Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: April 6, 2021

There's nothing better than a delicious frozen dessert on a hot summer day. Or in the winter.

Ice cream may be the most obvious choice, but there are many other cool treats, sorbet being one of the many.

But is sorbet vegan? Let's break down the ingredients!

What is Sorbet?

Three scoop of mango sorbet in a bowl

As I said, sorbet is a frozen dessert typically made from sugar, fruit juice, or fruit puree.

Sorbe’s popularity may be picking up now, but the dessert dates back to ancient Rome and Persia. It can be traced as far as 3,000 BC [1].

Food historians believe Italians refined sorbet in the 1600s, with its name deriving from the Italian word sorbetto, which came from the Arab word for syrup — sharab.

Because of its storing difficulty, the sorbet was a dessert for the wealthy until the modern refrigerator was invented.

Sorbet vs. Sherbet vs. Ice Cream

Sorbet, Sherbet, and Ice cream

Before we go into more detail, I need to explain the difference between sorbet, sherbet, and ice cream, as people often confuse them.

1. Sorbet

Sorbet is typically made from a water, fruit, and sugar base into a frozen dessert. Sorbets are naturally vegan, don’t contain gluten or dairy. Sorbets are naturally vegan, don’t contain gluten or dairy.

2. Sherbet

Sherbet is almost identical to sorbet. However, it also contains dairy that gives it a richer texture, so it’s usually not vegan or free from dairy.

3. Ice Cream

Ice cream (and gelato) is made from a milk or cream base with added sugar, fruit, and other flavorings. It typically doesn’t contain dairy.

Ingredients List

Hand holding a strawberry flavored sorbet in a bowl

Sorbet might be the simplest, natural treat to ever exist.

The ingredients include water, fruit or fruit juice, and sugar. That’s it! It’s as simple as it gets. The most common flavors are lemon, mango, and strawberry.

Of course, there are also some more extravagant sorbets, like the chocolate sorbet. Is chocolate sorbet vegan?

Yes! Although many would argue that a chocolate sorbet is just decadent ice cream. What matters, though, is that they're all delicious!

6 Problematic Ingredients

Top view of raspberry flavored sorbet

As I said, the ingredients could make or break plant-based food, but there are quite a few ingredients that could make this dessert not suitable for vegans.

1. Colors and Additives

There are plant-based colors and additives. But, unless the manufacturer labels the food as suitable for vegans, you can’t be sure whether the colors and additives are animal- or plant-based. Be sure to check the label.

2. Sugar

The ingredient is natural and made from sugar cane or beet. But its processing is problematic.

Many producers use animal bone char, also known as natural carbon, for sugar processing, which automatically makes it non-vegan [2].

Check the label — unless the food you love and want to buy is labeled as vegan, you might want to stay away from it if its ingredients include sugar.

3. Cross-Contamination

There's always the risk of cross-contamination with mass-produced foods. Many facilities that produce vegan products might also make milk-based foods or handle other non-vegan ingredients.

4. Eggs and Egg Derivatives

Many dessert recipes and mass-produced sorbets contain eggs and egg derivatives.

They’re typically present in some old, traditional recipes, as they give the treat a nice texture and create a smooth and creamy consistency. They’re easy to spot when you check the label.

5. Honey

Nowadays, honey is a very popular addition to foods and desserts. Sure, honey might be a healthier alternative to sugars, but it's not vegan since most beekeeping practices hurt, injure, and kill bees.

“I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man” ―  Mohandas Gandhi, lawyer, politician, social activist, and writer

6. Dairy

As I said, sorbet is a treat that can contain milk, cream, or other milk derivatives, which makes it undoubtedly non-vegan. Luckily, it's always easy to spot in the ingredients list, just like honey and eggs.

How to Ensure It's Vegan

Two scoop of a strawberry flavored sorbet in a bowl

Unless you're making it yourself, you can never be 100% sure that sorbet is vegan.

No matter if you're eating in a restaurant or at your friend's, ask them if the sorbet they're serving is vegan. This is the only way to be entirely sure.

The Spoon Tip

You should also politely ask the person serving the sorbets to replace the scoop, so there's no cross-contamination in the case they've served ice cream with the same spoon beforehand.

Is Sorbet Vegan?

Sorbet is naturally vegan. But is all sorbet vegan? The answer isn't that simple. Like with other foods, ingredients play the leading role in whether the food is suitable for vegans or not.

Related Posts:

Is all Sorbet Dairy-Free?

Unfortunately, no. Sometimes a sorbet contains dairy. Some varieties have added milk, cream, buttermilk, or other milk derivatives.

Quick Vegan Homemade Recipe

Three different flavors of Sorbet inside a glass bowl

The easiest way to skip the hassle around checking the ingredients and wondering is sorbet vegan is to make it yourself.

Don't worry; this frozen dessert is one of the easiest recipes; you'll need a couple of ingredients and some patience.

You’ll need:

  • 3 cups fruit chunks (any fruit is good, but I recommend mango or strawberry)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • 1 ½ tsp cornstarch
  • 1 ½ tbsp cold water
  • A pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. Blend the fruit in a processor until smooth, add it to a large saucepan, and combine with sugar and salt.
  2. Cook it over medium heat until hot, but don't let it boil. Next, you'll want to combine cornstarch and water and stir the mixture into the hot fruit puree.
  3. Finally, stir in the lemon juice, transfer the puree to a pan, and leave it in a freezer. It should take about two hours to freeze completely.
  4. Let it soften a couple of minutes before serving. You can decorate it with some chocolate or leave it natural. Enjoy your fresh, frozen sweet and share it with your friends!

Is Sorbet Vegan? The Final Verdict

We've established that sorbet is not the same as ice cream.

Vegans with a sweet tooth can enjoy this treat pretty much always. Be careful as it sometimes contains ingredients that aren't plant-based.

If you're craving a cold, sweet treat, try my recipe and share your thoughts in the comments!


References:

  1. https://www.frostgelato.com/about/history-of-gelato-sorbet/#:~:text=Gelato%20and%20sorbet%20can%20be,ice%20mixed%20with%20fruit%20juices.
  2. https://www.peta.org/about-peta/faq/are-animal-ingredients-included-in-white-sugar/

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