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Are Bagels Vegan? (Plus Vegan Bagel Brands, Recipes & Cafés)

Are bagels vegan? As with so many bakery products most people would assume so but actually, that’s not always the case.

eight different types of bagels on a black wire rack

Today we examine what ingredients to look out for and hunt down a list of vegan bagels so you can enjoy them!

NB: Always double-check the ingredients list as manufacturers may change ingredients at any time. This is particularly important for people who might not be vegan but may have egg or dairy allergies.

Ingredients to watch out for

Regular plain bagels are, in theory, vegan bagels. In this case, if we ask are bagels vegan, then yes, plain bagels are – or should be. They are usually made with simple ingredients like flour, malt, salt, sugar, water, and yeast. However many store-bought brands also contain preservatives and other additives such as whey.

Luckily, it’s easier to find out whether a store-bought bagel contains eggs or dairy nowadays. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004 requires certain labeling of foodstuffs that contain major food allergens. Milk and egg are two of the eight major allergens and as such all ingredient labels must be labeled in one of two ways. Either:

  1. The allergen food source must be declared in brackets after the ingredient, e.g. casein isolate (milk), albumin (egg), and so on. Or…
  2. There must be a section close to the ingredients selection labeled “Contains” which then lists food allergens, for example “Contains Egg, Milk and Wheat”.

In short, allergy labelling has made it easier now for you to ascertain whether a product such as a bagel is vegan or not. Of course, aside from egg and milk, you’ll also need to keep an eye out for ingredients such as honey or white sugar where bone char was used in making it.

Front view of eight bagels of a wire rack

These are some of the ingredients you might need to keep an eye out for when getting ready to enjoy what you hope is a vegan bagel:

  • Albumin
  • Casein
  • Honey
  • Lactose
  • L-Cysteine (normally derived from animal hair or feathers)
  • Sodium Caseinate
  • Whey

Much like when investigating my favorite tortilla chip brand (are Doritos vegan?), I was surprised to find out that there are also a few additives and preservatives that are not clearly vegan or not, as they can be derived from either animal or plant-based sources – you’ll have to use your own judgement when it comes to these additives:

  • Diacetyl Tartaric Ester of Monoglyceride (DATEM)
  • Lecithin
  • Monoglycerides and diglycerides

If you’re getting some fresh bagels from a bakery and they look suspiciously shiny, you’ll also need to check whether an egg-wash has been used on them.

Now that you’ve learned how to identify whether a bagel is vegan or not, you just need to be mindful of your vegan bagel toppings. If you’re out and about and want a bagel sandwich, some easy go-to vegan options are smashed avocado, or hummus, or peanut butter as a base.

Certified vegan bagels

Something else to keep in mind is that there are some certified vegan bagels available in the US, although if a bagel is not certified that doesn’t mean that it’s not vegan – simply that the company hasn’t applied for vegan certification. You can save yourself a little time by checking for a vegan stamp first before examining the ingredients list and any “Contains” warnings.

Flour

Some vegan guides warn against bleached flours, alleging they contain bone char, however this has since been debunked.

Make your own

Top down view of bagels on a black wire rack on a white background

Of course, if you have the time and inclination, one of the easiest ways to ensure your bagels are vegan is to make them yourself! It’s fun, cheaper and you can stick whatever toppings you want on them. As an added plus homemade bagels usually freeze beautifully for up to three months so you could make up a big batch and then every day could be a bagel day!

Convinced? Then scroll on down and choose which one of these beautiful vegan bagel recipes you’re going to make. Don’t have the time or hate baking (or maybe it’s just summer and hot enough already in your kitchen)? No worries, scroll down further to see which store-bought bagel brands are vegan in the next section.

Vegan Bagel Recipes

This curated list of vegan bagel recipes is perfect for bakers who want to be certain they're eating vegan products. From sweet to savory and easy to advanced, there are bagel recipes for everyone here!

Which store brands are vegan?

The following are all the store-bought bagels I’ve been able to identify – nonetheless, manufacturers can change ingredients at any moment so while I recommend that you gravitate towards these brands, double-check the ingredient list to be on the safe side. It’s not an exhaustive list but it is an up-to-date one (as of June 2021), so do let me know in the comments if you find any other vegan brands.

  1. Aldi
  2. Alvarado Arnold Bread
  3. Cobblestone Bread Co.
  4. Dave’s Killer Bread
  5. Deland (all except Cinnamon and Raisin, and Gluten-Free Millet)
  6. Ener-G
  7. Kinnikinnick Foods
  8. Nature’s Own
  9. Northern Bakehouse
  10. Rudi’s Bakery
  11. Sara Lee (all flavors apart from the Soft and Smooth varieties)
  12. Silver Hills
  13. Simply Nature
  14. Thomas’ bagels (as well as thins and minis) – blueberry, cinnamon swirl, everything and plain bagels
  15. Trader Joe’s – Plain and Wholewheat
  16. Western Bagel (all except Egg, Orginal Bagelettes Wheat and Wholewheat)
  17. Wholefoods

Which restaurants or cafés have vegan bagels?

If you’re out and about and get the vegan bagel munchies, or have run out of tasty bagels at home and need a fix there and then, you can head to these places and rest assured that your bagel will be vegan. Note that I’m talking about the actual bagels themselves being vegan, not the toppings, so you’ll still need to apply some vegan logic if you’re looking for toppings.

  • Dunkin’ Donuts – the Cinnamon Raisin, Everything, Garlic, Onion, Plain, Poppy Seed, Salt, and Sesame bagels here are vegan.
  • Einstein Bagel Bros – the bagel buns themselves are all vegan apart from the Asiago Cheese, Cheesy Hashbrown, Cinnamon Sugar, Green Chile, Jalapeno Cheddar, Six-Cheese, and Spinach Florentine bagels. For vegan spreads try hummus, peanut butter, jelly, salsa, or mustard.
  • Noahs – all of the bagel buns at Noah’s are vegan except for the Asiago, Cinnamon Sugar, Good Egg, and Challah Roll bagels.
  • Starbucks – the Cinnamon, Everything, Plain, and Sprouted Grain bagels are vegan. Combine with avocado spread for the perfect vegan bagel on the run.
  • The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf – all of their bagels are vegan apart from the cheddar jalapeño flavor.
  • Panera – the Blueberry, Everything, Plain, and Sesame bagels are all vegan.

I hope you found this post asking are bagels vegan helpful. If you know of any more vegan bagel brands or restaurants/cafes that serve vegan bagels, drop me a line from the contact section or leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to add it.

Chelsea

Monday 21st of June 2021

Wow! Thank you fir all this info! I never realized they sneak whey in sometimes!

Deirdre Gilna

Monday 21st of June 2021

Honestly, I had no idea either! Apparently, whey is super cheap because it's a waste product from making cheese and yogurt so they just randomly add it to stuff for more flavor!