Ketchup is the hero of American condiments. It goes well with potato fries, sweet potato fries, onion rings, burgers, pretty much every food known in America.
But it turns out ketchup did not originate in America.
Apparently, the British encountered what was fermented fish sauce in Southeast Asia and tried to replicate it at home. After several attempts (and tomatoes), Ketchup came to be.
Without the fish, of course.
While I don’t know exactly how Ketchup has morphed over the years, I know most of the brands today are considered vegan by most casual vegans, including Heinz Ketchup.
Is Heinz Ketchup 100% Vegan?
Ingredients: Tomato Concentrate From Red Ripe Tomatoes, Distilled Vinegar, Cane Sugar, Salt, Onion Powder, Spice, Natural Flavoring.
At first sight, Ketchup is a mixture of tomatoes, vinegar and a couple of spices.
No matter how you look at it, every ingredient is plant-based.
At least, that’s what I used to think. But when you go behind the scenes and learn a bit more about how each product is processed and refined, the truth looks a bit different.
Heinz Ketchup contains cane sugar, an ingredient that may not be vegan.
What? Is Cane Sugar Not Vegan?
Whether sugar is vegan or not depends on the supplier.
Usually, there are two types of sugars, each one with its own refining process.
You have beet sugar that is obtained through a diffuser and mixed with additives that confer it with its crystallized color. And on the other hand, you have cane sugar that after being processed and heated to crystallize— is filtered and bleached using bone char.
In the United States, sugar companies use bone char from the bones of cattle for this filtering and bleaching process. To make bone char, the bones are heated at a really high-temperature and reduced to carbon before being used in a refinery.
The end product does not actually contain bone char particles since it’s used to remove the “impurities” of sugar. At least that’s what Caroline Pyevich reports in The Vegetarian Journal.
Furthermore, while bone char is definitely used to refine cane sugar, some companies use granular carbon, a product that does not contain animal-based ingredients.
Think about it. The amount of products that contain sugar is far and wide. And while bone char may be used to bleach sugar, it’s not latched to the sugar.
Whether you choose or not to consume Ketchup is your choice — but I need to mention this issue about sugar processing.
Is There Sugar-Free Ketchup?
Ingredients: Tomato Concentrate Made from Red Ripe Tomatoes, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Natural Flavoring, Onion Powder, *Sucralose, Spice.
Heinz also sells ketchup with no sugars added. But even though that’s true, they’ve added sucralose to replicate the taste of regular Heinz Ketchup.
While sucralose is considered vegan, it does not come from a natural source.
There are a lot of people claiming that artificial sweeteners cause cancer, or they make you more hungry so you end up eating more calories from other foods.
However, this topic is still clouded in mystery/doubt, therefore it would be wise for you to research further before consuming products with artificial sweeteners like sucralose.
In addition, sucralose has been tested on animals.
What About Organic Ketchup?
Ingredients: Organic Tomato Concentrate, Organic Balsamic, Less than 2% of Salt, Organic Onion Powder, Organic Garlic Powder, Organic Spices.
Even though organic ketchup does not contain sugar or artificial sweeteners, there is a significant price gap. Organic products are generally more expensive.
And I don’t only speak for myself when I claim that turns most vegans away.
Though, if you want to better preserve your health, organic is the way to go. Without shady chemicals or ingredients, you know what you’re putting in your stomach.
Making Ketchup At Home.
This is my go-to way of tasting my favorite ingredients without committing any sins.
If you want to make ketchup with real vegan sweeteners and no artificial flavors, you just have to make your own ketchup at home.
Plus, making ketchup doesn’t take that many ingredients nor time. You probably can create enough ketchup to fill up a cup in 2-minutes.
At least, that’s what the recipe by The Simple Vegan Blog shows.
Another interesting ketchup recipe is this 5-minute recipe by the Detoxinista.
Instead of using sugar — Detoxinista uses dates as a natural sweetener because they break down quickly in the blender.
This is a clever alternative if you don’t wish to use maple, agave or other natural syrup. In fact, it may be much healthier than the former.
The deciding factor between choosing to consume Heinz Ketchup, or choosing a more natural alternative depends on the type of vegan you are.
Are you comfortable consuming products that contain sugar that may have possibly been bleached with bone char?
Or are you cook as long as the product doesn’t contain animal ingredients?
Frankly, It comes down to how strict you are, as a vegan. I personally consume Heinz Ketchup, Oreos, and more.
As long as I don’t directly consume animal products, I’m fine.