If you have ever wondered whether hummus is vegan, you certainly aren’t alone. More and more people are looking to move toward a plant-based lifestyle and remove animal products from their diets, but it can be difficult to know what is and isn’t suitable for you. If you are on this path, you may be wondering – is hummus vegan?
Hummus is almost always vegan and is considered a major staple of the vegan diet. It is nutritious and flavorful, and many vegans enjoy it as a great way to get protein into their diets. However, you should always check the ingredients list and make sure that what you are eating is truly vegan-friendly.
In this article, we’re going to explore whether hummus is vegan, and what makes it vegan. We’ll also cover what you should look out for and how to tell when hummus isn’t vegan, so you know when you can safely eat this food.
Is Hummus Suitable For Vegans?
Hummus is generally considered a vegan-friendly food and many vegans eat and enjoy it on a daily basis. Hummus is very healthy and it’s considered particularly good for vegans because it is high in protein.
If you are struggling to get protein into your diet, consider chickpeas – which hummus is made from.
Although recipes can vary a surprising amount, hummus generally contains the following ingredients:
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Parsley (for the garnish)
- Paprika (for the garnish)
All of these ingredients are vegan, because they do not contain any animal products, and you should therefore be able to eat them safely if you follow a vegan diet.
However, it is worth checking the ingredients list before you purchase hummus from a store, as sometimes manufacturers might include ingredients that aren’t suitable for vegans.
Most manufacturers do not do this because it would significantly limit their market – since hummus is so associated with veganism – but it’s still better to check than to eat something that isn’t suitable. Although most vegans can safely consume animal-based products, they may cause digestive problems.
What Makes Hummus Okay For Vegans?
Hummus is generally safe for vegans because none of the ingredients are derived from animals; they are all completely plant-based. There is nothing in chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, or garlic that prevents vegans from eating them, and both paprika and parsley are fine too.
That means that a standard hummus recipe contains no animal products and should be perfectly safe for you to consume. The five main ingredients are derived only from plants, and are great for vegans, providing a variety of important nutrients.
Why Isn’t Hummus Always Safe For Vegans?
If you purchase hummus that has ingredients other than those listed above, however, you will need to check whether it is really suitable.
Because hummus is considered such a classic food, many manufacturers are looking for ways to make their brand stand out and give it a unique flavor, and this has led to the addition of other ingredients.
Many of these are vegan-friendly, of course; things like black olives, sundried tomatoes, avocado, chili, turmeric, and more are all completely fine for vegans to consume. That means you can enjoy many of the interesting twists on the classic hummus recipe without worrying – but there are some that you need to be wary of.
What Ingredients Should I Look Out For?
The main animal product that gets added to hummus at times is dairy, and unfortunately, a number of manufacturers seem convinced that this adds to the appeal of the food.
Because dairy is creamy, it can sometimes soften the hummus’s flavor and make it more tempting. It may particularly appeal to a western palette, where dairy is a commoner ingredient.
You should therefore watch out for additions of:
- Greek yogurt
These can all be added to hummus and they make it unsuitable for vegans. You should also look out for additives like pesto, as this sometimes contains rennet derived from animals, and should not be consumed by vegans (although there are also vegan options when it comes to pesto, so don’t discount the ingredient immediately).
If in doubt, check whether you can see any label that says “suitable for vegans” on the packaging. This will tell you whether you can or can’t eat the hummus without you having to scan through all of the ingredients. If the manufacturer hasn’t added this label, treat the hummus with caution and be prepared not to eat it.
What About Palm Oil?
You may have seen people claiming that hummus is unsafe for vegans if it contains palm oil, but this depends on your ethics. By the strictest definition, palm oil is fine for vegans to eat because it is not based on any animal product and – in theory at least – it can be harvested without harming animals.
However, many vegans make efforts to avoid palm oil as well as animal-based products. This is because palm oil has been closely associated with immense amounts of animal suffering. Palm oil has resulted in mass deforestation in critical animal habitats and the death of many thousands of animals, so you may not wish to buy hummus that contains it.
Overall, though, this is a controversial issue. Palm oil is a very high-yield crop, so replacing it with other oils isn’t more environmentally friendly in most circumstances. Avoiding it increases the demand for other oils, which will also result in deforestation, and on a bigger scale. There is no easy answer to this issue.
Each vegan must therefore make up their own mind about the ethics of palm oil, and decide whether they are comfortable with eating hummus that contains it. You may feel it is the best of a bad situation, or you might prefer to avoid it and choose hummus that has been made with olive oil, which is the more traditional option.
What About Sugar?
Most hummus does not contain sugar, as it isn’t considered a necessary part of this food’s ingredients list – but sometimes manufacturers add it anyway. Sugar is considered a borderline ingredient for many vegans.
Technically speaking, white sugar may not be suitable for vegans because it might be whitened using charred bones. This means that vegans can’t eat it, since animal products have been used during its manufacturing process.
However, many vegans are not strict about the consumption of white sugar, partly because it is in so many products and it can be very hard to avoid. The sugar itself does not contain animal products, so you may feel comfortable eating it. Every vegan will have different thoughts on this.
If you like sugar in your hummus, consider buying a brand without and adding some brown sugar yourself at home. This will allow you to enjoy sweeter hummus without the inclusion of an animal-based product.
Is Homemade Hummus Safe For Vegans?
Homemade hummus can be made safe for vegans, but it completely depends on what ingredients have been used. If whoever is making the hummus chooses to add extra ingredients such as milk, cheese, or pesto, the hummus will no longer be safe for you to consume.
You should therefore check with whoever has made the hummus and ask them what ingredients they added. If this isn’t an option and you have to make a guess, it is generally advisable to avoid hummus with additional flavors, and only eat plain hummus. Plain hummus is very likely to be vegan, although there is no guarantee if you can’t ask the person who made it.
On the whole, you can usually treat hummus as a vegan-friendly food, so if you are eating out or at a party with limited options, it’s one of the safer choices. However, whenever you get an opportunity, talk to the chef before consuming the hummus, just in case they have added anything you can’t eat.
Is There Any Dairy In Hummus?
Most hummus recipes do not contain dairy, but this is definitely something that you should look out for. As mentioned above, some manufacturers add dairy to increase the hummus’s flavor, making it creamier and smoother.
Standard hummus recipes do not call for dairy and you shouldn’t see milk, cream, yogurt, or cheese in most kinds of hummus. However, it is always worth checking the list of ingredients to make sure that the hummus does not contain dairy.
What Vegan Recipes Contain Hummus?
There are many recipes that call for hummus, and a lot can be made vegan. Many people enjoy hummus and grilled vegetables, or they eat hummus with fresh vegetables, using the hummus as a dip.
Hummus can be added to pita breads or wraps or sandwiches, alongside toasted tofu and vegetables. It can be incorporated into salad dressings, or served with falafel. Some non-vegan recipes can be made vegan by using hummus as a replacement for certain kinds of sauces – such as a moussaka’s bechamel sauce being replaced with hummus.
If you get inventive, hummus can be used for all kinds of vegan cooking, and some people even make a dessert version of hummus that contains chocolate tahini. This tastes rather like the batter used to make brownies, and is great if you’re craving a sweet fix.
Can I Eat Hummus In A Restaurant?
Restaurant dishes should be marked to indicate whether they are safe for vegans or not, but in general, restaurant hummus will be safe for vegans. However, other aspects of the dish may not be, and it’s a good idea to check so that you know whether you can or can’t eat the hummus – if you can’t, you need to avoid ordering it.
The menu will usually tell you whether the hummus is vegan, but if it doesn’t, check with your server. They will be able to ask in the kitchens if they don’t already know, and it should be straightforward to get the ingredients checked. In general, hummus in restaurants will be fine for you to eat, but it is always better to know for sure.
How Do You Make Hummus?
If you want to better control what you eat and make sure that all of the ingredients truly are vegan, you might want to make your own hummus. Fortunately, this is super easy to do yourself at home.
It’s easiest to make hummus if you have a blender, but if you like chunky hummus, you can get away with just mashing the ingredients together. However, to make smooth hummus, you must be able to blend the ingredients.
You should start by draining your chickpeas, and then adding them to the blender. Peel the garlic and squeeze the lemon, and add the garlic and lemon juice to the blender. Next, put in a scoop of tahini, and some olive oil. You can also leave the olive oil out and just use it for the garnish if you prefer.
Turn the blender up high and wait for the hummus to reach the desired consistency. The longer you blend it, the smoother the finished product will be. When you are happy with the texture, decant it into a bowl and garnish it with a swirl of olive oil, a sprinkle of paprika, and a sprig of parsley.
You can also add any other vegan toppings you like. Options include things like pine nuts, capers, sundried tomatoes, chopped red bell peppers, chopped olives, chopped walnuts, and more. You can get as inventive as you like at this stage – just make sure you keep the toppings vegan.
Hummus is almost always safe for vegans to consume, but as with all animal products, it is best to check before you purchase it, because some manufacturers add unusual ingredients to hummus that are not vegan-friendly. Look out for things like dairy and pesto, and consider your stance on sugar and palm oil before purchasing commercial hummus. If in doubt, making it at home may be a better choice.