I frequently make pancakes, but I’ve never questioned if flour was vegan or not, though I can say the same about other ingredients such as sugar, lactic acid, and a few others.
Regular flour is definitely suitable for vegans, including white flour. There was an ongoing debate within the vegan community about white flour being bleached with bone char, but that is not the case, not even in North America. There is an exception, but I’d say 99% of all flours are suitable for vegans.
In this article, I’ll show you why flour is not bleached with bone char, and I’ll look at over 20 different flours, and tell you everything you need to know about each one, including whether they’re vegan.
Why Isn’t Flour Processed With Bone Char?
From what I’ve researched, it’s unlikely for companies to use bone char to process flour.
You can confirm this by looking for inorganic oxidants on the label. Inorganic oxidants are things like chlorine, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), peroxides (magnesium, calcium, etc), azodicarbonamide, bromates, or iodates.
Oxygen (or air) is also an inorganic oxidant but is not listed on labels (usually).
The reason flour is vegan is that those elements react strongly to organic matter, and the addition of animal derivatives would make them less efficient, and thus increase production costs.
If you still have your doubts and still want to avoid flour, I would suggest you use alternative flours like chickpea flour or oat flour. You can also consider making your own flour.
Regular flour, as we know it, is not processed with bone char, so you don’t have to worry about it.
Does Flour Contain Animal-Based Additives?
Different brands use different vitamins and minerals, and it’s difficult to pinpoint the nature of those additives unless you directly contact the company.
Here are some of the common additives you can see in most flour brands:
- Iron or Reduced Iron
- Thiamine Mononitrate
- Folic Acid
The additives present in flour are 100% vegan. There was a misconception that iron could be sourced from animals, but the form of iron in flour is usually called ferrous fumarate, which is typically vegan.
Is Flour Typically Vegan?
I’ve looked at multiple flours, and I can safely say that 99% of them are suitable for vegans.
However, sometimes the ingredient statements can seem confusing, but it’s only because certain flours are fortified with vitamins and minerals, based on food and beverage laws created in the mid-1900s.
Because these vitamins and minerals have weird, scientific names, they naturally raise questions that make vegans hesitate when reading the ingredients.
The bottom line is that most flours are vegan, except for two.
Is White Flour Vegan?
White flour, also known as plain or all-purpose flour, is made solely from the endosperm. It contains about 75% of the wheat grain, whereas most of the germ and bran are removed.
This is probably the most versatile flour because it allows you to create cakes, pastries, and biscuits. However, because it’s stripped from the germ and bran, it’s lacking nutritionally.
Vegans initially suspected that, like sugar, white flour was bleached with bone char, however, there is no evidence to support that notion. As it stands, white flour is 100% vegan.
Is Whole Wheat Flour Vegan?
Whereas white flour removes the most nutrient-rich parts of the grain, whole wheat flour is made by grinding entire wheat kernels, so it keeps a lot of the nutrient-dense parts of the grain like the germ, and bran.
This flour is usually used in the baking of bread or other baked goods and is also mixed with white flour to restore a lot of the nutrients that were lost in the bleaching process, namely fiber, protein, and vitamins.
Like white flour, whole wheat flour is also suitable for vegans, as it’s made entirely of wheat kernels, and it doesn’t have any added vitamins or minerals.
Is Oat Flour Vegan?
Oat flour is a nutritional whole grain flour made from oats, and it’s one you can easily make at home.
As long as you have a food processor, you can turn store-bought oats into a fine powder and use it to create a variety of recipes, including pancakes, waffles, muffins, fruit crumbles, and a whole lot more.
Since it’s purely made from oats, oat flour is always 100% vegan.
Is Chickpea Flour Vegan?
Chickpea flour is also a whole flour made from chickpeas or garbanzo beans (as they’re called in Spain), and it’s also a great gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.
Like oat flour, it also has a superior nutrient profile than white flour, as it’s richer in vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and is lower in calories and carbs.
I personally use chickpea flour to create vegan omelets, which is a recipe I’ve totally stolen from a book called “O Vegetariano”, written by a Portuguese nutritionist called Sandra Gomes Silva.
Chickpea flour is also suitable for vegans, as it’s purely made from chickpeas, and it doesn’t contain any added vitamins or minerals.
Is Almond Flour Vegan?
Almond flour is made by crushing and grinding almonds into a fine powder, much like people often do with oats, chickpeas, lentils, or other grains and legumes.
The make almond flour, manufacturers usually remove the skin, hence it has a light brown or yellow color.
Almond is often mixed with white flour to create baked goods, for example, I’ve seen this combination in recipes of almond cakes.
Almond flour is made entirely from almonds, so it’s definitely suitable for vegans.
Is Corn Flour Vegan?
Corn flour is made by finely grinding dried whole corn kernels, and like whole wheat flour, it contains the hull, germ, and endosperm of the corn, hence it’s considered a whole grain flour.
Corn flour is usually yellow, but it can also be white or blue depending on the variety of the corn. It has a fine and smooth texture, and you can make some mean cornmeal porridge with it.
Like other whole grain flours, cornflour is also suitable for vegans, as it’s made from dried corn kernels.
Is Cake Flour Vegan?
Also a form of white flour, cake flour is a low protein flour that is milled into a fine consistency.
Because it has lower protein content, you have less gluten being formed as you mix the batter, which means you can acquire a softer, fluffier texture.
Cake flour is one of the most common flours available and it’s 100% suitable for vegans.
Is Gluten-Free Flour Vegan?
Gluten-free flours are made with different mixtures which vary from brand to brand.
They might contain rice flour, teff flour, sorghum flour, potato flour, chickpea flour, and nut meal which is a more coarsely ground version of the nuts.
The gluten-free flour you can pick up at the supermarket is generally suitable for vegans, but products that contain gluten-free flour might not always be vegan.
Is Coconut Flour Vegan?
Coconut flour is a soft flour made from dried coconut meat.
After squeezing the milk from the coconut’s meat, the meat is dried at a low temperature, and ground into a flour that you can use to create baked goods.
Coconut flour is somewhat of a heavy flour but it’s also quite soft to the touch. It also adds a natural coconut flavor to recipes, which may not be a good thing if the end product isn’t supposed to taste like coconut.
Coconut flour is 100% suitable for vegans, as it’s made from dried coconut meat, and it doesn’t have added vitamins or minerals that may raise a concern.
Is Bread Flour Vegan?
Bread flour is milled from hard spring wheat. Since it has a higher protein content, you have more gluten capable of being formed, which ultimately strengthens the dough and enables the loaves of bread to rise high.
Like most flours, bread flour is also suitable for vegans.
Is Buckwheat Flour Vegan?
Buckwheat flour is whole flour ground from the buckwheat plant, a pseudocereal that despite the name, it’s completely unrelated to wheat.
Both gluten and grain-free, buckwheat flour packs more protein, dietary fiber, and B vitamins than oat or whole wheat flour, and is also a great source of potassium and essential amino acids.
Needless to say, buckwheat flour is also suitable for vegans.
Are White Rice and Brown Rice Flour Vegan?
White rice flour is a form of flour made from white rice; which is a refined grain that had its outer bran layer removed before being ground.
Brown rice flour, however, is ground from whole rice grain, so none of the starch components were removed, which means a lot of its nutritional properties were preserved.
Both flours can be used as a thickening agent for refrigerated or frozen recipes because they help prevent liquid separation.
Rice flour, whether it’s from white or brown rice, is always suitable for vegans.
Is Besan Flour Vegan?
Besan flour, which is more commonly known as gram flour, is a pulse flour made from a ground chickpea called the gram chickpea. The term pulse comes from pulses, which refers to the edible seeds of legumes.
It is a pale yellow powder with an earthy flavor, so it’s ideal to make savory dishes. It’s often used to coat vegetables for pakoras (a spiced fritter from India), and it can also be used to make flatbreads.
Besan flour, like other pulse flours, is also suitable for vegans.
Is Barley Flour Vegan?
Barley flour is flour made from dried and ground barley. It’s typically used to prepare barley bread, though it’s also mixed with wheat flour to create other forms of bread, such as flatbread or yeast bread.
It’s a suitable flour for making bread due to its higher protein content, as it enables bakers to create a stronger, consistent dough capable of rising in the oven.
Barley flour, like most flours, is also suitable for vegans, but it’s not recommended if you’re looking for a gluten-free alternative.
Is Cultured Wheat Flour Vegan?
Cultured wheat flour is made by fermenting wheat flour with a bacteria called Propionibacterium freudenreichii, which plays a role in the creation of Swiss cheese and other foods.
Using cultured wheat flour prevents the growth of unwanted bacteria, yeasts, and molds, and it replaces chemical preservatives like sorbates and benzoates, leading to a more healthy flour.
Even though the bacteria itself is used in dairy products, culture wheat flour is entirely vegan.
Are Cassava Flour and Tapioca Flour Vegan?
Cassava is a rich source of carbohydrates and fiber, but it also contains small amounts of iron, vitamin C, iron, thiamine, phosphorus, calcium, and riboflavin.
People tend to confuse cassava flour with tapioca flour, but they’re slightly different.
Both products are made from the cassava root, but while cassava flour incorporates the entire root, tapioca flour only uses the starchy part of the plant.
Both cassava flour and tapioca flour are suitable alternatives to wheat flour, however, tapioca flour is known to lend a more thick, chewier texture to recipes.
Like other whole flours, cassava flour is suitable for both vegans and vegetarians.
Is Cricket Flour Vegan?
Cricket flour is as the name suggests, made by first dry roasting the crickets in an oven and milling them into a soft powder with a dark brown hue.
Some sources suggest that the crickets are killed humanely by being frozen before being harvested – but despite that, they can’t be considered vegan, as they die nevertheless.
Is Chapati Flour Vegan?
Chapati flour is a blend of wheat and barley flour that is typical in Indian cuisine to make chapatis.
Unfortunately, chapati flour is not gluten-free, but it is suitable for vegans.
Are Dorum Flour and Semolina Flour Vegan?
Dorum and semolina flour are both made by milling dorum wheat, or Triticum turgidum, which is regarded as the second most cultivated wheat after bread wheat.
They’re often mistaken for each other but they’re different. Dorum flour is quite fine and resembles regular baking flour, whereas semolina is much coarser, though they can both be used to make bread and pasta.
Both dorum flour and semolina flour are suitable for vegans, however, they’re not gluten-free.
Is Konjac Flour Vegan?
Konjac is the short name for an East or Southeast Asian plant that goes by the name Amorphophallus konjac, which has an edible corm.
Konjac flour producers take the edible corm and dry it before grinding it down to make flour. It’s typically used as a thickening and texturizing agent, but you can also use it to replace cornstarch – to make puddings, pie fillings, sauces, and gravy.
Konjac flour is both vegan and gluten-free, which makes it ideal for vegans, and people with gluten allergies. However, Konjac is mainly distributed in Southeast Asia and Africa, so might not find in regular supermarkets in North America or Europe.
Is Lentil Flour Vegan?
Lentil flour is basically ground uncooked lentils, and it’s also a decent gluten-free substitute to wheat flour, even though it’s not as versatile.
Lentil flour is also suitable for vegans, as it’s only made from uncooked lentils.
Is Masa Flour Vegan?
Masa flour is often mentioned in the same sentence as corn flour, but they’re technically different.
Corn flour is simply finely ground corn, whereas masa flour is ground corn treated with alkali. It’s typically used to make corn tortillas, tamales, and other Mexican dishes.
Like regular corn flour, masa flour is also suitable for vegans.
Is Mustard Flour Vegan?
Mustard flour, also known as dry mustard, is a popular condiment for various dishes, including sauces, pickles, salad dressing, along with other uses.
It is what you get from grounding mustard seeds from various mustard plant species, though, the flour is typically made from the seeds of yellow, brown, or golden mustard plants.
Mustard flour is usually vegan and gluten-free, but if you suspect that there’s a possibility for cross-contamination, then you should contact the manufacturer.
Is Potato Flour Vegan?
When you type down potato flour, you mainly get info about potato starch, but they’re different.
Potato starch flour is made by grinding the root starch of potatoes, whereas potato flour is basically the powdered form of whole cooked dehydrated potatoes.
Potato flour pretty much resembles wheat flour in texture and color, so you can use it to bake bread, or use it as a thickening agent for gravy, sauces, and soups.
Not only is potato flour suitable for vegans, but it’s also gluten-free.
Is Quinoa Flour Vegan?
Quinoa flour is basically obtained by grinding quinoa seeds to a fine, consistent powder.
It looks and feels quite similar to wheat flour, so you can use it for a broad range of baking recipes, including bread (except for yeast bread) and desserts.
Quinoa flour is both gluten-free and suitable for vegans.
Is Rye Flour Vegan?
Rye flour is basically produced by milling the entire rye kernel, including the bran, germ, and endosperm, so it’s considered a whole grain flour, meaning it’s a more nutritional option.
It’s often used to produce a more dense, dark, and intense-flavored bread, but bakers often mix it with white flour to produce lighter, yet nutrient-dense loaves.
Rya flour, like most whole grain flours, is suitable for vegans. However, you can’t eat it if you’re allergic to gluten.
Is Spelt Flour Vegan?
Spelt is a type of wheat and spelt flour is a type of whole wheat flour made by grinding entire spelt kernels, including the bran, germ, and endosperm.
Spelt flour is similar to whole wheat flour because it has a courser texture. It’s a versatile flour that allows you to create a variety of baked goods, including cakes, bread, muffins, scones, and even chocolate chip cookies.
Like most wheat flour, spelt flour is not gluten-free, but it’s suitable for people with a vegan diet.
Is Soy Flour Vegan?
Soy flour is a whole bean flour made from raw soybeans. It’s been used quite often in the West because it improves the dough quality by making it easier to handle.
Soy flour, like most whole flours, is suitable for vegans, and also people with a gluten allergy.
Is Sorghum Flour Vegan?
Sorghum is a grain that is deemed as a more sustainable crop due to its need for fewer natural resources, but it’s not as well known as other grains like barley, rice, wheat, and corn.
Sorghum flour is basically the powdered form of the grain, sorghum. It’s a very versatile flour, and it can be used in a variety of ways, including to make beer and pancakes.
Like most whole grain flours, sorghum is also suitable for vegans, as well as for people with gluten allergies.
Is Tempura Flour Vegan?
Tempura flour is made with wheat flour, however, it also contains starch, baking powder, and egg powder, which makes it unsuitable for vegans and people with a gluten allergy.
Tempura flour has many uses, but I’d say it’s mostly used to coat a variety of foods, including meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables, as you commonly see in Asian cuisine.
Should You Consume Flour?
If you love making pancakes (or bread), I don’t think dropping flour entirely is a good idea, unless you’re highly allergic to gluten, but even then there are so many alternatives available.
Gluten-free flour is not as affordable, but you can find many other types of flour such as chickpea flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, or quinoa flour, which are naturally gluten-free.
Besides, if you choose whole flour, you can also reap a few benefits.
Fiber Content In Whole Flour
You can’t find too much fiber in refined wheat flours, but you can find a significant amount of fiber in whole flours, and that’s because you’re having the entire vegetable source, and nothing is going to waste.
Foods rich in fiber have proven to have several benefits, including:
- Lowering blood cholesterol
- Preventing constipation
- And they can also help you lose weight, by helping you feel full for longer.
Though if you’re constantly eating foods rich in fiber, make sure you’re drinking plenty of liquids, as it will help you better digest the fiber in the food.
Contains Significant Vitamins and Minerals
Whole flour contains vitamins and minerals that you don’t naturally find in refined flour.
Refined wheat flour is made solely from the endosperm, which is the least nutritious part of the grain, whilst the bran and germ are removed beforehand.
By consuming whole flours, you’re consuming flours that have a more varied nutritional profile, which is a particularly interesting catch for vegans.
Effects On Blood Sugar
Whole flours, in general, also may be more beneficial for diabetics since they typically have a lower GI (glycemic index) than refined wheat flour.
If you don’t know what GI (glycemic index) means, it’s essentially how scientists measure the impact of foods on blood sugar levels.
Refined flour has a GI that lends itself to rapid increases in blood sugar, which is something you want to avoid if you have diabetes.
Having blood sugar spikes may also lead you to feel fatigued and have reoccurring headaches.
While it’s rare to see a vegan with diabetes, you may want to consider whole flours as they’re generally healthier.
Most flours, except for cricket and tempura flours, are suitable for vegans, and there are so many options to choose from, even if you’re allergic to gluten.
However, you have to pick the right flour based on what you intend to prepare. If you wish to bake bread, flour with a higher protein content (like bread flour) will help you create a more solid dough, worthy of bread.
If you want to make a cake, flour with lower protein content (like cake flour) will help you create a batter capable of producing a more delicious, fluffier cake.