Is Peanut Butter Vegan | Explained
What would you do if you couldn’t have peanut butter? It’s one of the most versatile foods on the planet. It can play a role in every meal from breakfast to dessert - including every snack you eat in between.
If you’re thinking about switching to a vegan diet or curious about vegan alternatives to the foods you eat every day, you’re probably wondering if peanut butter is allowed to stick around.
Although people with peanut allergies have to miss out on peanut butter’s sweet and creamy goodness, vegans don’t have to abandon peanut butter or its health benefits. Almost all peanut butter is vegan and high-end options can certainly make decent gifts for vegans.
There may be a few exceptions, so you should still be reading the labels of everything you eat if you’re looking to adhere to a strictly vegan diet.
Of Course Peanut Butter is Vegan...
Peanut butter is usually made of peanuts, sugar, salt, and some kind of oil. These core ingredients are all vegan. You never need to hunt for special vegan peanut butter. Almost every brand of peanut butter on the grocery store shelves is vegan or comes in a naturally vegan variant, making it perfect to use in vegan fudge or other vegan dishes to maintain a plant-based diet.
You’re unlikely to see “vegan” anywhere on the front of the packaging because this has never been a selling point of peanut butter. It also won’t say “vegan” on cans of black beans or bags of potatoes.
Peanut butter has always been naturally vegan, so there’s no reason to broadly advertise the fact. It’s something that most people take for granted, and something people with omnivorous diets have never needed to inquire about.
While the majority of peanut butter is vegan (and therefore vegetarian), there’s one ingredient you’ll want to keep an eye out for. It’s usually listed in big letters on the front of the packaging.
...With One Exception
Honey roasted peanut butter or peanut butter sweetened with honey isn’t vegan. Honey is an ingredient derived from insects, and the majority of vegans group insects into the animal category. Bees can and do die during the production of honey and are kept in captivity to produce it. Most vegans consider this to be an exploitation of bees and decide to keep honey off the menu so be sure to avoid peanut butter with honey if you want complete plant-based & vegan peanut butter.
Maple syrup, date syrup, yacon syrup, and molasses are vegan alternatives to honey. If you like the taste and consistency of honey peanut butter, simply add a vegan friendly syrup to a sugarless variety of peanut butter. The end result will be something similar to honey peanut butter, and the bees will never know a thing.
Is Peanut Butter Healthy?
Whether or not peanut butter is healthy is a big debate.
Anything, including peanut butter, can become a part of a balanced diet in moderation. A serving of peanut butter is a lot smaller than most people realize it is. A serving of peanut butter comes in at 200 calories, 20% of your daily niacin, 10% of your vitamin E, 2 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein per serving.
Overall, this looks pretty good. Until you consider the fact that a serving is only two tablespoons.
Two tablespoons isn’t very much. You can easily use twice that amount when you make a peanut butter sandwich. This doubles the protein, but it also doubles the calories. When you really think about it, 400 calories for 14 grams of protein isn’t a particularly wonderful exchange. An entire cup of black beans offers 14 grams of protein and more fiber for about 200 calories.
Peanut butter isn’t necessarily what’s bad for you. It’s the amount of peanut butter people often unwittingly use. Switch to a peanut butter with no added sugar and be mindful of your portion sizes.
You don’t rule out entire food groups. Simply use them in moderation. You can always have what you want if you make balanced choices.
Alternatively, there’s always powdered peanut butter products. These don’t contain any oil and often contain very little sugar. They’re all the good parts of peanut butter without the added fat. You can sprinkle powdered peanut butter into your oatmeal or protein shakes to enjoy the flavor, nutrients, and protein without the outrageous calorie count.
Healthy Ways for Vegans to Enjoy Peanut Butter
First of all, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to be completely healthy all the time. It’s a good idea to abide by the 80/20 rule. That means that 80% of the things you eat should be really healthy, and 20% of the things you eat can be slightly less healthy. You have to have a piece of cake every now and then.
You’re going to go crazy if you live your life like you have a phobia of dessert.
The trick comes in combining that 80% with the 20%. There’s always a great balance of indulgent and healthy. If you balance some of column A with some of column B, you can indulge a little day while still fuelling your body with the things it needs to tackle a big day or power through an intense workout.
Peanut butter can skirt the line. It’s a little like dessert, but it’s also a little like breakfast. You can eat peanut butter whenever you want as long as you’re eating a healthy amount of peanut butter in a mindful way. This compromise caters to your sweet tooth and your body’s need for important nutrients at the same time.
Peanut butter can be used to add protein and nutrients to most things you eat. You can sprinkle powdered peanut butter into your overnight oats, or use a tablespoon of peanut butter and some sliced bananas in hot steel cut oatmeal. You can add a little bit of peanut butter to your protein shake, or enjoy a little spread on an apple as an afternoon pick me up.
If you feel like you’re a bit too busy for kitchen wizardry, there’s a much easier way. Mid-Day Squares’ Busta Peanut variety combines peanut butter with raw chocolate, oats, date syrup, and other natural ingredients to create the perfect grab and go vegan peanut butter pick-me-up.
You’ll get six grams of plant based protein and 4 grams of fiber to keep you feeling full until your next meal. At only 170 calories per serving, Busta Peanut fits perfectly into the healthy snack category.
Cooking and Baking With Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a versatile ingredient. You can use it to cook a savory dinner just as easily as you can incorporate it into a sweet dessert.
If you’re looking for excuses to add a little more peanut butter into your diet (and who isn’t?) use it to cheat your way into a gourmet meal. Peanut butter effortlessly adds thickness and flavor to many popular sauces and dressings. It will taste like you spent a lot more time in the kitchen than you actually did.
Peanut butter is a popular ingredient in Thai cooking. You can make vegan pad thai or glass noodle salad with peanut butter as the base for your sauce. You can add some chili peppers to make it spicy, or jazz your dish up with fresh green onions.
Many Asian cuisines find spicy and savory ways to incorporate peanut butter into relatively healthy dishes. Peanut butter and ginger combine beautifully to create dressings for cauliflower veggie bowls or warm zucchini noodle dishes.
The unique texture of peanut butter allows you to easily bake with it, too. Even if you’re not that handy in the kitchen, you can still manage simple, vegan peanut butter cookies. Combine 1 cup of peanut butter, ¾ cup of oat flour, and 5 tablespoons of maple syrup to make gluten free, vegan peanut butter cookie batter. Form the dough into 1 inch balls, evenly space them on a baking sheet, press them down with a fork, and pop them into the oven for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. It’s really that easy.
Peanut butter is the perfect vegan treat. It’s a little sweet, it’s a little salty, and it’s a lot of creamy goodness. Finding vegan peanut butter is easy. Almost every kind of peanut butter you find will be free from animal (or insect) derived ingredients.
There are plenty of healthy ways to incorporate peanut butter into a vegan diet. You can have peanut butter for dinner! How cool is that?
And, for those moments when you have an unstoppable peanut butter craving but no time to break out the cutting board and fire up the stove, there’s always Mid-Day Squares. If you want a healthy peanut butter treat that’s as ready to go as you are, we’ve got your back.