It’s not always clear which foods are vegan, especially baked products like bagels.

Vegans avoid animal products, and that includes meat, dairy, eggs, and any other animal-derived foods and additives.

Bagels are very popular breads that range from sweet to savory, and like many baked goods, they often include animal products like butter or lard.

So, how do you tell if a bagel is vegan-friendly? This article looks at how to tell whether a bagel is vegan or not.

Vegan and Regular Bagels

Bagel dough is a simple, yeasted dough that is shaped like a doughnut before being boiled, dried, and finished in an oven.

Regular, Basic Bagels are Vegan

Basic bagel recipes are vegan, and they contain these ingredients:

Flour: Wheat flour is often used, which gives a dense, chewy texture.

Yeast: Yeast ferments the sugars in the dough, which makes the dough rise.

Salt: The salt helps to toughen the gluten strands in the dough, and adds flavor.

Liquid: Traditional bagels are made with water to bind the ingredients together.

Sweetener: Plain sugar, barley malt syrup, molasses, corn syrup, or malt extract are often used.

Fat: This is often vegetable shortening or vegetable oil.

Additional ingredients are sometimes added, such as fruits, seeds, grains, nuts, vegetables, berries, herbs, and spices.

What is in A Non-Vegan Bagel?

Store bough bagels may include non-vegan ingredients like honey, honey powder, eggs, milk, and L-cysteine (a dough softener made from human hair or poultry feathers).

Many bagel toppings or fillings are not vegan. These include:

Dairy Products: Cream cheese, other cheese, whipped cream, and butter.

Meats: Beef, ham, chicken, turkey etc.

Fish:  Salmon, tuna, caviar etc.

Eggs: Eggs on their own, or as mayo or hollandaise.

Any ingredient that is made from animals makes a bagel non-vegan.

Making Sure Your Bagel is Vegan

Try Making Bagels Yourself

If you make your own bagels, you are in control of what goes into them.

A basic dough recipe can be added to by using seeds, nuts, onions, garlic, spices, herbs, and grains like oats and rye to add flavor.

You can top your bagels with vegan cream cheese, nut butters, vegan patties, meat substitutes, tofu, avocado, hummus, vegetables, berries, and other fruits.

Check the Label

When you buy bagels from a shop, check the ingredients list for non-vegan items such as eggs, honey, honey powder, L-cysteine, milk, and milk products (casein, lactose, and whey).

L-cysteine should be listed by name, or by the number E920. There are vegan sources of L-cysteine, but it’s often not clear on the label whether it is vegan-friendly.

Buy Certified Vegan Bagels

Although vegan product labels are not regulated by law in most countries, there are independent organizations, such as Certified Vegan, who give vegan certification to products.

If you get a bagel with a certification, it’s worth checking the requirements of the organization to make sure they are in line with your expectations.

Some products may not be labeled as vegan, but they actually are. This is why it’s a good idea to check the ingredient list before you buy, or you may be missing out.