Today, I learned that regular granulated white sugar in the U.S. is not vegan.

I recently got off the library wait list for the cookbook The Vegan Chinese Kitchen: Recipes and Modern Stories from a Thousand-Year-Old Tradition, by Hannah Che. It recently won the James Beard Award for cookbooks and has been designated one of the best cookbooks of 2022. After just reading the introduction of the book on my Kindle, I found that it wasn’t surprising at all that she won a James Beard award for her writing: she is clearly passionate and obsessed with food in all its most minute details. When she decided to become a vegan, she worried that it would separate her from the traditions and food that her Chinese family celebrated. But then, she learned about zhai cai, the plant-based Chinese cuisine that emphasizes umami-rich ingredients that can be traced back over centuries to Buddhist temple kitchens.

Within just the first chapter, I found that I was not only loving her writing style, but I was learning so much about Chinese terms for food, flavor, and cooking, as well as… things that you’d think I should know about our own food supply, but I definitely do not (and you probably do not, either). Take this, for example: Hannah says she only cooks and bakes with organic white sugar because regular granulated cane sugar in the U.S. is actually processed with bone char. That’s right: animal ingredients are used in the processing of white (and even brown!) sugar in the U.S.! Specific brands like C&H don’t use bone char, which is often known and labeled as “natural carbon), and organic sugars completely ban the use of it. Granted, I’m not sure how other countries bleach their cane sugar to ensure it is white, but this is sadly what the U.S. does that few people are aware of. And if you doubt it, feel free to visit this PETA page that details more about this terrible process. It’s truly a shame and an embarrassment that the most basic processes are kept a secret in our food industry.

Today, at age 38, I learned that regular granulated white sugar in the United States is not vegan. That is absolutely bonkers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.