Firstly, caramel refers to melted sugar. So the first question should be “Is sugar vegan”? There are sugar brands out there that use bone char in the process of whitening sugar. It is of utmost importance to find out the source of the sugar used to produce the caramel you are considering using. Read more about bone char here.
Some of the commercial brands of caramel do include butter, milk or egg to give it a better texture and taste. Food and beverage outlets out there may be doing the same. For example, Starbucks’ caramel drizzle in their Caramel Macchiato and Caramel Frappuccino contains dairy products, thus it is not vegan.
Traditionally, caramel is made with cream or cow’s milk but it is simple to veganise it! Simply replacing it with your favorite type of plant-based milk will do if you want to make thicker caramel syrup. It also can be done without any milk/thickener, if you just want to make caramel as a coating (hint: sea-salted almond granolas are awesome!)
Fret not if you are unsure when ordering food or beverage with caramel. Check out this handy guide by PETA on how to order vegan stuff in Starbucks.
Drop a comment below if you have tried deserts with vegan caramel!