Is Margarine Vegan? All You Need To Know

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A small box of margarine with a sprig of coriander on top.

Is margarine vegan? | Process of making margarine | what makes margarine non-vegan | Margarine vs. vegan butter | Vegan substitute | Vegan alternative brands | Non-vegan margarine

Margarine has been a staple in many households for years. Many assume that margarine is suitable for a vegan diet because it is made from vegetable oil.

This article will explore how margarine is made and the history of this popular fatty spread, designed to taste like butter.

Is margarine vegan?

Margarine may or may not be vegan, depending on how it is made.

As defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA),[1]United States Department of Agriculture: USDA Specifications for Vegetable Oil Margarine Margarine is a minimum of 80% fat and no more than 2% salt.

Most margarine is made from vegetable oils. However, some manufacturers use animal fats and other animal-derived ingredients while manufacturing it.

It is important to check the ingredients label to make sure that your margarine does not contain any animal products.

How is margarine made?

Most margarine is made by blending together various plant-based oils [2]CORE: FOOD SCIENTIST’S GUIDE TO FATS AND OILS FOR MARGARINE AND SPREADS DEVELOPMENT such as corn, cottonseed, safflower, soy, and sunflower oil.

Vegetable oil is a triglyceride, which means it is made up of three fatty acids bonded to a glycerin molecule.

In order to turn vegetable oil into margarine, manufacturers must hydrogenate the vegetable oil. This process makes the margarine spreadable at room temperature.

The problem with this process is that it creates harmful trans fats, which are unhealthy for humans.

Are all types of margarine vegan?

No, not all types of margarine are vegan.

Many manufacturers use animal-derived ingredients to make their margarine, such as milk fat or gelatin.

If the margarine contains any of the below-given ingredients, it is not vegan-friendly.

  1. Lactose: A sugar found in milk.
  2. Casein: A protein found in milk.
  3. Gelatin: A protein made from the skin, bones, and connective tissue of animals.
  4. Whey: A liquid that is leftover when milk is coagulated during cheese production.
  5. Animal fat: Fat that is taken from animals.
  6. Lecithin: An emulsifier that is often derived from egg yolks or animal tissue.
  7. Tallow: Hard fat that is taken from animals.
  8. Marine oil: Oil that is taken from fish.

Check the ingredients label to ensure that your margarine does not contain any of the above animal-derived ingredients.

Margarine vs. vegan butter

Butter is a traditional dietary staple made by churning cream. It is mainly used as a frying fat, spread, or ingredient used in sauces, cakes, and pastries. As a concentrated source of milk fat, it is mostly composed of saturated fat.

However, vegan butter is a spread made from plant-based oils designed to taste and function like butter. 

Since vegan butter is made of plant-based ingredients, it is low in saturated and trans fat.

Vegan butter can be used in the same way as regular butter.

On the other hand, margarine is a spread made from vegetable oils that have been hydrogenated.

Hydrogenation increases the oil’s saturated fat content. Unhealthy trans fats are formed as a result.

Moreover, margarine may contain animal-derived ingredients. Thus, it may not always be vegan-friendly.

As a result, vegans should avoid margarine unless they are certain that it has been made without any animal-derived ingredients. 

Despite it all, as per Harvard Health Publishing, [3]Harvard Health Publishing: Butter vs. Margarine “Some of the newer margarines that are low in saturated fat, high in unsaturated fat, and free of trans fats are fine as long as you don’t use too much (they are still rich in calories).”

Thus, if consumed in moderation, some kinds of margarine would not be as unhealthy as those with high quantities of trans fats.

Vegan margarine and vegan butter alternatives

If you are looking for a vegan spread for your bread apart from vegan margarine and vegan butter, there are a few options available:

  1. Plant butter: Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, coconut butter, etc.
  2. Hummus: Chickpea spread.
  3. Olive tapenade: Olive spread.
  4. Tahini: Sesame paste.
  5. Vegan pesto: Basil and nuts paste.
  6. Guacamole: Avocado spread.
  7. Baba ganoush: Roasted eggplant spread.

Vegan margarine brands list

There are many vegan margarine brands available on the market today. Here is a list of some popular brands:

  • I can’t believe it’s not butter it’s vegan! spread.
  • Earth Balance vegan butter.
  • Earth Balance organic coconut spread
  • Country Cork “plant butter” sticks and spread in olive, almond, and avocado oil varieties.
  • Fleischmann’s margarine
  • Miyoko’s creamery European-style cultured vegan butter
  • Ellyndale organics buttery spread
  • Nuvita organic buttery cocoanut oil
  • Wild creamery European style butter alternative
  • Wildbrine cultured cashew butter alternative

Non-vegan margarine brands

As mentioned earlier, not all margarine is vegan.

Here is a list of some non-vegan margarine brands that you should avoid:

  • Parkay Margarine
  • Blue Bonnet Margarine
  • Country Crock Light
  • Parkay Squeezable 60% Vegetable Oil Spread
  • Imperial Margarine


If margarine is vegan or not is not always clear since the process of making margarine can involve animal-derived ingredients. Some margarine brands are made without any animal products and are safe for vegans. Check the ingredient label or contact the manufacturer directly to find out if a particular brand of margarine is vegan-friendly.

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