Verdict: Most Smart Balance Butters are not vegan.
- All Smart Balance Butters are dairy-free
- Most flavors have vitamin D added, which comes from lanolin (sheep’s wool oil)
- The “Organic” and “Light with flaxseed oil” flavors are both technically vegan, but have palm oil, which many strict vegans avoid
All Smart Balance butter spreads are now dairy-free.
That’s a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t necessarily make them vegan.
There are a few flavors that are vegan, and a few that aren’t.
We’ve got a few things to look at here, let’s get started.
Why Some Smart Balance Spreads Might Not Be Vegan
There are a few ingredients that might cause you some concern.
Let’s look at the ingredient list for the original flavor (all the flavors are similar), and then I’ll break down any potential issues:
Vegetable oil blend (canola, palm, olive), water, salt, pea protein, natural and artificial flavors, sunflower lecithin, vitamin a palmitate, beta-carotene, vitamin D, monoglycerides (vegetable), potassium sorbate, lactic acid, calcium disodium edta
I highlighted 4 ingredients that you might not be sure about. Let’s go through them one-by-one:
- Palm oil – While technically vegan, many ethical vegans do not eat palm oil.
- Vitamin D – Most vitamin D added to foods is not vegan. It’s typically derived from lanolin (from sheep’s wool).
- Natural and artificial flavors – While natural flavors aren’t always vegan, it’s pretty safe to assume they are considering the spreads are all “dairy-free.”
- Lactic acid – While “lactic” makes it sound like it’s from milk, most lactic acid is in fact vegan friendly.
- Vitamin A palmitate – There no relation to the palm tree, despite the name. It used to come from animal sources, but most modern vitamin A palmitate is made in a lab.
It’s a pretty safe assumption that the lactic acid is from a plant source, which makes all the butter spreads dairy-free.
All Smart Balance spreads contain palm oil, so if that’s a deal breaker for you (it is for me), Smart Balance isn’t an option.
But the only ingredient that definitely isn’t vegan is the vitamin D, which is only added to some flavors.
Which Smart Balance Flavors Are Vegan?
A few specific Smart Balance margarines are vegan friendly (depending on your palm oil views).
Let’s go through them one-by-one:
- Original Smart Balance – Contains vitamin D, most likely not vegan.
- Light with flaxseed oil – Vegan (But contains palm oil).
- Light Omega 3 – Contains vitamin D, most likely not vegan.
- Omega 3 – Contains fish oil and vitamin D, not vegan.
- EVOO – Contains vitamin D, most likely not vegan.
- Low sodium – Contains vitamin D, most likely not vegan.
- Organic – Vegan (But contains palm oil).
After all of that, if you’re okay with palm oil, the Smart Balance spreads that you would consider vegan are Smart Balance Light with flaxseed oil and Smart Balance Organic.
That should be everything you need to know to make your own decision on the matter.
Smart Balance Alternatives
Personally, I would rather be 100% sure that my butter is vegan.
And thankfully there are quite a few options these days, whether you want to buy one in a store, or make your own.
I made a list of the best vegan butter alternatives (without palm oil) if you’re interested in finding an alternative. In general, Earth Balance stacks up well against Smart Balance as well.