By Barbi Lazarus, Donor and Volunteer Resources Coordinator

Us vegetarians like to poke fun at the pesky questions we get about our diet that seem so obvious to us. The biggest cliche we joke about of course is the classic “Where do you get your protein?”. But there are others too like “Do you eat yeast?” and “Can you eat pasta?”. I’ll give people credit. Although most dried store-bought pasta is vegan, fresh pasta made at a true Italian restaurant may very well be made with eggs.

Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale 2013

However I must say, when I get asked if I can eat bread I can’t help but chuckle and struggle to figure out how to even answer such a question.

But have you ever been asked if you can eat sugar?

Back in the day, yes, plenty of sugar was refined using bone char made from the bones of cows. It is what filtered the sugar to give it the bright white colour. That’s why you’ll find a lot of vegans using organic cane sugar, which functions just like white sugar in baking and taste but has a brown, caramel colour rather than white.

However, in Canada we’re lucky that the use of bone char to filter sugar has become somewhat taboo and is far less common. In fact, Redpath Sugar, probably the most widely available and well-known sugar, with a factory right here in Toronto, does not use any animal products or by-products in the refining process for their sugars.

This is helpful for people looking to transition to a vegan diet who still want to bake the sweet treats they’re familiar with, but don’t necessarily want to visit a natural health food store for their grocery shopping or can’t afford higher priced organic sugar.

With the 6th Annual Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off  just around the corner (a matter of days in fact!), we’ve been trying to spread the word about our amazing, generous army of sponsors and supporters that make the event possible. Redpath Sugar is one of those sponsors and I was surprised to receive several comments from TVA supporters who previously had no idea that Redpath’s sugar was vegan!

Many people still have the idea that the only desserts vegans can indulge in are granola-oatmeal cookies or date truffles. Don’t get me wrong, I actually love both of those desserts and I’m not advocating that we all eat refined sugar products on a daily basis. But isn’t it wonderful to know that today’s world is saturated with desserts that are cruelty-free and easily available for everyone to pick up at the grocery store?

Your aunt and uncle might want to accommodate you at your next holiday dinner but they don’t know much about baking and they don’t live downtown near one of the awesome vegan bakeries Toronto has. You can make it simple for them by letting them know many treats they probably have in their kitchen already like Fudgeeos or Dad’s Oatmeal Cookies are vegan. When you’re out at a basketball game and everyone else is picking up junk food to munch on during the game, you too can grab a bag of skittles and join in on the fun.

And when you’re racing against time this weekend making your 100 samples for the vegan bake-off and you realize you’re out of sugar, yes, you can run to the nearest convenience store and pick up a bag of Redpath Sugar’s white sugar knowing no animals were harmed in its production.