Today, we will discuss gum Arabic or Acacia gum, which is the usual ingredient in processed foods nowadays. Several vegan people see this additive element while checking the box labels and like to find out whether it’s appropriate for 100% plant-based eaters. By the way, it is also known with other names, even as gum Sudani, Senegal gum, and Indian gum.
Is it vegan? Yes, gum Arabic, or Acacia gum, is 100% vegan-friendly. It’s a natural gum made of the hardened sap of many species of the tree called Acacia. It’s an intricate combination of several elements like glycoproteins and polysaccharides, which are 100% derived from plants.
We will check here different reasons for gum Arabic to be thought of as a vegan product, and also provides use of this element for both vegan and non-vegan purposes. Since Acacia gum and gum Arabic are having the same meaning, we may use both words interchangeably.
Table of Contents
Why Gum Arabic Is Considered Vegan
Gum Arabic consists of a variety of compounds, many of which can be seen in both plants and animals. But, because it’s taken from tree sap, it’s always plant-derived and hence vegan.
It’s mostly made from Acacia species, mostly Vachelliaor Acacia seyal and Acacia senega.
Sometimes, gum Arabic can also be obtained from Albizia, Combretum, or some other genus.
At a commercial level, the gum is made from wild trees, at least about 80% of the time from Sudan, Senegal to Somalia, Arabia, and West Asia.
It generally consists of galactose, arabinose, and arabinogalactan-protein complex or AGP. Other compounds include glucuronic acid and rhamnose.
Galacturonic acid is a type of sugar acid that has galactose in it. So, there’s the right quantity of galactose being used.
Galactose is a primary sugar that gets a lousy little status among vegan people. It is a part of lactose, which is a pure sugar found in milk. Lactose consists of one glucose tied to one galactose, i.e., two monosaccharides.
Free galactose is hardly found in nature. It’s mostly available in milk tied to glucose or seen as part of pectin in fruits and vegetables.
So, if you come to know that gum Arabic has galactose, don’t feel worried.
Gum Arabic in Vegan Foods
Gum Arabic is only one of many types of gums based on plants, with other examples like carob bean gum, algin, carrageenan, guar gum, locust bean, gum karaya, and gum tragacanth.
Vegan Ice Cream and Other Desserts
These elements can absorb water to increase their size to many times their original one. This improved the viscosity of the food products they’re added to, which is simply a unique way of saying it makes foods thicker, i.e. if any product has a higher viscosity, it will come out of a container very slowly.
Because of this and many other reasons, gum Arabic is a choice additive for use in vegan ice creams. It also helps in avoiding the development of ice crystals. It’s also added in non-vegan ice cream for similar purposes.
Vegan-Friendly Candy (Coatings, Gum Drops, Etc.)
It doesn’t matter that worms aren’t vegan, but we’d be disillusioned if all gummy worms were beyond the limits. But here, this isn’t the case.
Gum Arabic is known as a gummy exudate of Acacia plants
So, it’s not a surprise that this element is an obvious choice of the food industry for preparing adhesive products.
It is a usual thickener,therefore it is used as a good texturizer while making cakes.
This is good news because it replaces usual animal-derived ingredients (gelatin and egg albumin). Well, Gelatin is an animal-derived protein prepared by boiling and simmering animal tissues like skin, bone, hooves, etc. in water.
With the help of food scientists, many such plant-based items have replaced the gelatin used recently.
It’s processed in some food products, and this will give you a rough idea.
Non-Vegan Applications of Gum Arabic
Simply because an element is vegan, it doesn’t mean that all the uses of the substance are suitable for 100% plant-based eaters.
Gum Arabic is one of the examples. It stabilizes flavor, emulsifies, forms film, and added in beverages mainly to help improve mouthfeel.
Since it has some uses, you’ll see this ingredient on labels of many food products, both vegan and non-vegan.
It’s used explicitly in candy coating, icing, non-vegan ice creams, and beverages.
If you’ve taken homemade ice cream before becoming vegan, you may have noticed that it has less volume than ice cream bought from the stores. To get the extra capacity, factories use gelatin, or plant-based gums like gum Acacia as well as cellulose gum, guar, carrageenan, agar-agar, alginate, karaya, furcellaran, tragacanth, locust bean, and xanthan.
Gelatin and similar plant gums add to the volume, which helps the ice cream avoid melting for a longer time and formation of ice crystals.
When ice cream is kept for a long duration of time, the frequent opening and closing of doors lead to ice crystals formation because of temperature variations. When gum Arabic is processed, the freshly melted water ties to the gum, which stops it from binding to existing ice crystals, halting the increase of crystals over time.
It also reduces the costs of manufacturing in buying dairy creams, because it decreases the quantity of cream required to maintain a smooth body.
That was the fact file for the vegan status of gum Arabic. Thanks for reading.
You may also want to check out the following related articles:
- Mortensen et al. (2017). “Re‐evaluation of Acacia gum (E 414) as a food additive”. EFSA Journal. 15 (4). ISSN 1831-4732. https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.2903/j.efsa.2017.4741
- Gum Arabic. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gum_arabic
- Acacia Senegal (L.) Willd. Kew Science. http://powo.science.kew.org/taxon/urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:471439-1
- Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 45). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011. ISBN-10: 0-538-73498-1
- Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 40). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011. ISBN-10: 0-538-73498-1
- Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 271). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011. ISBN-10: 0-538-73498-1
- Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page F-2). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011. ISBN-10: 0-538-73498-1