Do we really need flour in our everyday lives? - I'll have to sift through my mind to find it. Seriously, from baking to cooking, flours are part of the kitchen, and like a human being, your pantry would be naked without it.
However, is flour vegan? It comes from starchy materials from plants, so it should be vegan-friendly, right? Let’s find out.
What is Flour?
Flour is a powdery substance made by grinding raw grains, beans, nuts, roots, or seeds. It is used to make several foods, including bread, pastries, cakes, pasta, and even gravy.
Flour comes from starchy plants, but typically, it comes from whole kernels consisting of the bran, germ, and endosperm.
The three are separated during the milling process and recombined to create different types of flours.
What's It Made Of?
There are different types of flour, and it depends on the source of it. The main benefits you get from flours are protein and starch. Flour is made typically from grains except for coconut flour, but it is still called flour. Others are from starchy plants like:
- Lima beans
Some Nutritional Properties of Flour
Fibers, also known as roughage, are original nutrients of plant-based foods that are not digested by the body. However, it keeps it clean and healthy as it flushes cholesterol and other harmful contents in the body, helping the bowel movement become regular.
Though the best source of protein is meat, you can also find them in plants that are high in protein, like seeds and nuts. Some of these are turned into special flours. The nutrients are retained with a simple grinding process.
Similar to proteins, some types of flour originate from plants full of nutrients like Vitamin C. Take potatoes, for instance. These are made into starch, and the vitamins are retained, making flour a healthy option as long as it is consumed moderately.
Common Types of Flour
The source of white flour is grain, but only a part of it. The wheat grain consists of three parts which are the bran, germ, and endosperm. In producing white flour, only the endosperm is used. There are claims that this product is processed with bone char but is still not proven.
This is another form of white flour that is often bleached and has low gluten content. It is rather low on protein, making it perfect for making cakes. Similar to white flour, there were doubts regarding its processing but still unproven to have animal products; therefore, it is vegan.
There are non-gluten contents in it which may cause a little difference if used in baking.
A different measurement is needed to make it lighter and fluffier when the cakes are made.
You can choose vegan flour like almond flour, quinoa flour, amaranth, and teff.
These types of flours are still vegan as they come from grains. Typically, these are from hard red grain or soft and hard blended and milled. These types of flours are made into self-rising flour since they are best for baking.
Based on the name itself, these are for baking, and it varies.
The common difference is the gluten content since enriched flour, or whole grain flour, has more texture and is softer when baked.
These are vegan though there are bleaching agents used during processing.
This comes from finely milled rice but is very different from rice starch since this is not made by steeping it in lye, though both are vegan. This is commonly used as a regular flour substitute and more commonly used as a thickening agent.
Whole Wheat Flour
This is probably the healthiest type of flour there is and is free from animal products.
It is made of whole grain and processed by grinding grains without any charred animal bones.
It does not go through a bleaching process as well since the natural color is retained.
Not really. The flour produced from all over the world is mostly coming from the same sources. The vegan community had doubts before thinking that there might have been processes wherein animal products were mixed, but up to this day, there was no proof shown making it vegan.
Yes. There were no news or stories about inhumane ways of producing flour, whether refined flour or bleached flour. The only speculation before was that refined flour might have had bone char in it. One thing to watch out for is potassium bromate(1) which may be harmful but still not confirmed.
Rice or corn flour are common on a vegan diet, and these are both great sources of vitamins and protein, especially from potatoes. Vegan baking is not hard to do since semolina flour or malted barley flour can be used to make cakes and bread.
Is flour vegan? Yes, flour is vegan. As long as we talk about those sourced from plants, not cricket flour. Most vegans avoid white flour, however, because of benzoyl peroxide or sodium benzoate that’s used as a bleaching agent, which may be harmful. Some strict practicing vegans consider this as non-vegan flour.
Many protein supplements and energy bars also come from whole wheat flour, making them very much vegan. There are just some tiny details that need to be checked before you consider using a product.