Yes, lactic acid is vegan – well, most of the time, anyways.
This ingredient name is a bit misleading, as the root word, “lac-” in lactic acid refers to milk, leading one to believe that it comes from an animal, while it’s actually sourced from vegetables.
It’s usually pretty easy to tell whether something is vegan or not, but there are some ingredients that are just plain unclear as to which planet they’ve fallen down from, especially if you’re new to a vegan diet and are still figuring it all out.
Without further ado, let’s explore the who, what, where, and why of this common ingredient found worldwide, and how it’s classified to be vegan.
What is Lactic Acid?
Lactic acid is an organic acid that naturally forms when food is fermented.
The name lactic acid has nothing to do with milk, and there aren’t any animal by-products in this vegan ingredient.
Lactic acid is a cruelty-free ingredient that can also be man-made and added to processed foods for extra flavor and added freshness.
Most of the time, lactic acid bacteria is found in a naturally fermented form from plant-based ingredients, and is animal-friendly.
Is Lactic Acid Vegan?
If you live in the United States, the majority of the domestically produced sugars are derived from vegetable sources, so it’s safe to say that the lactic acid source is a vegan one, at least in North America.
Cornstarch and beet sugar are two of the most commonly used bases used to make lactic acid, making it an animal-friendly ingredient. Some other potential bases include potatoes and molasses.
Lactic acid from vegetable sources acceptable for vegans to consume, and is not a dairy product – however, lactose is and isn’t vegan. It’s actually a completely different ingredient and molecule, and is not considered to be vegan-friendly.
Regardless of what country you’re in – if you want to be absolutely certain your food sources are free of animal products, it’s best to consult the company.
*Fun Fact: Our bodies naturally produce lactic acid after intense muscle exertion. When our bodies’ oxygen levels are low after a workout, lactic acid forms throughout the muscle tissues and in the red blood cells. However, if the oxygen levels are normal, the carbohydrates produce just water and carbon dioxide.
Food Items that contain Lactic Acid
There are a plethora of products in the food industry that contain this compound:
Yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, and cheese have this ingredient. Lactic acid is found in all fermented milk products.
It’s also what gives sourdough bread its tangy flavor, too – a unique taste that many vegans enjoy.
Since about the third and fourth centuries, fruits and vegetables have been fermented with lactic acid. Probiotics like sauerkraut and kimchi are well-known vegan vegetable products that are not only yummy but are also excellent for the second brain – the gut.
Lactic acid is used as a preservative and extra flavor in Asian fermented soy products. For example, miso and soy sauce are two commonly known foods you might recognize that use this vegan ingredient.
Certain wines go through at least one fermentation process or two, and malic acid is converted into vegan lactic acid during the second fermentation. Lactic acid will also sometimes be added separately to beer as its brewing.
This ingredient is also found in some animal products, such as fermented meats. For example, you’ll find it in salami, and in animal tissue in general. But, if you’re vegan – no need to be concerned about this lactic acid source.
Lactic acid vegan can also be found as a food preservative in packaged products such as desserts, olives, jelly, bagels, and salad dressings.
Is Lactic Acid Healthy?
Lactic acid contributes to good gut health (due to the live microorganisms it contains) and even boosts the nutritional value of food.
It also helps manage intestinal infections and may prevent certain cancers.
You can topically apply this stuff to minimize skin age spots, reduce scarring, rejuvenate the skin, and even its tone. However, before you use this product on your skinscape – test it on a little patch to make sure that you’re not allergic.
It can also be used for relief of psoriasis and eczema.
So, overall lactic acid is pretty beneficial for your health.
For some more health information about lactic acid, check out this site.
How to make Homemade Kimchi
You won’t know the full potential of kimchi until you make it yourself. Check out this easy recipe for home to make your very own kimchi at home – that will last for months in a refrigerator.
How did Lactic Acid get its name?
This has to do with how it was discovered.
In the 18th century, Carl Scheele, a Swedish chemist, found lactic acid in sour milk that had been formed in the milk sugar.
Then, in 1808, Jonz Jacob Berzelius realized that lactic acid was an innate byproduct of muscle exertion and that lactic acid production happens within the human body.
Later, in 1856, Louis Pasteur identified Lactobacillus – a lactic acid bacteria.
Vegan lactic acid was also found to be produced in a variety of plant sources that possess carbohydrates.
The companies are few and far between that use dairy to manufacture lactic acid, so chances are you’re in the clear if you’re thinking about adding this to your vegan diet.
If you have any doubt as to what the true source of your lactic acid is in a particular food item, don’t hesitate to reach out to the companies’ media websites.
With veganism on the rise, concern about ingredients like lactic acid has become more common.
For those of you that are vegan and have been enjoying a plant-based diet and intend to stick to it- don’t rule out lactic acid as an ingredient when reading ingredient lists.
In any case, you can always reach out to individual companies for some more information.