Is Malt Vegan? Exploring the Vegan-Friendliness of Malt

By Olivia

If you’re following a vegan lifestyle or simply curious about the vegan-friendliness of different ingredients, you may have wondered whether malt is vegan. Malt is a versatile ingredient commonly used in various food and beverage products, but its vegan status can be ambiguous. Let’s dive deeper into the world of malt and decipher whether it aligns with a vegan diet.

What is Malt?

Malt is a substance derived from sprouted grains, typically barley, which undergoes a malting process. This process involves soaking the grains in water, allowing them to germinate, and then drying them with hot air. Once dried, the grains are crushed to produce malt, which can be further processed into various forms like malt syrup, malt extract, or malt powder.

Ingredients used in the Malting Process

To better understand whether malt is vegan, it’s essential to examine the ingredients used in the malting process. While the process primarily involves grains and water, certain additives might be included to enhance the properties of the final product. Here are some common additives used in the malting process:

  • Enzymes: Enzymes like amylase and protease are sometimes added during malting to help break down starches and proteins, respectively, and facilitate the conversion of grains into malt.
  • Preservatives: Some malts may contain preservatives like sulfur dioxide, which prevent spoilage and inhibit microbial growth.
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants like BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) or BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) may be used to prolong the shelf life of malt-based products.

While the substances mentioned above are commonly used in the malting process, determining their vegan status requires further investigation.

Is Malt Vegan-Friendly?

To answer whether malt is vegan, we need to examine each type of malt product separately. Here’s a breakdown of different malt products and their vegan-friendliness:

Malt ProductVegan-Friendly?
Malt from BarleyNo
Malt SyrupPossibly
Malt ExtractUsually not
Malt PowderOften not

1. Malt from Barley: Barley malt is not considered vegan. During the malting process, barley grains are sprouted and then dried to produce malt. Unfortunately, this process often involves using animal-derived substances like diastase, which is derived from animal pancreas, to aid in the conversion of starches into sugars.

2. Malt Syrup: The vegan-friendliness of malt syrup can vary. Some malt syrups are produced using enzymes derived from plants, making them suitable for vegans. However, others may contain enzymes sourced from animals, making them non-vegan. Checking the ingredient list or contacting the manufacturer can provide clarity.

3. Malt Extract: Malt extract is generally not vegan. Similar to barley malt, it often involves the use of animal-derived enzymes during the malting process. Additionally, malt extract may contain other non-vegan additives like preservatives or antioxidants.

4. Malt Powder: Malt powder is often not vegan. Like malt extract, it frequently contains animal-derived enzymes and other non-vegan additives. It’s crucial to read the product labels or contact the manufacturer for accurate information.

Expanding Your Vegan Options

If you’re following a vegan diet, you’re not limited to avoiding all products containing malt. Here are some alternatives you can consider:

  • Non-Barley Malts: Explore malted alternatives such as rice malt, corn malt, or wheat malt, which are derived from grains other than barley. These can provide similar flavors and textures without the use of barley.
  • Sweeteners: Opt for vegan-friendly sweeteners like agave syrup, maple syrup, or coconut nectar to replace malt syrup or malt extract in recipes.
  • Natural Flavors: Experiment with natural flavor enhancers like vanilla extract, almond extract, or fruit juices to add depth and complexity to your dishes without relying on malt powder.

By being aware of the different malt products and their vegan-friendliness, you can make informed choices that align with your dietary preferences.


In conclusion, whether malt is vegan depends on the specific malt product. While barley malt, malt extract, and malt powder typically involve non-vegan additives or enzymes, some malt syrups may be suitable for vegans. If you’re unsure about the vegan status of a particular malt product, carefully read the ingredient list or reach out to the manufacturer for clarification. Remember, exploring alternative ingredients can widen your vegan options and offer exciting possibilities in your culinary adventures.