Are you vegan and wondering if kombucha is okay to drink? It can be confusing so we want to break it down for you so you can know for sure what to look for and how to know if your kombucha jives with your veganism.
The vegan way of life is nothing new, but with the increased interest in this particular diet, some of the fundamentals have become a bit blurred. In 2008, Vegetarian Times reported that 3.2 percent of U.S. adults, or 7.3 million people, were vegetarian and 0.5 percent, or 1 million, were vegan. Fast forward to 2018 and the Food Revolution Network claims there has been a 600 percent increase in plant-based diets since then, citing a report that found 6 percent of U.S. consumers are now vegan. Gallup found the trend to be slightly less impressive, but rising nonetheless, reporting 5 percent of Americans claim to be vegetarian and 3 percent say they are vegan.
Those numbers are a bit misleading because it really depends on who you ask. Statista found those between 30 and 49 years of age are more likely to be vegetarian or vegan, up to 8 percent and 4 percent, respectively. Those over 50 are the least likely to be either.
While three and five percent may not sound like much, plant-based diets are expected to be the food trend that continues to garner more fans. Whether the decision to go plant-based is based on animals or health, it’s clear veganism is here to stay.
Essentially, the vegan diet is completely plant based. It excludes every and all animal products, including meats, dairy, and even honey. Anything consisting of or produced by an animal or insect is avoided.
Some people confuse veganism with vegetarianism. Vegetarianism sounds like it would be vegetable-based, however, it does allow for dairy and egg products as well as honey - just no meat, including anything from the land, sea or air.
So which are you? Vegan or vegetarian? We ask because when it comes to kombucha, it can make a massive difference.
Inherently, kombucha is both vegan and vegetarian. Kombucha is made by fermenting tea using specific yeast, bacteria and sugars. Depending on the manufacturer, the flavors are either added after the fermentation process or steeped with the tea during the fermentation process.
Flavors can range from fruits and botanicals to spices and herbs - all vegan and vegetarian. Here’s where things can go astray for our vegans. If the kombucha manufacturer decides to use honey as a sweetener, BAM! The kombucha now becomes non-vegan but remains vegetarian.
So, how do you know if your kombucha is vegan? Most manufacturers will label their kombucha as having honey added. Check the ingredients to see. Unfortunately, some may only say “natural sweeteners”. In this case, unless you go to their website to see if they have a fuller list of ingredients or call the company to ask, you may never know.
If you are a strict vegan, we recommend sticking to kombuchas that are clearly labeled with every ingredient. Just because the label may say “natural sweeteners”, doesn’t mean they used vegan cane sugar. It could be non-vegan cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, juice concentrates, stevia, sucralose and a host of other “oses”. At Brew Dr., we use only organic, vegan cane sugar during our fermenting process. The sugar is required in order to feed the yeast and bacteria that turn the tea into kombucha.