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Keeping Animal Cruelty Out of Sugar

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Reverse osmosis, ion exchange, or synthetic carbons can be used in place of bone char. According to some sources, these methods are, regrettably, much more expensive for the time being, which makes consumer pressure for vegan alternatives even more important.

Pure white sugar is not the only sugar refined in this way. Although it is not white, brown sugar is run through bone char to remove impurities, as is confectioner’s sugar, which is a combination of refined sugar and cornstarch.

When eating refined sugar, although you are not actually ingesting an animal product, the money you pay goes to the sugar company, which ultimately pays the animal industry for bones or bone char. It’s important to keep in mind that the sale of slaughterhouse by-products, including bones, blood and other body parts such as tendons (as in gelatin), helps the animal industry to make money from the disposal of their waste, and thereby stay profitable. As abstract as it may seem, your purchase of sugar (or products which contain sugar) may be supporting the animal industry.

Most of the cow bones used for refining sugar come from Afghanistan, Argentina, India, and Pakistan, and are then sold to plants that turn them into bone char before they are sold in the United States and elsewhere.

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Laura Shults

Laura Shults is working to spread peace through veganism, and is devoted to finding the truth through love and harmony.

60 comments

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3:11AM PDT on Mar 14, 2013

Keep animal cruelty out of everything. I use stevia, just a little in my lemon myrtle green tea.

2:40PM PST on Dec 4, 2012

thank you

6:36AM PST on Mar 8, 2012

Thank you so much. I really learned a lot.

4:57AM PST on Mar 8, 2012

Not so fast! Beet sugar is genetically-modified (GMO) and you'd be supporting the likes of Monsanto if you go with beet sugar. God Bless!

10:54AM PST on Feb 29, 2012

While I do prefer to use organic sugars that avoid this process, I became a bit less gung ho on the whole thing when I had it pointed out to me that the water we drink also goes through bone char as part of its filtration process. It is impossible for anyone, no matter how vegan, to live in the US, survive, and not accept a certain degree of animal contamination and use in their consumption.

5:48AM PST on Feb 26, 2012

Thanks for this very useful post - I have jus discovered xylitol :-)

11:46PM PST on Feb 25, 2012

Wow, thank you for info and article!

1:28AM PST on Feb 24, 2012

Luckily, this isn't done in Germany, where I live. But I still avoid refined sugars because they seem just unnatural to me. I mostly use untreated organic fair trade whole cane sugar.

8:26PM PST on Feb 23, 2012

I avoid refined sugars. I opt for the more healthful sweeteners mentioned on the last page.

2:24PM PST on Feb 22, 2012

I'm always really wary of using white sugar (I didn't know that brown sugar is also often filtered!). Thank you for the list of brands that don't use bone char! I was just thinking about this yesterday and wondering where I could find a list like this.

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