The star of many toasts, smoothies, and oatmeals, peanut butter is typically made with plant-based ingredients. Even though “butter” is in its name, it’s vegan in most cases.
But, if you're not sure if your peanut butter is vegan or you want to learn to recognize vegan peanut butter, you're at the right place!
Is Peanut Butter Vegan-Friendly?
Yes, peanut butter is vegan-friendly.
“Peanut butter is typically made from peanuts, salt, oil, and sometimes added sugars.”
— Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies
Some vegan peanut butters include:
- 365 Everyday Value Creamy Peanut Butter
- Justin’s Classic Peanut Butter
- Peanut Butter & Co. Old Fashioned Smooth
- Spread the Love NAKED Organic Peanut Butter
- Pic’s Smooth Peanut Butter
- PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter
These and other vegan butter brands are available in many local stores or online.
How to Determine if It's Vegan
Determining whether your favorite peanut butter is vegan is pretty simple. Just check the ingredients and jar labels. Some peanut butters are labeled as “certified vegan.” This ensures that they contain no animal products. It also ensures the peanut butter hasn’t been tested on animals, filtered, or processed with bone char particles.
Read the ingredient lists carefully. Look for animal products and ingredients such as honey, gelatin, or fish oil. These ingredients show that peanut butter contains animal products, so you want to stay away from it.
Moreover, there's a cross-contamination issue. Some peanut butters are labeled as “certified vegan” and contain no animal products. However, each are made in facilities that process animal products.
Brands are required to hand over documentation that proves any shared machinery is thoroughly cleaned. But, if you can't find the documents or you aren't sure if your nut butter is vegan, you should call or email the company, and they should resolve your issue.
3 Main Ingredients
As I mentioned, peanut butter is made with three simple vegan ingredients — peanuts, oil, and salt.
1. Roasted Ground Peanuts
Peanuts are packed with protein, fat, and many other healthy nutrients. In fact, they’re so rich in protein (22%–30% of its total calories) that they’re an excellent source of plant-based protein . They're also rich in fats. They contain so many fats that most of the world's peanut harvest is used to make peanut oil.
These legumes are also low in carbs. Combined with high levels of protein, this means that peanuts and, therefore, peanut butters have a low glycemic index (GI), which is excellent news for people with diabetes.
Peanut butter is also packed with vitamins and minerals, such as biotin, copper, niacin, folate, manganese, vitamin E, thiamine, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Peanuts and, therefore, peanut butters, too, can help prevent heart diseases and gallstones.
2. Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils
Hydrogenated vegetable oils, such as olive, sunflower, palm oil, etc., are used to prevent separation. This ingredient is common in many processed foods because it's cheap and keeps the shelf life very long.
Since most oils are liquid at room temperature, companies use hydrogenation to get a solid and spreadable consistency .
There’s not too much science behind salt. Companies add salt to add more flavor to peanut butters.
Depending on the brand, they may add some sugar — granulated white sugar, cane syrup, coconut palm sugar, or agave.
Non-Vegan Friendly Ingredients
When it comes to added sugar, some brands avoid plain white sugar and add honey instead. As we all know, this is an animal product, so it’s not vegan.
There are also peanut butters that are enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, which are animal products.
Now, you should be careful with cane sugar, too, as it’s sometimes processed with bone char.
Which Peanut Butter Brands are Not Vegan?
Many popular peanut butter companies don't make vegan or vegetarian nuts butters. Some of them include:
- Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter with Honey
- Jif Creamy Omega-3 Peanut Butter
- Peter Pan Crunchy Honey Roast Peanut Spread
- Skippy Roasted Honey Nut Creamy Peanut Butter
- Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter
- Peanut Butter & Co. The Bee’s Knees Peanut Butter
Also Read: Is Smart Balance Butter Suitable for Vegans?
Vegan-Friendly Peanut Butter DIY Recipe
If you’re willing, you can make your own peanut butter. There are tons of super easy peanut butter recipes on the internet, but here’s my favorite.
You only need a high-speed food processor with:
- 2 cups roasted salted peanuts
- 1 Tbsp peanut (or any other vegetable oil)
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
Add the ingredients to the processor and start blending. Stop the processor from time to time to scrape the sides of the bowl. Blend until smooth or crunchy — it all depends on your preference.
Pack it up in a jar and enjoy whenever you like. It’s that easy!
You can use your homemade nut butter to make other peanut butter products, like peanut butter cookies.
Is Peanut Butter Considered a Plant-Based Food?
Yes, peanut butter is considered a plant-based food because it's usually made with nuts, oil, and salt.
Is JIF’s Peanut Butter Vegan?
No, JIF’s Peanut Butter isn’t vegan. As a matter of fact, no JIF nut butter is vegan. All brand’s nut butters are made in the same facility. Some are made with omega-3 or honey, so even the original formula isn’t vegan, as it’s cross-contaminated.
Which Vegan Peanut Butter is Your Favorite?
Nut butters are the staple of the vegan lifestyle. They’re tasty, nutritious, filling, and versatile.
However, be careful when choosing your peanut butter as animal-based ingredients may be hiding in the jar.
If you don’t want to risk cross-contamination or purchasing non-vegan butter on accident, you can make your own delicious version. I’d love it if you’d share your favorite brands and recipes with me!