Two weeks ago we received an email from one of you, our readers, asking if we knew if Splenda was made with vegan sugar. We don't, so we emailed Splenda to see if they could help us. We still haven't heard back, so we don't have an official answer yet. (If/when we do hear from them we'll update this post.) However, if you are concerned about animal welfare and cruelty, Splenda has been tested on animals, and that's reason enough for many vegans to avoid the product.
So what's the deal with sugar you might ask? Strict vegans will eschew some sugars as cane sugar needs to be refined, and is often refined over bone char, an animal product. Beet sugar does not need this step, so all beet sugar is vegan. But have you ever looked at the ingredient list on a bag of sugar? You're not likely to be able to discern if you're buying cane or beet sugar, and you'd be hard pressed to be able to determine the refining methodology used.
So how do we handle the sugar issue? We don't really worry about it that much. Jane and I both feel that it is much more important to focus on animal products rather than animal byproducts. Sugar itself is not an animal product, it is refined over bone char (a by product of meat processing). Having said that, when we share food we've prepared with other vegans we always alert them to any questionable ingredients. We do know some people who are pretty strict when in comes to what they'll eat, and we respect that.
As for Splenda... there is enough controversy concerning Splenda for us to limit our intake of the product. Sure it's been FDA approved, but then again, so was Aspartame. Stevia is the suggested sugar alternative for diabetics, although many people (Jane included) find it to have a noticeable negative aftertaste. Having said all that, we're not doctors nor are we nutritionists/dieticians, so it might be worth seeking advice from a licensed professional.
For further reading:
- Wikipedia - Sucralose, including public health and safety concerns.
- Splenda.com - Safety Research
- Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes