Is Buttermilk Vegan?

When it comes to the question of whether or not buttermilk is vegan, the answer is not as straightforward as you may think. In order to determine the vegan status of buttermilk, we need to take a closer look at its ingredients and how it is produced.

What is Buttermilk?

Buttermilk is a fermented dairy product that is commonly used in baking, cooking, and as a refreshing beverage. Traditionally, buttermilk is the liquid that remains after churning butter out of cream. It has a tangy taste and a slightly thicker consistency compared to regular milk.


Buttermilk typically contains two main ingredients:

  • Milk: As buttermilk is a dairy product, it is made from milk.
  • Cultures: Buttermilk is created by introducing lactic acid bacteria cultures to milk, which ferments it and gives it its characteristic tangy flavor.

So, based on these ingredients, it is clear that buttermilk is not suitable for those following a strictly plant-based vegan diet. However, there are some variations and alternatives that can be considered.

Plant-Based Alternatives

If you are looking for a vegan substitute for buttermilk, there are a few options available:

  1. Non-Dairy Milk + Acidic Ingredient: One simple way to create a vegan substitute for buttermilk is by combining non-dairy milk, such as almond milk or soy milk, with an acidic ingredient like lemon juice or vinegar. This combination will mimic the tangy flavor and slightly thicker consistency of buttermilk.
  2. Non-Dairy Yogurt: Another alternative is using non-dairy yogurt, such as coconut or almond yogurt, mixed with a small amount of water to achieve a buttermilk-like consistency.
  3. Commercial Vegan Buttermilk: Some specialty stores or online retailers offer ready-made vegan buttermilk alternatives made from non-dairy ingredients. These products are specifically formulated to replicate the taste and texture of traditional buttermilk.

Is Buttermilk Vegetarian?

While buttermilk is not suitable for vegans, it is important to note that it is considered vegetarian. Vegetarians do not consume meat, but they do consume animal by-products such as milk and eggs. Since buttermilk is a dairy product, it falls within this category and is generally accepted as vegetarian-friendly.

How Buttermilk is Used

Buttermilk is a versatile ingredient that is commonly used in a variety of recipes. Here are some popular uses of buttermilk:

Buttermilk pancakesMarinating chickenButtermilk smoothies
Buttermilk biscuitsBreading for fried foodsButtermilk lassi
Buttermilk sconesSauces and dressingsButtermilk shakes


In conclusion, traditional buttermilk made from dairy milk is not vegan. However, there are various plant-based alternatives and substitutes available for those following a vegan diet. By choosing non-dairy milk, yogurt, or commercial vegan alternatives, you can still enjoy the tangy taste and versatility of buttermilk without compromising your vegan lifestyle.