Is Guacamole Vegan?


Is guacamole vegan?

Guacamole or simply “guac” in North America is an avocado-based food product used as a dip, salad, or spread.1,2 It’s been around for a long time and was actually first developed by the Aztecs in what’s now Mexico.3

It’s long been a popular food product in Mexican cuisine, and is now popular worldwide as a condiment, dip, and salad ingredient.4,5

Is it vegan? Yes, traditional guacamole is considered vegan. The standard recipe includes mashed ripe avocados, sea salt, oils and other plant-based ingredients like cilantro, lime juice, jalapeño, onion, garlic, and salt.6,7 Keep in mind, some non-traditional recipes do call for animal products.

This one’s also good for really strict vegans because it doesn’t contain glycerides, xanthan gum, or any other grey area ingredients.

Why Guacamole is Considered Vegan

Again, traditional guacamole is made of 100% plant-based ingredients. Commercial guacamole will have a few additives thrown in, but all are vegan-friendly by most standards.

Standard ingredients in guacamole include:

  • Avocado—a very popular plant food (botanically considered a fruit) first cultivated in South Central Mexico around 10,000 years ago.8-10 It’s typically made by mashing ripe avocados with a mortar and pestle or putting them through processor.6,7
  • Cilantro or coriander—the food that tastes amazing to some, and like dish soap to others.11
  • Lime juice
  • Onion and garlic
  • Salt
  • Tomatoes
  • Oils (e.g. soybean)
  • Essential oils (cilantro, etc.)
  • Distilled vinegar

No problems here.

Potential Non-Vegan Ingredients in Guacamole

Sour Cream

Some recipes call for unconventional ingredients. I even found one containing green peas.12

One possible, but unlikely vegan ingredient is sour cream.13

I haven’t yet run across any commercial guacamole containing milk ingredients, but several recipes online call for various milk products like yogurt and sour cream.14

So, if you partake of guacamole at a gathering of some sort, this is something to keep in mind.

Xanthan Gum

Some guacamole contains xanthan gum as an additive.

For example, Yucatan Mild Guacamole contains:15

  • Hass avocado
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Onion
  • Garlic powder
  • Ascorbic acid (to preserve freshness)
  • Citric acid (to preserve freshness)
  • Xanthan gum

Keep in mind that foods with xanthan gum aren’t considered off-limits by most standards in the vegan community.

Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide (complex carb) with a number of industrial uses in food production. It’s a common stabilizer as it’s effective in preventing ingredients from separating. It’s also a popular food thickening agent like guar gum.

I wrote a whole article on guar gum and its vegan-friendliness you can check out here.

Xanthan gum is produced via fermentation by Xanthomonas campestris. The fermentation is usually done with simple sugars like glucose and sucrose.16

However, there are some species of the bacteria that can grow on lactose, the common simple sugar in milk.17

When that is the case, the product is usually processed with whey protein, a waste product in cheese making.

Like mono- and diglycerides, it can be a grey area for some vegans. Again, products containing it are still considered vegan by most standards. But, if you’re a particularly prudent vegan this is just something to bear in mind.

Commercial Vegan Guacamole

Now that we know that most guacamole qualifies as vegan, we’ll go over a few products that are known to be vegan-friendly.

Freshness Guaranteed Guacamole

Ingredients include:18

  • Hass avocado
  • Tomatillo
  • Dehydrated onion
  • Sea salt
  • Jalapeno pepper
  • Dehydrated garlic
  • Garlic
  • Dehydrated cilantro
  • Dehydrated jalapeno pepper
  • Cilantro essential oil

Wholly Guacamole Minis Classic Mild

Ingredients include:19

  • Hass avocados
  • Distilled vinegar
  • Water
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Salt
  • Dehydrated onion
  • Granulated garlic

Herdez Guacamole Salsa Mild

This one contains:20

  • Water
  • Tomatillos
  • Soybean oil
  • Avocados
  • Onion
  • Green chili peppers
  • Cilantro
  • Natural and artificial flavor
  • Dehydrated onion
  • Iodized salt (contains potassium iodate)
  • Lime juice concentrate
  • Xanthan gum
  • Dehydrated cilantro
  • Garlic powder
  • Ascorbic acid (to help protect flavor)
  • Citric acid (to acidify)
  • Sodium erythorbate
  • Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Blue 1

Sabra Guacamole Singles Classic

Ingredients include:21

  • Hass avocado
  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Jalapeno pepper
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Lime juice concentrate
  • Dehydrated onion
  • Cilantro
  • Ascorbic acid (to maintain freshness)

Yucatan Authentic Guacamole

This product contains:22

  • Organic Hass avocados
  • Sea salt
  • Organic onion
  • Organic garlic powder
  • Organic sugar
  • Ascorbic acid (to preserve freshness)
  • Xanthan gum
  • Organic jalapeño peppers
  • Citric acid (to preserve freshness)

That’s it for guacamole. Thanks for reading.

You may also want to check out the following articles:

References

  1. “Oxford Dictionary” https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/guac
  2. “Guac | Definition of guac in English by Oxford Dictionaries”. Oxford Dictionaries | English.
  3. Zeldes, Leah A. (November 4, 2009). “Eat this! Guacamole, a singing sauce, on its day”. Dining Chicago. Chicago’s Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc. http://www.diningchicago.com/blog/
  4. Beard, James; Bittman, Mark (September 4, 2007). Beard on Food: The Best Recipes and Kitchen Wisdom from the Dean of American Cooking. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. pp. 86–87. ISBN 978-1-59691-446-9.
  5. Smith, Andrew F. (May 1, 2007). The Oxford companion to American food and drink. Oxford University Press. pp. 144–146. ISBN 978-0-19-530796-2.
  6. “The best guacamole recipe”. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/best-guacamole-recipe-2017-5
  7. Eats, Serious. “The Best Guacamole (and the Science of Avocados) | The Food Lab.” https://www.seriouseats.com/2012/01/the-food-lab-the-best-guacamole-avocados-science-browning-ripening.html
  8. “What’s in a name?”. University of California. http://ucavo.ucr.edu/General/HistoryName.html
  9. Chen, H.; Morrell, P. L.; Ashworth, V. E. T. M.; de la Cruz, M.; Clegg, M. T. (2008). “Tracing the Geographic Origins of Major Avocado Cultivars”. Journal of Heredity. 100 (1): 56–65. doi:10.1093/jhered/esn068. PMID 18779226.
  10. Galindo-Tovar, et al (2007). “The avocado (Persea americana, Lauraceae) crop in Mesoamerica: 10,000 years of history” (PDF). Harvard Papers in Botany. 12 (2): 325–334, page 325. doi:10.3100/1043-4534(2007)12[325:TAPALC]2.0.CO;2. JSTOR 41761865. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 10, 2015.
  11. Callaway, Ewen (12 September 2012). “Soapy taste of coriander linked to genetic variants”. Nature News. doi:10.1038/nature.2012.11398. https://www.nature.com/news/soapy-taste-of-coriander-linked-to-genetic-variants-1.11398
  12. “Green Pea Guacamole”. The New York Times. https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015047-green-pea-guacamole?smid=tw-nytimes&regi=1&join_cooking_newsletter=true&register=facebook
  13. Guacamole. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guacamole#Ingredients
  14. Avocado Cream Sauce. https://barefeetinthekitchen.com/avocado-sauce-recipe/
  15. Mild Guacamole: | Yucatan Foods. https://avocado.com/products/mild/
  16. EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources (14 July 2017). “Re‐evaluation of xanthan gum (E 415) as a food additive”. EFSA Journal. European Food Safety Authority. 15 (2): e04909. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2017.4909.
  17. Tortora, G.J., Funke, B.R., & Case, C.L. (2010). Microbiology: An Introduction, 10th edition. San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings. Pg. 801.
  18. Freshness Guaranteed Guacamole, Mild, 8 oz. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Freshness-Guaranteed-Guacamole-Mild-8-oz/533767006
  19. Wholly Guacamole Minis Classic Mild, 6 count, 2 oz. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Wholly-Guacamole-Minis-Classic-Mild-6-count-2-oz/10416257
  20. Herdez Mild Guacamole Salsa – Shop Salsa & Dip At H-e-b. https://www.heb.com/product-detail/herdez-mild-guacamole-salsa/2184421
  21. Sabra Classic Singles Guacamole (2 Oz) from Giant Food. https://www.instacart.com/giant/products/2596344-sabra-classic-singles-guacamole-2-oz
  22. Organic: | Yucatan Foods. https://avocado.com/products/organic/

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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