There are few meals that aren’t enhanced by a condiment of some sort, whether vinegar on your chips, mustard on your nut roast or teriyaki sauce on your barbecue aubergine. A condiment is essentially anything you add to a food or dish during cooking but more commonly at the table, with the aim of adding or enhancing flavour. This can cover anything from sauces, pickles and chutneys to vinegars and salt and pepper (though these latter two are commonly classed as seasonings).
In this article, we will give you all you need to know about which of the most popular condiments in the UK are vegan friendly and which are not. We will also present a list of vegan-friendly alternatives for any non-vegan condiments. First, we’ll run through the most popular condiments, so you can see which ones vegans should avoid and which they can slather all over their triple-cooked sweet potato fries without hesitation.
Vegan Alternatives for Non-Vegan Condiments
Unfortunately there are quite a few mainstream condiments that are not okay for vegans, including Worcestershire sauce, which is rather gutting. The good news, though, is that there are some very good vegan-friendly alternatives for almost all non-vegan condiments, as we outline below.
Aioli – Not Usually Vegan
Made predominantly from garlic and olive oil, aioli often contains egg yolks as a further emulsifier and hence is not suitable for vegans. There are debates over the differences between regional variations of this tasty favourite, including alioli (or allioli!), with Catalan versions likely to be a simple mix of garlic, oil and salt. If you prefer the slightly richer flavour of the Provençal style condiment, fear not. Luckily, there are some decent vegan-friendly alternatives being produced, and, of course, you could make your own version if you have the inclination.
Top Vegan Alternative: Follow Your Heart Garlic Aioli Veganaise | Available From: GreenBay Supermarket, The Vegan Kind Supermarket
Barbecue Sauce – Mostly Vegan
Used as a sauce or marinade for a range of foods but often associated with barbecued food, the ingredients vary and many are naturally vegan friendly, but check labels as sometimes non-vegan ingredients can find their way into products.
Top Vegan Alternative: There are enough vegan-friendly barbecue sauces on the market (e.g. Tesco’s own brand versions) for this not to be a major issue, but making your own is fairly straightforward using ketchup as a base and adding whatever spices you fancy, such as smoky paprika and cayenne pepper, some cider vinegar, some maple syrup – in short, experiment and refine according to your taste.
Béarnaise Sauce – Not Vegan
Made with eggs and butter, this classic sauce of French cuisine is simply not going to be available to those seeking to follow a vegan diet. But, like with many foods, good quality vegan alternatives are being developed all the time.
Top Vegan Alternative: Inspired Vegan Béarnaise Style Sauce | Available From: Ocado, The Vegan Kind Supermarket
Chocolate Spread – Not Vegan
Chocolate spread might not be considered to be a condiment by some people but we view it as a sweet one. And, we love chocolate (read our feature on vegan chocolate)! Most varieties of conventional chocolate spread contain milk or milk derivatives, but as most vegans will know, there are some increasingly satisfying vegan-friendly chocolate products out there, including vegan chocolate spread.
Top Vegan Alternative: Biona Vegan Dark Chocolate Spread, Available From: GreenBay Supermarket
Fish Sauce – Not Vegan
Made from fermented fish, fish sauce is clearly not okay for vegans to consume. But, you’re probably getting the gist of this by now, as there are readymade vegan alternatives on the shelf of your favourite vegan-friendly supermarket.
Top Vegan Alternative: Thai Taste – Vegan ‘Fish’ Sauce | Available From: GreenBay Supermarket, The Vegan Kind Supermarket
Fry Sauce/Marie Rose – Not Vegan
A mixture of tomato ketchup and mayonnaise, and often other ingredients, the mayonnaise renders these sauces as unsuitable for vegans because they contain egg. Marie Rose, also sometimes called seafood sauce, may also contain Worcestershire sauce. The obvious solution here is simply to use your favourite vegan-friendly mayonnaise in place of the standard egg-infested version (we give our favourite in the mayonnaise section below). See Mayonnaise below.
Top Vegan Alternative: Inspired Vegan – Marie Rose Sauce | Available From: The Vegan Kind Supermarket
Hollandaise Sauce – Not Vegan
Usually contains egg yolk and butter, like béarnaise sauce, this is another of the so-called mother sauces of French cuisine. And, like béarnaise, there is a very reasonable readymade alternative that is vegan friendly.
Top Vegan Alternative: Inspired Vegan – Hollandaise Style Sauce | Available From: Ocado, The Vegan Kind Supermarket
Honey – Not Vegan
Technically a condiment or not, honey exploits and potentially harms bees. For further details, check out our article on Is Honey Vegan? for the full lowdown on vegan honey alternatives, which will vary depending on what you specifically want to us it for (e.g. an ingredient in baking, on toast, in tea – the possibilities are endless).
One of the best all-round honey alternatives is agave nectar, and the sweet liquid that comes from the agave plant is available from most supermarkets.
Top Vegan Alternative: Agave Nectar | Available From: Most Supermarkets
Horseradish Sauce – Sometimes Vegan
Made from grated horseradish, vinegar and often other ingredients, some varieties include cream or sour cream, making it non-vegan. Making your own is easy enough using fresh horseradish and a non-dairy addition of your choice. Once again, there are a range of excellent ready-made vegan alternatives.
Top Vegan Alternative: Biona Organic Horseradish Relish | Available From: Planet Organic
Mayonnaise – Not Vegan
Because it contains eggs, mayonnaise is unsuitable for vegans, though there are plenty of vegan-friendly alternatives available either in the free-from aisle in most supermarkets or from more specialist food retailers.
Top Vegan Alternative: Geo Organics, Organic Vegan Mayonnaise | Available From: The Vegan Kind Supermarket
Pesto – Not Vegan
As well as pine nuts and basil, traditional pesto also includes some kind of hard cheese, which means it isn’t vegan, as explained in detail in our Is Pesto Vegan? article. As we explain in that article, it’s really quite simple to rustle up your own vegan-friendly pesto by either using vegan cheese or adding a little more salt and oil than usual. If that doesn’t appeal, you can pick up dairy-free pesto in most supermarkets.
Top Vegan Alternative: Organico – Vegan Pesto | Available From: The Vegan Kind Supermarket
Salad Cream– Not Vegan
Whilst you might imagine that the main offender in salad cream would be cream, it’s actually the inclusion of egg that renders it non-vegan. Unfortunately, the salad cream of choice for many made by the beloved Heinz is not vegan for this very reason.
But, fear not! Because there are a fair few decent vegan salad creams on the market that forego the egg, opting for ingredients, such as xanthan gum (vegan!), potato protein and maize starch instead. Whilst Asda and Tesco do a vegan-friendly version, we recommend Sacla’. And, Heinz, if you’re reading this, we’re waiting patiently for a vegan-friendly version, so get to work!
Top Vegan Alternative: Sacla’ Vegan Salad Cream | Available From: Tesco, TheVeganKind Supermarket, Ocado
Sour Cream – Not Vegan
Made from (usually cow’s) milk, so it is, of course, not vegan. Making your own vegan-friendly sour cream is certainly a good option, which you can do from cashew nuts, for example. Or if you just want to get hold of a pot of the stuff to add to your vegan fajitas, there are a couple of fine options around, though not as many as for some other condiments.
Top Vegan Alternative: Green Vie – Sour Cream Spread | Available From: The Vegan Kind Supermarket
Tartar Sauce – Not Vegan
A popular condiment with fish and seafood dishes (which aren’t vegan!), tartar (sometimes tartare) sauce is made of mayonnaise and capers, among other things, and the egg in the mayonnaise renders it unsuitable for vegans. Luckily the folk at Inspired Vegan have saved us the need to make our own vegan version and this goes brilliantly with the increasing range of fish-free “fish” products.
Top Vegan Alternative: Inspired Vegan Tartare Sauce | Available From: Ocado, The Vegan Kind Supermarket
Truffle Oil – Not Strictly Vegan
Despite the truffle itself being a fungus and thus vegan, the process of finding truffles often relies on dogs or pigs, some of whom are bred and kept for that purpose, hence some argue the animals are being exploited and so truffles (and truffle oil) cannot be vegan.
Some truffles are found without the use of animals, and these would be fine for vegans, so if you can seek them out, then it’s all good. If not, the unique nature of truffles means that if you are taking the vegan vows to the letter, the exploitation of animals required to find these culinary treats means you will have to give them a miss.
Tzatziki – Not Vegan
Yoghurt is a primary ingredient of Tzatziki, and yoghurt comes from milk which comes from animals, hence tzatziki isn’t vegan. However it’s really easy to make your own using vegan-friendly yoghurt, e.g. soya-based yoghurt, along with diced cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, a few fresh mint leaves and a little salt and pepper.
Worcestershire Sauce – Not Vegan
We are sorry to say that Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies and so vegans should give it a miss, even in Bloody Marys!
Top Vegan Alternative: Chilli Mash Co – VWorcs – Anchovy Free Worcestershire Sauce | Available From: The Vegan Kind Supermarket
Which Condiments Are Vegan Friendly?
In case vegans are beginning to panic that they’ll have to scrabble around the kitchen for ingredients to make a vegan-friendly version of virtually every single condiment going, fear not. Here is a list of the condiments that are naturally vegan friendly.
As ever, it’s always a good idea to check labels as ingredients change, and if there is anything ambiguous on a label, contacting the manufacturer for clarification can bring peace of mind. In general though, vegans are fine to consume the following condiments.
|Condiment||Is It Vegan?||Notes|
|Chilli Oil||Yes||Made by infusing a neutral oil with chilli peppers|
|Chilli Sauce/Hot Pepper Sauce||Yes – Usually||As with barbecue sauce, the ingredients of chilli sauce can vary, but they are generally vegan friendly|
|Compote||Yes||Made from fruit and sugar, as long as the sugar is vegan friendly (as most is these days) this is fine|
|Fruit Preserves & Jams||Yes||Made from fruit and sugar, unless some non-vegan preservative has been added, these will be fine for vegans|
|Jalapeños||Yes||A chilli pepper that often comes in jars, sliced and pickled|
|HP Brown Sauce||Yes||Made from tomatoes, vinegar, molasses, dates, rye, spices and sugar, HP Brown Sauce is vegan and this iconic condiment is great as part of a vegan fry up|
|Mango Chutney||Yes||Made from mango, sugar, chillies, garlic and various spices, unless there are non-vegan additives or it has been cooked in animal fat, mango chutney is fine for vegans|
|Maple Syrup||Yes||Pure maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees and hence is fine for vegans, but beware of any non-vegan additives in some brands of ‘maple-flavoured syrup’|
|Marmite||Yes||Made from yeast extract, Marmite is not only vegan friendly, it is a great source of B vitamins|
|Mint Sauce||Yes||Traditional condiment for lamb, vegans can utilise mint sauce on whatever plant-based food they fancy, as mint sauce is almost always vegan friendly|
|Miso||Yes||Made by fermenting soybeans, miso usually comes in the form of a paste that can be used to add flavour to soups, casseroles or other dishes, and is fine for vegans|
|Mustard||Yes – Usually||Made from the crushed seeds of the mustard plant, most types of mustard (and there are many), are fine for vegans unless they have had non-vegan ingredients added, such as honey or dairy products|
|Nutritional Yeast||Yes||Yeast is neither plant nor animal, it hails from the Fungi kingdom, and hence it is fine for vegans to consume, and is a good source of Vitamin B12, as well as protein and fibre|
|Peanut Butter||Yes||Usually made from peanuts, sugar, vegetable oil and salt, almost all peanut butter is vegan, as long as the sugar wasn’t refined using bone char, and there are no additional non-vegan ingredients added (e.g. honey)|
|Pepper||Yes||Cooked and dried fruit from a plant from the Piperaceae family, so perfectly fine for vegans|
|Piccalilli||Yes – Usually||Made with a mixture of chopped pickled veg, mustard and some other bits and pieces, British piccalilli is almost always vegan friendly (check ingredients in case something strange has been added though)|
|Pickles||Yes – Usually||From onions, to beetroot, to gherkins, as long as the thing that is being pickled is vegan, the fact that it is pickled doesn’t change that; clearly pickled eggs are not vegan though|
|Reggae Reggae Sauce||Yes||Levi Roots did vegans, and the world in general, a big favour when he turned up on Dragons’ Den with his spicy Caribbean sauce, and this flavour-packed condiment is a brilliant option to take to a vegan barbecue|
|Relish & Salsa||Yes – Usually||Like chutneys, ingredients will vary but tend to be vegetable and/or fruit based, but check labels to be sure|
|Salad Dressing||Sometimes||Salad dressings are as versatile as your imagination, and it isn’t difficult to find vegan-friendly versions, or indeed to make your own; Note that honey features in many dressings though so check the product or ask the host or chef|
|Salt||Yes||Sodium chloride, or salt, is vegan friendly whether it comes from the sea or salt plains|
|Tomato Ketchup||Yes – Usually||With the basic ingredients of tomatoes (obviously!), vinegar, sugar, salt and spices, the only thing that can let the side down is if the sugar has been refined using bone char, but this isn’t common; Note, Heinz Tomato Ketchup is vegan!|
|Soy Sauce||Yes||Made from fermented soybeans, soya sauce was created in China over 2,000 years ago and has been fine for vegans ever since|
|Sweet Chilli Sauce||Yes – Usually||Like hot chilli sauce, but with less of a kick and, as the name suggests, sweeter, the only thing that would stop it being vegan friendly is if honey or bone char-refined sugar is used to add sweetness|
|Tahini||Yes||Tahini is made from crushed sesame seeds and so it is perfectly fine for vegans|
|Tabasco Sauce||Yes||Made from vinegar, peppers and salt, Tabasco is vegan friendly|
|Teriyaki Sauce||Yes||A soy sauce-based, er, sauce, the additional ingredients of ginger, sake or Mirin and sugar mean that teriyaki is almost always vegan; Honey is again the thing to be aware of though, as it may be used instead of or as well as, sugar|
|Vinegar||Yes – Usually||This mild acid comes in a wide range of flavours based on what has been fermented to create it, but almost all are vegan; the only issue might come with vinegars produced from wines that had previously be fined using isinglass (see our Is Wine Vegan? article)|
Check Labels, Find Alternatives or Make Your Own
As we have discussed, there are plenty of tasty condiments that are already fine for vegans to consume. But, alas, some are just no-go for those seeking to eradicate all animal products from their diet.
Thankfully though, there are an increasing number of vegan-friendly alternatives to most of the non-vegan condiments, and with a little experimentation, there is no reason why you can’t create your own vegan condiments that are packed with flavour and healthy ingredients. You never know, you might have the next Reggae Reggae Sauce on your hands (and around your mouth)!