Answer: It depends. Heinz’s Organic Tomato Ketchup is vegan. The other flavors, original included, are not vegan because of the kind of sugar they contain.
Wherever you are, if you ask for ketchup, you’ll be shocked to receive anything but Heinz Tomato Ketchup. To say that the brand is popular is a massive understatement; it reigns supreme as the most popular condiment of its kind.
Now you’re probably thinking, “Do I have ketchup in my fridge, and it is Heinz?” Since about 97% of all American homes have a bottle of ketchup and that most of them are made by Heinz, you probably do.
But can vegans eat it?
Vegans have to ask this question about most products. While vegetarian products are becoming easy to find, the same cannot be said about vegan products. Still, with nearly 10 million vegans in the US in 2020, the future looks brighter for plant-based dieters.
Veganism is here to stay, and manufacturers will no doubt offer more vegan options in the future. In due time, the certified vegan logo will be all you need to determine if a product is vegan friendly. But this time isn’t here yet, so we must do our own detective work to ensure that products are vegan-friendly.
Read on to find out which Heinz ketchup is 100% vegan.
Some Valuable Information
Ketchup, in its primitive form, originated in southeast Asia. British travelers who tasted the sauce, made with fermented fish oil and various exotic spices, fell in love with it.
They decided to bring it back to England and started to reproduce it as best they could. They experimented with a variety of vegetables but couldn’t replicate what they had tasted in Asia. It just didn’t taste right. So for a long while, ketchup was made from mushrooms, pumpkins, zucchini, or whatever they could find.
A “secret” ingredient transformed the sauce: tomato. It was brought back from the New World sometime in the 17th century. It’s discovery revolutionized food in general and the way people made ketchup.
That’s when it started to become more like the ketchup we have now. The passing of centuries taught us how to blend the ingredients to make, what is today, a winning recipe. Doesn’t it sound odd to even imagine your French fries, onion rings, or (vegan) burger without the magical red sauce? Well, thanks to years of trial and error, ketchup is now delightful.
How Is Heinz Tomato Ketchup Made?
A first glance, all ketchup seems to be vegan. Unfortunately, a glance is not enough if you want to find out what it really contains. Processed food is made with complex ingredients that you’d expect to find in a scientist’s test tube rather than in a bottle of ketchup.
Let’s look at what Heinz Original Tomato Ketchup’s recipe looks like:
- Distilled vinegar
- Tomato concentrate from ripe red tomatoes
- Onion powder
- Natural flavoring
- Cane sugar
All of the ingredients listed above are plant-based. But there is one ingredient that doesn’t pass the vegan-friendly test. Can you guess it?
Pretty Please, With Sugar On Top
The ingredient list above is from the Heinz official website. It seems to me to be the most accurate source. Surprisingly, the only ingredient that isn’t vegan is sugar. Why in the world is sugar, out of all things, not vegan?
Most cane sugar has to be filtered and bleached using bone char. Bone char is made from animal bones (cows or pigs). The bones are heated to an extremely high temperature to render them coal-like. In turn, bone char is used to make the sugar white.
Most vegans will agree that using animal bones to “purify” any ingredient is considered non-vegan. Until Heinz guarantees that their cane sugar isn’t filtered with bone char, their original ketchup is not vegan.
Organic To The Rescue
But I thought you said that it was vegan? That’s true, but I had to make sure that you knew that not all Heinz Tomato Ketchup is vegan. Thankfully, Heinz has an alternative for vegans. Since organic sugar is not filtered by bone char, Heinz Organic Tomato Ketchup is 100% vegan!
I must point-out that bone char is used to filter sugar, so no actual bone char is found in the end product. Consequently, if you aren’t bothered by bone char and feel that as long as the end product is plant-based and doesn’t contain any animal products, you’re free to enjoy any of the ketchup made by Heinz. But if bone char is against what you believe in, then stick to the organic kind.
Is It Healthy?
Ketchup isn’t terrible if you don’t consume vast amounts of it. It’s low in calories, has vitamin A and C, and has high antioxidant lycopene levels, which is beneficial to your heart.
On the other hand, ketchup is high in salt and sugar. You can expect 4 grams of sugar and 190 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon of ketchup. These are considerable amounts holding that our daily intake should be 25-36 grams of sugar and 1500-2300 of sodium.
Like most things, the red sauce is okay in moderation. To keep it on the healthy side, find ketchup that doesn’t have a science experiment list on the ingredient label, and try not to pour too much of the sauce next time you have that side of French fries.
Heinz may be the leading brand of ketchup, but it’s thankfully not the only brand. They may not be as effortless to find, but there are plenty of other great-tasting vegan ketchup brands out there. The following are 100% vegan:
- Annie’s Organic Ketchup
- Westbrae Natural Organic Unsweetened Ketchup
- Fody Food Vegan Tomato Ketchup
- Primal Kitchen Organic Unsweetened Ketchup
- 365 Everyday Value Organic Tomato Ketchup
None of the above are processed with bone char, so you’re in the clear. All of them have their own unique taste. Give them a try!
If you made it this far, congratulations and thanks! Now, if all this business about animal bones makes you hesitant, you’re not alone.
The best option is to make your own ketchup. Making ketchup isn’t reserved for big companies. Homemade ketchup is not impossible to make. Now, if you were to look at the list of ingredients from your favorite ketchup bottle and mixed them all up randomly, it would taste disastrous. Try my favorite recipe. It’s simple and takes less than 5 minutes to make:
- 1 cup tomato paste
- 4 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp oregano or parsley
- 1 tsp of paprika
- 1 tsp of cayenne
- Cracked pepper to taste
- Sea salt to taste
Mix it all up, and voila! Homemade ketchup!
The best thing is that you can easily tweak your recipe to your taste. Once you’ve perfected it, you’ll have people begging for your secret recipe!
Is Heinz Ketchup vegan? Yes, if you choose Heinz’s Organic Tomato Ketchup. The other flavors, original included, are not vegan because of the kind of sugar they contain.
Heinz Tomato Ketchup contains tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt, onion powder, spice, and natural flavoring. All of these ingredients are plant-based. At first glance, the mixture should be vegan, but the sugar is filtered using bone char.
Bone char is made from animal bones, which ethically doesn’t comply with most vegans.
There are alternatives if you can’t find Heinz Organic Tomato Ketchup at your local store, which would be surprising, but you can try other brands that make 100% vegan ketchup.
Look for organic ketchup because it’s made with organic sugar, which isn’t filtered with bone char.
Finally, if you feel like Heinz isn’t vegan enough for you, you can make your own and perhaps begin a family tradition.
There you have it. Just remember to dip responsibly!