is ketchup vegan

Is Ketchup Vegan?

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ANSWER: Yes, most of the time you can safely assume that your ketchup is vegan. Ketchup is made out of tomatoes, a sweetener, and flavoring. Typically, none of these ingredients are typically derived from animal products. There are some few potential things to look out for though (and we did some digging with popular ketchup companies to be sure) – so keep reading for the full scoop.

What is Ketchup Exactly?

Ketchup is a popular condiment in western countries. It is typically used on sandwiches and french fries or anything other food that can be dipped. Some people even put it on pasta. It is so popular that it even has an official government identity from the United States Food and Drug Administration. According to the FDA ketchup is defined as a food prepared from the following:

  • Tomatoes (or liquid/extracts from tomatoes)
  • Vinegars
  • Nutritive Carbohydrate Sweeteners
  • Spices including flavorings, onions, and garlic. 

For the full and official technical definition, you can check it out yourself on the FDA website.

What Does a Typical Ketchup Ingredient Statement Look Like?

Heinz which is one of the most popular global ketchup brands has the following as their ingredient statement:

TOMATO CONCENTRATE FROM RED RIPE TOMATOES, DISTILLED VINEGAR, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CORN SYRUP, SALT, SPICE, ONION POWDER, NATURAL FLAVORING.

What to Look Out for on a Ketchup Label?

On most brands, they use HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) to sweeten their ketchup rather than conventional sugar as a means of cost saving. Some “higher” end brands may use traditional sugar as a sweetener and that’s when the lines become blurred. Sugar sometimes uses bone char during the production process (more on that here) which would move it into the not vegan category. 

Organic sugar cannot be sweetened with bone char so if the sugar sweetened ketchup is organic odds are it is 100% vegan.

You can also checkout our full article on sugar.

Another thing to look out for is “natural flavorings”. As we mentioned earlier natural flavorings may or may not be animal derived. If you see a ketchup with natural flavorings it might be best to reach out to that manufacturer to get a definitive answer.

But please do not worry about these trace ingredients too much as its teeters on the edge of being too nit-picky and does very little for the animals at the end of the day.​ 

Vegan Ketchup Brands We Recommend

One popular brand of ketchup that official tags itself as vegetarian is Westbrae Natural Organic which is available online. 

It’s also quite easy to make your own ketchup at home using a recipe like this one.

If you're into dressing up your food with condaments, you may also want to check out our articles on vegan mayo, and vegan BBQ sauces.

Our Responses from Ketchup Companies

Update as of 6/1/2017: Muir Glen has officially responded and said that their ketchup uses no animal products so we can add it to our recommendation list.

muir glen vegan ketchup response

Update as of 7/27/2017 - Heinz replied with

There are no animal byproducts in the flavoring of HEINZ Tomato Ketchup.

That being said, no need to worry about big brands of ketchup!

Our Conclusion on Ketchup

If you’re yet to make the transition to being vegan and know that ketchup is going to be a barrier, we would personally recommend not worrying about it. Be sure you’re able to remove all major forms of animal products from your diet. This is the most practical approach to reduce animal suffering and your carbon footprint rather than nitpicking over very negligible ingredients. Once you’ve gotten to that point, then feel free to take the next step and investigate the entire food supply chain.

About the Author Joey Bruno

Cooking healthy, delicious, plant-based meals has been Joey’s true passion since he went vegan in 2015. He has a masters in Nutrition and Food Science and is committed to making the internet a place of education and knowledge rather than misinformation and clickbait. He currently lives in Delaware with his wife.

Leave a Comment:

2 comments
  • Younghee Park says August 15, 2017

    So Hellman’s ketchup is vegan, right?

    Reply
      The Thrive Cuisine Team says August 15, 2017

      Hey Younghee,

      I haven’t ever seen Hellman’s ketchup, but I would be highly surprised if it wasn’t.

      If you aren’t already Vegan, just focus on giving up all labeled animal products. If the label doesn’t say that it has meat, eggs, fish, dairy, eggs, etc. then you’re good to go.

      No need to obsess over little details. Veganism is about reducing harm to animals as much as possible and sometimes overreaching on minor details can make it seem ridiculous or unbelievable to others.

      Best of luck!

      Reply
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