Is yeast vegetarian????
October 30, 2010 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Is yeast in bread considered an animal product?

I bake bread and always thought vegetarians could eat it but the more I think about it I'm not sure.
posted by boby to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
No. Yeast are fungi.
posted by radioaction at 2:24 PM on October 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

Or to be more clear, my "no" was in response to yeast being an animal product. It is totally 100% fine for vegetarians to eat just as much as a mushroom is.
posted by radioaction at 2:25 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yep, even vegans eat yeast.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:26 PM on October 30, 2010

Yeast are in an entirely different kingdom from animals. Same domain though. Although, if you refuse to eat everything from Domain Eukarya, you wouldn't last very long.
posted by reformedjerk at 2:29 PM on October 30, 2010 [7 favorites]

Even though they are portrayed by rather adorable sock puppets on Alton Brown's show, I have never known a vegetarian or vegan who will not eat them. They do not actually have googly eyes. Or faces. Or much of anything, actually.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:37 PM on October 30, 2010 [5 favorites]

Milk and Eggs could be problems for a very strict vegan, but yeast is a fungus and not a micro-organism.
posted by slavlin at 2:40 PM on October 30, 2010

Yeast is definitely vegetarian. Like others said, it's a fungus, just like your portabello mushrooms.

You may have been confused with rennet in cheese, though. Rennet is a bacteria, but it lives mostly in animals' stomachs; rennet is harvested (I guess that's the word you would use?) after cows and sheep are slaughtered. Some vegetarians won't eat cheese with rennet and some will.
posted by wayland at 2:42 PM on October 30, 2010

Rennet is not a bacteria, but a complex of enzymes extracted from unweaned calf stomach.
posted by bluefrog at 2:46 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

I stand corrected.
posted by wayland at 2:54 PM on October 30, 2010

Not to derail but not all rennet is animal-sourced; some rennet is appropriate for vegetarians.

Vegetarians may eat yeast but some people follow a yeast-free diet for health reasons. This allows for the eating of fresh meat.
posted by Morrigan at 2:55 PM on October 30, 2010

Most* beer is vegan, too, which is a relief.

*Some brewers use isinglass (which is derived from the swim bladders of fish) to clarify their brews. Most brewers sell their spent grain to farmers and ranchers as high protein feed.
posted by notyou at 3:13 PM on October 30, 2010

While considering this question, it is also important for some vegetarians to know that some white sugar is bleached with animal bones. Some isn't, though, so it can be difficult to tell. This is one reason why some vegans stick with unbleached sugars like turbinado or demerarra.
posted by kalessin at 3:25 PM on October 30, 2010

(Slavlin - milk and eggs are a problem for any vegan, not just very strict vegans...)
posted by ManInSuit at 6:10 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

eating bread is a cruel, cruel act, from the yeast's perspective
posted by Salvatorparadise at 10:40 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also I'm not sure what definition Slavlin is going for, but I would say that since yeast is a very small living thing, it certainly is a micro-organism. It's as alive as any other unicellular organism.
posted by sevenless at 11:07 PM on October 30, 2010

Thanks for the quick and informative answers.
posted by boby at 2:41 AM on October 31, 2010

Gelatin may not be vegetarian though
posted by mulligan at 9:21 AM on October 31, 2010

Gelatin is almost certainly not vegetarian. The vegetarian option(s) lack the exact mechanism that gelatin uses to gel. The closest beef gelatin substitute for marshmallows is gelatin derived from salmon bones/skin, which is clearly not vegetarian. The vegetarian option, agar agar gelatin (derived from seaweed) doesn't work the same way as the animal-derived gelatins. There is some indication that a combination of agar and xanthan and guar gums might be used to make, say, vegetarian marshmallows, but I personally can only attest to how using just agar agar doesn't work at all to make marshmallows (which is a great recipe to test gelatin substitutes with).

There was a flap a while back where there was a vegetarian marshmallow available for a few years that was using a kosher gelatin substitute that they understood to be vegetarian. Eventually the product was tested by a third party lab and discovered to be using a fish-derived gelatin. The tragedy was that the marshmallow producer was relying on their gelatin-substitute supplier, who turned out to be the fraudulent party. So a lot of marshmallows were sold under the producer's understanding that the marshmallow was vegetarian when in fact it was not.
posted by kalessin at 10:16 AM on October 31, 2010

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