Can Vegans Eat Peanut Butter? Does Peanut Butter Have Dairy?

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Can vegans eat peanut butter? Vegans can eat most peanut butters if they are not allergic to peanuts. Does peanut butter have dairy? Peanut butter does not traditionally have dairy, still the rare ones might. Case in point: double check the ingredients!

That’s a quick summary!

For the rest of us who want a more detailed explanation, along with a dietitian written nutrition critique of peanut butter, keep reading!

Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for medical or dietary advice. Always talk to your doctor about any health concerns, if you want to make major dietary changes, or take a supplement. See our Disclaimers for more details.

This post was originally published on 5/1/22. The updated date is listed above. Information may change over time.

Is Peanut Butter Vegan?

Most peanut butter is vegan because most peanut butters contain four common ingredients that do not originate from an animal:

  • Peanuts – Did you know that this plant based food is actually the edible seeds of a legume, and not a nut (1)? This plant based food is vegan.
  • Salt – Salt comes processed from areas such as salt mines or such as from sea water (2). It is not animal based.
  • Oil – Plant based oils, like rapeseed, palm, and cotton seed oil, hydrogenated or not are often used in peanut butters to help prevent separation or add to a creamy texture. These oils mentioned are not from animals. FYI: Some vegans might avoid palm oil -more so for environmental reasons (learn more here).
  • Sugar – Sugar often comes from the sugar cane or sugar beet, which are plant based ingredients. Most sugar is likely processed through bone char, which does use the bones of animals. However, many vegans do not avoid small amounts of sugar, or sugar in general! You can learn more about this topic here.
picture of a hand holding a peanut butter container with ingredients that reads:  peanuts, sugar, palm oil, salt.

When might peanut butter not be vegan? Let’s talk about that next?

Peanut Butter Ingredients that Aren’t Vegan

While they aren’t common, some peanut butters have non vegan ingredients.

Here’s a list of non vegan ingredients found in some peanut butters:

These ingredients are more likely to be found in peanut butters marketed as:

  1. High Protein: That’s because animal based products, like whey or egg whites may be used to help bump up the protein content. Sometimes plant based foods- like soy protein isolate are used, so read the ingredients!
  2. Flavored: Some flavored peanut butters may have exciting names like “pumpkin spice” or “chocolate dream.” But, vegans should take a second glance at these since they may contain animal products/byproducts, like honey or whey (a protein found in milk).

Peanut Butter Brands That Include Vegan Options

We’ve compiled a list of brands that include (not exclusive) vegan peanut butters in the US:

FYI: This is not a comprehensive list of all peanut butter brands that carry vegan peanut butters in in the United States. I didn’t consider powdered peanut butters in this list. Check the ingredient list to make sure it is vegan, as product formulations may change:

Does Peanut Butter Have Dairy?

Peanut Butter Vs Butter (dairy) graphic. Notes that ingredients are often different, peanut butter typically has more protein and less saturated fat per tablespoon serving.

Peanut butter does not typically contain dairy.

Why is there confusion around this subject? Perhaps because we use the term butter in peanut butter!

Most of us think of dairy butter when we hear the word “butter” – am I right?

And since vegans consume a dairy free diet, peanut butter made with added dairy is something vegans avoid.

But is peanut butter always dairy free? Nope!

Sometimes dairy is added to higher protein peanut butters, or flavored varieties like peanut butter chocolate.

You might see dairy listed as (fyi: not a comprehensive list):

  • Whey protein isolate
  • Whole milk powder
  • Nonfat dry milk
  • Lactose
  • Milkfat, etc

So, in general, the term “butter” in peanut butter probably just refers to its smooth or cream like texture.

Natural peanut butter (aka: peanut butter with only peanuts and sometimes salt added) and even those that contain oil and sugar most likely are dairy free.

Of course, double check the ingredients list if you have a dairy allergy, are lactose free, or need to avoid dairy.

And it goes without saying that peanut butter has a different nutritional aspects to it than other dairy products like cheese, ice cream, butter, etc!

Do Vegans Eat Peanut Butter?

Simple answer: Ask them!

I’m a vegan and I enjoy peanut butter!

Vegans who are allergic to peanuts should not eat peanut butter.

Other reasons why a vegan might avoid peanut butter: They dislike the taste, or, peanut butter is hard to find.

In the US, this tasty spread tends to be a relatively inexpensive, widely available product with note worthy nutrients (more on this in the next section).

Is Peanut Butter Healthy?

Picture of a spoon dipped into a jar of peanut butter

Peanut butter is often a healthier spread than several other options, but if you are allergic to peanuts, you should not eat it.

How healthy is it compared to other spreads?

Lets compare peanut butter to another popular spreads: jam and vegan “butter.”

If you are looking for the most nutritious spread to put on bread, peanut butter has several advantages over jelly or butter.

Peanut butter has:

  • Plant based protein: Compared to jam and butter, peanut butter has the most protein at around t 4 grams of protein per tablespoon(3), compared to about 0 grams in certain Miyoko’s Creamery Hint of Sea Salt “butter”, and 0 grams from jam(4)! The extra protein might help you feel more satisfied.
  • Healthy fats: Peanut butter mainly contains unsaturated fat. It has less saturated fat than vegan butters. As a comparison, Miyoko’s Creamery Hint of Sea Salt butter has around 8 grams of saturated fat compared to about 2 grams in peanut butter per tablespoon serving(3). That’s quite the difference! Too much saturated fat is not healthy (5).
  • Dietary fiber – Fiber was noted as a public health concern for under consumption in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025.
  • Nutrients and Antioxidants: peanuts contain several other nutrients and antioxidants like selenium(6).

Again, context is king! We are not saying you can never have vegan butter, or that we even choose peanut butter instead all the time.

Looking at your diet as a whole can help determine which spread to go with (not to mention that there are several other tasty nut butters to try).

Finally, there are no added salt peanut butters if you are watching your salt intake.

Organic peanut butter is also available for those who are concerned about pesticides.

Can Vegans Eat Peanut Butter? (Summary)

Vegans can eat most peanut butters, unless they have a peanut allergy.

We say most, because there are the rare few peanut butters that contain some animals products, such as honey peanut butter, and those that contain dairy or eggs. By definition, vegans avoid animal products.

Dairy usually isn’t a concern with peanut butter, but double check the ingredients list to be sure! Flavored or higher protein varieties may be more likely to have dairy or other animal products in them.

I hope you found this article helpful! Are you a chunky or creamy peanut butter fan?
Let us know in the comment below!
If you liked this article, there’s more to read from the Vegan Nutrition Library! We discuss other topics like, can a vegan eat bread? and Is fish oil needed for everyone?
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