I frequently use wheat flour to make pancakes.
But I’ve never once questioned if wheat flour was vegan or not.
The same can be said for sugar and millions of other ingredients that turned out to have a sob story behind them. So, what’s the verdict in this case? Well, It may not be intentional, but most wheat flour is vegan.
However, it makes me wonder, what made people question flour’s integrity? 🙂
Before we dive into that, perhaps we should accept that the perfect product doesn’t exist. In order to sustain 7 billion people, you’re bound to find loose ends in a supply chain. Whether it’s the deforestation that strips animals of their natural habitat, or companies that pay workers miserable wages… it’s hard to find an entity that scratches all the good boxes.
For example, why would one consider using bone char to refine sugar?
Maybe because it allows to cut back on costs. And believe it or not, people also question wheat flour for that same reason.
Does Wheat Flour Use Bone Char?
From what I’ve researched, it’s unlikely for companies to use bone char to process flour.
However, you can validate 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 wheat flour is most likely to be vegan by having those elements is that they react strongly to organic matter. In other words, the addition of animal products would make them less effective, and thus increase production costs.
Though if you really want to be on the safe side, I would suggest you use alternative flours like whole wheat flour, chickpea flour, or even oat flour. You can also consider making your own homemade flour.
Does Wheat Flour Contain Animal-Based Additives?
Different brands use different vitamins and minerals, and it’s very 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:
- Niacin (vegan)
- Iron or Reduced Iron (Depends)
- Thiamine Mononitrate (vegan)
- Riboflavin (vegan)
- Folic Acid (vegan)
Most additives present in flour are 100% vegan, with the exception of iron that exists in two different forms. There’s non-heme iron that comes from a plant-based source and is less absorbable. And then you have heme-iron that comes from meat. This type of iron is usually more stable and can be absorbed whole.
This being said, I have no reason to believe the iron additive is animal-based. Though if you want to be sure, the best way to confirm that is by contacting the companies.
Should You Stop Consuming Wheat Flour?
If you love making pancakes (or bread), I don’t think you should drop it, unless you’re allergic to gluten. At the same time, I would urge you to replace regular flour with whole wheat flour or perhaps a less refined alternative.
Whole wheat flour is more nutritious because it contains the best parts of the grain. In fact, genuine whole wheat flour is a wonderful source of dietary fiber, manganese, and magnesium.
Fiber Content In Whole Wheat Flour
You can’t find fiber content in refined flour, but you can find a significant amount of fiber in whole wheat flour. Consuming foods rich in fiber grants you several benefits, such as:
- Lowering blood cholesterol
- Preventing constipation
- And it may even help you with weight loss.
The bran within the whole wheat grains may also help you with digestion and improve your gut health.
Contains Significant Vitamins
Whole wheat flour also contains vitamins you can’t find in regular flour.
That’s because the refining process in white flour destroys the grains’ vitamin content. To combat that manufacturers add additives to regular flour in order to replace the lost vitamins.
This is especially useful for vegans because we want to maximize our vitamin intake as much as possible so that every mechanism in our body functions to its full potential.
Effects On Blood Sugar
Whole Wheat Flour may also be more beneficial for diabetics since it has a lower GI (glycemic index) than refined flour. If you don’t know what GI (glycemic index) means, it’s essentially how scientists measure the impact of foods on blood sugar.
Refined flour has a GI that leads to rapid increases in blood sugar, which is something you want to avoid if you have diabetes. Plus, having blood sugar spikes may lead you to feel fatigued, headaches, increased thirst and more.
While it’s rare to see a vegan with diabetes, you may want to consider whole wheat flour for its purity and nutritious content.
The Bottom Line Is…
Regular wheat flour is vegan.
There’s no need to avoid it unless you are allergic to gluten or want to replace it with a better alternative. Our goal, as vegans, is to avoid products that affect animals directly, or indirectly, and there’s no clear indication that consuming wheat flour does that.
I’ve found that Oreos may not be vegan due to its sugar, which may be refined using bone char.
However, that’s not applicable to every supplier they source sugar from, so even Oreo themselves can’t pinpoint which cookie tube is using the sugar processed with bone char.
Does that mean I should stop eating Oreos? Not necessarily.
With wheat flour, you shouldn’t really worry about bone char or any other animal additive.