Vegan breads abound in all varieties -- from Italian rolls to Essene bread to whole grain buns to bagels, pita bread, chapatis, tortillas, and beyond. Small bakeries often have a number of vegan items among their options, as do the majority of well-stocked supermarkets. The most wholesome and widest array of vegan breads, however, can be found in natural food stores. The commercially produced breads that most supermarkets carry frequently contain dough conditioners, colorants, chemicals, or preservatives. Although many of these items may be vegan, they include unnecessary additives that health-conscious consumers generally prefer to avoid.
Wherever you purchase your bread, be sure to read the ingredient label carefully. Frequently used nonvegan ingredients include, among other things, eggs, milk, milk powder, whey, butter, and honey. The easiest way to determine with certainty that a bread is vegan is to look for simple ingredients that are easily recognizable and clearly understood, such as whole wheat flour, sprouted wheat berries, cornmeal, yeast, canola oil, barley malt, and so on. Avoid buying breads with ingredients that are confusing or don't sound like real foods.
Basic yeast bread requires just a few ordinary ingredients: flour, water, and yeast. Nevertheless, it's common to find a few other items added to vegan breads -- such as sweeteners (for example, molasses, maple syrup, or malt syrup), salt, sprouted grains, soy milk, nuts, seeds, herbs, or vegetable oil -- that add flavor, impart richness, create a finer crumb, improve texture, or promote a higher rise.
Most pita breads, plain bagels, chapatis, and corn tortillas are vegan, but always check the ingredients to be sure. Flour tortillas are often vegan, but some brands contain lard, which is an animal fat. Some brands of crackers may also contain lard, butter, milk derivatives, or cheese. Many commercially produced baked goods, including breads and crackers, contain cottonseed oil or hydrogenated fats, which are vegan but not very healthful.
Finding vegan bread is not difficult. In fact, bread, in all its forms, is one of the more readily available vegan foods. The secret is to look closely at ingredient labels, ask questions, and seek out the highest quality product made with comprehensible ingredients.
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