Why Some Vegans and Vegetarians Won't Eat Margarine

You'll have to check the ingredients before you give certain products a try.

Lauren Wellbank - Author

Jun. 17 2024, Published 2:43 p.m. ET

A hand holding a knife spreads a butter like substance on bread
Source: Getty Images

For those looking for a dairy-free butter alternative, margarine has long been an appealing choice. Not only is it widely available — you don't even have to head to the vegetarian/vegan section of the grocery store to find it — but it's been long accepted as a reasonable substitute for the dairy version by people around the world. But just because so many people are reaching for it when they're in the grocery store, it doesn't mean that it's always a good pick for those who are vegan.

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In fact, when it comes to the question of whether or not margarine is vegan, the answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no. Keep reading to see what I mean.

A closeup of an assortment of butter-like spreads on a table with a knife
Source: Getty Images
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What is margarine?

Margarine is a common substitute for butter, according to Healthline, and it's often made using a combination of water and oil, including olive oil, canola oil, palm oil, corn oil, and soybean oil, amongst other things. And while it's great for all kinds of uses — including baking, cooking, and as a spread for sandwiches and crackers — not all margarine is created equal.

Is margarine vegan?

Whether the margarine in your grocer's refrigerator is vegan all depends on the ingredient list, since some margarines do use small amounts of dairy or other animal products during manufacturing. In fact, some companies will substitute milk for water when making their spread, giving it a more butter-like taste and look.

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Brands like Parkay, Country Crock, and Blue Bonnet have all included animal products in their margarine spreads at one time or another, which is why it's so important to make sure you're checking the label before tossing any old brand into your shopping cart.

Here some of the other tricky ingredients you may want to keep an eye out for if you're looking to purchase a vegan margarine, as noted by Healthline:

  • Milk-derived lactose, casein, or whey
  • Vitamin D3, because it's typically made from lanolin
  • Marine oil due to how it's sourced from fish and marine life
  • Lecithin as it can be harvested from egg yolks and other animal tissues
  • Suet and tallow, both of which come from animal fat.
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What margarines are vegan?

If staying vegan is important to you, the most best thing that you can is to keep an eye out for a butter that says it is "certified vegan" somewhere on the label. A few vegan margarines on the market include:

  • Violife Salted Plant Butter
  • Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
  • Miyoko's Salted European Style Plant Milk Butter
  • Melt Organic Buttery Sticks
  • Country Crock Dairy Free Plant Butter
  • Livlo Organic Vegan Ghee.

Even with this list of known vegan butters, it's still always important to double check the ingredient list when you're shopping whether you want to avoid known allergens or if you're simply trying to remain true to your vegan diet. That's especially true when shopping for new-to-you brands, or when you're trying a different product from a brand you love.

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