Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What is vegan sugar?

My daughter asked me why we buy the two pound bag of organic vegan sugar that costs the same as a five pound bag of regular sugar. What makes sugar vegan?

She was too small to remember, but we took a vacation to Australia in 2003. On the shuttle through Queensland, we drove past many sugar cane fields. A blur of a fast-moving animal caught my eye as it crossed the road and ran into the sugar cane.

I asked the driver what kind of animal lives in the cane. He replied that quite a few animals live in the cane fields.

Then we passed some cane that had been cut by a mechanical harvester.

"What happens to the animals when the cane is cut?"

"They become animal by-catch."

I told him that I just went off sugar.

Then he said that there were more reasons to go off sugar. He told us about all the chemicals that are sprayed on the sugar cane. Then the cane is cut, crushed, and the juices collected--chemicals, animal by-catch and all*.

Vegan sugar is made from hand-cut sugar cane, which gives the animals a chance to get away.

We've been buying organic vegan sugar ever since. The cost is revenue-neutral because I was looking for an excuse to cut down on our family's sugar intake anyway.

* In theory, the animal blood and guts are removed in the sugar refining steps. Our family does not eat vegan, but we didn't like the idea of "regular" sugar after we learned how it is made.

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