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Is Ketchup Vegan? Lets Look at the Details

Posted by Aaron Seminoff on

When you've chosen a vegan diet and lifestyle, you may find yourself struggling to find the right condiments to flavor your dishes. Which ones are truly safe? Is there any chance of an animal product hiding in some of your favorite foods? In some cases, the answers may surprise you.

Thankfully, when it comes to ketchup, you're off the hook: ketchup is a traditionally vegan dish, which means that you can slather it on your potatoes with confidence. In fact, according to PETA, Heinz Ketchup at one time went on record as stating that no animal products could be used in the creation of the ketchup product according to FDA labeling requirements.

Ketchup Vegan

Unfortunately, not everyone is quite so comfortable with their ketchup--and the FDA regulations concerning ketchup, while they do insist that it be primarily a tomato product, don't say anything about animal products. While Heinz products are listed as gluten free, they also no longer include the disclaimer about a lack of animal products in their "natural flavorings" section.

So what's a vegan to do? Is ketchup vegan? While it would appear on the surface to be an acceptable part of your diet, if you have doubts, there are other options

Common Ketchup Ingredients

Typically, ketchup contains the following ingredients:
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweeteners (most often corn syrup)
  • Vinegar
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Other flavors
As long as these ingredients are followed to the letter, you get vegan ketchup! If you're concerned about rumors about what might actually be in those "natural flavors" listed on the label of your ketchup bottle, however, there's no reason why you can't make your own ketchup so that you'll know exactly what goes into every bottle.

Why is Ketchup Controversial?

Unfortunately, ketchup has been a hotly-debated topic in many vegan circles. Peta's list of safe condiments does include ketchup in several places on the list, but not everyone agrees. Many people fear that the "natural flavors" listed on the ingredients label of some ketchup bottles may contain animal products, including animal blood. There's also a concern that charcoal used in the roasting process could contain animal bones. While this is likely just rumors that have blown up and spread over time, it's enough to make any dedicated vegan uncomfortable! Even if you don't believe the rumors, simply making your own ketchup could be the key to experiencing greater comfort with your dietary choices.

Make Your Own Vegan Ketchup

If you're not happy with the ingredients that could be hiding in bottled ketchup, why not make your own? This simple vegan ketchup recipe will make it easy to put together your own bottle of ketchup--and since you'll control everything that goes into it, you can make it healthier, too.


1/2 cup tomato paste (you can use canned, if you have a brand that you already love, or make your own)
2 tablespoons of liquid sweetener (maple syrup and agave are great options; if you aren't concerned with the high sugar content of corn syrup, that's also a reasonable choice)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Spices: Onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, mustard powder, and salt (to taste)

Step One: Ketchup, Vinegar, and Sweetener together
Step Two: Add spices to taste. Feel free to experiment: you may not like the way certain spices flavor your ketchup, while others may take your favorite condiment to new heights! 

Step Three: Enjoy guilt-free with your favorite foods

Is Ketchup Vegan

Your ketchup will keep in a sealed container in your fridge for a couple of weeks; if you follow a recipe that cooks the ketchup, you may be able to keep it for longer. You can also use a hot water bath to preserve your ketchup in canning jars, especially if you prefer to make a larger batch.

Keep in mind that your homemade vegan ketchup has no added preservatives, so you'll need to use it faster than you would your old favorite squeeze-bottle standby once you pop open that jar. If you're eating alone, a small batch will be more than enough for most of your favorite dishes--and it's so fast and easy to stir up that you can have a full batch of ketchup ready to go in no time! Eating with a friend or feeding your entire family? A larger batch of ketchup can be stirred up just as quickly, allowing you to easily provide a vegan ketchup option that's been tailored exactly to your family's tastes.

If you have a little more time, you could also follow this recipe as the video takes you through it one step at a time, allowing you to get a better grasp of every step of the ketchup creation process. Who doesn't love to watch someone else cook, especially when you're still trying to figure out how to make something new?

Watch the video here!

Vegan Ketchup

Now that you can make your own ketchup, there's nothing holding you back! Use your own ketchup with all of your favorite recipes, from putting it in Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers to dipping your oven fries in your own homemade ketchup. As an added bonus, you won't have to worry about the added sugar content in your ketchup! Who can turn down a healthy alternative to America's favorite condiment?

The controversy surrounding traditional ketchup that you'd purchase at the store can be quite off-putting, especially if you're a dedicated vegan still waiting impatiently for labeling requirements for animal products to be just as important as those for gluten, allergies, and other common issues. While the internet may insist that your ketchup is vegan, you don't always know who to trust. Are these companies following practices that you can believe in and stand behind? Do they make sure there's no trace of anything in your ketchup that you don't want there? By making your own vegan ketchup, you take the guesswork out of the process and get a quality product that you know you can trust.


 Up Next: Is Sorbet Vegan? A Dairy Free Sorbet Guide With Recipe



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