Is Molasses Vegan & Where Does it Come From?

When the old phrase “as slow as molasses” came into being, it was definitely referring to the painstaking process of making molasses. Molasses is a dark, bittersweet syrup derived from refined sugar. 

Although the sugary liquid is a smooth, vegan-friendly sweetener, it is often refined with the help of bone char, an animal-based derivative. So is molasses truly vegan? Yes, but it depends on certain conditions. 

What is Bone Char? 

Bone char is an animal-based decolorizing agent that is utilized for achieving a white color. It is also referred to as “natural carbon,” a by-product of cattle bones derived from foreign countries. Vegans have been scrutinizing this “grey ingredient” for refining sugar and do not approve it by default. 

Sugar products like white sugar, brown sugar, and cane sugar are all refined through the filtering process of bone char. However, some white raw organic sugars are not and are thus, vegan. 

How is Molasses Produced? 

Molasses is manufactured after an intensive process where it is extracted as a by-product.

  • Sugarcane or sugar beets are initially harvested in factories where the large granules break down into a soft, yielding paste.
  • After harvesting, the raw materials are filtered through various processes to remove debris and impurities. 
  • Next, the raw materials are pulverized to extract the juice. 
  • After the juice is extracted, it is again put through several chemical processes to remove impurities. Bone is also used as a refining agent here to give it a whitish color along with other chemical reactants. 
  • The solution is then heated to separate the raw juice into two individual parts: Syrup and Mud. 
  • The syrup is further heated to remove the water content and then passed through centrifugal tanks to get sugar and molasses. 

Molasses is a natural by-product of sugar and is, therefore, a completely vegan product. If industries replace bone char with a vegan-friendly ingredient or remove it altogether, then it can be considered vegan to a certain extent. 

What Kind of Molasses is Vegan? 

There are predominantly three types of molasses depending on the stage of filtration. Typically, when molasses passes through the first stage, it appears lighter in color as compared to a darker, third-stage degree of molasses. The three kinds of molasses are enumerated below. 

Light Molasses 

The lighter color is obtained through the first boiling cycle, and it tends to be the lightest color and less coarse in texture. Often less healthy than the other two, this is still a vegan option, provided it is extracted from organic sugar. 

Dark or Medium Molasses 

As the name suggests, dark or medium molasses tend to be bitter and have a darker hue and texture. These are derived from the second stage of the boiling cycle. Since it is slightly bitter than its lighter counterpart, it can be used in a number of unsweetened dishes. 

Blackstrap Molasses 

The vicious, almost sugar-free liquid may be well-liked by black-coffee lovers. Blackstrap Molasses has a high nutritional value due to its low sugar content. This rich, bittersweet syrup is the darkest of the three and is often considered the preferred choice for vegans. 

Sulfured vs. Unsulfured Molasses 

The next kind of molasses is distinguished by its sulfur content. In sulfured molasses, the main ingredient used to preserve molasses is sulfur dioxide. It is made from sun-dried green sugar cane and is thus, vegan. 

The only difference between sulfured and unsulfured molasses is the individual sulfur content. Even though both are vegan, if they aren’t treated with bone char, sulfured molasses often leaves the sugar with a strong, chemical flavor. 

Health Benefits of Molasses

Molasses is a vegan, natural sweetener that replaces the need for actual sugar, especially if there are restrictions to your diet. Since blackstrap molasses is refined and pulverized to the last degree, it is the most nutritious choice for blood sugar control. Let’s break down some of its health benefits. 

Promotes Bone Health 

Blackstrap molasses contains large amounts of calcium to develop bones. Bones are continually being rebuilt through a rigorous process that involves the continuous absorption of calcium. Since calcium is the most abundant mineral that promotes bone health, adding molasses to your diet can promote bone health and keep them strong and healthy. 

Since blackstrap molasses provides 10% calcium of the Percent Daily Value per teaspoon, it can improve bone health. 

Treats Constipation in Children 

This vegan-friendly ingredient works as a natural remedy for treating constipation in children. According to recent studies, a daily intake of 0.5mL of blackstrap molasses for a month can reduce abdominal pains and improve stool consistency in children suffering from constipation. 

Moreover, blackstrap molasses contain a high potassium content which helps in bowel movement and muscle contractions. 

Rich in Antioxidants

Blackstrap molasses is a good source of antioxidants. Specifically, it is rich in polyphenol antioxidants which are linked to preventing and reducing the effects of chronic illness. 

Molasses contains more polyphenols than other sugar products like juice and syrup and are more nutrient-dense. 

Organic Molasses Brands 

Molasses is a healthy alternative to raw sugar derivatives that are often refined with bone char. Most of them are derived from beet sugar. Some of the best organic vegan molasses brands are listed below. 

These molasses brands contain raw, organic sugar as their base ingredient and are completely vegan.  

Conclusion 

The bottom line is that as long as your molasses is organic and bone-char free, it is vegan. In addition, since blackstrap molasses have a lower glycemic index, it has a high nutritional value. 

It is always wise to check the ingredients list before purchasing any molasses product. We hope that you make an informed decision every step of the way. 

Brett White