Is Cream of Tartar Vegan? Fully Explained

Cream of tartar is one of those ingredients you may have seen in your grandmother’s pantry. One way or the other, you may have heard about how the cream of tartar is an essential component in baking. 

This mystery substance doesn’t give you a clue about it by its name – not like baking soda or powder. In fact, it isn’t even creamy. Instead, it is powdery and dry which is obtained during winemaking. 

Due to its wide application in the baking industry, many people wonder if it is a vegan ingredient or not. Fortunately, it is a vegan ingredient as it doesn’t contain any animal by-products.

Should Cream of Tartar Be Considered Vegan? 

The primary reason for calling the cream of tartar vegan is that it is derived purely from plants. Secondly, this ingredient does not have any gluten in it. The absence of gluten matters as many vegans tend to follow a gluten-free diet due to certain reasons. However, you should also know that some cream of tartar variants may contain gluten.

Controversy Around Cream Of Tartar

Cream of tartar is purely a plant-based ingredient, but still, there are arguments revolving around the idea of it being non-vegan. To be more specific, the ingredients employed in fermentation are the primary reason for these controversies.

Problem With Fining Agents

During the production of wine, the fining agents are used to eradicate the impure substances from the fermentation process. You can identify these impurities as the cloudy texture, unwanted proteins, yeast, colors, etc. When all of these are eliminated, the resulting wine is what many people crave.

Often, animal products are the source of these fining agents. Many times, these contain gelatin, casein, bone marrow, and chitin, which are all animal by-products.

Bone Marrow

Even though cream of tartar is vegan, the resources used during its production are the reason for objections by the vegans. Bone marrow is one such ingredient that is not present in the cream of tartar. However, it is unacceptable to many vegans. This is due to the manufacturing process where animals are massacred to obtain their bone marrow. No vegan would support animal cruelty in any way. That is why they hold this matter with a serious outlook. 

Casein

Another of these indirect products is casein. You will find this protein in milk and it helps reduce the wine’s bitter taste. Due to it being found in milk, it is purely an animal product. Since the whole premise of being vegan is not eating any animal-derived products, casein is not a suitable choice.

Albumin

This indirect ingredient is found in egg whites. Its primary work in winemaking is binding all the tannins and giving the wine its soft texture. The main issue here is that the source of albumin is an animal. It creates a problem for the people who follow a strict vegan diet. Therefore, it comes under animal cruelty. 

Chitin

Chitin is obtained from the crustacean animals’ shells, making it another product coming from animals. Not all of it comes from animals, as some chitin is extracted from fungi. However, it is difficult to ascertain whether chitin is shell-based or fungal-based. Therefore, vegans usually consider all of its non-vegan products.

Gelatine

Gelatine is probably the worst indirect ingredient so far. Its production requires boiling the animal bones, skins, tendons, and other body parts in water. After this, a translucent substance is formed, which is responsible for the chewy feel of non-vegan candies. This same substance also gives the wine its flavor and helps reduce bitterness. This animal cruelty is not acceptable to vegans. Therefore, they do not accept the notion of calling cream of tartar a vegan ingredient. 

Another product that is worth mentioning is the isinglass, which is like gelatin. It is derived from fish bladders, resulting in the death of these fishes. In winemaking, it helps in providing the ideal color shade to wine.

Other Concerns

Due to all these controversies, it becomes difficult for strict vegans to consume it. Some winemakers may even employ fish oil and blood in the winemaking process. You may not know about this situation because manufacturers do not explicitly mention it on the label.

In the end, we are left in the grey area. However, you should also consider that all these reasons are plausible. If you are a strict vegan, you may want to know where your food comes from. You should always consider this before making any decision.

Best Alternatives 

If you feel that the cream of tartar is not the right choice for your diet, you can use these famous alternatives below. All these options are purely vegan; hence, you don’t need to be worried about it. In fact, you will experience similar results as you would with the cream of tartar. Let us look at these substitutes one by one.

Lemon Juice

The first alternative product of cream of tartar is lemon juice. Employing organic lemon juice will help stabilize the egg whites. Further, it will give you identical results because it contains similar acidity levels as the cream of tartar.

White Vinegar 

Another popular substitute is white vinegar. It is a common household ingredient that is used for various purposes. Being an acidic liquid, it has similar acidic levels to the cream of tartar. Likewise, it stabilizes the egg whites when you prepare the baking recipes.

Baking Powder 

Another outstanding alternative to the cream of tartar is baking powder. In fact, it is a vegan ingredient that contains sodium bicarbonate and tartaric acid. Hence, it is the most suitable substitute for the cream of tartar.

Conclusion 

In the end, it is not easy to distinguish between vegan and non-vegan cream of tartar. For most people, it is still a vegan product. However, a more in-depth analysis of its production process may show a different story. You may think that it should be harmless, but for strict vegans, it is definitely a big issue.

Hence, it is for the best that you look at the type of veganism you want to follow. This will help you decide whether you want to incorporate cream of tartar into your diet or not.

Brett White