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Are bagels vegetarian?

cooked rice with vegetable salad in brown wooden bowl

Are bagels vegetarian?

Bagels are a popular breakfast food enjoyed by many people around the world. They are known for their chewy texture and delicious taste. However, for those following a vegetarian diet, the question arises: are bagels vegetarian? In this article, we will explore the ingredients commonly used in bagel recipes and discuss whether they align with vegetarian principles.

Understanding vegetarianism

Before delving into the vegetarian status of bagels, it is important to understand what vegetarianism entails. Vegetarianism is a dietary practice that excludes the consumption of meat, poultry, and seafood. However, there are different variations within vegetarianism, such as lacto-vegetarianism (which includes dairy products) and ovo-vegetarianism (which includes eggs). Some vegetarians also avoid certain animal-derived ingredients, such as gelatin or rennet.

The basic ingredients of a bagel

Traditional bagel recipes typically consist of a few basic ingredients:

  • Flour: Bagels are made from wheat flour, which is a plant-based ingredient and therefore suitable for vegetarians.
  • Water: The main liquid component in bagel dough is water, which is obviously vegetarian-friendly.
  • Yeast: Yeast is used to leaven the dough and give bagels their characteristic texture. It is a type of fungus and does not involve the use of animals, making it suitable for vegetarians.
  • Salt: Salt is a mineral and does not pose any issues for vegetarians.
  • Sugar: Sugar is derived from plants, such as sugarcane or sugar beets, and is generally considered vegetarian-friendly.

Potential non-vegetarian ingredients in bagels

While the basic ingredients of a bagel are vegetarian-friendly, there are some variations and additional ingredients that may not align with vegetarian principles. Here are a few potential non-vegetarian ingredients to be aware of:

  • Eggs: Some bagel recipes call for the addition of eggs, which would make them non-vegetarian. However, many traditional bagel recipes do not include eggs.
  • Milk or butter: Some bagel recipes may include milk or butter, which are animal-derived ingredients. However, these ingredients can often be substituted with plant-based alternatives, such as almond milk or vegan butter.
  • Animal-based toppings: Bagels are often enjoyed with various toppings, such as cream cheese, lox (smoked salmon), or bacon. These toppings are not vegetarian-friendly, but there are plenty of vegetarian alternatives available, such as vegan cream cheese or plant-based deli slices.

Vegetarian-friendly bagel options

Fortunately, there are many vegetarian-friendly bagel options available. Many bakeries and bagel shops offer plain bagels that are free from animal-derived ingredients. Additionally, there are numerous recipes available online for homemade bagels that can easily be adapted to suit a vegetarian diet.

For those who prefer store-bought bagels, it is always a good idea to check the ingredient list or ask the staff about the specific ingredients used. This way, you can ensure that the bagels you are purchasing align with your dietary preferences.


While bagels can contain non-vegetarian ingredients depending on the recipe and toppings, there are plenty of vegetarian-friendly options available. By being mindful of the ingredients used and making suitable substitutions, vegetarians can enjoy the deliciousness of bagels without compromising their dietary choices.