Are Einstein Bagels Vegan? List of Vegan Varieties


Are Einstein Bagels Vegan?

Einstein Bros. Bagels is a popular American restaurant chain that specializes in bagels and coffee. I’ve written an article on the vegan status of bagels (in general). Since then, I’ve gotten several questions about Einstein Bagels specifically, so I thought I’d take a look at the various bagels on offer by the chain and make a vegan/non-vegan list.

In general, are they vegan? Yes, the classic plain Einstein bagel is vegan. They contain enriched flour, yeast, water, salt, sugar, molasses powder, soybean oil, malted barley flour, hydrolized wheat gluten, enzymes, ascorbic acid, and cornmeal, all of which are plant-based.1

Now we’ll take a closer look at these ingredients, and then go over other bagels on the menu.

Vegan-Friendly Einstein Bagels

The Plain Bagel

This one was just mentioned, but for the sake of completeness, we’ll list it here.

Per the site, it contains:1

  • Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
  • Water, Sugar, Salt, and Yeast
  • Molasses Powder (Molasses, Wheat Starch)
  • Malted Barley Flour and Cornmeal
  • Enzymes*
  • Soybean Oil
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten
  • Ascorbic Acid

*Enzymes are sometimes seen as a bit of a red flag in the vegan community. In their list of animal-derived ingredients, PETA mentions certain specific enzymes but does not list “enzymes” as an ambiguous ingredient.2

Certain enzymes have several useful properties in baked goods, including:3

  • The synergistic effects of enzymes
  • Flour supplementation
  • Reduction of acrylamide content in food products
  • Dough conditioning

Most of the time when the term “enzymes” is listed on the food label, the specific type used is left out. For this reason, most in the vegan community don’t actively try to avoid the ingredient.

This is largely because there’s no way to know which enzymes were used (short of reaching out the manufacturer) coupled with the fact that most enzymes used in baked goods are completely vegan.

Enzymes like fungal and malt alpha-amylases are used to replace synthetic ingredients, mostly to meet increasing consumer demands for all things “natural”.

For example, potassium bromate (an additive that helps the dough to rise) is often replaced with enzymes as it is somewhat of a controversial additive in terms of health.

Amylases are popular for bread making because the enzymes help degrade starch into small dextrins that are easier for the yeast to act upon.

Enzymes like hemicellulases, xylanases, oxidases, and lipases strengthen the gluten network which improves the quality of the bread by allowing for a higher rise.

Other amylases are able to modify starch in a way that imparts an anti-staling effect.

So, for marketing (labeling) purposes, manufacturers often prefer these enzymes over synthetic ingredients.

Anyway, enzymes in bread products like bagels tend to be vegan. For example, the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) lists α-amylase as typically vegan.4

It seems that most vegan organizations would have us not scrutinize such ingredients too heavily.2

Having said that, there’s always the possibility that enzymes are animal-derived, so if you’re an extra prudent vegan, you may want to avoid the ingredient or stick to products that list “enzymes (plant-based)” or what have you.

Just know that the presence of enzymes doesn’t render a food product non-vegan by most standards.

The Chocolate Chip Bagel

I was thrilled to see this one advertised as dairy-free.

It contains:5

  • Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
  • Water
  • Chocolate Chips (Sugar, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Vanillin)
  • Sugar, Yeast, Salt
  • Cocoa Processed With Alkali
  • Molasses Powder (Molasses, Wheat Starch)
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten, Malted Barley Flour
  • Soybean Oil, Ascorbic Acid
  • Enzymes

Everything Bagel

My personal favorite. This everything bagel contains everything but animal products.

Ingredients include:6

  • Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
  • Water, Sugar, Salt, Yeast
  • Molasses Powder (Molasses, Wheat Starch)
  • Malted Barley Flour and Cornmeal
  • Soybean Oil
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Enzymes
  • Everything Spice Mix: Sesame Seed, Poppy Seed, Onion, Salt, and Garlic

The Cinnamon Raisin

This one contains:7

  • Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
  • Water
  • Sugar, Salt
  • Raisins (Raisins, Sunflower Oil)
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten, Yeast
  • Molasses Powder (Molasses, Wheat Starch)
  • Cinnamon
  • Malted Barley Flour, Cornmeal
  • Soybean Oil
  • Ascorbic Acid, Enzymes

The Cranberry Bagel

This one contains:8

  • Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
  • Dried Cranberries (Cranberries, Sugar, Sunflower Oil)
  • Sugar, Salt, Water, Soybean Oil
  • Dehydrated Potatoes
  • Yeast, Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten, Malted Barley Flour, Cornmeal
  • Ascorbic Acid, Enzymes

The Blueberry Bagel

These contain:9

  • Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
  • Water, Sugar, Yeast, Salt
  • Blueberry Flavored Bits (Cranberries, Sugar, Grape Juice Concentrate, Blueberry Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Oil)
  • Blueberries
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten, Malted Barley Flour, Cornmeal
  • Molasses Powder (Molasses, Wheat Starch)
  • Natural Flavor
  • Dehydrated Boysenberries
  • Dehydrated Blackberries
  • Dehydrated Blueberries
  • Soybean Oil
  • Ascorbic Acid, Enzymes

Garlic and Onion Bagels

These are two separate bagels, by the way, one with dehydrated onions and the other with garlic. They come with the usual ingredients (enriched flour, yeast, etc.) with the addition of garlic and onion, respectively.10,11

The Pretzel Bagel

This one contains:12

  • Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
  • Water
  • Liquid Sucrose
  • Soybean Oil
  • Dehydrated Potatoes
  • Yeast, Wheat Gluten, Enzymes, Salt, Malted Barley Flour, Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten
  • Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
  • Salt, Baking Soda.

No problems here.

Seed and Grain Bagels

A few bagels are made with the usual plant-based ingredients, but with the addition of special grains or seeds.

These include:

  • Poppy Seed Bagel.13
  • Sesame Seed Bagel.14
  • Ancient Grain.15
  • Pumpernickel.16

Anyway, these are all vegan.

The French Toast Bagel

This one is surprisingly honey free. It does, however, contain mono- and diglycerides.17

These ingredients are considered by some to be a bit of a grey area, especially when the label doesn’t mention their origin. Most vegans don’t scrutinize such ingredients too heavily, and their presence doesn’t render a food non-vegan by most standards.

Non-Vegan Einstein Bagels

The Honey Wheat Bagel

This one would pose problems for many in the community. Not all vegans would view these as off-limits, because there’s a bit of a divide in the community when it comes to insect-derived ingredients like honey, silk, and beeswax.18

But, overall, insect-derived ingredients are largely seen as unsuitable for vegan consumption. And most organizations view substances like honey, silk, confectioner’s glaze, etc. as non-vegan, including the Vegan Society and PETA.19,20

Cinnamon Sugar Bagel

This one is not dairy-free so it’s advertised as vegetarian.

It contains a “butter blend” that’s only composed of plant oils, but then lists “skim milk” and “butter (cream, salt).”21

Cheese Bagels

These are off-limits for obvious reasons.

They include:

  • The Asiago Bagel (parmesan, romano, and asiago cheese).22
  • The Six Cheese Bagel (provolone, mild cheddar, parmesan, romano, asiago).23
  • The Jalapeno Cheddar Bagel (cheddar cheese).24

That’s it for the vegan status of Einstein bagels. Thanks for reading.

You may also want to check out the following related articles:

References

  1. Plain. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/plain/
  2. Animal-derived Ingredients Resource | Living. https://www.peta.org/living/food/animal-ingredients-list/
  3. Enzyme Applications in Baking http://www.biokemi.org/biozoom/issues/516/articles/2309
  4. Questions About Food Ingredients. https://www.vrg.org/nutshell/faqingredients.htm#amylase
  5. Chocolate Chip. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/chocolate-chip/
  6. Everything Bagel. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/everything/
  7. Cinnamon Raisin. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/cinnamon-raisin/
  8. Cranberry. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/cranberry/
  9. Blueberry. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/blueberry/
  10. Onion Bagel. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/onion/
  11. Garlic Bagel. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/garlic/
  12. Pretzel Bagel. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/pretzel/
  13. Poppy Seed. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/poppy-seed/
  14. Sesame Seed. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/sesame-seed/
  15. Ancient Grain. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/ancient-grain/
  16. Pumpernickel. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/pumpernickel/
  17. French Toast. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/french-toast-2/
  18. Why Vegans Can’t Decide Whether They’re Allowed To Eat Honey. Daniel Engber – https://slate.com/human-interest/2008/07/why-vegans-can-t-decide-whether-they-re-allowed-to-eat-honey.html
  19. The Honey Industry. https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/honey-industry
  20. What’s Wrong with Eating Honey? https://www.peta.org/about-peta/faq/whats-wrong-with-eating-honey/
  21. Cinnamon Sugar. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/cinnamon-sugar/
  22. Asagio. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/asiago-cheese/
  23. Six Cheese. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/six-cheese/
  24. Jalapeno Cheddar. https://www.einsteinbros.com/erm_menu_item/jalapeno-cheddar/

Drew Davis

Hi! I'm Drew and this is the place where I nerd out about vegan and plant-based diets. I have a BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Alabama and have taken dozens of classes in areas like organic and biochemistry, food science, medical nutrition therapy, nutritional genomics, and vegetarian diets. I'm still learning every day, and on this blog, I'll be sharing everything I discover about vegan diets as I go.

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