Are Donuts Vegan? Some Surprising Ingredients to Watch Out For

On Sunday mornings when I was a kid, my dad would head to the bakery to get some freshly baked pan dulce (sweet bread) and a box of warm donuts. These are still some of my favorite sweet treats to enjoy on the weekends. Many people love a fresh warm donut and a cup of coffee in the morning, but for those following a vegan lifestyle, these delicious treats can be a little tricky.

So, are donuts vegan? Since traditional donuts usually include animal products such as milk and eggs, they aren’t considered vegan. The good news? These days there are plenty of vegan options.

In this article, we’ll explore which ingredients in regular donuts make them unsuitable for a vegan diet, and share some vegan options that will not disappoint!

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Common Non-Vegan Ingredients Found in Donuts

Traditional donuts typically contain some animal-derived ingredients, making them not vegan-friendly. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Eggs Eggs are often used in donuts to help hold the ingredients together and make them fluffy. Unfortunately, eggs come from chickens, so they aren’t vegan.
  • Milk Milk is another key ingredient in many donut recipes. It’s used to add moisture and richness, but since it comes from cows, it’s not vegan.
  • Butter Butter gives donuts a delicious flavor and texture. But because it’s made from cream, it isn’t suitable for vegans.
  • Gelatin Sometimes used in glazes or fillings, gelatin is made from animal collagen, which makes it a no-go for vegans.
  • Honey Since honey comes from bees, people who follow a strict vegan diet don’t consume honey.
  • White sugar Believe it or not, white sugar is processed using bone char, which gives it its white color. When I first became vegetarian, I was very surprised to learn that plain old white sugar may not be vegan (or vegetarian).
  • Certain food colorings Some food colorings are derived from insects or other animal products, so they aren’t vegan.

Even though these ingredients are common in traditional donuts, there are plenty of vegan alternatives available, meaning you can still enjoy tasty donuts without any animal products.

glasses of non-dairy milk with a pile of their ingredients in front of each (oat, rice, soy, coconut, almond)

Where to Find Vegan Donuts

With plant-based lifestyles rising in popularity, many commercial and independent bakeries now offer vegan-friendly donut options. These bakeries will have vegan donut options that are specifically labeled as such, or will easily be able to tell you which ones are. If you’re not sure whether a donut is vegan, just ask. Here’s a pro tip, though: not everyone understands what “vegan” means. They may think that just because it doesn’t have meat, it’s vegan-friendly.

If possible, the best thing to do is ask for a list of ingredients. To make this easier, I just say I have food allergies and need to make sure nothing in the ingredient list will make me sick (wink, wink). For more on ingredients you would think are vegan but aren’t, check out Are Fritos Vegan? (and Other Surprisingly Vegan Foods).

The good news is that some big chains like Dunkin’, Krispy Kreme, and Tim Hortons have started offering vegan donuts. You can enjoy your favorite treats without worrying about animal products.

Of course, the BEST way to be 100% sure you’re getting a vegan donut is to visit a local vegan donut shop or bakery. If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area with a thriving vegan community, this will probably be pretty easy to do. It’s a great way to support small businesses, vegan businesses, and your community! Check out the Happy Cow App for vegan eateries near you!

Making Vegan Donuts At Home

Most traditional donut recipes can be made vegan by replacing animal ingredients with plant-based alternatives. If you enjoy baking and have a hankering for fresh, hot donuts, here are a few vegan donut recipes to try.

    Vegan Donuts FAQ

    Are vegan donuts healthier than regular donuts?

    Vegan donuts can be healthier than regular donuts because they typically contain less cholesterol and saturated fat due to the absence of animal products. However, they can still be high in sugars and fats, so it’s important to enjoy them in moderation.

    How do I know if a donut is vegan?

    To determine whether a donut is vegan, check the ingredient list for any animal products or ask the vendor directly. Look for labels indicating the product is vegan or certified vegan. If you’re unsure, asking for a detailed ingredient list is the best way to confirm.

    Are Krispy Kreme donuts vegan?

    Krispy Kreme offers a variety of donuts, but their traditional recipes are not vegan as they contain milk and eggs. However, Krispy Kreme has started introducing vegan-friendly options in certain locations. Always check with the specific store or look for vegan labeling to ensure the donuts meet vegan standards.

    Are Dunkin’ donuts vegan?

    Dunkin’ offers a variety of donuts, but their traditional recipes are not vegan as they contain milk and eggs. However, Dunkin’ has started offering vegan-friendly options, such as their plant-based breakfast sandwiches. For vegan donuts, it’s best to check with the specific store or look for vegan labeling to ensure the donuts meet vegan standards. Check out our article Vegan Dunkin’ Donuts for more vegan options at their store locations.

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