Is Pita Bread Vegan?

Pita breadNancy Hann (via Unsplash)

Every now and then, my wife and I take a break from meat, dairy, and eggs—and go vegan for a week or so. During that time, we eat mostly soups, salads, roasted veggies, and raw nuts. I’m not going to tell you about the benefits of veganism here, but for us two, it does miracles.

I had some leftover pita bread in my freezer. As I thought of eating it for dinner, I thought to myself… Is it truly vegan? So I checked the ingredients and set out on the Internet to do my usual research. Here’s what I found.

Is pita bread vegan?

Pita bread is vegan friendly. Pita bread originates from the Middle East and is a leavened flatbread made from baker’s yeast, wheat flour, salt, and, optionally, sugar. The traditional recipe for pita bread doesn’t have any non-vegan or non-vegetarian ingredients.

Always look at the list of ingredients before you eat pita bread if you are vegan or confirm the ingredients with the waiter when you’re ordering pita bread at a restaurant. Some bakeries may add milk, eggs, or even honey for additional flavor, making their pita bread unsuitable for people on a vegan diet.

Happily (for me), that wasn’t the case with the leftover pita bread I had in my freezer:

Elvian Greek pita bread
The Greek pita leftover bread that I had in my freezer

So I ended up making a Mediterranean veggie wrap, for which I did the photoshoot, but will write about some other time.

How Healthy Is Pita Bread?

Soft and pliable, pita bread is perfect for making wraps and sandwiches. But is it good for you?

How healthy pita bread is comes down to the ingredients used to make it. The least healthy pita breads are made from all-purpose flour and contain a high amount of sugar; the healthiest from whole-grain flour and contain a low amount of sugar (or not sugar at all).

Unsurprisingly, homemade pita bread is best because you get to control all the ingredients. But let’s be honest; not all of us have the time to bake bread at home on a daily basis. If that sounds familiar to you, check out the list of grocery store brands with better-than-average pita breads that I’ve shared later on in this post.

The best way to shop for healthy bread when at the store is to look at the ingredients list. Remember that producers always list ingredients in order, from the biggest to the smallest quantity. Check the type of flour that’s listed first (for example, all-purpose or whole-grain) and notice where salt/sodium and sugar sit on it.

Ideally, whole-grain flour is one of the first ingredients on the list (meaning it’s the main type of flour used), with salt and sugar somewhere in the middle. The less additives and preservatives, the better.

Is Pita Bread Gluten-Free?

Pita bread is traditionally made from wheat flour, commonly found in Mediterranean and Middle East kitchens. Gluten is formed by two proteins, glutenin and gliadin, both commonly found in wheat flour. The wheat flour used for baking bread contains anywhere between 12% and 14% gluten, which is why pita bread is not gluten-free.

If you like the taste of pita bread but are on a gluten-free diet, you can make gluten-free pita bread from a gluten-free flour at home. 

Amy Goodson at Healthline has shared a good list of 14 best gluten-free flours. When it comes to the best flours for making gluten-free pita bread, my favorites of them are:

  • Buckwheat flour, which has a rich and earthy flavor; 
  • Amaranth flour, with a nutty and popcornish flavor;
  • Teff flour, though it’s a little finer than I like it;
  • Brown rice flour, always a great substitute for wheat.

Which one are yours? Let me and the rest of this post’s readers know by leaving a comment below.

Should Vegans Eat Bread?

Most bread is made from flour, yeast, water, salt, and (optionally) sugar, which makes it suitable for vegans. Some commercially sold breads carried at most supermarkets, however, can contain milk, eggs, or honey.

If you are vegan, the best thing to do before buying a new brand of bread is to check the list of ingredients and make sure that it doesn’t contain anything that’s not suitable with your dietary requirements.

Whether bread is healthy for you or not is another question. “The key to getting the best of bread is to make healthful choices, and to enjoy it in moderation,” Terese Scollard of Providence Oregon says. “Depending on how well you choose your bread, it can be an excellent source of whole grains, which are rich in fiber, B vitamins and other essential nutrients.”

My two cents? Choose breads made from whole grains, avoiding breads from refined grains. As a rule of thumb, the whiter and finer the bread, the more refined (and less nutritious) the grain. 

Refined grain became a thing in the 20th century, when the upper class preferred their bread white and fine. Since, it’s proven to be the least healthy and nutritional bread varieties of all.

What Brands of Pita Bread Are Vegan?

Here’s a list I prepared to help you select vegan pita bread the next time you’re at the grocery store:

  • Aldi (sold only at Aldi)
  • Arnold
  • Dave’s Killer Bread
  • Engine 2 (sold only at Whole Foods)
  • Ezekiel
  • La Tortilla Factory
  • Manna Organics
  • Mission Corn Tortillas
  • Nature’s Own
  • Rudi’s Organic
  • Thomas Bagel
  • Trader Joe’s (sold only at Trader Joe’s)
  • Whole Foods 365 (sold only at Whole Foods)

Though this is a list that you can generally trust, always double-check the ingredients list when you come across pita bread from these brands at the grocery store (as some brands can change the ingredients of their food products).

The Bottom Line

Pita bread is a leavened bread made from wheat flour, baker’s yeast, water, salt, and, optionally and for extra sweetness, sugar. Which makes it vegan-friendly.

The best pita bread is the one you’ve made at home with the highest-quality ingredients that you could find. If you don’t have the time or don’t want to make your own pita bread, check out one of the brands that I shared with you; they sell good products.

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