When it comes to food, all of us are looking for healthy options but not necessarily tasteless. This may be the reason why you stumbled upon Smart Balance buttery spreads. These products taste great because of the natural and artificial flavors blended with all other ingredients.
But here's the real question - is Smart Balance vegan?
All About Smart Balance
Smart Balance butter spreads became known to the public because of their rich buttery taste without the risk of consuming manufactured trans fat. The ingredients have no hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
It is believed that regular consumption of 2 grams a day can help decrease LDL cholesterol(1). You have an array of choices with this brand. You have the original Smart Balance, Smart Balance Organic, Smart Balance Light with flaxseed, peanut butter, and more.
Trans fatty acids are replaced with vegetable fatty acids by this butter substitute, and this is why it can be a part of a plant-based diet.
Is It Vegan or Not?
Smart Balance is not vegan. Smart Balance Light with flaxseed oil and Smart Balance Organic are considered vegan by some, but you will find palm oil in their vegetable oil blend if you examine the ingredients thoroughly.
Vitamin D is also present as well as natural flavors, the sources of which are unclear whether plant-derived or not.
It is not a question if Smart Balance spread is healthy or not because it can help lower cholesterol, and it is even gluten-free, but smart balance products are not vegan.
What are the Prime Ingredients?
Although some flavors do not contain all enumerated ingredients, these are the common ingredients found on Smart Balance buttery spread.
We separated the ingredients that raised doubts on Smart Balance butter and provided information as to why the vegan community is questioning these contents.
- Potassium Sorbate- used to preserve freshness
- Pea protein
- Beta Carotene- vegan-friendly food coloring
- Monoglycerides- used as additives
- Lactic acid- used to protect flavor
- Palmitate - A vitamin A compound replacement
- Lecithin- used as an emulsifier
- Calcium Disodium (EDTA)-used as additives
- Natural and artificial flavors
- Vegetable oil blend (canola, palm, olive, and soybean)
- Vitamin D
Which Smart Balance Flavors are Vegan?
As mentioned, all the plant-derived ingredients are on most Smart Balance Butters except for the two listed below. These are technically vegan since the contents are typically derived from plants, and it does not contain Vitamin D.
However, strict vegans avoid products that are not transparent with their sources. Also, it has a natural flavor which is also unclear with the sources. It contains palm oil which is completely free of animal content, but the production is against the morals of a strict vegan.
- Light with flaxseed oil flavor
5 Potential Non-Vegan Ingredients
The type of Vitamin D used for Smart Balance spreads is only found in animal-based products such as egg yolks and fish liver oil or the most common in the food industry: sheep’s wool. This vitamin D source is not only animal-based but is also believed to be practicing animal cruelty.
The oils present in the buttery spreads are a mixture of olive oils, canola, soybean, and palm oils.
All come from plants, but what made palm oil not part of the vegan diet is the unethical process of production which has caused animals to die or lose their homes because of deforestation, which vegans strongly condone.
Lactic acid, as per what it is, is a dairy product; however, one that is used by buttery spread is dairy-free.
Most lactic acid, though, derives from fermented dairy, but since they already stated from the start that there is no milk included in their product, this may not be one of those controversies vegans are eyeing.
Vitamin A Palmitate
This is a form of vitamin A commonly found in animal products like beef, eggs, and chicken.
These are not pre-formed in vegan foods unless converted from beta carotene as an active vitamin A.
Natural & Artificial Flavors
The only problem with these is when the manufacturers are not transparent with the content of their products. You can extract these flavors from either plants or animals. This makes some vegan consumers skeptical unless it is stated in the open.
Some Smart Balance Alternatives
Miyokos Creamery Butter is a vegan butter available in the market - claiming to be absolutely dairy-free and non-GMO. Miyoko’s manufacturers claim that they are using plant-derived ingredients, including artificial flavors, sunflower lecithin content.
They use Organic Cultured Cashew Milk, and the natural flavors are straight from oregano. There are allergen possibilities from tree nuts and peanuts, but they are clearly stated on the labels for safety reasons.
This is a butter blend of Coconut Oil, Canola Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil with no animal content, including seafood, chicken, eggs, or honey. It uses naturally extracted annatto extract as coloring; therefore, you can be sure this is absolutely vegan friendly. For this Kosher diet, manufacturers use pure salt and, for added flavors, sunflower lecithin vitamin too.
This is an organic option for those individuals who are avoiding dairy-free products and those who do not want to consume spreads with palm oil. This product is Kosher, Non-GMO Project Verified, and Gluten-free, and is manufactured in a peanut-free facility and this is nut-free. All ingredients are plant-based alternatives which are actually great to use in baking and cooking.
Yes. This is an area that Smart Balance confirms. The products are all dairy-free butter substitutes. The original smart balance and other smart balance spreads use natural saturate from palm fruit and polyunsaturates from soy and canola oils.
Yes. If we talk about regular butter, it would be healthier because it has less trans fat. Your choices start from Smart Balance Original to Smart Balance Light with flaxseed oil, and all have the same trans fat measurements. These are also free from fully hydrogenated oils.
Is Smart Balance butter vegan? Veganism is a lifestyle, so the answer is no. Smart Balance plant-based spreads contain palm oil among soybean oil, canola, and olive oil. This product is not soy-free; therefore, the taste is rich, and with the addition of extra virgin olive oil, the flavor is even richer.
The health benefit of this low sodium and low trans fats product is undeniable, but a practicing vegan must stand by the morals and beliefs. This is not vegan butter because of the ingredients that hold controversies. There are for sure better alternatives available like Earth Balance.