Is Maple Syrup Vegan? (We Have the Answer!)

Is Maple Syrup Vegan

Maple syrup is a delicious sweetener with a unique taste. Most of the world’s maple syrup is made in Canada and parts of the United States, most notably Vermont. Maple syrup is used to top pancakes, add flavor to savory meats, and can be used in cooking and baking a variety of dishes. This sweet-tasting golden syrup might also provide some health benefits as well.

Pure maple syrup is vegan. Pure maple syrup is made from the sap of sugar maple trees and doesn’t have any additional ingredients. Some sweeteners described as “maple-flavored” might contain non-vegan ingredients like honey, so be sure to choose 100% pure maple syrup. The best vegan-friendly alternatives are Date Lady Original Date Syrup and Madhava Organic Coconut Sugar.

If you’re curious how maple syrup is made and whether or not it’s healthy, we have all of the details below. Let’s dig in!

What is maple syrup?

Maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees. The sap of maple trees is 98% water and 2% sugar, which means it takes a lot of sap to make maple syrup. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup, which is made by boiling the sap to remove the water.

To get the sap out of a maple tree, a hole is drilled in the side of the tree. A spile (tap) is inserted into the hole to move the sap into a bucket. Tapping maple trees for sap isn’t harmful to the tree as long as the hole drilled isn’t too deep and you don’t overdo it on removing the sap since trees can become stressed.

You can get maple syrup from any kind of maple tree. Trees that can be tapped to get the sap include sugar, black, red, and silver maples as well as box elder trees. Of all the types of maple trees, the highest concentration of sugar is found in the sap of the sugar maple, hence its name.

What are the different kinds of maple syrup?

Maple syrup is grouped into categories based on color. The four main groups are Golden, Amber, Dark, and Very Dark. Different colors of maple syrup mean different flavors.

According to Vermont Maple Sugar Makers, here are the descriptions of the different colors of maple syrup:

1. Golden Color (Delicate Taste)

Usually made at the beginning of the new maple season… [the] subtle maple flavor is best appreciated when used on pancakes or waffles or paired with rich dairy items like yogurt or vanilla ice cream. Try it over Greek yogurt or for a simple but elegant dessert, simply pour this grade of Vermont syrup over vanilla ice cream.

2. Amber Color (Rich Taste)

Usually made about mid-season and often seems to be the most popular for all-around use. Full of characteristic maple flavor, this syrup is equally as good over waffles as it is in salad dressings, cocktails, or in a maple-sweetened barbecue sauce. If you’re only going to have one grade of Vermont maple syrup in your kitchen, make it Amber Color with Rich Taste.

3. Dark Color (Robust Taste)

As the maple season progresses, the syrup darkens in color and develops a more robust maple flavor. Good for all-around use, its hearty flavor is a great choice for all kinds of recipes. Pour over baked apples or squash, use as a glaze for meats and vegetables, or sweeten baked goods. This grade pairs well with smoky and spicy flavors like chipotle peppers, sriracha, or bourbon.

4. Very Dark Color (Strong Taste)

Produced at the end of the season, it’s perfect for cooking and baking. When you need a strong maple flavor in bread or cookies, ice cream, or barbecue sauce, this is the grade of choice.

What are the nutritional benefits of maple syrup?

Maple syrup is just one of many types of natural sweeteners available. What makes maple syrup stand out amongst other sweeteners?

Vitamins and minerals

Maple syrup has several vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. One serving of maple syrup provides 8% of the daily value for both iron and calcium which is higher than other natural sweeteners like honey.


Antioxidants are compounds that help fight inflammation and oxidative stress. Inflammation is linked to many of today’s most prevalent chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

Some of the antioxidants in maple syrup include benzoic acid, gallic acid, cinnamic acid, as well as flavonols like catechin, epicatechin, rutin, and quercetin.

It can help stop the growth of cancer cells

According to a test-tube study, maple syrup helped stop gastrointestinal cell growth. Specifically, dark-colored maple syrup proved to be the most efficient at stopping cancer growth.

Lower glycemic index than sugar

The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly food or drink raises your blood sugar level. The scale for the glycemic index ranges from 1-100 with the higher numbers correlating to a faster blood sugar spike.

Maple syrup has a glycemic index of 54 which is lower than table sugar (sucrose) with a glycemic index of 65. Honey has a glycemic index of 58.

Difference between syrup and pure maple syrup

It’s important to note that not all syrups are pure maple syrup. Pancake syrup and “table syrup” might appear to be maple syrup, but they are very different.

For instance, Log Cabin’s All Natural Table Syrup contains brown rice syrup, cane sugar, and brown sugar, and pancake syrup is usually made from corn syrup. Some syrups are “maple-flavored” but aren’t the same as pure maple syrup.

To get pure maple syrup, ensure that it says “100% pure maple syrup” and doesn’t contain any other types of sweeteners besides maple syrup.

Is maple syrup healthy?

Maple syrup is essentially straight sugar, but it’s more natural than many other types of sweeteners used in foods today. Maple syrup is natural whereas high-fructose corn syrup is manmade and chemically altered to be sweeter than regular sugar.

Maple syrup contains more vitamins and minerals than many other sweeteners and has a lower glycemic index as well. However, maple syrup is still very high in sugar so it’s not necessarily healthy, but it’s healthier than some other sweeteners.

Maple Syrup Nutritional Information

Hidden Springs Maple Organic Maple Syrup

This maple syrup is dark in color so it has a richer taste than lighter varieties.


  • Vermont Organic Maple Syrup

Nutrition facts (per 4 tbsp.):

  • Calories: 200
  • Total Fat: 0
  • Sodium: 7 mg (0% DV)
  • Total Carbohydrates: 53 g
  • Total Sugars: 53 g
  • Protein: 0 g

Tierra Farm Organic Pure Maple Syrup


  • Organic Pure Maple Syrup

Nutrition facts (per 4 tbsp.):

  • Calories: 200
  • Total Fat: 0
  • Sodium: 7 mg (0% DV)
  • Total Carbohydrates: 53 g
  • Total Sugars: 53 g
  • Protein: 0 g

Butternut Mountain Farm 100% Pure Vermont Maple Syrup


  • Pure Maple Syrup

Nutrition facts (per 2 tbsp.):

  • Calories: 110
  • Total Fat: 0
  • Sodium: 5 mg (0% DV)
  • Total Carbohydrates: 27 g
  • Total Sugars: 24 g
  • Protein: 0 g

Other Vegan Alternatives to Maple Syrup

Date Lady Original Syrup

Award Winning Organic Date Syrup 18 Ounce Squeeze Bottle | Vegan, Paleo, Gluten-free & Kosher || Sugar Substitute || More Nutrition Than Maple Syrup or Honey Similar to maple syrup, date syrup is rich in certain nutrients like magnesium, calcium, iron, and phosphorus.


  • Organic Dates

Nutrition Facts (per 1 tbsp.):

  • Calories: 150
  • Total Fat: 0 g
  • Sodium: 70 mg (3% DV)
  • Total Carbohydrate: 36 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0 g
  • Total Sugars: 22 g
  • Protein: 0 g

Madhava Organic Coconut Sugar

MADHAVA Organic Coconut Sugar 3 Lb. Bag (Pack of 1), Natural Sweetener, Sugar Alternative, Unrefined, Sugar for Coffee, Tea & Recipes, Vegan, Organic, Non GMO Gum arabic powder is used as a thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier in foods. It’s made from African trees and is gluten-free.


  • Organic Coconut Sugar

Nutrition Facts (per 1 tsp.):

  • Calories: 15
  • Total Fat: 0 g
  • Sodium: 10 mg (0% DV)
  • Total Carbohydrate: 4 g
  • Total Sugars: 4 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 0 g

Wholesome Organic Raw Blue Agave

Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Raw Blue Agave Nectar, Natural Low Glycemic Sweetener, Non GMO, Fair Trade & Gluten Free, (Pack of 2), 44 Oz Ingredients:

  • Organic Raw Blue Agave Nectar (Fair Trade Certified by Fair Trade USA)

Nutrition facts (per one tablespoon):

  • Calories: 60
  • Total Fat: 0 g
  • Sodium: 0 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 16 g
  • Total Sugars: 16 g
  • Added Sugars: 16 g
  • Protein: 0 g

The bottom line

Maple syrup is a good option for a vegan sweetener. It has a syrupy consistency similar to honey which is avoided on a vegan diet. Maple syrup contains more vitamins and minerals than other sweeteners so is considered healthier in that way. There are even studies showing that maple syrup can help stop cancer cell growth!

Maple syrup is considered added sugar even though it’s harvested from a natural source. That means that maple syrup should be eaten in moderation just like any other form of sugar. Diets high in added sugar, whether it’s from table sugar or maple syrup, can be detrimental to your health.

Related Questions

Is maple syrup gluten-free?

Pure maple syrup is gluten-free.

Is maple syrup better than honey?

Maple syrup contains more vitamins and minerals than honey and also has a lower glycemic index. Both maple syrup and honey provide added sugar in your diet which should be limited to fewer than 36 grams per day for women and fewer than 24 grams per day for men.

Why is maple syrup so expensive?

It takes a lot of time and labor to make maple syrup. Maple syrup can only be made from certain types of trees, so there is an element of scarcity as well. These factors are all reflected in the price of maple syrup.

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Diana Gariglio-Clelland

Diana Gariglio-Clelland is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. She obtained her Bachelor's in Nutrition from the University of Idaho in 2012 and has worked in clinical, community, and primary care nutrition settings. She currently works as a freelancer on various health- and nutrition-related projects.

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