What makes bread plant based?
Is it the same thing vegan?
What are the best vegan breads, and how can I make healthier choices in general?
Lets discuss in this article written by a fully plant based Dietitian!
Disclaimer: This article is just providing education and is not providing personal dietary advice. Talk to your doctor about any health concerns and before starting supplements and making major dietary changes. 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.
This article was originally published on 1/6/22. The recent updated date is listed above.
Can You Eat Bread on Plant Based Diet?
Absolutely! As long as you do not have any health problems associated with bread or its ingredients.
Plant based ingredients (such as wheat, rye, or other type of flour) are typically number one on the ingredients label. Don’t just take our word for it, grab a loaf and take a look!
Dictionary.cambridge.org/us/defines “plant-based” as:
“Consisting or made completely of plants, or mainly of plants:Source: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/plant-based
-I eat a predominantly plant-based diet.
-The British favor natural plant-based beauty products.
-Ethanol, a plant-based fuel, runs in gasoline engines.
-Our best health insurance is eating a wide variety of plant-based foods.
-Plant-based products are popular with people who have sensitive skin.”
In other words, yes, bread is typically considered plant based.
But wait a second, there are tons of bread on the market with highly processed ingredients and additives, so how can that be plant based?
Simply put: highly processed ingredients in bread like came from plants originally.
However, that white piece of bread that leaves you feeling hungry one minute later might not be your vision of plant based bread.
If that sounds like you, perhaps you are a whole foods plant based consumer, which brings us to the next topic…
Whole Food Plant Based Bread – WFPB Bread
If you aren’t familiar with the term “Whole Foods Plant Based”(wfpb), let me explain.
Like those on plant based diets, a wfpb individual also limits (or even eliminates) animal products and focuses on plant based foods.
So what makes a wfpb approach different than a plant based one?
In general, wfpb individuals might have a stronger emphasis on the following (please note, there is not dictionary definition for wfpb that we are aware of):
- Eating food that is minimally processed (hence the “whole” part of the term) and avoiding foods that are more processed.
For example, a wfpb person might mash a whole avocado on their toast as opposed to spreading on a more processed food, like margarine.
- Wfpb people may be more likely to care about perceived food quality.
For example, purchasing local and/or organic produce.
Alright, so what kind of plant based bread would be a candidate for the wfpb diet? Lets ask someone who typically follows a wfpb diet (Oh hey! That’s me! That was easy)!
Here is what I look for when it comes to wfpb bread picking (disclaimer: this is what I personally look for and is not meant to tell you exactly what to buy):
- The main ingredients in bread comes from whole sources (ie: whole or sprouted wheat, whole oats, rye)
- Added sugars are minimal to none or derived only from fruit (ie: dates, raisins).
- Ingredients are likely familiar and close to their original form (ie: whole wheat instead of refined wheat flour)
- Organic ingredients if possible
In Summary: A wfpb consumer is always plant based, but a plant based individual is not always wfpb.
But you may still be asking, where does that put vegans?
Lets tackle that question next!
Is Plant Based the Same as Vegan Bread?
A vegan diet goes beyond plant based. In fact, it is a 100% plant based diet, meaning that the diet only contains plants.
This means that vegan bread will be devoid of all animal products. Whereas plant based bread could have some animal derived ingredients.
You can learn more in our are in depth article: Can a Vegan Eat Bread? to learn all about vegan bread brands, c
In short, here’s a list of some ingredients vegans avoid in the bread aisle:
- Dairy (often listed as milk___ (milk fat, milk protein, skim milk, etc),, butter, butter fat, casein, or caseinate, buttermilk, whey, etc)
- Fish Oil or fish gelatin.
- Eggs, Egg whites
- Mono and diglycerides (sometimes- as this may or may not be vegan)
Putting this into practical terms, vegans generally avoid these types of bread when they are made with animal ingredients:
(again this is not a comprehensive or necessarily accurate list as there may be vegan versions of these breads available as well 😉 )
- Buttermilk Bread
- Zopf Bread
- Honey Wheat
- Egg Bread
- English Muffins
- Damper Bread
- Qistibi Bread
- Obi Non Bread
- Vanocka Bread
How Do I Pick Healthy Bread?
Bread can be a healthy addition to your diet, and no, not everyone needs a low carb bread!
As you read these tips, remember, to keep the whole of your diet in mind (there are ways to make bread fit)! Of course, if you have questions, talk to your own doctor and Dietitian.
So without further ado, lets get into the tips for choosing a healthier bread!
(FYI: if you have adverse health reactions to certain ingredients in bread, you should avoid it. For example, those with celiac disease should be gluten free).
- Make whole grains your grain of choice
- Look for breads with at/under 140 milligrams (mg) of sodium per serving
- Choose breads with less added sugar
- Consider fermented and sprouted grain breads
Make Big Gains in the Grains Department
When it comes to picking out the best ingredients in your bread, go for the whole grains (the whole nutrition package!)
Why go whole? Because not only do you get the beneficial vitamins, minerals and fiber… the bonus is that you may reduce your odds of heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes when choosing whole over refined grains(1).
Whole grains already have the good stuff in them, why take them out?
How do you spot whole grains? Look at the ingredients list. Words like, “whole wheat” and “whole rye” are whole grains, and will likely be the first ingredient listed.
Don’t Be Too Salty
Did you know that bread is one of the top 10 sources of sodium in the United States(2)?
With such common conditions like heart disease and hypertension in the USA, sodium is a nutrient you may want to mindful of when looking for bread.
How can you choose low sodium breads? Try looking for breads that contain 140 milligrams (mg) of sodium or less per serving(3).
One caveat: sometimes it can be hard to find a bread that contains at or less than 140 mg. So it’s important to be mindful about how many bread servings you are eating, and the amount of sodium in your diet as a whole.
Hold The Sugar
Now this one is going to shock you! Its actually not too uncommon to find breads with 3 to 5 grams of sugar per slice.
That might not sound like a lot, but if you are following the American Heart Associations recommendation to limit added sugar to no more than about 6 teaspoons (25 grams of sugar) for women, and about 9 teaspoons for men (36 grams of sugar) (4), having a few slices of bread higher in sugar can definitely add up!
So, if you are trying to limit your added sugar intake, look for breads with less added or no added sugar.
You could also consider choosing bread with sugar coming from fruit, (ie: raisins, dates etc.).
Like sodium, being mindful of your total sugar intake is really what’s important when looking at the big picture.
Consider Fermented and/or Sprouted Bread
Perhaps you’ve heard that phytates (antinutrients) in whole grain breads reduces the nutrient content. This does not mean we should avoid whole grains!
Further, whether phytates really reduces nutrient content in an over all high phytate diets over time (not short term) is debated.
One randomized control study with female (aged 18-35 years old) participants looked at the impact of phytate consumption on non heme iron absorption. It suggests that that habitual intake of high phytates foods may reduce the negative effects on non heme iron absorption (we need more research in this area) (5).
Plus, processing to make a more refined product also strips out some of the beneficial nutrients and fiber in the process. if there is one thing the many Americans aren’t getting enough of, its fiber(6)!
But, what’s the work around for this phytate issue… if you still find it an issue?
First of all, the presence of phytates in whole grain breads did not change the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans(DGA(7))!
The 2020-2025 DGA’s still recommends at least half of total grain intake to come from whole grains.
So its hard to imagine phytates as the worst villain if we most of us are are encouraged to eat more whole grains.
And, here’s some more good news: some research suggests that fermentation decreases the presence of phytate (8). Other research suggests that sprouting may improve nutrient absorption (9)So if you are still concerned about phytates, consider adding fermented (such as whole grain sourdough) or sprouted breads to the mix.
Plant Based Bread Recipes
Want to make your own bread instead of opting for store bought? Check out these ideas!
And if you were wondering, all of the ones mentioned below just happen to be homemade vegan recipes as well!
- Olive Oil Biscuits (Made with Buckwheat) By Laura Yautz, Registered Dietitian at Being Nutritious
- Easy Vegan Whole-Wheat Bread with Seeds By Vegan Foodiez
- Healthy Whole Wheat Pita Bread (no oil or sugar) By Annisette at Food.com
Best Vegan Breads
Disclaimer: This list is based on the personal preference of the writer and is not meant to tell you exactly what to eat or provide personal dietary advice.
This is not a comprehensive list of all vegan breads that may be healthier than others. All the breads mentioned below are currently at/under 140 milligrams of sodium per serving, have at/under 2 grams of added sugars, and use whole grains. Please note ingredients and/or nutrient facts can change. These breads are not certified gluten free.
What is considered “healthy” is highly individualized, and should take total dietary pattern and one’s medical conditions into consideration.
The writer has also tried the below breads, and enjoys their flavor (another important factor for me!)
As a reminder, affiliate links are used in this post and marked in this manner: (affiliate link*) If you click on these links and purchase, I earn a commission at no added cost to you.
So with all of that being said: here are a couple of my personal favorite breads as a vegan!
Dave’s Killer Bread Powerseed
“Organic whole wheat (organic whole wheat flour, organic cracked whole wheat), water, organic Powerseed® grain and seed mix (organic whole flax seeds, organic sunflower seeds, organic brown sesame seeds, organic pumpkin seeds, organic black sesame seeds, organic ground whole flax seeds, organic rolled oats), organic wheat gluten, organic fruit juices (organic apple, organic pear, organic peach) , organic oat fiber, contains 2% or less of each of the following: sea salt, organic vinegar, organic cultured wheat flour, yeast, enzymes, organic acerola cherry powder.“Source: https://www.daveskillerbread.com/powerseed
Nutrition (per serving): 100 calories, 135 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of fiber, 1 grams of added sugar, 5 grams of protein.
Taste: In our opinion, this bread has a hearty whole wheat sandwich bread flavor, that isn’t overly sweet! We love to use it for sandwiches!
Highlights: In addition to being low in added sugar and under 140 mg of sodium per serving, it contains has a decent amount of plant based protein, and fiber coming form the whole grain and seed mixture!
You can find Dave’s Killer Powerseed Bread below (affiliate link*):
Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread
“Organic Sprouted Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Millet, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Lentils, Organic Sprouted Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Spelt, Fresh Yeast, Organic Wheat Gluten, Sea Salt.“Source: https://www.foodforlife.com/product/breads/ezekiel-49-sprouted-whole-grain-bread
Nutrition Facts: Per 1 Slice Serving: 80 calories, 75 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of fiber, 0 grams of added sugars, 5 grams of protein.
Taste: In my opinion, this bread has a slightly nutty taste that may come from the sprouted whole grains.
Highlights: Aside from being a lower sodium/no added sugar sprouted grains bread, it has a decent amount of plant based protein, and even contains lentils and soybeans!
This bread is also USDA Organic if that is important to you. P.S. They also have a cinnamon raisin bread variety that is very tasty too!
Check out Food For Life’s Flourless Sprouted Grain Bread below (affiliate link*):
Angelic Bakehouse Reduced Sodium Sprouted Whole Grain Bread
“Wheat Berries Quinoa Millet Oat Groats Barley Rye Berries Amaranth Water Whole Wheat Flour Wheat Gluten Brown Sugar Yeast Oat Fiber Molasses Natural Flavor Sunflower Oil Salt”Source: https://www.angelicbakehouse.com/products/low-sodium-bread
Nutrition Facts: Per 1 Slice Serving: 90 calories, 90 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of added sugars, 4 grams of protein.
Taste: This bread has a hearty yet light flavor at the same time! I love the smooth texture, which is something I prefer flavor-wise when it comes to sprouted breads.
Highlights: This bread includes sprouted whole grains like barley, quinoa and millet. For those who find it important, the product page states bread is also high fructose corn syrup free.
You can check it out here (affiliate link*):
Did this post clarify what plant based bread is? What’s your favorite vegan bread available at your nearest grocery store? Leave us a comment below!
And while you’re here, why not poke around on our blog? We talk about topics like Plant Based Diet books and making a Vegan Grocery List.
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