Is peanut butter vegan? Usually -but the occasional once include animal products, so check the ingredients.
Does peanut butter have dairy? Peanut butter does not traditionally have dairy, still the rare ones might (again- double check the ingredients)!
That’s the quick summary!
As a credentialed food and nutrition expert, I’ll talk more about the details and nutrition benefits peanut butter brings. So if you want to learn more about peanut butter for vegans 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.
Check out the quick summary on my YouTube Short (and be sure to keep reading to get the details!
Is Peanut Butter Vegan?
Most peanut butter is vegan because most contain four common ingredients that do not originate from an animal. Those ingredients are:
- 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 (‘cane sugar’) 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.
While most peanut butter’s contain at least peanut butter and salt (vegan ingredients), some peanut butters add ingredients that make them non vegan.
Let’s talk about those ingredients that do not align with a vegan diet 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:
- Whey protein isolate
- Whole milk powder
- Nonfat dry milk
- Egg whites
- Collagen-non vegan
- Monoglycerides – maybe. (monoglycerides are types of fats that can be derived from either vegetable oils or animals).
You’re more likely to find animal ingredients in peanut butters marketed as:
- 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!
- 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).
- ‘Enriched with: Some peanut butters are enriched with animal products like collagen or fish oil.
Peanut Butter Brands That Include Vegan Options
Here’s a list of brands that include (not exclusive) vegan peanut butters in the United States (US):
FYI: This is not a comprehensive list of all peanut butter brands that carry vegan peanut butters in the US. Powdered peanut butters were not included.
Check the ingredient list to make sure it is vegan, as product formulations may change:
- Once Again
- Peter Pan
- Peanut Butter & Co
- Nuts ‘N More
- Santa Cruz
- Several grocery store brands
As an alternative, you could find vegan peanut butter recipes (FYI- you’ll likely need a good food processor)!
Does Peanut Butter Have Dairy?
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. For example, higher protein peanut butters, or flavored varieties like peanut butter chocolate types may contain dairy.
You might see dairy listed as (fyi: not a comprehensive list):
- Whey protein isolate
- Whole milk powder
- Nonfat dry milk
- 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, peanuts, or any other ingredient you are allergic to.
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!
Can Vegans Eat Peanut Butter?
Simple answer: Ask them! Can vegans eat peanut butter? Vegans can eat most peanut butters if they are not allergic to peanuts.
I’m a vegan and I enjoy peanut butter!
Again, vegans who are allergic to peanuts should not eat peanut butter.
Other reasons why a vegan might avoid peanut butter:
- They are allergic to peanuts
- They dislike the taste
- They dislike the texture
- Peanut butter is not accessible
- It may be too expensive in some areas.
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?
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(4), compared to about 0 grams in certain Miyoko’s Creamery Hint of Sea Salt “butter”, and 0 grams from jam(5)! 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(6). That’s quite the difference! Too much saturated fat is not healthy for a variety of reasons, including heart health (7).
- Dietary fiber – Fiber was noted as a public health concern for under consumption in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. Fiber is very important including for regularity and important for gut health.
- Nutrients and Antioxidants: peanuts contain several other nutrients and antioxidants like selenium(8).
- Energy Density: Peanut butter is a high calorie food that contributes lots of energy in a visually small serving.
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 find that important.
Peanut butter is usually vegan. There are a few rare peanut butters that contain some animal products such as 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 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? What’s your favorite peanut butter recipe?
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?
Do Vegans eat Cheese?
Can Vegans Drink Coffee?
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