Vegan Natural Sweeteners

The vegan natural sweetener market has expanded considerably over the last decade. They provide a much healthier alternative to refined, white sugar and high fructose corn syrup, and – in my opinion – many of them also taste much better than the refined sugars.

White sugar is a big no for vegans, since it contains crushed animal bones, to achieve the pretty white color.

High fructose corn syrup is known to present a health risk, since it has been associated with increased risk of obesity, heart disease, fatty liver disease, diabetes, and cancer. Unfortunately, corn syrup is found in many products. So to avoid it, it is important to read the ingredients of any product you buy, and it is best to stay away from sodas. Most of them are loaded with corn syrup.

Some vegan sweeteners are agave nectar, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, stevia, coconut sugar, dates or date syrup, and organic brown sugar.

Let’s look at each one to see their pros and cons.

Agave nectar is juice from agave plant leaves. I live in Mexico and this sweetener is widely available here, due to an abundance of agave plants. It has a delicious flavor. I’m also lucky enough to be able to buy this from local, organic producers. 🙂

vegan natural sweeteners

Maple syrup comes from maple trees. The trees are tapped and sap is extracted. Then it is heated to concentrate syrup. Maple syrup can be expensive, but it has a nice, smooth flavor and it also contains potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, and manganese.

maple syrup

Brown rice syrup: cooked rice is cultured with enzymes and concentrated. Basically, the rice starch from the grains is broken down which creates digestible sugars. The downside is that it has a high calorie content, and there is a risk of arsenic.

Stevia. This comes from the Stevia plant. The leaves are dried, filtered, and purified. It dissolves very easily in liquids such as tea or coffee. Personally, I find the taste of Stevia too sweet, but is a favorite among many, and it also is a healthy alternative to conventional sugar.

stevia plant

Coconut sugar is also a good, natural alternative to refined sugars. It comes from the coconut tree, more specifically from the liquid sap in the coconut flower. Coconut sugar even retains some healthy nutrients from the palm tree such as potassium, zinc, iron, and calcium.

Dates enhance the flavor of desserts and smoothies, adding a rich, sweet essence. You can do this yourself by just grinding dates with a little water in the food processor, and you’ll get a nice syrupy content.

This is probably the safest natural sweetener so far, since it is made at home from dried dates. Nothing can go wrong here can it? You are in control of the process when you make date syrup.


What about brown sugar? Unfortunately, it is not vegan, because some animal bone char is still used in the creation process. However, organic brown sugar is vegan, since it does not go through that refining procedure and therefore it contains no crushed animal bones. So, if you want to buy brown sugar, make sure it is organic. 🙂

When you pick your sweetener and you have doubts or certain health conditions, please consult with your doctor or dietitian first.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

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10 thoughts on “Vegan Natural Sweeteners”

  1. Crushed Animal Bones?? I had no idea that sugar had bones in it. I personally like the product called Sugar in the Raw. Now I m going to need to check out the ingredients to make sure there is nothing but raw sugar cane in it. I have never heard of brown rice sugar or coconut sugar. Do you know if the date sweetener dissolves in hot drinks like tea?

    • Hi Greg,

      Date syrup will not dissolve in hot drinks. It is better for desserts and smoothies. For hot drinks like tea and coffee I recommend stevia and organic brown sugar.
      Sugar in the Raw is probably raw cane sugar. I have not used this product, but a company has to advertise what they sell, so if they are claiming that their product is raw sugar, then it should indeed be raw and so it has not gone through the refining process. It is best to check the ingredients, though, just to be sure 😉

  2. Hey there, thanks for talking out time and writing this article I don’t really know much about vegan natural sweetener but with what I have read on this article I think and through this article I just found out that white sugar is a big no vegans and what they’re supposed to take which are coconut syrup or dates/date syrup.and through the cause of my reading I just found out that this mentioned sweeteners are the best anyone can ever think of 

    • Hi Sophia,

      Yes, those mentioned sweeteners are much better than the refined versions. White sugar and corn syrup are processed and unhealthier.

      Thank you for your comment!

  3. Fascinating article, I never knew that about bones! I agree people are only just understanding choice and they are never as easy as we think they are. The whole food thing need to be made much more simple. You think one thing is fine to eat only to discover its not. I have a similar battle with alcohol in food. Thanks for allowing me to learn something new today.

    • Hi,
      I agree, it needs to be made more simple and I think it should be made clear to the public what ingredients certain products have. I’m glad my article was useful to you.
      Thank you for your comment!

  4. Hi Christine,

    I’m really pleased that I came across this article and your website as my girlfriend is vegan, and I would love to help her with new ideas. I have forwarded this article onto her and I have encouraged her to comment.

    I will definitely come back as I want some ideas myself that I could make some nice vegan food as a surprise for my girlfriend 🙂

    Thank you for sharing and keep up the amazing work.

    All the best,


  5. Super Nice Website!

    So animal bones in sugar, I didn’t know that. I wish you would go further into the topic.

    You did not include honey on your list. Could it be that it is not vegan? I personally use it in my coffee to stay away from refined sugars.

    The only criticism I have for your site is the layout. Although it’s a very clean template, I wish you had a search menu or recent posts on your left side bar. The available real estate can be used for affiliate links.

    I cannot offer you any experience with the topic since I am not vegan, although I rarely eat meat.

    Having an active lifestyle and physical work, I consume my protein in the form of eggs. My sister went vegan and it took her quite awhile to make the switch.

    I don’t know if I would ever go full vegan, but keeping a good healthy serving of vegetables is part of my diet.

    Also, eating healthier, with more greens than meat, saves me money on my grocery bill.

    • Hi Chris,

      Thank you for your comment! In fact, there is a search bar and a “recent posts” menu in the right side bar, I’m surprised it did not appear… perhaps it didn’t load? 

      I did not include honey in my list, because it is not vegan. Some vegans still consume it, but it comes from bees, so it isn’t considered a vegan sweetener. 

      Good for you that you are eating more veggies than meat. It sounds like you are following a healthy diet 🙂

      Have a nice day!


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