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

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In short, yes! Vegans can eat most peanut butters, although, those with peanut allergies will want to avoid it.

And no, peanut butter does not traditionally have dairy, despite the term butter .

Keep reading if you want the full explanation, along with a discussion to some other questions you might have, like ingredients to watch out for and how healthy peanut butter actually is.

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.

*Consumer Notice: This post contains affiliate links that are marked in this manner: (affiliate link*)”. If you click on these links and purchase, I earn a commission at no added cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Is Peanut Butter Vegan?

Most peanut butter is vegan because many peanut butters contain four common ingredients: peanuts, salt, along with oil and sugar (sometimes). These ingredients are derived do not have an animal origin.

So what would you possibly need to look out for if you follow the principles of veganism (including avoidance of animal foods or animal byproducts (for example dairy cheese and ice cream))?

Here are some general categories of peanut butter that vegans may want to take a closer glance at:

  • Flavored Varieties: While flaunting exciting names like “pumpkin spice” or “chocolate dream,” vegans should take a second glance at flavored peanut butters, as they may contain animal products/byproducts, like honey or whey (a protein found in milk).
  • High Protein Varieties: Vegan body builders beware!  High protein peanut butters may contain animal based proteins, like whey or egg whites. They help bump up the protein content.

Alright, so now that we have a general idea of what to look out for, lets get into the nitty gritty…. What should a vegan look out for in the ingredients list?

Non Vegan Ingredients Found in Some Peanut Butters

Here is a list of some animal derived ingredients we have seen in peanut butters (not a comprehensive list):

Additional Ingredients that Some Vegans May Avoid

Some vegans may or may not avoid the following ingredients:

  • Refined Sugar (such as cane sugar processed using bone char, learn more in our article here)
  • Mono and/or diglycerides (sometimes these are animal derived, but it can be especially unclear)
  • Palm Oil (not animal derived, but some may avoid for environmental concerns. Learn more in this article)

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. Check the ingredient list to make sure it is vegan, as product formulations may change. We are not claiming that all of the below options are the “healthiest.”

*Consumer Notice: This section contains an affiliate link that is marked in this manner: (affiliate link*)”. If you click on the links and purchase, I earn a commission at no added cost to you.

P.S. There are probably a bunch of other grocery stores that contain vegan peanut butters as well!

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.

No, in general peanut butter does not 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 dairy would be a concern.

Fortunately, most of what we have found on the shelves are dairy free peanut butters.

Where might you see peanut butter dairy containing products? Sometimes in high protein or flavored varieties.

For instance, sometimes whey protein isolate milk (a dairy byproduct) is added to increase the protein content in jars labeled as “high protein.”

As another example, some chocolate peanut butters may add milk fat.

But 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, its especially important to double check the ingredients list for those who have a dairy allergy, are lactose free, or have any other health condition in which dairy would be troublesome

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!

But our best guess is that they do (including myself) unless they are allergic to peanuts, dislike the flavor, or don’t have access to peanut butter.

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

As a vegan who can tolerate peanuts, I enjoy it on sandwiches, fruit, oatmeal, and more!

Is Peanut Butter Healthy?

Picture of a spoon dipped into a jar of peanut butter

Glad you asked! Whenever a question about the healthfulness of a product comes up, it is important to ask another question: What are we comparing?

Where do most people use peanut butter most often? Perhaps on toast?

Alright, so given the toast example, let’s compare peanut butter to common toast spread “competitors,” for vegans: vegan butter and jelly/jam.

If you are looking for the most nutritious spread to put on bread, peanut butter has several advantages over jelly or butter. Peanut butter might contain about 4 grams of protein per tablespoon, compared to about 0 grams in certain Miyoko’s Creamery Hint of Sea Salt “butter”, and 0 grams from jam!

If your meal or snack needs a spread, including one with protein could help you feel more satisfied compared to one without protein. And using peanut butter instead of vegan butter or jam adds another way to get in some lysine, an amino acid that may require some more planning (for some) on a vegan diet.

Peanut butter also often has less saturated fat than vegan butters, and saturated fat is a type of fat that many health professionals recommend to be reduced/replaced with unsaturated fat. For instance, 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. That’s quite the difference!

Additionally, peanut butter contains potassium and dietary fiber -both were identified as dietary components of public health concern for under consumption in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025.

Depending on the jam/jelly, this type of spread might offer unique nutrition considerations too, such as different vitamins and minerals. However, this really depends on how much actual fruit is present, the type, and amount of processing (for instance, some methods might lower the nutrient content values, such as vitamin C).

But in general, unless you have an allergy to peanuts, peanut butter is typically a more nutritious spread for vegans as compared to vegan “butter.”  

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).

And lastly, if you are looking for the simplest ingredients, your peanut butter would probably only contain one to two ingredients, peanuts and/or salt.

For those who are concerned about pesticides, choosing organic can reduce the pesticide load in your peanut butter.

In Summary: Can Vegans Eat Peanut Butter?

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. Vegans by definition, avoid animal products.

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

We want to know! Should we write a separate post about powdered peanut butter? Are you a chunky or creamy peanut butter fan? Let us know in the comment below!
If you would like to learn more about keeping things plant based, why not explore our blog? We discuss other topics like, can a vegan eat bread? and Is fish oil needed for everyone?
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