Once you decide to go vegan, it becomes important to look at every part of your diet. When considering what snacks to eat, pickles often come to mind.
Yes, pickles are vegan. They’re made with cucumbers which are plants and have no relation to animals. The fermentation process and ingredients used are vegan-friendly, making pickles a must-have for vegans globally.
This article will describe what pickles are, how they’re made, and the various nutritional benefits of eating these fermented vegetables. We’ll also suggest some other vegan-friendly snacks that you can munch on. So keep reading.
What Makes Pickles Vegan
Pickles are made with cucumbers and fermented using vinegar, flavorings, and preservative agents. None of these ingredients are animal-sourced, making pickles vegan-friendly.
The Ingredients Used In Pickle Production
The easiest way to determine if a product is vegan-friendly is by examining its ingredients. There are four main components of pickles, but some pickle products may use other ingredients, and it is important to take a close look at them if they do.
This is because you’ll come across products like cheese-stuffed fried pickles. Cheese comes from animals which makes it non-vegan, and the ingredient list will mention the addition of cheese. If you see it there, you shouldn’t get the snack.
Some pickles also have polysorbates derived from fatty acids taken from animals. As a vegan, if you see this on an ingredient list, you should avoid the product. Some people don’t dismiss this ingredient as non-vegan because it’s present in most pre-packaged food as an emulsifier.
Here is a breakdown of the most common ingredient list on the back of pickle jars:
- Lactic acid
- Calcium salts
- Baking soda
- Corn syrup
Cucumber is a vegan-friendly plant food. If you’re making the pickles yourself, you should consider getting your produce from a farmer’s market.
While supermarket cucumbers are fine too, the vegetables and fruits there are covered in confectioner’s glaze. This is derived from animals, but most vegans don’t have a problem with it because being this particular means you can’t find anything to eat.
If this doesn’t sit well with you, you can get fresh cucumbers and make pickles. If you’re purchasing pickles, ensure the company you’re buying from gets fresh produce.
The next ingredient used in pickle production is brine, a solution of salt and water.
Cucumbers have a high water concentration, and placing them in a highly concentrated salt solution creates an imbalance. Water diffuses out of the cucumber into the salt solution to equalize water concentration, and this drains moisture from the cucumbers, the first step in making pickles.
Salt is a mineral made from sodium chloride, mined from the earth. It does not come from animals. Animals are not involved in any part of the mining process either.
There are many different types of vinegar, but they’re all mostly made from some plant. It’s a derivative of wine. So, as long the wine used in its production is vegan, the vinegar will be vegan too.
Naturally occurring lactic acid is vegan. Most times, this is the kind used in making pickles.
Cucumbers are firm because of their water content. When they lose moisture by adding brine, they also lose their firmness. To regain texture, calcium salts are added.
Most times, manufacturers use calcium chloride, which is vegan friendly. Sometimes they may use calcium disodium which is synthetically produced but vegan-friendly. So you don’t need to worry about it.
Baking soda is derived from a mineral that is mined. The conversion process does not include any animal products or by-products.
Corn syrup is vegan-friendly, and it is used to add a sweet flavor to the pickles. It isn’t a super common ingredient, but you’ll come across it often enough for us to mention it on this list.
There are a bunch of vegan-friendly flavorings used in pickles. If you see the ones on this list, you don’t have to think twice before eating them. However, if there are any other ingredients, you should look into whether they’re vegan-friendly.
Here is our collection of vegan-friendly flavorings often used in pickles:
Health Benefits Of Pickles
Pickles are a great vegan snack because they are packed with beneficial bacteria that help control blood sugar and replenish electrolytes. Pickles also provide antioxidants. If you cook the pickles or heat them, these can break down, so keep that in mind.
A 100-gram portion of pickles contains around 1.2 grams of sodium. This equals the total recommended sodium intake for a healthy person per day. So if you’re eating pickles, you don’t have room to eat anything else with salt or sodium carbonates.
Avoiding sodium to this extent isn’t very practical. When you eat too much of this mineral, you may develop blood sugar problems and increase the possibility of kidney stones.
Other Vegan Snacks
Pickles aren’t the only healthy vegan snack idea. There are quite a few other options as well. So if you want to build up your snack cupboard or want to find an alternative to pickles, you can try any of the following:
- Fruit and nut butter
- Hummus and veggies
- Roasted chickpeas
- Trail mix
- Rice cakes
- Fruit leather
- Broad beans
- Almond milk yogurt
- Oreo cookies
Pickles are a great vegan snack. If you look at how they’re made, you’ll find very little room for animal products or by-products. Most vegans will happily consume pickles and tend to pick up a jar whenever they swing by a grocery store.
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