Is Ghee Vegan?

Answer: No

Ghee is a traditional Indian ingredient used in many dishes. It’s a dairy derivative and is essentially liquid butter. Not vegan. When ordering Indian food, please make the servers aware that you do not eat ghee as it could be added to rotis (breads) or main dishes.

36 comments for “Is Ghee Vegan?

  1. Iain thomson
    April 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Hello. Is this also true of vegetable ghee? Or just butter ghee?

    • @isitvegan
      April 26, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      “vegetable ghee” is just hydrogenated oil. Likely vegan, likely TERRIBLE for you.

  2. July 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Properly made ghee IS vegan—it goes thru a complete transformation when cooked CORRECTLY & loses all link to its dairy origins..this is why ghee candles burn in the greatest temples in India. Properly made ghee has lost all link with ‘liquid butter, or ‘clarified butter’; biochemically it is absolutely different. I had the privilege of studying ~30 yrs with a Master of Ayurvedic Medicine.
    Thanks for considering an alternative answer which will stir comment!

    C S Khalsa
    Ayurvedic Practitioner

    • @isitvegan
      July 6, 2012 at 7:07 pm

      Vegan products are ones that do not come from animal sources. End of story. Does ghee originate from cows? Yes. Therefore ghee is not and can never be vegan.

      • October 21, 2014 at 3:20 pm

        you are correct … this so called master of Ayurvedic medicine don’t know what is vegan

      • Jen
        February 14, 2016 at 12:18 am

        Absolutely correct, the fact that it’s origin is from animal, it cannot possibly be vegan.

      • nick
        January 11, 2019 at 12:39 am

        correct 🙂

    • Chris
      September 1, 2017 at 2:06 am

      It still came from a cow… you could process it a thousand ways but it still comes from a cow… so no you cannot consider it vegan.

    • Celeste
      September 20, 2017 at 7:44 am

      Thank you for correcting the author. Properly made, ghee is dairy free!

  3. Sam Rojan
    January 28, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    It would be correct to say that ghee is not dairy, but it is also definitely NOT vegan.

    • January 29, 2013 at 10:57 am

      This might ignite a firestorm–lets see. There is much misinformation here in the West about ghee: what it is, its health effects, what variety of ghee is permitted as ‘vegan’, and even how to properly prepare ghee.

      The truth is this: ‘ghee’ when properly made from cow’s milk IS both Vegan and the highest vegetarian food, if you research history of Hinduism and Ayurvedic Medicine.
      Ghee is absolutely NOT ‘clarified butter’–It does NOT cause you to gain weight, even in large quantities: quite the reverse–in India ‘ghee fasts’ are prescribed to LOSE weight in a very healthy way. Ghee in the diet, properly done, completely rewrites your liver chemistry in a healthy, youthful way and gradually restores the body functions. We hope Western (Alleopathic) medicine will ‘discover’ that ghee restores the sheath of the nerves, and in its reset of pH and enzyme chemistry prevents brain deterioration with aging. Ghee is the only material which can be used in preparing the higher Ayurvedic medicines. Ghee looks like a fatty oil; the fact that it is processed in the body as a protein is a hidden fact. The incredible transformation that butter goes though to create ghee, leaving all the nasty stuff behind on the bottom of the pan, is why ghee is burned in the lamps of the highest Hindu temples–it symbolizes the transformation of the human from the muddy earth into pure spirit, the highest product of ‘The Khaamadhayn, the cow of miraculous powers.’

      Although a Westerner, I had the great privilege of studying with Dr Harbhajan Singh Khalsa (Yogi Bhajan) for >30 years. He was acknowledged as a Master of Ayurvedic and Tibetan Medicine.

      Christ-Singh Khalsa, SiD
      IWL (“It’s a Wonderful Life”)
      Practitioner of Ayurvedic Medicine
      Austin, TX, USA

      • Skyler
        August 17, 2017 at 12:50 am

        I think this man have a point. Because, let’s say this. Lemons. Lemons are acidic tasting, yet even though it’s a fruit that’s acidic, it becomes Ph neutral when it hits the stomach. Even though it didn’t really transform, it’s properties did change. So let’s say this. If you’re going vegan to end animal cruelty or just not eat any animal derivative that’s harmful for you. Ok, that’s perfectly fine. However, if something that is a derivative from an animal byproduct were to change enough to where it removed everything bad from it, what’s wrong with it being an exception to the vegan diet? If it’s legitimately good for you, what’s wrong? Well. That’s up to the person consuming such product. Also, to be clear. Ghee doesn’t have ANY, and I mean ANY ( If done right. ) lactose or casein. So people with lactose and casein sensitivities can eat this.

        • October 17, 2017 at 1:10 pm

          I totally agree with Both of the former messages. Although the fact is dairy is involved so a cow has given milk for that. Then you can ask what is the defenition of vegan? : as far as possible avoiding to use and especially not harming animals. But if the milk comes from a healthy happy cow and treated well and surving us with milk used for a healthy and healing product there is no harm involved for any one. Not the cow, not the product, not the human consumer. Indeed rejecting this healthy product would be a mistake off the thinking mind. Not using a product because it is from an animal, leaving out the wisdom of many centuries as ayurveda has permitted ghee as a vegan product. Would be small minded and short sighted. And a shortcoming to once who want to live healthy and be good to nature again when everything done properly, the cow isn’t harmed and the product transformed so much not to be linked any more to the origonal product. This would be a shame when the discussion became about who right and who s wrong. Instead about what works and what is best. And It would be like the inexpierenced one telling what’s right because we think we know so much, but what a waste of time and a shame for the good and healthy because somebody draw the line somewhere. I think we should use our healthy minds and listen to the wise and ancient knowledge and being flexible a little. Just a little, little and defenitely not to much. Like honey can be honest, when they give the bees their own honey and not the sugar water right. It only mor expansive so people don t want to buy that but the cheap stolen honey even biolocigal… Sorry I have gone to far honey is not vegan and buying lether shoes is not something a proper vega would do ( even when there second hand …) becoming a good vega is hard and costly work. But excluding ghee? come one, that’s a bit like trowing away the child with the bath water. xx NamastĂ© (sorry I don’t want to put oil on the fire, but it hurts my heart when good people unnesecairy cut them selves off from the good and healing stuff )

          • Hardeep
            June 18, 2019 at 5:40 pm

            I am honestly stunned at the ignorance on show here.

            It doesn’t matter if it starts as dairy from the worlds happiest cow, or the worlds most miserable. It doesn’t matter if it’s been processed a thousand times or chucked in a pan strait from the teat. Ghee derived from a cow’s products is not vegan by any other definition but yours. There really is little discussion beyond that.

            I try and have respect for other belief systems, but I’m afraid the Ayurvedic definition of “vegan”, as defined solely by these comments here mind you, is simply non-compatible with the modern and widespread definition.

  4. Sweifan
    February 11, 2013 at 8:41 am

    If the product has come from an animal, such as a cow, it is not vegan. If you are wearing leather shoes, they are not vegan. If you are sucking on white mints made with beef gelatine, they are not vegan. If you are eating muesli that contains in its ingredients dehydrated milk powder, it is not vegan. If you sit down to eat a curry, and it contains ghee, a substance strained so far from its original source, begged from a holy cow fanned by the cooling fronds of a palm tree, sent to Mars for processing and blessed by god himself, served by angels and seasoned with the sap from the tree of life -it is not vegan. Ghee is not vegan as it is derived from an animal. Before taking the time to write a post tagged with your ‘credentials’, take the time first to look up the word ‘vegan’ in the dictionary.

    Firestorm lit, firestorm extinguished.

    • May 12, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      So true… and I love your post btw. LOL, great stuff!

    • Martin Carlsson
      January 2, 2016 at 3:23 am

      Hahaha I love your answer Sweifan

    • Brad Aubrey
      August 10, 2017 at 9:42 am

      not convincing. Ghee is Vegan!

    • Miranda M
      September 18, 2017 at 6:42 am

      Perfect response.

    • Nikki Sunshine
      November 15, 2017 at 10:46 am

      Hi, I’ve come to this conversation (yes, quite late) but specifically to understand why some do, while others do not consider Ghee as a vegan product. Though I do not adhere to a vegan lifestyle, I have friends who are. As a hobbyist baker and a good friend, I want to respect the choices made by others in their diets and not offer products that would conflict. (Yes, I know that there are many options for a vegan, non ghee, fats for baking). Simply put, I am a curious person that strives to understand many of the ‘whys’ in life. I am in the search to understand and I have read points on both sides of this ghee debate and what defines a vegan lifestyle. I never even thought about honey as a non vegan food (admittedly, a light bulb moment), as under the definition of ‘no animal product ever’ I understand how that falls under a non vegan food. Now I have been left with even more questions. To quote you Sweifan, “not vegan as it is derived from an animal” leaves me to inquire how directly the animal must be connected with the food source. I do understand that there are several philosophies as to why one would choose a vegan lifestyle, one being for health, and another being the treatment of animals. I have had the pleasure of knowing a strict fruitarian, so that not even a plant is harmed. So here are some of my questions, for those who are not vegans for health concerns, but for ‘ethical’ reasons. How far must the animal be removed from the food? Meaning, if I am plowing the field with a mule, horses, oxen, etc. (as with cultures that do not have farming machinery or when an animal is used in the grinding of grain), would that fall under the ‘exploitation or cruelty to animals’ vegans are trying to avoid? Now honey, being a direct link to bees is not vegan (seen as cruel, as it removes their food source therefor ‘stressing’ the hive as a whole to produce more), but if we were to lose all our bees, who are responsible for the pollination of the bulk of plants (list included: ) does the foods on that list get excluded from the vegan (for ethical reasons) diet to ensure that the bees are not ‘exploited’? Assuming these are man maintained bees pollinating the local farm. Finally, since Maple Syrup is the intentional draining of sap from a maple tree which is then processed (boiled down) to get that beautiful syrup, is that not similar to honey, as the tree is reliant on the food it produces to survive the winter which when drained ‘stresses the tree’ just as are the bees? I’m curious to understand where the line is drawn, and why is it drawn there (yes, depending on the individual, that will change)?

  5. Curiosity Resolved
    March 3, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    Thank you. I always wondered how people could say Ghee was vegan. Now I understand why some people might believe it is vegan. Thank you, Thank you.

  6. Ram Shyam
    December 23, 2013 at 7:55 am

    The problem with ghee is that it is sattvic and useful only if from a “happy cow” who is let free to roam, who is not pregnant, who has fed her calf to its fill and there is milk leftover which she is happy to share. Even that milk is not *vegan* though it may remain sattvic till the end of that day – it must be warm or it must be converted into other products that very day. Even such an “allowed” form of milk is not *vegan* because it is animal-origin. Vegan and pure/”sattvic” are independent terms. Ghee is not vegan, by definition, as it is an animal product derivative. Sattvic / pure may be useful in Ayurveda, but Vegan is not an ayurvedic term, it is a western one with a clear definition – non-animal origin.

    • Nikki Sunshine
      November 15, 2017 at 10:53 am

      Please chime in on my questions, as asked under Sweifan, above.

    • nick
      January 11, 2019 at 12:25 am

      yessss great answer. the above seem to only consider vegan as linked to what we eat. a leather shoe, which isn’t going to be eaten, is not vegan because it still came from an animal. same with ghee. doesn’t matter what u do to it its not vegan. but yes, Sattvic. thank you!

  7. charles
    May 12, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    once again mr Khalsa, it is not vegan and can never be vegan. I came from an animal and anything from an animal makes it not vegan. You can change it chemically and run it through a cyclotron and get Vishnu to bless it but it came from an animal and can never be vegan. Unless you and Yogi Bhajan have your own dictionary of alternate definitions. thank you

    • Phoenix Fazran
      August 13, 2017 at 6:44 am

      Dont go too far with it Charles.Dont bring holy names into it.Nobody is a perfect vegan unless you practice Jainism. -peace brother-

      • Nikki Sunshine
        November 15, 2017 at 10:56 am

        Also interested in your perspective on my questions in a post reply under Sweifan, above. If you don’t mind…

  8. Dan
    January 25, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Damn 1st world problems…

    • Nikki Sunshine
      November 15, 2017 at 11:23 am

      I have to agree with you! In a land of plenty of resources, food and choices, we are fortunate. I get upset when I hear people advocating for a world of only vegan choices. there are still plenty of areas worldwide that rely on their livestock (as in dairy producing animal… cow, goat, sheep, etc) for sheer survival. In a world where we are so far removed form the production of our food, so many forget that when you rely on your animal for so much more than milk for longer shelf life food products (as are some cheeses), dung for fuel, fertilizer, and structural, and possibly to help till soil and grind grain. These are people who are least likely to abuse their animals, as living without them would surely plunge them into greater poverty. I have seen firsthand how important these animals are in a families life, and how devastating their death can be.

  9. avishkar
    August 16, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    yeah….first you have to know…..u too came from animal body….so why do u need vegan food when u yourself came from flesh and blood….please transformation comes from inside….since we have animal instinct we need to transform our self to higher being or higher consciousness…that is why we have meditation…yoga these are tools to explore within ur self who are you?….than you will know that you are just an animal like others….knowing that resentment comes and so do ego…therefore ego is just an illusion u make inside your mind to show others that you r not an animal and so. but the real transformation comes when you will see that you are an animal and you accept that instead of resenting it…so what will happen..u will have an urge to surrender your animal instinct and as your meditation improves so is your ability to surrender. this is real transformation……it doesn’t matter whether u r vegan or whatever outside….the change has to come from inside….so ghee is an example of that transformation….yeah it has came from a cow…..but it has transformed into the higher state…i would say that ghee won’t carry any emotions neither ego or any animal instinct. it has transformed from animal to absolute purity….
    let there be peace………

  10. January 3, 2016 at 11:53 am

    an interesting exchange if ideas. My child wants to be a vegan because she believes eating animals and animal derived products is adding to climate change and global warming. I am looking for butter alternatives. So ghee does not count…unless it is sources from a free range cow that is is not on a diary farm? It still adds methane to the planet …but I doubt vegans are advocating the death of all cows or animals. Can I convince my daugther that properly sourced ghee is not going to add to gobal warming?

    • Paige
      June 3, 2016 at 3:25 pm

      coconut oil is your best butter alternative for her.

      • February 7, 2017 at 3:59 pm

        Coconut oil according with studies shown by Dr Gregger is not very healthy, olive oil butter is delicious and healthier than Coconut oil.

  11. Vegancow
    December 13, 2016 at 11:47 am

    As I read comments made here it is clear that most of you have book knowledge only you just do not understand what ghee is and I can not ‘blame’ any of you because to understand what ghee is you have to study its property under a teacher that has knowledge authority which is obvious that most of you do not have, Do not take offense with these words however know that ghee is a miracle in and of itself if regenerates bodily functions that nothing else can. So before one speaks, it is important to study the content of the statements made – before – they are written and so it goes for anything in life. This of you vegans, I salute you for it is an excellent diet, some of you will say that its ‘the only diet’ there is, well in your perfect world it may be however this world is not perfect and so is one’s opinion about ghee if its not backed by knowledge, so I invite all of you who are under the impression that ghee is not vegan and do that for your own self and study the actual properties of what ghee is and you will come to the irrefutable conclusion that ghee is an oil, yes it’s from a cow but its an oil and a great oil it is. Open yourselves to step outside book definitions and might just find a whole new world out there, one that is healthy for you.


    • February 7, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      I think you are confusing healthy with Vegan, Ghee can be pure, healthy, from a happy cow and without any karma attached, but it will never be vegan by definition.

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