Are Flour Tortillas Vegan?


flour tortillas vegan

In this article, we will talk about the wheat flour Tortillas. It is mainly prepared as white in restaurants but is also available in several different colors, e.g., brown color with whole wheat and green color with spinach. But we think the readers are referring to the white Tortillas.

Are they vegan? Yes, flour tortillas are vegan in general. They’re prepared with flour, water, and some additives. While some extra careful vegans may like to avoid enzymes or preservatives mostly used in bread making, the mere presence of those ingredients don’t make foods non-vegan.

Here we will check the various reasons flour tortillas are vegan. We will also mention some tortillas available in the market that are 100% suitable for vegans.

Why Flour Tortillas Are Generally Considered Vegan

Wheat Flour Is Vegan

This is true for both white flour and whole grain. Ever since people came to know about the use of bone char in white sugar, all the white powder-like ingredients started to look suspicious to everybody.

According to the Vegan Society, at some time, people claimed that bone char was used in white flour also, but those claims were quickly dismissed.

Bone char is mostly used to remove impurities of sugar, since raw, and unprocessed sugar is brown. The brown part of wheat flour consists of the germ and bran fibers and not due to impurities. When the germ and bran are physically removed, we are left with the white, starchy endosperm. This is how you get white flour.

To make it extra white, the factories often bleach the flour, but that process also does not make use of any animal products.

Flour Tortillas Typically Use Vegan-Friendly Additives

But that was not true earlier when some recipes were known for using the lard. Lard is another name for hog fat. It’s sometimes listed on food labels as animal shortening.

Anyway, it was a source of saturated fat in applications like bread making.

However, you may see lard being used by general tortillas makers but not in the commercial varieties found in grocery stores.

We are yet to see any such foodstuff, and we have been checking various ingredient panels of tortillas and flatbreads.

Like lard, milk is also one more animal product that you may see being used in some tortilla recipes. But again, it is much less likely to be seen in commercially available tortillas.

Commercial Vegan Flour Tortillas

Old El Paso Flour Tortilla Shells

These contain

    • Enriched Flour Bleached (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
    • Water
    • Vegetable Shortening (Palm Oil, Canola, and Soybean Oil)
    • Glycerin*

 

  • Baking Powder (Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Baking Soda)
  • Mono and Diglycerides*
  • Salt
  • Potassium Sorbate and Calcium Propionate (Preservatives)
  • Fumaric Acid
  • Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Soybean, Palm and Cottonseed)
  • Dough Conditioner (Salt, Wheat Starch, Enzymes)

*Glycerin appears several times as being a potentially non-vegan ingredient.

This additive is usually sourced from plant sources; it’s in any case obtained from the glycerol backbone of triglycerides (TGs), which may potentially be derived from both plant seeds and animal tissue.

PETA has included this compound and its derivatives like monoglycerides and diglycerides in its list of ingredients derived from animals and believes that it can potentially be of animal origin.

PETA also stresses that vegans should not be too concerned with such ingredients. They’re mostly vegan-friendly, and there is no way of finding the origin of these derivatives.

We just need to understand that the mere presence of glycerin doesn’t make food products non-vegan.

Old El Paso Burrito Tortillas

The ingredients include

  • Enriched Flour Bleached (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
  • Water
  • Vegetable Shortening (Palm Oil, Canola, and Soybean Oil)
  • Glycerin
  • Leaveners—Baking Powder (Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Baking Soda)
  • Monoglycerides and Diglycerides
  • Salt
  • Potassium Sorbate and Calcium Propionate (Preservatives)
  • Fumaric Acid
  • Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Soybean, Palm and Cottonseed)
  • Dough Conditioner (Salt, Wheat Starch, Enzymes*).

*Enzymes are also listed in PETA’s documentation of animal ingredients.

But the enzymes used in making bread products like tortillas are alpha-amylases, which Vegan Resource Group (VRG) lists as a vegan ingredient.

They may be obtained from animal sources, but they are generally manufactured from bacteria and fungi.

These enzymes are useful in better product quality, baking properties, and avoid staling of Tortillas

Mission Fajita Flour Tortillas

These contain

  • Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, and Folic Acid)
  • Water
  • Vegetable Shortening (Interesterified Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, and Palm Oil)
  • Salt and Sugar
  • Leavening Agents (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium AluminumSulfate, Cornstarch, Monocalcium Phosphate, and Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, and Calcium Sulfate)
  • Distilled Monoglycerides
  • Enzymes
  • Wheat Starch
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Antioxidants (Tocopherols*, Ascorbic Acid, and Citric Acid)
  • Cellulose Gum and Guar Gum**
  • Dough Conditioners (Fumaric Acid, Sodium Metabisulfite, and Mono- and Diglycerides)
  • Calcium Propionate
  • Sorbic Acid

*Tocopherol is also called vitamin E, a plant-based vitamin. Tocopherols can be derived from plants only or can be synthesized chemically. Hence, they are always vegan.

**Guar gum and cellulose gum are also known as carboxymethyl cellulose, or CMC are both derived from plants. The first one is produced from the guar bean, while the second one is a cellulose derivative which is the insoluble fibrous element naturally available in vegetables and some plants. Both are always vegan.

Guerrero Caseras Fajita Flour Tortillas

These contain

  • Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, and Folic Acid)
  • Water
  • Vegetable Shortening (Interesterified Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, and Palm Oil)
  • Salt and Sugar
  • Leavening Agents (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium AluminumSulfate, Cornstarch, Monocalcium Phosphate, and Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, and Calcium Sulfate)
  • Distilled Monoglycerides
  • Enzymes
  • Wheat Starch
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Antioxidants (Tocopherols, Citric Acid, and Ascorbic Acid)
  • Cellulose and Guar Gums
  • Other Leavening Agents (Fumaric Acid, Sodium Metabisulfite, and Mono- and Diglycerides)
  • Calcium Propionate and Sorbic Acid

No problems found here.

Ultimately, most flour tortillas will qualify as vegan. And the above examples give you a rough idea of what’s out there.

Anyway, that was the fact file of the vegan status of flour tortillas. Thanks for reading.

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

References

  1. Sarah Cook cracks out her top tips and favorite recipes this National Baking Week. https://www.vegansociety.com/whats-new/blog/all-you-need-know-about-successful-vegan-baking
  2. (3 Pack) Old El Paso Flour Tortilla Shells, 10 Count, 8.2 oz. https://www.walmart.com/ip/3-Pack-Old-El-Paso-Flour-Tortilla-Shells-10-Count-8-2-oz/348317296
  3. Glycerol Production. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycerol#Production
  4. Animal-derived Ingredients Resource: Living. https://www.peta.org/living/food/animal-ingredients-list/
  5. (3 Pack) Old El Paso Flour Tortilla Shells, 8 Ct, 11 oz Box. https://www.walmart.com/ip/3-Pack-Old-El-Paso-Flour-Tortilla-Shells-8-Ct-11-oz-Box/218015695
  6. Questions About Food Ingredients. https://www.vrg.org/nutshell/faqingredients.htm#amylase
  7. Amylase. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amylase#%CE%B1-Amylase
  8. Bakery Enzymes in Tortilla Applications (Effect of Enzymes on Tortillas). https://www.tortilla-info.com/downloads/Europe%2018/Agha%20-%20Bakery%20Enzymes%20in%20Tortilla%20Applications.pdf
  9. Mission Fajita Flour Tortillas, 20 Count (23 oz.). https://www.walmart.com/ip/Mission-Fajita-Flour-Tortillas-20-Count-23-oz/14123550
  10. Guerrero Caseras Fajita Flour Tortillas, 20 Count. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Guerrero-Caseras-Fajita-Flour-Tortillas-20-Count/20434347

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