Can Vegans Eat Bagels?

Navigating food choices as a vegan can often be a bit of a challenge, especially when it comes to seemingly innocent everyday items like bagels. A common breakfast staple in many households and cafés, the question arises: can vegans eat bagels?

To determine the answer, one must consider the ingredients that make up a traditional bagel. Typically, bagels include flour, water, yeast, salt, and a sweetener like malt, sugar, or honey. At first glance, it appears most of these ingredients are vegan-friendly, barring honey in some instances. However, the issue becomes more complex when acknowledging that certain bagel varieties might also contain eggs, milk, or other animal-derived ingredients.

To ensure a bagel is vegan-friendly, it is essential to examine labels, inquire at local bakeries, or even consider making them from scratch with plant-based alternatives. By doing so, vegans can enjoy this popular food without compromising their dietary choices.

Can Vegans Eat Bagels

Ingredients in Bagels

Flour and Water

Bagels are typically made from a combination of flour and water. The most common type of flour used in bagels is wheat flour, which is vegan-friendly. Whole wheat and rye flours are also sometimes used in bagel recipes, and both are suitable for vegans.


Yeast is a key ingredient in bagels, as it helps the dough to rise and expand during the baking process. Yeast is a fungus, and because it’s not derived from animals or animal products, it can be considered vegan.


Salt is another essential ingredient in bagels, enhancing the dough’s flavor and helping to control the yeast’s activity. Since salt is a mineral and not derived from animals, it’s suitable for vegans.


Sweeteners are often added to bagel dough to improve the taste and texture of the final product. Common sweeteners include refined sugar, which is typically vegan. However, some bagels may contain honey, a non-vegan sweetener derived from bees. Vegans should avoid bagels containing honey.

Extra Ingredients

A variety of extra ingredients can be added to bagel dough to create different flavors:

  • Blueberry: Vegan-friendly, as the additional ingredient is fruit.
  • Cinnamon raisin: Cinnamon and raisins are both plant-based ingredients, making these bagels suitable for vegans.
  • Egg bagels: These bagels contain eggs, a non-vegan ingredient, and should be avoided.

Some bagels may also contain additional non-vegan ingredients, such as L-cysteine, an amino acid sometimes used to condition the dough. L-cysteine is often derived from animal sources, so vegans should check ingredient lists before consuming.

Type of BagelsVegan-Friendly?Non-Vegan Ingredients
Whole WheatYesNone
Cinnamon RaisinYesNone
Honey SweetenedNoHoney
L-cysteine TreatedDepends on the sourceL-cysteine

In summary, many bagels are suitable for vegans, but it’s important for individuals to check the ingredient list for specific types of bagels and avoid any containing non-vegan ingredients like eggs, honey, or L-cysteine derived from animal sources.

Vegans Eat Bagels

Vegan-Friendly Bagels

Types of Vegan Bagels

Vegan bagels come in a variety of flavors and types, just like traditional bagels. Common flavors for vegan bagels include plain, onion, garlic, sesame, and poppy. These bagels are made using vegan ingredients, which means they do not contain any animal-derived products like dairy or eggs. Instead, these bagels use plant-based alternatives to achieve the same taste and texture as traditional bagels.

A popular vegan bagel option is the sourdough bagel, made using naturally occurring yeasts and lactic acid bacteria to ferment the dough. This fermentation process creates a distinct tangy flavor that many people enjoy.

Store Options

For those in search of store-bought vegan bagels, there are several options to choose from. Panera Bread offers vegan-friendly bread options, including their classic and signature bagels. These bagels contain no dairy and are made following a plant-based diet.

Grocery stores also carry vegan-friendly bagel brands such as Sara Lee, which offer a selection of bagel flavors that cater to various dietary preferences. When searching for vegan bagels at a grocery store, always check the ingredient list to ensure no animal-derived products are used.

Homemade Vegan Bagels

For those who prefer to get creative in the kitchen, making homemade vegan bagels is an excellent option. Using simple vegan ingredients like wheat flour, water, sugar, and plant-based protein, one can easily create delicious vegan bagels in various flavors.

A delicious homemade bagel topping option is fresh avocado, sliced and placed on top of the bagel for a flavorful breakfast treat. Another option is to add vegetables such as spinach or tomato to create a nutritious and delicious sandwich.

By considering the different types of vegan bagels, exploring store options, and experimenting with homemade recipes, there is a wide variety of delicious vegan bagel options available for any taste or preference.

Vegan Toppings and Spreads

Cream Cheese Alternatives

Vegan cream cheese is a popular option for bagel lovers who want to enjoy their favorite breakfast treat without animal products. Many vegan cream cheeses are made from nuts or tofu and are blended with vegetable oil for a smooth, creamy texture. Some popular options include:

  • Nut-based cream cheeses: Made from almonds, cashews, or other nuts.
  • Tofu-based cream cheeses: Made with tofu, which offers a neutral flavor and high protein content.

In addition to store-bought vegan cream cheese, you can also make your own at home using nuts, tofu, or even hummus as a base.

Sweet Toppings

Vegans have plenty of options when it comes to sweet toppings for their bagels. Some fruity and delicious vegan-friendly options include:

  • Fresh fruits: Sliced strawberries, bananas, and other berries add natural sweetness and nutrients to bagels.
  • Chocolate chip: Vegan chocolate chips can be sprinkled over nut butter or vegan cream cheese for a decadent treat.
  • Molasses or other sweeteners: A drizzle of molasses, agave syrup, or maple syrup can make a bagel even more delicious.

Savory Toppings

For those craving a savory flavor, there are many vegan-friendly savory toppings to choose from:

  • Hummus: This versatile spread made from chickpeas offers a great source of protein and flavor.
  • Nut-based spreads: Almond butter, cashew butter, and other nut butters add richness and nutrition to a bagel.
  • Vegetables: Top your bagel with avocado, tomato, cucumber, or other fresh veggies for added nutrients and flavor.

Vegans can enjoy bagels with a variety of toppings and spreads without compromising their ethical beliefs. By choosing plant-based ingredients, they can create delicious and satisfying combinations that are cruelty-free and environmentally friendly.

Common Non-Vegan Ingredients

Bagels can be a delicious breakfast option for many people, but for vegans, it’s important to be aware of the ingredients used. Some common non-vegan ingredients found in bagels include:

  • Dairy: Dairy products, such as milk, cream cheese, and cheese are frequently used in bagels, making them unsuitable for vegans. Dairy can be found both in the dough and as a topping or filling. It’s important to check the label to ensure the bagel is dairy-free.
  • Honey: Some bagels, such as whole wheat and blueberry, may contain honey as a sweetener. Honey is an animal-derived product and therefore not suitable for vegans.
  • Lecithin and Shortening: Lecithin, derived from egg yolks, and shortening, which can contain animal fats, are often used in bagel recipes to improve texture. Make sure to look for bagels with vegetable shortening to avoid animal products.
  • Barley Malt Syrup and Malt Extract: These sweeteners can be derived from barley, a common ingredient in bagel dough. While not inherently non-vegan, malt products can be processed with enzymes derived from animal sources. Carefully read the label for clarification on the source of malt in the bagel.

When it comes to toppings and fillings, vegans should be mindful of the following ingredients found in bagel shops and supermarkets:

  • Whipped cream, mayonnaise, and hollandaise: These creamy condiments, often added to bagels, contain dairy or egg products. Vegans can opt for plant-based alternatives that are available in many stores.
  • Ham and beef: Avoid bagels with meat toppings, such as ham, beef, or other meats that are non-vegan.

For those concerned with more obscure non-vegan ingredients, watch out for L-cysteine, an amino acid sometimes used in the production of bagels. L-cysteine can be derived from human hair or animal sources, although it is quite rare in bagels.

In summary, while many bagels have the potential to be vegan-friendly, it is crucial for vegans to read the ingredient label and be aware of the potential presence of animal-derived ingredients in both the bagel dough and its toppings or fillings. By knowing which ingredients to avoid and opting for plant-based alternatives, vegans can enjoy bagels without compromising their values.

Identifying Vegan Bagels

When searching for vegan bagels, it is essential to check the ingredients list for any animal-derived products. Common non-vegan ingredients in bagels include milk, eggs, and honey. Opting for plain or whole grain bagels is typically a safer choice for vegans, as flavored and enriched bagels are more likely to contain non-vegan ingredients.

For those frequenting popular coffee chains like Starbucks, it’s helpful to know that their plain, cinnamon raisin, and blueberry bagels are vegan-friendly options. However, it’s crucial to avoid selections containing tuna or having a french toast flavor, as these usually contain egg and dairy products.

In some cases, bagels may be prepared using a liquid mixture containing animal-derived ingredients, so it’s a good idea to inquire about this when purchasing from a bakery or restaurant. Additionally, be cautious of bagels labeled as “egg bagels” or “brioche,” as these typically contain eggs and dairy.

To make it simpler, here’s a list of common vegan and non-vegan ingredients found in bagels:

Vegan-friendly ingredients:

  • Whole wheat flour
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Yeast
  • Sugar
  • Vegetable oil

Non-vegan ingredients:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Honey
  • Whey
  • L-cysteine (may come from animal sources)

When in doubt, inquire about the ingredients or look for bagels explicitly labeled as vegan to ensure a cruelty-free option.

Bagel Preparation and Presentation

Texture and Density

Bagels are known for their unique texture and density, which come from the combination of ingredients and the specific baking process. The base ingredients of a bagel typically include wheat flour, water, yeast, and a small amount of vegetable oil. These ingredients result in a dense and chewy texture, which many people find satisfying.

Baking Process

The baking process for bagels consists of two main steps: boiling and baking. First, the dough is formed into a ring shape and boiled briefly in water, which helps to create the distinct chewy texture. After boiling, the bagels are then transferred to an oven and baked until golden brown.

One popular variation of bagels is the pumpernickel bagel, made with a mixture of wheat and rye flour, which gives it a darker color and slightly more complex flavor. Grains or seeds, such as poppy or sesame, may also be added to the dough for added texture and taste.

Serving Suggestions

Bagels are versatile in terms of presentation and serving options. Here are a few suggestions to enhance your bagel experience:

  • Toppings: Bagels can be served with a variety of spreads, such as cream cheese, hummus, or avocado. Fresh herbs, spices, or fruits can also be added to the spread to create unique and flavorful combinations.
  • Sandwiches: Bagels can be sliced in half and used as the bread for a sandwich, making it a suitable option for vegans when substituting vegan-friendly fillings and spreads.
  • Toasting: Toasting a bagel can change its texture and bring out different flavors, making it a delicious choice for breakfast or a snack.

By carefully considering the ingredients and serving suggestions, vegans can enjoy a range of delicious bagel options that align with their dietary preferences.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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