Is Ketchup Vegan? Easy Label & Brands Guide

by Alena

Have you ever wondered “is ketchup vegan?” Find out all about questionable ingredients, vegan-friendly brands & easy recipes.

When you’re going vegan, you’re faced with a lot of label checking. From sweets to sauces and beverages, you want to be sure you aren’t purchasing any animal products.

While some food choices may be more obvious than others (hello, cheese!), today, we want to take a closer look at condiments and answer the question, “Is ketchup vegan?”

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The short answer is: yes, ketchup is vegan! Well, 98% of the time at least.

If you’re a new vegan, please don’t sweat it and stick to cutting out obvious animal products like meat, dairy, eggs, fish and honey.

Once you’ve mastered this part, you can go ahead and wonder “is bread vegan?” — what about oil or soy, should I eat those foods? Is olive oil even vegan?

Check out our complete vegan nutrition guide and favorite vegan food swaps to get a better idea.

Keep on reading to find out whether most, if not all, ketchup brands are vegan, how to make your own at home and what ingredients to look out for.

What is tomato ketchup made of?

Ketchup is a sweet and tangy condiment made mainly from tomatoes with some added white or brown sugar (sometimes high fructose corn syrup), vinegar, seasonings and spices.

Although spices and seasonings can vary, common ingredients include onions, garlic, cloves, coriander, cinnamon and cumin. Plus a bunch of salt, of course!

Interestingly, ketchup used to be made with foods such as egg whites, oysters, mussels, walnuts or mushrooms instead of tomatoes – but these ingredients are not often found in today’s recipes which is why ketchup is vegan in most instances.

Top view of differently shaped red and green tomatoespin it

How to tell if ketchup is vegan

There are two main ingredients to look out for if you want to find out if any specific ketchup is vegan.

  • Honey: some “healthier” ketchups are sweetened with honey instead of sugar. Since honey is made from bees, it is not vegan!
  • Sugar: some types of sugar or not vegan because they can be filtered through animal bone char to whiten it. Look out for organic, unrefined or raw sugar on the label to ensure it is vegan!
  • Vinegar: mostly vegan but can be filtered through fish bladders, egg whites or gelatin.

Other less common ingredients like sucralose or natural flavorings may also not be vegan. However, since they are only used in trace amounts, it doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense to dive that deep into your ketchup research.

We certainly don’t want to make veganism seem too complicated and restrictive, these details can be interesting to know!

If you don’t to be 100% sure that your ketchup is vegan, look out for any vegan label on the bottle.

This guide to condiments by PETA shows how we can generally categorize products like ketchup, salsa, mustard or ranch into “very likely vegan” and “not vegan”.

How to choose healthy ketchup

Compare labels to see which ketchup has less added sugar or other sweeteners, like high fructose corn syrup.

You may want to opt for sugar-free ketchup or make your own at home within 5 minutes (recipe below).

And please remember, just because a label says “natural” or “organic” on the front, this does not mean that it’s a healthy product — organic ketchup is vegan most of the time (this label does ensure no bone char was used) but can still have heaps of brown sugar.

You man in restaurant holding Heinz ketchup bottle upside downpin it

Best vegan ketchup brands

While pretty much all ketchup you’ll find at the store or restaurants can be called vegan, it’s up to each individual to decide how deeply into details they want to go.

To make things easier for you, here are a few vegan ketchup brands you can look out for! Some of these even have some added veggies and are totally free from added sugars.

  • True Made Foods Ketchup
  • Heinz Organic Ketchup
  • Annie’s Organic Ketchup
  • Westbrae Natural Organic Unsweetened Ketchup
  • Veg’d Organics Vegan All-Natural Ketchup
  • Tessemae’s Organic Ketchup
  • Primal Kitchen Organic Unsweetened Ketchup
  • 365 Organic Tomato Ketchup
  • Hunt’s Natural Ketchup

Easy ketchup recipes

If you want to know exactly what’s in your ketchup, there are so many different ways to quickly make your own ketchup at home!

No matter if you’re looking for classic tomato ketchup, one that’s free from refined sugar, features unusual spices or doesn’t use any nightshades such as tomatoes, we’ve hand-selected a list of the best homemade ketchup recipes.

Vegan recipes with ketchup

Here are some ideas for how to put your ketchup to good use!

More vegan articles

Read these guides next if you want to make the vegan lifestyle easier and more fun!

Did you know this about ketchup and are you going to check labels now? Share with us in the comments below and pin the best ketchup recipes here.

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Alena sitting in a cafe with a bowl of fresh plant-based food and a glass of coffee in front of her

About Alena Handwritten FontAlena Schowalter is a Certified Vegan Nutritionist who has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with her husband, she founded nutriciously in 2015 and has been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages towards a healthy plant-based diet. She’s received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy and social work. Alena enjoys discussions around vegan ethics, walks through nature and creating new recipes.

2 thoughts on “Is Ketchup Vegan? Easy Label & Brands Guide”

  1. I’ve been vegan for 20 years but I use honey at times from friends hives and other humanely sourced vendors. With all the issues the bees are having, we owe it to them by providing safe sources for them to thrive.

    Reply
    • Honey isn’t a very clear-cut issue — per definition, bees are animals and vegans abstain from using animals for food, but it’s not 100% established that insects are in fact sentient. Maybe there’s a way of helping the bees without taking their honey and just using a different sweetener, too! But omitting all of the other animal products is probably more important than that.
      Thanks for the comment and for having been vegan for 20 years :)

      Reply

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