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Is Sugar Vegan in the UK?

It may seem like might an innocent baking ingredient but is sugar vegan? The answer may surprise you!

When I created my vegan baking blog a few years ago, I was confused when I had an influx of people telling me that sugar wasn’t vegan. What on Earth are these people talking about, I thought to myself?

So I dug a little bit deeper and discovered that there was actually reason to be concerned. Although sugar itself is vegan, sometimes the processing method makes it unsuitable for a vegan diet.

Donuts Covered In Sugar. Is sugar vegan in the UK?

What would make sugar not-vegan?

There are two types of sugar, beet sugar and cane sugar. In the USA, cane sugar is often filtered using bone char, which sadly comes from animal bones. The only exception to this (in the USA) is certified organic sugar.

Is sugar vegan in the UK?

Luckily for us Brits, all granulated and caster sugar is vegan in the UK! The only exception to this would be if the sugar was imported from the USA.

In the UK, there are only 3 sugar producers: Tatle & Lyle, British sugar (brands such as Silver Spoon) & Ragus Sugars. None of the 3 companies use bone char for processing, meaning all granulated and caster sugar in the UK is suitable for vegans.

Is icing sugar vegan?

Most icing sugar in the UK is vegan except for royal icing sugar, which is almost always made with egg white powder. You can make your own vegan royal icing from scratch though.

Fondant icing sugar and icing sugar is usually vegan but may contain egg due to cross contamination. Tate & Lyle confirmed on their website that all of their icing sugars are vegan-friendly except their royal icing sugar. If ever in doubt, go for Tate & Lyle or look for an icing sugar that has the vegan symbol on the packaging.

Is icing sugar gluten-free?

What about other types of sugar?

There are many other ways to sweeten up your desserts and coffee so you don’t just have to stick to the classic white stuff. Here are some other types of sugar you can use instead.

  • Brown sugar is vegan in the UK. It is made by adding molasses to white sugar. How to pack brown sugar
  • Coconut sugar is vegan-friendly. It is minimally processed and is made from coconut sap. It is thought to be a slightly more nutritious alternative to brown sugar.
  • Date Sugar and syrup are vegan, made from dates (of course).
  • Agave nectar is vegan. It is a light, golden-coloured syrup made from the agave plant. It is often used as a vegan alternative to honey.
  • Maple syrup is vegan. It is made from the sap of sugar maple trees.
  • Golden syrup is vegan. See: Is golden syrup vegan?
  • Organic sugar is always vegan, even in the USA.


In the UK, sugar is almost always vegan, with the exception of royal icing sugar. If in doubt, look for a vegan logo on the packaging just to be sure. Other types of sugar such as brown sugar, date syrup, agave nectar and maple syrup are also vegan in the UK.

Using different types of sugar for vegan baking

Now you know sugar is suitable for vegans, why not try out one of these tasty vegan dessert recipes?

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