Are Goldfish Crackers Vegan?

Savory snacks are high on the list for many plant-based tables, but it is hard to tell which you should add to your shopping basket. Today, we’re looking at one of the most popular, but are Goldfish Crackers vegan? The answer is that they are not.

We’re going to look at why, and see if there are any vegan alternatives.

Ingredients

They may be cute, but certain ingredients will raise alarm bells for any vegan. Firstly, all flavors contain at least one ingredient derived from milk. It isn’t so surprising since the original flavor is cheese flavored, and the ingredients are as follows:

ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR (FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), VEGETABLE OILS (CANOLA, SUNFLOWER, AND/OR SOYBEAN), SALT, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: NONFAT MILK, YEAST, SUGAR, BAKING SODA, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, PAPRIKA, SPICES, CELERY, ONION POWDER.

The ingredient that stands out is non-fat milk. As a dairy product, it is not vegan. Still, for a snack that is cheese flavored, you may expect there to be more dairy ingredients than this. 

The poor treatment of dairy cows makes it a quick no from any vegan. Even organic milk is not acceptable. 

The inclusion of sugar will also be problematic for some vegans because of the risk of it being processed with bone char. This is made from the bones of cattle and pigs and is used to decolorize sugar to give it a desirable white appearance. 

Not every brand uses this, but it is a popular method in the US where imported bones are common. The only way to be sure is to contact a company directly, but you often get an answer that involves having multiple suppliers, making it hard to tell you anything specific. 

Are Any Goldfish Crackers Flavor Vegan?

Unfortunately not, here is a rundown of why:

Goldfish Parmesan

The inclusion of parmesan cheese is hardly surprising, but add butter to this (plus sugar), and you have enough dairy to make it non-vegan. 

ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR (FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), VEGETABLE OILS (CANOLA, SUNFLOWER AND/OR SOYBEAN), PARMESAN CHEESE (MILK, CULTURES, SALT, ENZYMES), SALT, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: YEAST, ONION POWDER, SUGAR, BUTTER, AUTOLYZED YEAST EXTRACT, BAKING SODA. 

Goldfish Cheddar

Made with a stronger cheddar taste than the original. The inclusion of cheddar cheese from cultured milk stands out. They are, of course, not vegan because of this. 

ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR (FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), CHEDDAR CHEESE ([CULTURED MILK, SALT, ENZYMES], ANNATTO), VEGETABLE OILS (CANOLA, SUNFLOWER, AND/OR SOYBEAN), SALT, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: YEAST, SUGAR, AUTOLYZED YEAST EXTRACT, PAPRIKA, SPICES, CELERY, ONION POWDER, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, BAKING SODA. 

The same problematic ingredient can be found in the following flavors:

  • Goldfish Baby Cheddar
  • Goldfish Colors
  • Goldfish Pizza

Goldfish Pretzel

You can find pretzels that are made without dairy, but you still need to be cautious. These pretzel-flavored Goldfish are unfortunately not vegan. It’s because of non-fat milk. 

ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR (FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), VEGETABLE OILS (CANOLA, SUNFLOWER, AND/OR SOYBEAN), SALT, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: BAKING POWDER (SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, BAKING SODA, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE), MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, DEXTROSE, NONFAT MILK.  

How Are Goldfish Crackers Made?

The ingredients are combined in huge mixing machines. Once made into dough, it is flattened before being moved on a conveyor belt.

A large dye roller passes over the sheets, pressing the fish shapes in their thousands. They are then salted and backed before being packed, ready for shipping.

Vegan-Friendly Alternatives

Luckily the following brands are making vegan crackers. Although you are missing out on the iconic fish shapes, you are getting a plant-based snack that is cruelty-free. 

Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Flavored Squares

Made from unbleached pastry flour, these squares are cheddar flavored and labeled as vegan. The inclusion of palm oil will be a deal-breaker for some, since the sourcing of most palm oil results in the deforestation of the natural habitat for many species. 

Still, because the brand specifically says they are vegan, they may have obtained this ingredient from more ethical sources. 

Unbleached Pastry flour, Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Canola Oil, Corn Starch, Seasoning (Maltodextrin, Yeast Extract, Gum Acacia, Natural Flavor), Palm Oil, Sunflower Lecithin, Salt, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate, Ammonium Bicarbonate, Sugar, Paprika Oleoresin Color, Yeast Extract, Annatto Extract (Water, Annatto), Lactic Acid, Dehydrated Toasted Onion, Garlic Powder.

Back To Nature Crackers

Non-GMO and plant-based, these cheddar flavored crackers are as close to Goldfish Crackers as we could find. Again, there is palm oil, so it is up to the individual as to how strict they are with this ingredient.

Unbleached Wheat Flour, Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Safflower Oil, Corn Starch, Palm Oil, Leavening (Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate, Ammonium Bicarbonate), Yeast Extraction, Sunflower Lecithin, Salt, Distilled Vinegar Solids, Annatto Extract (for color), Organic Maltodextrin, Natural Flavor.

Final Word

Goldfish Crackers aren’t alone in being non-vegan – most cheese flavored snacks are. It’s unfortunate, but at least the label is easy to decipher.

For a completely vegan snack, opt for a brand that states they are vegan friendly, that way you get to enjoy the cheddar flavor without there being any cruelty involved. 

About the author