Honey is an animal product—that would be our friends the bees—but isn’t cane sugar vegan? Not exactly, says Humbucker. The nasty truth is that refined white sugar is often filtered using charcoal of animal origin. It’s called bone char, and it’s a by-product from meat processing.

Theoretically, even refined sugar could be vegan—if it’s processed using charcoal only from vegetable sources. But those whose strict beliefs require them to avoid any animal products often opt for less processed sugars, like evaporated agave nectar or turbinado sugar. However, this can pose problems for serious bakers—in addition to the problems already posed by not using milk or eggs! “If you do try using vegan sugars, don’t expect them to bake up like regular white and brown sugars,” says adventuresinbaking. “Their chemical compositions are different and you’ll get a different result with each one.”

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