Ketchup is one of, if not the most popular condiment on the planet. It’s a versatile ingredient that is used in convenient fast foods as well as hearty meals. But with veganism currently on the rise, ketchup has been flagged as a food that is potentially off limits for vegans. This can be confusing to some as ketchup is made from few ingredients, with its primary one being tomatoes.
While there are many different brands of ketchup on the market, this article will specifically look at Heinz ketchup, which for all intents and purposes, is the most popular ketchup brand available worldwide. To answer the question “Is Heinz ketchup vegan?”, we first need to define what standards a product must meet in order to be declared vegan.
Vegan vs. Plant-Based
Not all plant-based products are vegan. Though plant-based foods are similar to vegan foods, there is one main difference: the inclusion of an animal component in their ingredients and/or production.
Eating foods that are plant-based means they are mainly derived from plant materials. They can, however, still include animal products in their ingredients and/or production. Vegan foods, on the other hand, eliminate any animal products in both the ingredients, as well as in the factory where the food is made. This is why you will see some vegan products that have a warning label with a statement such as “May Contain Milk”, which means the product has been produced in a factory that also produces milk-related products. It’s essentially stating that there may have been some cross-contamination during the production process. If you are vegan, you will avoid these products, as the vegan philosophy doesn’t tolerate any form of animal inclusion in their food, or lifestyle products.
Heinz Ketchup Ingredients & Nutrition
Now that we’ve defined what makes a food vegan-friendly, we can look closely at the ingredients and nutritional value of Heinz ketchup.
According to their nutritional information, it seems like a pretty healthy food. In a single tablespoon serving, there are zeros straight across the board: zero calories, zero carbs, zero cholesterol, and zero sodium.
Additionally, as it’s made from tomatoes, Heinz Tomato Ketchup looks to be vegan-friendly. It contains: Tomato Concentrate From Red Ripe Tomatoes, Distilled Vinegar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Salt, Onion Powder, Spice, and Natural Flavoring.
The main ingredient you want to be aware of in ketchup is the sugar, and where it comes from. As Heinz’s Tomato Ketchup derives is sweetness from high-fructose corn syrup, which is 100% vegan, the classic Heinz ketchup is safe for vegans to consume.
Multiple Heinz Ketchups
However, Heinz now makes a wide range of ketchups, with ingredients and nutritional value differing from their traditional recipe.
For example, looking at Simply Heinz Tomato Ketchup, it is made from: Tomato Concentrate From Red Ripe Tomatoes, Distilled Vinegar, Cane Sugar, Salt, Onion Powder, Spice, and Natural Flavoring. Additionally, the nutritional content is different, with a single tablespoon serving providing 15 calories, 4 grams of carbohydrates, 160 milligrams of sodium, zero fat, and zero cholesterol.
To the untrained eye, this version of Heinz Ketchup still looks perfectly acceptable for a vegan diet. However, what many people are unaware of is that cane sugar is sometimes produced via a process that employs the use of bone char.
If the term bone char sounds unpleasant, you may be shocked to find out that its method of production is not far off from your imagination. Bone char is produced by heating up cattle bones to very high-temperatures, thus turning it into carbon. The char is then used in a refinery that filters and bleaches the sugar. The sugar doesn’t contain particles of bone char, but it has definitely come into contact with them, and any contact with animals is strictly forbidden according to the vegan ethical code.
So how can you be certain that the cane sugar in Heinz isn’t subjected to bone char?
According to Heinz, they maintain all their ketchups are 100% vegan friendly, and do not involve the use of bone char in their sugar production process.
However, that doesn’t mean that all ketchups are created without bone char, so if you’re vegan you’ll have to do your homework when it comes to ingesting ketchup that isn’t Heinz.
Vegan Sugar Substitutes
As with all vegan foods, they aim to replicate the taste and consistency of non-vegan foods, and when it comes to ketchup, sugar is where this taste emulation occurs. The ketchup manufacturer will need to use either a vegan-friendly sugar such as beet sugar, or pure/organic cane sugar, ensuring its not subject to the bone char filtration process. There are quite a few sugar companies popping up that are fully vegan, and many of them are used when producing vegan ketchup. There are also optional vegan-friendly sweeteners like maple syrup, date syrup, coconut sugar, and brown rice sugar that may be used to keep the ketchup vegan-friendly.
Sauces For Everyone
Now that we know Heinz ketchup is vegan-friendly, what are the health benefits it offers?
In small servings, ketchup isn’t unhealthy, and it even contains high doses of the antioxidant lycopene. But, where you should be mindful of your ketchup intake is in the sugar and salt content. Like all things, moderation is key.
For those that can’t get enough, Heinz makes multiple versions of ketchup, as well as a myriad of low calorie vegan sauces. If you are looking to limit your salt and sugar intake, Heinz makes No Salt Added Tomato Ketchup, and No Sugar Added Tomato Ketchup.
However, the sugar substitute in their No Sugar Added ketchup is sucralose (aka Splenda), which has a controversial standing in the vegan community. While sucralose doesn’t contain any animal products, there is evidence of testing it on animals that doesn’t sit well with most vegans.
Probably the healthiest ketchup option for vegans to go with is Heinz’s Organic Certified Tomato Ketchup. While it does contain salt and sugar, the majority of the ingredients are organic. In particular, the sugar is organic (no bone char filtration process), and the ketchup meets the strict requirements that are necessary for USDA organic certification.
Heinz Ketchup is a vegan-friendly product. If you aren’t into making your own ketchup, you can rest assured knowing you have access to vegan ketchup in most parts of the world, as Heinz is a global brand. With different options catering to all types of dietary lifestyle, you shouldn’t have any problem finding a Heinz ketchup to suit your tastes.