Is Pumpkin Pie Vegan?

To make the ultimate thanksgiving dessert yourself, you will need around 10 ingredients, but is traditional pumpkin pie vegan? The answer is that it is not usually, but it can be.

This isn’t always the case though so we are going to take a close look at why this is, so you can enjoy yours cruelty-free. 

Ingredients

The filling is usually safe from being an animal-based offender in this type of pie, and even the warm spices of cinnamon and cloves aren’t enough to make most pumpkin pies plant-based.  

One of the easiest places to buy pumpkin pie is in your local store, but what exactly goes into them? To give you an indication of a typical recipe, here are the ingredients for Walmarts pumpkin pie:

PUMPKIN, ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), SUGAR, VEGETABLE OIL SHORTENING (PALM OIL, SOYBEAN OIL AND/OR CANOLA OIL), MILK, EGGS, BROWN SUGAR, NONFAT MILK, WATER, CORN SYRUP, FOOD STARCH-MODIFIED, SALT, SPICES, MALTODEXTRIN, DEXTROSE, CITRIC ACID, POTASSIUM SORBATE (PRESERVATIVE), LOCUST BEAN GUM, CARRAGEENAN, AGAR-AGAR, SODIUM PROPIONATE (PRESERVATIVE), L-CYSTEINE MONOHYDROCHLORIDE

Non-Vegan Ingredients In Pumpkin Pie

Using Walmarts example, there are plenty of offenders, starting with sugar.

Sugar

It can be difficult to tell which companies use sugar that has been processed using bone char, but it is common in confectionery and sweet treats.

As the name suggests, none char is made from the charred bones of cattle and pigs, and is used to decolorize sugar so it is more desirable white. Companies do not tend to disclose this information openly on their labels so it is a tricky subject for vegans.

It is possible to contact brands directly but when you get an answer, some will say they use multiple suppliers so it can be difficult to tell. Look for organic sugar, or coconut or beet sugar instead.

However, many vegans will turn a blind eye to this.

Palm Oil

If you see this on the label then the chances are that it has been derived in a way that is devastating to the rainforest. This displaced many species from their natural habitat, causing distress and death to endangered animals such as orangutans. 

Not every pumpkin pie recipe will use palm oil, but lookout for the ones that do.

Milk / Nonfat Milk

The negative impact of the industry on dairy cows cannot be underestimated. Calves are taken from their mothers within hours of being born, and are then raised solely for their milk or meat.

Female cows are then impregnated continually for years so they produce milk until they are no longer worth using and killed. 

Milk is obviously not vegan, so a traditional pumpkin pie recipe cannot be either. 

Eggs

Another staple ingredient in pumpkin pie, eggs are not vegan because they are animal-derived, and the methods used to produce them are shocking.

Egg-laying eggs are kept alive until their productivity slows with age and they are then usually killed as they are no longer profitable. 

Eggs belong to chickens, and not in our pumpkin pie. 

We should note that this recipe also contains locust bean gum, but this is not derived from locusts. It is a natural thickening ingredient that is made from carob gum.

Store-bought Vegan-Friendly Pumpkin Pie

Unfortunately, it is not easy to get vegan pumpkin pie in store. Because it is a freshly baked good, your best chance is to head to your local organic produce store and see if they happen to have any.

Otherwise, there is always another option:

Making Homemade Pumpkin Pie

There are plenty of recipes online for making the best vegan pumpkin pie. It is a sure way of getting your fix of that sweet thanksgiving favorite without the risk of chomping on something that is animal-based. 

There are different ways of making it – from scratch, or by using a can of filling.

The common ingredient profile for the filling is made simple in one of the most famous store-bought brands, Libby’s. Their 100% pure pumpkin pie filling is made from one thing – pumpkin.

However, if you want to make it as your vegan mother might: from scratch, you will need to grab the following ingredients:

2 pumpkins or squashes, Vegetable oil or sunflower oil (flavorless), plain flour, sweet vegan shortcrust pastry, maple syrup, light brown soft sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cornflour, almond or soya milk, icing sugar

Using Vegan Pie Crust

You have a couple of options here as common brands are accidentally vegan pie crusts for you to use. These include Marie Callender Pie Crusts and Mrs. Smith’s Deep Dish Pie Crusts. 

This reduces the time it takes to make your own, and can yield delicious results. To give you peace of mind, here are the ingredients for Marie Callender’s pie crust:

Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Soybean Oil, Water, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Dextrose, Salt, Dough Conditioner (Sodium Metabisulfite).

Final Word

Whilst there are different places to get your pumpkin fix, they are unlikely to be vegan. When you are celebrating Thanksgiving with family, it can be best to bring your own for everyone to try.

Making delicious vegan desserts will always be a surprise to those who are not accustomed to them. If they can’t tell the difference, then we are all for it. 

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