What is better than butter? Why, vegan butter of course! Here's everything you need to know about enjoying the creamy goodness of butter while being kind to animals and the environment. How delicious is that?
When you choose vegan butter over dairy butter, you're not just treating your taste buds – you're also giving animals, the Earth and yourself a big high-five!
With so many great tasting plant-based butter options in stores today, making the switch is easier than ever. In fact, you can even whip up a batch of your own homemade vegan butter in just a few minutes!
Why we love butter
Butter. It's one of those everyday basic staples most of us use, but don't give much thought. Few of us would ever consider eating a spoonful of butter on its own, but we also couldn't imagine eating a slice of bread or an ear of corn without it.
So what is it about butter that we love so much?
One word: Fat. The fat content in butter enhances flavors and textures, transforming the most bland ingredients into something rich and palatable. That dry piece of toast with a dab of butter suddenly becomes moist, chewy, tastier and easier to eat. It's one of those all-purpose players in the kitchen - we use it for sautéing, baking, basting, browning, and in savories, sweets, and sauces.
The irony is, the very thing that makes butter great can also be harmful to us when we consume too much. Particularly when the source of the fat is animal-derived.
Today, a lot of people are turning away from adding butter and oil to foods for health related reasons. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to successfully adapt many recipes without using added oils, such as this recipe for vegan oatmeal muffins or this rich and creamy vegan broccoli soup.
Dairy butter vs margarine
When my brother and I were kids, our mom realized we were eating way too much animal fat. Worried about the future condition of our young arteries, she decided to ditch butter and switch to margarine, assuming it was a healthier option. She, like other consumers in the 1960's and 70's, weren't aware that margarine was just as bad for us as dairy butter. They didn't know that the process used to manufacture margarine created a different form of unhealthy fat - known as 'trans fat'.
Vegan butter vs margarine
While both vegan butter and margarine are plant-based alternatives to traditional butter, they differ in their ingredients and processing. Vegan butter is usually made with healthier oils and does not contain hydrogenated fats, which are often present in some margarine varieties.
During the manufacturing of margarine, hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, causing the oil to harden at room temperature. The resulting 'partially hydrogenated oil', or trans fat, has been shown to negatively affect cholesterol levels, contributing to heart disease.
Some margarines also contain whey or animal-derived milk products. In contrast, vegan butter is not hydrogenated and doesn't contain milk or other animal products.
Vegan butter is kinder
We know that consuming animal-derived dairy products and trans fats are unhealthy and harmful to us. Yet, many of us who care about animals may be unaware of the suffering and trauma endured by dairy cows.
Who doesn't remember the "happy cows" ad campaigns? Quite to the contrary, those bucolic images of cows grazing in green pastures are propaganda created by the dairy industry, which unfortunately has influenced many consumers to believe that dairy cows enjoy long, comfortable lives.
The truth is, most dairy cows spend the majority of their short lifetimes indoors at factory farms.
Their lives consist of routine artificial insemination, giving birth, and producing milk for human consumption - milk that belongs to their calves, not us. Sadly, most newborn calves are taken from their mamas immediately or soon after birth. The stress and grief experienced by the mother cows and their babies is tragic and entirely unnecessary.
Vegan butter is also kinder to the environment.
Unlike traditional dairy butter, which relies heavily on resources from factory farming (causing harm to animals and the planet), packaged vegan butter is typically made from plants that require much less water and land.
How to make homemade vegan butter
During my visit, Programs Manager Kaleigh Rhoads, showed me how to make vegan butter from scratch. I had never attempted to prepare it myself, assuming it was a lot of work. Boy was I wrong. Using only a few simple, healthy ingredients, Kaleigh created a batch of delicious vegan butter in less than 5 minutes.
I couldn't believe how easy it was. The results were amazing! You can watch how quickly she made the best vegan butter in this video.
Vegan Butter FAQ's
What is vegan butter?
Vegan butter is a plant-based alternative to traditional butter made from animal-derived sources. It contains no animal products and is suitable for those following a vegan lifestyle or dairy-free diet.
What are the main ingredients in vegan butter?
Vegan butter typically contains a blend of plant-based oils* like coconut, soybean, sunflower, or canola oil, water, and emulsifiers. Some brands may also include non-dairy milk, salt, and natural flavors.
*It is important to note that palm oil is used by some brands in the manufacturing of non-dairy butters. Unfortunately, the demand for palm oil has driven the deforestation of rainforests around the world, destroying the habitats of many already endangered species, including orangutans. As with all plant-based products, please be sure to read labels before purchasing.
Is vegan butter healthy?
It may be a healthier option for individuals with dairy allergies or lactose intolerance. However, like any fat source, it should be consumed in moderation as it is still a concentrated source of calories.
Does vegan butter taste like real butter?
The flavor of vegan butter has improved so much over the years it can be difficult to tell the difference between dairy and the non-dairy versions. Taste can vary among brands, so it's best to try different options to find the one that suits your preferences.
Can vegan butter be used in baking?
Yes! I use it all the time as a substitute for dairy butter in most baking recipes.
Enjoy the goodness of vegan living!
The good news is, you can still enjoy everything you love about the flavor and texture of dairy foods without causing harm or suffering to animals! See my vegan grocery list for many of my favorite vegan and non-dairy products.
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