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Choosing gravy can be a bit of a minefield for vegans and vegetarians. While gravy was traditionally made from meat juices and used to pour over a Sunday dinner, modern gravy granules are often made only from plant-based ingredients.
So, are Bisto gravy granules vegan? The answer depends on which variety of vegan gravy you choose, and also on how strict of a vegan you are.
Is Bisto vegan?
Bisto original, onion and vegetable gravy granules are generally suitable for vegans as they do not contain any animal ingredients. However, very strict vegans may wish to avoid Bisto gravy as the manufacturers cannot guarantee that there is no cross-contamination between animal and non-animal ingredients.
Is Bisto vegetarian?
Some Bisto gravy granules are suitable for vegetarians. These are Bisto original, Bisto vegetable, Bisto onion and Bisto Southern style. The Bisto Best vegetable and Bisto Best onion varieties are also vegetarian.
Why might Bisto not be suitable for vegans?
Bisto gravy is not marked as being suitable for vegans. I got in touch with Premier Food, the company which makes Bisto, and asked them if Bisto is vegan. This was their response:
As a responsible manufacturer, we are committed to providing accurate information on the labelling of our products. It is our policy that a product labelled as ‘vegan’ means that the product is not made from or contains ingredients derived from animals, has not been contaminated with non-vegan foods and that we can demonstrate this via scientific testing. Products meeting this policy will carry a “vegan” flash on the pack.Faye Smith, Customer Relations Adviser, Premier Foods
Whilst Bisto does not carry a ‘vegan’ flash on the pack, most vegans would deem that it is in fact suitable for a vegan diet. But as with many things, it’s a grey area, so here’s some more information to help you decide for yourself.
There are three reasons why strict vegans may which to avoid Bisto gravy:
Bisto gravy is made in the same factory as non-vegan products and the manufacturers are unable to demonstrate via scientific testing that there is no cross-contamination. However, factory machinery is cleaned between jobs, so if any animal products do end up in the gravy, they would only be present in very small amounts.
Most vegans accept this risk of cross-contamination as it is something that happens a lot and is difficult to avoid. However, if you have a severe milk allergy, you should avoid Bisto gravy.
Read more: Is food that ‘may contain milk’ vegan?
2. Palm oil
Bisto gravy contains palm oil. Some vegans choose to avoid palm oil because unsustainable palm oil production causes deforestation. However, palm oil is in itself vegan and when it’s sustainably sourced it doesn’t have the same negative impact on the environment.
Premier Foods is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and since 2015 has sourced 100% of its palm oil from sustainable sources (Source).
Therefore, the use of palm oil should not be a reason for vegans to avoid Bisto.
Bisto gravy contains the flavour enhancer E635, which is also known as ‘disodium 5-ribonucleotide.’
E635 can be made from plants or animals. The E635 that Premier Foods use in Bisto is derived from a vegetable source and so it is suitable for vegans. The use of E635 is not a reason for vegans to avoid Bisto gravy.
Which varieties of Bisto gravy are suitable for vegans and vegetarians?
There are currently 18 varieties of Bisto gravy. The table below lists them all, along with which are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
|Bisto gravy||Packaging colour||Is it vegan?||Is it vegetarian?|
|Bisto Favourite Gravy Granules||Red||Yes||Yes|
|Bisto Vegetable Gravy Granules||Green||Yes||Yes|
|Bisto Chicken Gravy Granules||Orange||No||No|
|Bisto Onion Gravy Granules||Brown||Yes||Yes|
|Bisto Turkey Gravy Granules||Purple||No||No|
|Bisto Reduced Salt Gravy Granules||Red||Yes||Yes|
|Bisto Reduced Salt Chicken Gravy Granules||Orange||No||No|
|Bisto Best Beef Gravy||Red||No||No|
|Bisto Best Vegetable Gravy||Green||Yes||Yes|
|Bisto Best Chicken Gravy||Orange||No||No|
|Bisto Best Onion Gravy||Brown||Yes||Yes|
|Bisto Best Lamb Gravy||Green||No||No|
|Bisto Best Pork Gravy||Blue||No||No|
|Bisto Best 25% Less Salt Beef Gravy||Red||No||No|
|Bisto Gravy Pots||Red||Yes||Yes|
|Bisto Original Gravy Powder||Brown||Yes||Yes|
|Bisto Southern Style Gravy Granules||Red, White & Blue||Yes||Yes|
|Bisto Gluten Free Gravy Granules||Red & Green||Yes||Yes|
Vegan gravy granules
If you’re a strict vegan who wishes to avoid anything that may have potentially come into contact with animal products, then you should look out for gravy granules which are marked on the packaging as being suitable for vegans.
These gravy granules are 100% vegan:
- Free and Easy vegetable gravy
- Goldenfry gravy granules for beef
- Kallo organic gravy granules
- Marigold instant gravy granules
- Marigold organic vegetarian gravy powder
- Orgran gluten-free gravy mix
- Sainsbury’s Free From gravy granules for beef
- Tesco vegetable gravy granules
- Tesco onion gravy granules
There are currently 18 varieties of Bisto gravy, of which ten are suitable for vegans and vegetarians. None of these are marked as being suitable for vegans as there is a risk of cross-contamination with animal products.
If you decide that you are happy to accept this risk as a vegan, then you can enjoy Bisto gravy. However, if you would prefer to avoid all potential cross-contamination or have food alergies then there are other brands of vegan gravy granules which you should buy instead.