping the bagels, boiling briefly, and baking. This recipe allows you to omit the egg wash some bagels might have.

Here is another recipe for vegan bagels with just four ingredients plus water and salt. The process is essentially the same as the previously mentioned recipe, and lots of serving suggestions are presented as well, including guacamole and cashew dip. 

Tips on how to stay healthy as a vegetarian or vegan, including what foods you should be eating and avoiding

I’m a big advocate for a plant-based diet, so let’s start by saying that it’s commendable to eat a diet that includes a lot of plants, both for the body and the planet. Vegetarians and vegans can have a complete diet, and there are a few considerations when planning.

For vegetarians, one thing to keep in mind would be getting enough of important micronutrients in the diet. Iron is a prime example; the iron in plant-based foods is not as easily absorbed as that in animal-source foods. Due to this, vegetarians require additional iron. Another consideration would be to make sure you’re not overdoing it on fiber. While sufficient fiber is important for health, too much can lead to mineral malabsorption and uncomfortable gastrointestinal effects. Eggs and dairy can be incorporated in the diet as a source of protein and nutrients that do not contain fiber. 

For vegans, the same considerations apply, as well as some others. A prime concern is getting enough vitamin B12, as this generally comes from animal-source foods. Vegans can get B12 from fortified food and beverages, and can also include nutritional yeast. Protein could also potentially be a concern for vegans; it’s important to include foods like beans, nuts, and soy and not just to consume fruits and vegetables as the main part of the diet. Most plant-based foods that contain protein are not considered complete proteins with all of the essential amino acids, but this is not generally a problem as long as you consume protein from lots of different foods.

Final thoughts

Be aware that many bagels are not vegan, and check the ingredients carefully. You can definitely enjoy bagels as a vegan, and they are not too hard to make at home if you want to go that route. 

Have questions? Comments? I would love to hear what you think below!

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