Vegan breads do not contain any ingredients that come from animals, including eggs, butter, and milk. Many vegans also do not consume honey, which is often used as a sweetener in whole wheat breads. The typical ingredients in some types of bread are naturally vegan, but almost any bread recipe can be modified to be vegan. Yeast breads, flatbreads, and quick breads can all be vegan breads.
Basic French and Italian breads are naturally vegan because the ingredients are just flour, water, yeast, salt, and sometimes sugar. Several flatbreads are also usually vegan, including pita bread, lavash, and flour and corn tortillas. These flatbreads do contain some type of fat, however, so if they are purchased at a grocery store, the ingredient list should be checked to ensure that it contains vegetable oil or shortening rather than butter or lard. Many bagels are vegan, but some bagel recipes include eggs.
Natural food stores, or the natural foods section in larger grocery stores, typically carry an assortment of vegan breads. Some sandwich loaves and other types of breads carried in regular grocery stores are also accidentally vegan — that is, they are not advertised as being vegan, but they do not contain any animal product ingredients. If the ingredient list on a package of bread does not include egg, milk, milk powder, butter, lard, or whey, the bread is most likely vegan.
The options for homemade vegan breads are almost endless. In addition to bread recipes that are created to be vegan, almost any bread recipe can be altered to be vegan by using substitute ingredients. A variety of vegan substitutes are available for butter, milk, and eggs.
Yeast bread recipes sometimes call for milk to make the bread moist and tender, and to add flavor. Vegan milk substitutes such as soy, almond, or hemp milk can be swapped directly for milk in a bread recipe. Rice milk, however, may not work as well as the others, because it is non-fat and the fat in milk is what helps to make the bread more tender. Vegan margarine can also be substituted for butter in any bread recipe. In recipes that call for melted butter, as some quick bread recipes do, an oil could also be substituted.
There are a variety of vegan egg substitutes, and the best egg replacement depends on the recipe. A commercial egg substitute can be used in any recipe, however, some egg substitutes actually contain egg, so the ingredients should be checked before buying. One tablespoon of ground flaxseed in three tablespoons of water can substitute for an egg in most recipes. For quick vegan breads, one-quarter cup of applesauce, smashed banana, or pumpkin can substitute for an egg, depending on the flavor of the bread.