Is seasoned cast iron vegan?
Growing up, we used Telfon frying pans a lot in my mum’s kitchen. Back then, hardly anyone questioned the safety of the compounds used in non-stick cookware. And I didn’t think too much of it when one frying pan we used began to peel – I simply picked the little black bits of Teflon out of my food.
It’s been several years now since I’ve used a non-stick cookware in my own kitchen, and I’ve never been able to get the hang of not having my pancakes and French toast stick to my frying pans. When I got my mitts on Isa’s Vegan Brunch, I was so excited about trying the Banana Rabanada (Brazillian French Toast). And just when I thought that all my French toast dreams were about to come true, I tried to flip my bread and half of each of the slices stuck to the pan. So much for Sunday morning breakfast. I was pretty sulky.
I was gifted a lovely enameled frying pan a few years back that I thought would be the answer to my sticky woes. Alas, though the directions said never to use the pan on heat above medium, apparently even the medium-low setting on my stove was too much for the pan. It didn’t stay non-stick for long. And at a whopping $40 each, eco-friendly ceramic non-stick pans aren’t so eco-friendly if I have to keep buying them.
Crepes, fluffy pancakes, tofu omelets, latkes, hashbrowns, pretty much anything that sticks to a pan is out of the question in my kitchen. And so, I was seriously thinking of going back to the dark side again, even if it meant using a non-stick pan only once a week (knowing me, it’d be a lot more than that despite my intentions).
I’d heard of the benefits of using cast iron cookware (and particularly how it benefits people with anemia), but it was only recently that someone told me that cast iron could become non-stick. For various reasons I’ve waffled quite a bit about buying a cast iron frying pan. Cast iron is also expensive and darn heavy for the size I would want to have. And, I once washed several of a friend’s cast iron pans with soap and water and wondered later on why they all rusted. So I wasn’t sure I was up for caring for one of these pans.
Curious to know about how to season a pan, and I came across some information about the various kinds of fats used by companies selling pre-seasoned pans. Not all of these fats are vegan, and a quick Google search with “vegan seasoned cast iron” doesn’t turn up a lot of helpful info. Lodge Cast Iron Cookware is the brand I’ve come across most often in stores around Vancouver, and considering how many vegans use this brand (and others) I was really concerned about the vegan-friendliness of Lodge’s seasoning fat.
I was about to send the company an e-mail when I decided to check out their FAQs on the care and use of their products. This is what they have to say about the oil used to pre-season their cookware:
What type oil is used to season Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron?
We use a proprietary soy-based vegetable oil to season our cookware. This oil has been Orthodox Union Kosher certified. The oil contains no animal fat or peanut oil. The seasoning is functional application and slight inconsistencies may appear in the seasoning finish. The inconsistencies will not affect cooking performance.
Phew! It’s vegan friendly, and I’m not gonna quibble about whether or not the soy oil is non-GMO. Once I get my frying pan, hopefully several weeks of intense use and seasoning will get it halfway toward non-stick heaven.