Non-Dairy Coffee Creamer May Not Actually Be Vegan

Being vegan doesn't mean you can't enjoy creamer in your coffee just as much as the next person, but, as it turns out, if you eat plant-based, you may need to be more careful with non-dairy coffee creamers than those who consume dairy.

This is because even non-dairy coffee creamers sometimes aren't actually vegan. Namely, some of them contain casein, which is a protein found in cow's milk and is used to make the color of the creamer white— in other words, it's an animal-derived product and makes the creamer not vegan (even if there technically isn't any dairy in it). It's usually listed as either sodium caseinate or micellar casein, so look out for it next time you come across a non-dairy creamer. Other ingredients to look out for with non-dairy creamers are whey, which is also derived from cow's milk, and lecithin, which can come from eggs. Lecithin can also come from soybeans, in which case it will be listed as soy lecithin. Additionally, it's always worth looking for a "vegan" label on a creamer, which truly vegan ones are likely to have somewhere on the bottle.

The reason that these non-vegan ingredients can be included in creamers that are labeled as "non-dairy" is because, under the terms of the FDA, milk derivatives aren't considered dairy products. It's certainly an annoying inconvenience, but hopefully, once you settle on your favorite vegan creamer, you won't have to worry about it anymore — so what are some examples of truly vegan creamers?

Which creamers are actually vegan?

While it is definitely disappointing that some "non-dairy" creamers aren't exactly vegan, there are still plenty of options out there for vegans who want creamer in their coffee. To begin with, vegan Starbucks lovers can rejoice because Starbucks' non-dairy creamers (which contain oat milk and almond milk) — which come in three flavors: caramel, hazelnut and pumpkin spice — are free of any milk derivatives.

Another option is the plant-based creamer by Honest to Goodness, which contains coconut milk and oat milk, and has a Madagascar vanilla bean flavor. There's also Elmhurst, which has many plant-based creamer options, each using a different oat or nut base, with flavors such as maple and caramel macchiato. There are also Sown organic oat creamers, which come in three variations: unsweetened, sweet & creamy, and vanilla flavored. 

 Additionally, Tasting Table recommended Silk's mocha almond creamer on our list of the best vegan products to try in 2023. Similarly, Silk also has a soy milk creamer, as well as an oat milk creamer, both of which are vegan.