Oatmeal is a popular type of porridge made from oats (the name gives a spoiler). The oat seeds are soaked in a liquid, usually milk, water, almond milk, etc. The healthy, chewy, and gooey bowl of porridge is a choice for many fitness freaks. So, is oatmeal vegan?
Is Oatmeal Vegan?
Oatmeal is a product of the oat plant and doesn’t contain any animal products, by-products, or derivatives. It is suitable for vegans as long as the liquid you soak the oats in isn’t dairy.
If you’re wondering whether this healthy meal is vegan, then this article is here to clear your doubts. The short answer might not be good enough for you, so read along!
Types of Oatmeal
All oats that make oatmeal begin as whole oats called groats. The flaky oats that you eat come from processing groats. The outer layer of a groat, the hull, is taken out. The leaves inside the oat seed, what we call “oats”, are left behind.
Oats aren’t suitable to become oatmeal yet. As soon as the hull is removed, the oats will be steel-cut or rolled. This will lead to the different types of oats for making oatmeal.
As soon as the hull is removed from the oat grains, they are steamed. Then, they’re flattened with rollers and made into the flakes you must have eaten. They aren’t entirely flattened, making them delicious with an undeniably nice texture made into oatmeal.
Rolled oats are also, well, rolled. However, rolled oats are flatter than their old-fashioned alternatives. Rolled oats take less time to cook because of their slim flat shape.
You’ll find rolled oats in the bags of big brands like Quaker Oats. There’s nothing but the grain in rolled oats, nothing related to animals. Vegans can enjoy these without thinking twice.
Steel Cut Oats
Steel-cut oats are cut well, unlike rolled oats. Steel cutters slash unprocessed oats into small pieces like rice grains. Due to this process, steel-cut oats have a chewier texture while less processed.
They take longer to cook since they aren’t flattened and don’t absorb liquid.
Instant Rolled Oats
Instant oats are both cooked and dried before getting rolled thin, very thin. Thinner than a strand of your hair (just kidding, but you get the point). They’re quicker to cook than quick-cook oats because of their shape, almost five times as fast.
However, they’re the unhealthiest option.
Why Instant Rolled Oats Are Not for Vegans
Different instant oat brands include additives and flavors to add taste or sweetness to otherwise plain oats. They sometimes also make non-vegan additions to instant oats like milk products as whey or cream.
Some products used by these companies that make them unsuitable for vegans are listed here.
There is no difference between bee farming and other forms of animal farming for some vegans. Bee farmers often employ practices unethical by vegan standards to optimize profits. This can include the following.
- Clipping the queen bees’ wings to keep them from fleeing the hive
- Replacing harvested honey with inferior syrups of sugar
- Murdering colonies to avoid the spread of disease instead of providing them with medication
Honey’s primary function is to give the bees carbohydrates and other essential nutrients like antioxidants, amino acids, and natural antibiotics. Bees store honey for winter to give them energy and survive the cold.
However, to sell honey, it is taken away from bees and replaced with sucrose or high fructose corn syrup. These alternatives don’t provide them with nutrients and often harm their immune systems and make genetic changes.
Vitamin D3 comes from lanolin. Now, lanolin is the wax secreted by sebaceous glands of animals with wool. Lanolin keeps their skin moisturized, soft, and protected. Vitamin D3 is extracted by using this compound, making it a by-product of animals.
Shellac comes from secretions of the lac beetle, a small animal found in Southeast Asia, including India and Thailand. The beetles secrete resin on tree branches as a protective shell for their larvae.
The male beetles fly away, but the female ones stay behind. When the flakes of these resins are scraped from the branches, the female beetles are killed or injured. Some branches are left unharmed so that female beetles can live to reproduce.
Shellac often misdirects the audience by getting disguised as a “confectioner’s glaze” in food products by companies. It creates a hard, shiny surface on candies.
Not all types of sugar are vegan, contrary to popular belief. Refined sugar or table sugar that you usually use in baking consists of brown, white, and powdered sugar. Another standard option, sugar coming from sugarcane, isn’t vegan sometimes.
To take refined sugar from sugarcane, stalks are crushed to separate the juice from the pulp. Then the juice goes through processing, filtering, and bleaching with bone char. The pure white color of sugar comes from bone char.
Bone char comes from heating cattle bones at extreme temperatures until they turn into black-colored powder. Not all companies do this. Some of them use granular activated charcoal for the same result.
This manufacturing method is only used for sugarcane sugar and not beet sugar (it doesn’t depend on crystallization). You can decide whether the company utilizes bone char in their manufacturing process by asking them directly.
You can also see where the product comes from since some countries like Australia and New Zealand have banned bone char. This type of sugar doesn’t contain bone char, but because the production process includes its usage, vegans don’t indulge in it.
Beet sugar is always vegan since its manufacturing process doesn’t include bone char, and there’s no change in the taste and texture. Some brands misdirect their users by calling themselves vegan when they’re not.
To confirm that the brand of your choice is vegan, look for words like “organic, natural, raw, and unrefined” on the label.
Artificial food coloring is technically considered to be vegan. A lot of artificial colors come from plants, except carmine.
Carmine comes from an insect named cochineal, which is from Latin America. These insects live on cacti, and millions are harvested yearly to get red food color. Carmine is added to almost every product, from yogurts, cupcakes, and doughnuts to soft drinks and ice creams.
The fate of animals tested is worse than death sometimes. Testing flavors on animals usually include rats as the subject, but sometimes dogs are also used for such exploitive treatments.
Not all companies use these unhealthy non-vegan additives. It would be best to check the ingredient list or double-check with whoever’s making the oatmeal.
Restaurant Oatmeal May Include
Premade oatmeal at restaurants might include some non-vegan ingredients like the following listed below.
It would be best always to clarify that you don’t want butter mixed with your oatmeal when you’re at a restaurant or diner. Butter enriches breakfast, making it a common habit to add to the meal. Oatmeal is added with butter and salt in Scotland to make it savory.
The most common ingredient to make oatmeal is milk, which isn’t vegan. If you’re getting instant oats or oatmeal from a restaurant, it’s an excellent choice to double-check if it comes with any dairy products or derivatives. Since it’s a common product, restaurants usually don’t give it a lot of thought.
Allergen menus and ingredient lists make lactose visible excessively by using bold lettering.
- Honey and Sugar
You already know by now why these two products are non-vegan. It’s best to carry your brown sugar or agave syrup if you have a sweet tooth, or check the ingredient list and consult a waiter on how the oatmeal is prepared.
Oatmeal is referred to as the breakfast of champions, and there are many reasons why. A couple of slices of bread could never give you the nutrition oatmeal provides. A diet filled with whole grains such as oats has been proven to result in low cholesterol levels.
Oats are excellent sources of iron, vitamin B, zinc, phosphorous, and other vital vitamins and minerals. They are also a great way to consume healthy fats, carbs, protein, and fiber in just one meal.
Porridge has a reputation for providing slow-release energy, which keeps you filled for a long time. The complex carbs in this popular breakfast have a low glycemic index, helping you keep your blood sugar levels consistent throughout the day.
For fitness freaks, the protein content in oats is very high for a portion of breakfast food, banging 13 g of protein in every half a cup of oats. Steel-cut rolled, or quick-cook oats provide more nutritional benefits than instant ones.
With this dive deep into the world of oatmeal, we hope that you know exactly what to do. Vegans must avoid instant oats due to some contents they may contain that are non-vegan. Oats are a healthy and filling breakfast option for everyone.