Is BBQ Sauce Vegetarian?

Grilled Corn with Bbq Sauce

The BBQ sauce plays a crucial role in the taste and flavor of barbecue, and without it, the barbecue will never be that juicy and flavorful. As you slather the BBQ sauce over the meat, it combines with the BBQ flavor making the barbecue more delectable to eat. Thus, the way you prepare and your choice of BBQ sauce will indeed make a huge difference in the taste of your barbecue. Besides, the delectable color and shine provided by BBQ sauce can make barbecue more mouthwatering and appetizing. 

But is BBQ sauce suitable for vegans? Or does it contain hidden non-vegan ingredients? These questions, of course, are pertinent to you if you are a vegan who is trying to avoid eating any vestige of animal meat. In this post, we’ll try to figure out if the BBQ sauce you’ve been using contains non-vegan ingredients that would betray your trust and break your resolve not to eat meat.

The Ingredients of BBQ Sauce

If you analyze the different BBQ sauces at hand, you will find that most of them are vegan, meaning they don’t contain meat. The only ingredient derived from animals found in some brands is honey which is a byproduct of the works of wild bees. However, some brands of BBQ may contain other ingredients that you need to avoid as well. These ingredients include anchovies, natural flavors, as well as processed sugar:

Honey: Is Honey Vegan?

Honey, of course, is a byproduct of wild bees, which are animals. As such, honey is a controversial ingredient highly debated by vegans. Many vegans maintain that they should not consume honey because it is an animal byproduct. Second, bees have worked hard to produce honey. So, it is tantamount to stealing their produce. Moreover, those who gather honey also kill some honeybees along the process.  

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However, other vegans maintain that it is permissible to eat honey because it won’t cause any pain to honeybees if one consumes honey. Nevertheless, when it comes to eating honey, it all boils down to the preference of a vegan, whether they would eat it or not. Regardless, your options for BBQ sauces will be limited if you don’t eat honey.

Processed Sugar: Is Processed Sugar Vegan?

Another controversial ingredient for vegans is the processed sugar. I would not worry about the processed sugar. But many vegans would debate on its suitableness for vegans. Nonetheless, some white sugar products may contain bone char. This bone char is more often used for filtering sugar to enhance its color. So, if you are a vegan, you should avoid sugar that got filtered by bone char. 

However, it is challenging to distinguish whether a particular white sugar product had undergone filtering using bone char because most products only indicate sugar in their list of ingredients. So, there’s no way you can figure out whether a BBQ product had used white sugar filtered by bone char. 

So, it is still a challenge to know, and unless you are a chemist who could analyze the ingredients, you could only trust the label. Some vegans, of course, would never rest until they find out whether the sugar used doesn’t contain white sugar filtered with bone char. They would do anything to figure out this fact. Others, however, just avoid any semblance of this sugar. You will only know whether a sugar product had been filtered using bone char by asking the company. Yet, you should not stress yourself so much about sugar.

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Natural Flavoring: Is Natural Flavoring Vegan?

Another ingredient that you would usually find in most BBQ sauces is the natural flavors. Most so-called vegan BBQ sauces, however, only indicate natural flavor in their ingredients. Yet, they never specify what types of ingredients are these natural flavors. 

For example, if you read Heinz’s BBQ ingredients, you will see the following: Spirit Vinegar, Sugar, Concentrated Tomato Puree, Water, Molasses, Salt, Spices, Thickener – Xanthan Gum, Garlic, Smoke Flavoring, Natural Flavoring. 

You will have no way to know whether the natural flavor doesn’t contain any meat. Your only way to know it is by asking the company about it. So, the natural flavor is also a shady aspect of the ingredients of most BBQ sauces.

Natural flavors may include fruits, vegetables, spices, edible yeast, herbs, bark, buds, plant material, root leaves, meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and eggs. These ingredients are usually heated to attain the desired flavor. Plants, of course, are the predominant flavor in most natural ingredients.


Another ingredient that you should be wary of as a vegan is anchovies. Anchovies are small and common forage fish. Hence, they are not vegan. This fish is usually found in marine waters, though some go beyond even to the brackish water. Since anchovies are derived from fish, these ingredients are not fit for a true vegan. So, as a vegan, you should look for BBQ sauce without anchovies.

Useful Tips When Choosing the Correct Vegan BBQ Sauce

As a vegan, you must be wary of what you eat. So, before you grab any BBQ sauce in the grocery store, it will be best to check the labels and the ingredients of the sauce. Turn each bottle and check the ingredients. Check if they got non-vegan ingredients. 

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If you spot the above-mentioned ingredients that are questionable, think twice about buying that BBQ sauce. It is better to be not perturbed by the fact that you have eaten something against your principle.


“As a vegan, we consider animals our friends, and thus, we don’t eat our friends, and animals are not ours to eat.” Such a motto summarizes the whole principle behind being a vegan. For this reason, it is but reasonable for any vegan to be very diligent in figuring out whether a BBQ sauce one is going to use contains any semblance of meaty ingredients. So, as a vegan, it will be best to check whether a particular BBQ sauce passes the vegan certifications. 

Vegan Society usually has a branch that checks the ingredients of every product in the market today. And companies must pay to get the license for using the logo of the Vegetarian Society. Hence, if you see this logo in product packaging, you can assure yourself that the product had been checked for any ingredient from any animal meat or parts.

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