There are many condiments that are set as standard on a dining room table. Many of these condiments are not able to be eaten as part of a vegan diet, like your dairy butter, cheese sauces, or fish sauces.
Many more are easily digested as part of a vegan diet, though these tend to not be as well known. This is because vegetarianism and veganism were not a part of the public consciousness until very recently, and so people were not too concerned about where their food came from.
However, that has changed dramatically in recent years, with people around the world now actually reading the ingredients placed on these sauces and pondering whether they can be incorporated into our diets.
People are taking an especially hard look at the mainstays on the table: ketchup, mayonnaise, hot sauce, brown sauce, all are coming under scrutiny.
While some come out of this smelling cleaner than a soap factory to those following a vegan diet, like ketchup, others are banished from the table forever, like mayonnaise.
So, with all this interest in vegan-friendly condiments, where does mustard fall? Is it vegan-friendly? Or vegan foe? In this article, we will scrutinize mustard and find out the answer to this question.
What Is Mustard?
First off, let’s have a look at what mustard really is. Mustard is actually a family of plants that is native to North Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean parts of Europe.
The condiment is not made from the plant itself, but from the seeds that it produces. It is one of the earliest plants to be cultivated, with evidence of mustard cultivation stretching as far back as 6,000 years ago in Central Asia.
The reason it may have been cultivated so early is the ease at which you can make products from the plant itself.
This stretches to the condiment, as realistically all you need to do are mustard seeds, a pestle and mortar or grinder, a sieve, and water, however, a lot of people add salt and vinegar to enhance the flavor.
First, you place your mustard seeds in your grinder of choice and pound the seeds until they have split into shell fragments and powder.
Then, place this mixture in a sieve over a bowl and gently separate the shell fragments from the powder. Once separated, you can discard the shells and add whatever further dry ingredients you want to the powder to enhance the flavor, before stirring to combine.
Then, with the dry ingredients fully mixed together, add your wet ingredients – water or, in some cases, vinegar – and stir gently, making sure every part is smooth and incorporated.
The mustard may seem very thin and runny, but as time passes the powder will begin to absorb the liquid, so just make sure that everything is together and smooth.
At this point, you need to cover your bowl and place the mustard in the fridge, this is because mustard is bitter and unpleasant when it is first made.
Over time, this bitterness will disappear and leave you with a spicy sauce, though this process takes a minimum of 2 hours and up to 2 days. Once it has become the delicious sauce we all love, seal it in a clean glass jar and enjoy.
Though the mustard plant has been cultivated for thousands of years, common use of mustard as a condiment seems to have only begun at the height of the Roman Empire.
The Romans tried experimenting with mustard powder and unfermented grape juice to create a kind of spicy drink called ‘mustum ardens’ which is where we get the name mustard from.
It is thought the Romans exported mustard to Gaul, or as it is known today, France, for monks began making the condiment in the 10th century. The French love of mustard reached new heights when the region of Dijon began making its own mustard in the 13th century.
Dijon’s mustard became incredibly popular and even today it is one of the most popular mustard sauces around the world, known to be more forgiving than other types of condiments, and Dijon itself is known as the mustard capital of the world today.
Yet, mustard wasn’t just restricted to France, as their neighbor over the channel also had a great love of the sauce. English mustard making took on a different approach to making the condiment, one that created a far more spicy and intense flavor.
Although English mustard only started in the 13th century, it has grown to become one of the most believed condiments on a British dinner table.
The last country to truly embrace mustard with their own style and brands of it was America, which was said to begin at the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis.
This fair was where the French’s mustard company introduced its signature condiment and was said to be the first-time mustard was put on a hot dog.
So, Is It Vegan?
Yes, almost all types of mustard are vegan-friendly.
There are some concerns about what is added as flavor enhancers that may not be so vegan-friendly, like wine or honey, however at its base core mustard are two ingredients: water and mustard powder, which are both vegan.
Thanks to modern awareness of the vegan diet as well, many mustard makers have accommodated and started making vegan-friendly mustards so as to not exclude anyone from enjoying this spicy, delectable little treat.
If you are concerned about accidentally picking up non-vegan-friendly mustard, don’t worry, you can easily make your own at home with premade powder or grind your own.
Mustard is wonderful. It is one of the few spicy foods not from chili, and its heat is completely different.
What makes it even more astounding is that it is one of the sauces you can have in your cupboard with almost no worries about the ethical ramifications of buying it.
Its core ingredients are completely vegan friendly and the only problems that arise are when you add flavor enhancements, which you shouldn’t need to with this lovely, little sauce.