Is Marmite Actually Vegan? Here Is Everything You Need To Know

Having lived in the UK and worked at Costa, I know how much the British love marmite.

Nothing beats a marmite-filled toast and a soy cappuccino. Right?

If you’re vegan and don’t want to give up marmite, don’t worry. You don’t have to. Marmite is purely vegan, even though it’s the opposite of maple and agave syrup.

Looking at the bottle design, I’d expect a flavor similar to maple syrup. But no.

Marmite is a sticky, dark brown spread with an accentuated salty flavor. In fact, the flavor is so unique that it polarizes consumers. Funnily, marmite’s slogan is “Love it or hate it”.

Marmite Is A Vegan Original

Initially, Marmite was popular among vegetarians because it was a viable meat-free alternative to beef extract products. Products that were popular throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

But today marmite is popular among vegans and omnivores alike.

marmite
Martin Weller, CC BY-NC 2.0, via Flickr

Here is what marmite typically contains.

Ingredients: Yeast extract, salt, vegetable juice concentrate, B vitamins, natural flavoring.

In addition to the original marmite, the rest of the marmite range is also vegan. The entire range is certified by the European Vegetarian Union (EVU), except for the marmite 70g.

Marmite is a reliable source of vitamin b12. Eight grams contain 1.9 µg of B12, the equivalent to 76% of an average adult’s daily reference intake.

Besides vitamin b12, marmite is also rich in folic acid. Folic acid helps pregnant women prevent miscarriage and neural tube defects.

Though you also must be careful because marmite is high in sodium. Too much sodium in your blood can lead you to feel several symptoms such as nausea, tiredness, problems walking, twitching, headaches, and even swelling.

Given that marmite’s major ingredient is an extract from brewer’s yeast, the final product is not suitable for vegans allergic to gluten.

Marmite Is Owned By Unilever

Some vegans may not be willing to eat marmite (from the UK) because it’s owned by Unilever.

Unilever is a company that produces many non-vegan foods, and products tested on animals.

Since Unilever has a connection with the dairy industry and was/is involved with animal testing over the years, some vegans have decided to boycott the company.

Yet that doesn’t change the fact marmite is vegan.

Plus, there is an excellent video from Gary Yourofsky stating his opinion on the subject.

Marmite Is Also Popular in Australia and New Zealand

Marmite is not only sold in the UK.

It is also available in Australia and New Zealand.

The recipe in these countries is slightly different from the original. In Australia, marmite is called vegemite. And in New Zealand, it remains “marmite”.

Vegemite is produced by Kraft. And Marmite NZ is produced by Sanitarium.

vegemite

Ingredients in Vegemite: Yeast extract (from yeast grown on barley and wheat), salt, malt extract (from barley), flavor enhancer (potassium chloride), color (E 150c), spice extract (contains celery), niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, folic acid.

Vegemite is technically a rip-off of the British marmite.

A Melbourne chemist, Cyril Percy Callister, developed Vegemite in 1919 after Marmite imports were disrupted by the war. Vegemite is salty and feels more like margarine.

If I were to compare Vegemite with Marmite UK, I’d say the flavor is more acceptable.

Like the original, Vegemite is also vegan.

marmite new zealand
masa osada, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, via Flickr
Ingredients in Marmite NZ: Yeast, sugar, salt, mineral salt (potassium chloride), color (caramel III), corn maltodextrin, mineral (iron), vitamins (niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, B12), herbs, spices.

Unlike Vegemite, Marmite NZ’s parent company (Sanitarium) bought the rights to distribute marmite in New Zealand. And although the flavor differs from the other two, it’s still real marmite.

With Marmite NZ there’s a balance of salt and sugar. Plus, the consistency is more sticky and gooey like Nutella.

Overall, I believe Marmite NZ is the tastiest of the three because the flavor isn’t as overwhelming.

Marmite NZ Contains Sugar

Sugar is a complicated topic within the vegan community.

That’s because some suppliers use bone char to filter and bleach sugar.

To put it simply, there are two types of sugar.

Beet sugar: This sugar is extracted from beet using a diffuser and is mixed with additives to obtain a crystallized color.

Cane sugar: This sugar is extracted from sugar cane, and in certain countries, it is filtered and bleached using bone char after being extracted and heated to crystallize.

Sugar companies heat the bones of cattle at high temperatures to create bone char. That is a common practice in the United States but is banned in many European countries, as well as Australia, and New Zealand.

Whether Marmite NZ’s sugar is vegan or not depends on where Sanitarium obtains its sugar from and the type of sugar contained in the marmite.

For you to know that, you must contact me directly, otherwise, you can’t access that information.

Marmite NZ Also Contains Iron.

Iron exists in both plant and animal-based sources.

There’s heme-iron (found in animals), and non-heme iron (present in plants). If you’re vegan, you must rely only on non-heme iron. So if you’re buying an iron supplement or any other products with fortified iron, you should figure out what type of iron it is.

That information does not come on the product label, so you have to contact the company.

Typically, the iron in foods is vegan, but there’s a small chance it might not be for certain products.

Summary

Fortunately, Marmite is made from concentrated yeast extract, which is a by-product of beer brewing. Therefore, Marmite is always vegan. 

However, it’s important to point out that Marmite is owned by Unilever, which is not a particularly ethical company, hence why some vegans decide to avoid their products. 


Marmite FAQs

Is Marmite Gluten-Free? 

Unfortunately, Marmite is not gluten-free because yeast extract (which Marmite is made from), can be made as a byproduct of bread, beer, or wine. Also, there were some tests done on Marmite, and they found that it contains more than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.

Is Marmite The Same as Vegemite? 

Marmite and Vegemite are two different products, even though they’re both salty spreads. Compared to Vegemite, Marmite has a milder flavor and smoother consistency.

Does Marmite Have Vitamin B12?

Yes, Marmite is a source of vitamin B12, which is good news for vegans who don’t have many B12 sources available. 

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than five years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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