Is yeast vegan

Is yeast vegan? Can vegans eat bread? Do vegans eat yeast? Can vegans eat yeast? These are the barrage of questions people ask who either belongs to the vegan community or who are thinking of becoming vegetarian. This is an interesting question indeed. Let’s find it.

The eating guide of vegans is quite complex. It is because there are some ingredients which many people find it difficult to ascertain whether they are suitable for a vegan diet or not. One of these is yeast. Some people consider it vegan while others not.

The answer lies in only one fact: whether yeast is a living organism. Since at the core of the vegan concept is sparing animals and other living organisms from pain and sufferings; so, if we can prove it of course with scientific fact, then we will have the answer to all of those questions.  

Is yeast a living organism?

is yeast living organismSo, what is yeast indeed? It has a couple of definitions. One in definition it says something like it is an ovoid or spherical unicellular microscopic fungus. The shape of a yeast cell has much resemblance with egg. But you cannot see with an unaided eye. You need a powerful microscope to see its actual shape. Yeast size ranges between 6 and 8 thousandths of a millimeter; no large than a pinhead (one cubic centimeter of yeast contains more than 10 billion cells)!

Yeast is also termed as a eukaryote, the special organism with a complex cell or cells, in which genetic material is organized into a membrane-bound nucleus or nuclei. The composition of the yeast cell nucleus includes 16 linear chromosomes.  

Like complex multicellular organism or animal, the nucleus of a yeast cell is surrounded by a cell wall which consists of an outer layer of mannoprotein, an inner layer of glucans and a cytoplasmic membrane with high protein complex content. From this discussion which may be filled with the abstruse term, we can deduce that yeast is a living organism with a mightily complex cellular system.   

If yeast were a living organism, how herbivores eat this?

We concede that yeast is a living organism. It has an internal infrastructure which is far more developed than that of other microscopic organisms like bacteria. But the important factor needs to consider here is whether or not consuming yeast brings harm to the organism.

In most instances of yeast used, it is deactivated. For example, during the brewing process, yeast is used in fermentation reaction. In this reaction, the yeast cell is deactivated so that by anaerobic respiration process it can produce energy, carbon dioxide, and ethanol. So, why the deactivating process not harmful to it?

Yes, now we finally come to the main point. The core principal of vegan people that all living creatures must be spared from pain and suffering. Undoubtedly, yeast is a fairly dense unicellular organism. But what it lacks is it does not process a central nervous system or spinal cord. In other words, no central nervous system in yeast implies there is no strong scientific evidence that it experiences pain or register anything as pain and that is what makes yeast different from any other animals. Here is a famous quote from philosopher Jeremey Bentham which he used to describe moral philosophy but found very relevant to this debate “The question is not, can they reason? nor, can they talk? but, can they suffer?”. The resounding answer is no. The yeast does not suffer.     

Now that we have solved the mystery that yeast consumption is not slaughtering an animal; so, we can safely eat bread, pasta, rolls or any other food items where yeast is used as an ingredient.  

Is that is the end of our discussion? No, there is many important aspects of yeast including how to safely consume it. Stay with us.

Different types of yeast

There are three types of yeast. These are as follows:

  • Baker’s Yeast
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • Nutritional Yeast

Baker’s yeast

We also know the Baker’s yeast as active yeast since in this case yeast is not inactive. To manufacture this type of yeast you should dry the fungi at low temperatures. You cannot consume it on its own since it will continue to grow in your gastrointestinal system.

There are different types of fungi are used to manufacture baker’s yeast. The most common ones include Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Lactobacillus sanfrancisco, and Candida milleri. This type of yeast is used as a leaving agent for bread and other types of baked goodies.

Brewer’s yeast

This yeast comes from the pulverized cells of the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. To manufacture the Brewer’s yeast you have to dry the pulverized cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae at high temperature. The taste is bitter and you can use it as a supplement as it is a rich source of amino acids, B vitamins, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, amino acids, and chromium.

Brewer’s yeast will come in deactivated and pasteurized form. So, one can consume safely on its own.

Nutritional yeast

Nutritional yeast is another form of S. cerevisiae yeast. The yeast, in this case, will come in dried, pasteurized and deactivated form. The yeast is rich in niacin, folic acid, zinc, selenium, thiamine, and beta glucans (which can be extracted from the cell walls), known for their immuno-stimulating role.

It is a special type of yeast since it contains all essential amino acids. The yeast is also fortified with vitamin B12. It has antiviral and antibacterial properties making it a popular tool among herbalists for treating infection, acne, low appetite, and diarrhea.

It has a rich, nutty flavor and easily substitutes for cheese in most recipes. Or you can incorporate it into topping for toast, vegetables, soups, and popcorn.

What is yeast extract?

Yeast extract is concentration form nutritional yeast. You probably find it in the form of a paste. It comes with a pungent, umami flavor. Yeast extract gets much popularity in a certain country, for example, Australia.

List of food items that contain yeast

  • Processed and cured meats.
  • Aged cheese.
  • Dried fruits.
  • Gravy and stock cubes.
  • Processed fruit juices.
  • Condiments.
  • Vinegar containing ingredients.
  • Alcohol (brewer’s yeast)

Nutritional facts of yeast

It may sound a bit irrelevant with this discussion but if you wish to know the nutritional value of yeast, take a glance at this table. Per 100 grams of yeast has the following nutritional value:  

CaloriesTotal FatCholesterol Minerals and othersVitaminsProtein
325 Kcal8 grams 0 mg Sodium: 51mgVitamin B12: 1%40gram
Potassium: 955mgVitamin B-6: 75%
Carbohydrate: 41gram Vitamin C: 0%
Dietary fiber:27gramVitamin A: 0%


At the end of our discussion, we hope you now feel ok to know the fact that bread you are eating and beer you are drinking has inflicted no pain or cause any harm or foul to yeast.

We also hope that this will end the debate between vegans and no vegans regarding is yeast vegan?

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My name is Sherry F. Solar and I am a Registered Dietitian, Certified Nutritionist, and Certified Personal Trainer with a private practice in Somerville, MA. I got my Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Boston University and finished my Dietetic Internship at Oregon Health and Science University. After working as a personal trainer for almost five years and completing the dietetic internship, I took a detour on my career path to pursue a role as a blogger. There will be plenty of information shared on losing weight, building muscle, eating healthy, and living a happy, healthy life on my blog. I enjoy blogging and strive to share accurate information about nutrition and health knowledge. My blog is for those who are on the journey of healthy eating, and it is also for anyone wishing to attain total health all while aging with no worries. I believe that anyone can have a healthier body and a happier mind when armed with the right education, resources, and knowledge. I want my readers to know that they will learn a lot about becoming healthier and happier through this blog. I try to ensure all articles are informative and useful.


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