You’ve probably heard of Nutella by now. An irresistibly, chocolatey spread that can be eaten on toast, as a topping, or even straight from the spoon!
The hazelnut butter brand has become synonymous with all things chocolate spread. It’s safe to say that when most people think of a chocolate topping, Nutella comes to mind.
However, while it may be enjoyed by millions of people, this doesn’t mean that it is suitable for everyone, vegans included.
Unfortunately, this chocolatey treat isn’t suitable for vegans due to its included skimmed milk powder – however, this isn’t the only reason vegans should avoid Nutella.
With this in mind, this article will explore everything you need to know about Nutella’s role in a vegan diet.
Let’s get started.
Why Is Nutella Not Vegan?
If you’re new to the vegan lifestyle, you may be wondering why you can’t enjoy your favorite hazelnut spread.
Well, the answer lies in the ingredients, these include palm oil, sugar, fat-reduced cocoa, skimmed milk, vanilla, hazelnuts, and lecithins.
While many of these ingredients may sound perfectly vegan-friendly, you’ll be surprised to know that they aren’t. Below, we will explore why.
Unless you’re a complete beginner to the vegan lifestyle, by now; you should already know that Nutella is unsuitable for vegans as it contains cow milk. However, it is vegetarian-friendly.
You may have missed this out on the ingredients list since it is noted as ‘skimmed milk powder’. However, the facts remain that dairy is still included. Here, the milk is pasteurized and then turned into powder.
Generally, sugar is considered a vegan-friendly ingredient. However, the ‘generally’ will be explained in the next section.
In terms of Nutella, it has been confirmed by the manufacturer that its sugar is derived from sugar cane found in Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and India.
However, sugar isn’t always vegan-friendly. This is because bone char is sometimes used in the refining process.
According to Peta, some manufacturers used bone char to filter and decolor white sugar, powdered sugar, and brown sugar.
This issue here is unearthing which manufacturers use this process and the ones that don’t – which can be virtually impossible.
Therefore, a good option would be to look for sugar derived from beets, or foods that explicitly state that they’re vegan.
There’s no denying that there are a few sweet tooths among us. And while the occasional sweet treat won’t cause any issues, it’s when consumed in excess that you will begin to notice problems.
Despite Nutella being a chocolate-hazelnut-based spread, the largest component in it is sugar – making up for half its weight!
When combined with palm oil, Nutella begins to sound much less healthy than you may have believed it to be.
While the ingredient itself is considered vegan-friendly, it is the harvesting of the oil that many vegans have an issue with.
Due to a demand to meet palm oil standards, more and more palm oil plantations are being established – which results in the destruction of precious rainforests.
Deforestation And Climate Change
In 2018, 120000 km2 of the tropical rainforest was lost due to deforestation. To illustrate the extremity of this, 2% of the loss was in Malaysia, one of the largest palm oil producers and exporters in the world.
These calamitous numbers highlight the impending climate change. Forest trees are important for storing carbon dioxide. Without them, carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere, leading to a rise in global temperatures.
From a vegan standpoint, the destruction of these biodiverse rainforests is tragic.
Rainforests are the habitat of many critically endangered and vulnerable species.
This includes, but is not limited, to animals such as the Sumatran rhino, Sumatran tiger, Bornean Pygmy elephant, Bornean orangutan, Sunda pangolin, Sunda clouded leopard, turacos, and hornbills.
As it turns out, palm oil doesn’t just affect animals, but humans, too. Due to high targets and demand, many adult workers will instruct their children to work alongside them to meet impractical goals.
Many children even drop out of school to help their families. Over Indonesia and Malaysia, there are tens of thousands of children harvesting palm oil.
Not only are there unachievable targets but children are also working in dangerous conditions – often exposed to heat and toxic chemicals without any protection – earning little to no pay for 12-hour work days.
These adults don’t have it much easier, either. Facing wage cuts, being forced into unpaid labor, and experiencing abuse.
Therefore, while palm oil may be suitable for vegan consumption, the morals and ethics behind the product make many vegans/ vegetarians avoid it.
Vegan Alternatives To Nutella
Are you an Italian chocolate lover? If you are, then you’re going to love this Rigoni Hazelnut Dairy-Free Spread. Free from gluten, dairy, additives, preservatives, GMOs, and colors.
Great for those vegans with a sweet tooth, the sweetness in the spread comes directly from organic raw cane sugar. It contains a simple recipe of cocoa butter, cocoa, raw cane sugar, and natural vanilla extract.
It’s like regular Nutella but without that guilty feeling.
Not only is this Nutiva Organic Vegan Hazelnut Spread vegan-friendly but it is also certified organic!
Here is evidence that you don’t need palm oil, copious amounts of sugar, or cow milk to create a deliciously sweet and nutty chocolate hazelnut spread.
Nutella is sinfully irresistible and goes with just about anything. However, unfortunately, it is not suitable for vegans.
There are several reasons for this, with the most obvious being the added cow milk. However, a few less known reasons include the ingredients of palm oil and sugar.
Hopefully, this guide has informed you about everything you need to know about Nutella and the factors that make it unsuitable for vegans.