Are Pop-Tarts Vegan?

If you have recently become vegan, these may have been your favorite breakfast growing up. But the question remains, are Pop-Tarts vegan? The answer is that some flavors are generally considered to be suitable, but many aren’t.

In the following article, we will help you find the ones that may be suitable, and shed light on the ingredients and products to avoid. 

Most Pop-Tarts fall into two popular categories: frosted and non-frosted. With the number of flavors, this might be a little general, but we are going to compare two of the most popular options to see if any could be considered vegan.

Unfrosted Strawberry Ingredients

Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, vitamin B1 [thiamin mononitrate], vitamin B2 [riboflavin], folic acid), corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, soybean, and palm oil (with TBHQ for freshness), bleached wheat flour. Contains 2% or less of wheat starch, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate), citric acid, dried pears, dried apples, dried strawberries, caramel color, xanthan gum, modified wheat starch, soy lecithin, red 40, yellow 6.

Although none are animal-derived, there are numerous problematic ingredients here, but all of them could be fine if you are more of a lenient vegan. Let’s take a look at why:

Palm Oil

To source palm oil, companies have to carve through the rainforest, destroying the natural habitat of numerous specifies. This displaces them, causes all manner of distress, and leads to decreased numbers of the likes of orangutans. 

Soe companies use organic palm oil which will not use such an awful approach, but they are likely to specify this on the label. 

Although it is not animal-derived, part of being vegan involves avoiding animal cruelty at every opportunity, which is why many will not eat products that are made with palm oil.

Still, Pop-Tarts are made by Kellogs who have reiterated their commitment to responsibly sourced palm oil. 

Their website states the following:

All of the palm oil we use is certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to contribute to the production of certified sustainable palm oil. Recently the World Wildlife Fund gave Kellogg a 9 out of 9 for sustainable palm oil production, making us industry leaders in this effort.

This means that from a vegan viewpoint, the palm oil used in Pop-Tarts is not going to cause the same issues as other brands.

Red 40

The other questionable ingredient out of the above is indeed this food color. Made from petroleum byproducts, and not animal-derived, it still causes a headache for any vegan.

This is because it is routinely tested on animals. Even in recent years, it has been tested on rodents and cows to see if it is safe for human consumption.

This of course means that many vegans will choose to avoid it.

Some studies show it can lead to hyperactivity in children which is never a sign of a good ingredient. 

Having said that, many vegans will see this flavor of pop tarts as plant-based and fine for consumption. This is why some ingredients are so contentious. 

Strawberry Frosted Ingredients 

The frosted version makes for unpleasant reading if you are vegan. There are certain ingredients, anyone, following a plant-based diet will choose to avoid.

The ingredients are as follows: 

Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, vitamin B1 [thiamin mononitrate], vitamin B2 [riboflavin], folic acid), corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, soybean, and palm oil (with TBHQ for freshness), sugar, bleached wheat flour. Contains 2% or less of wheat starch, salt, dried strawberries, dried pears, dried apples, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate), citric acid, gelatin, modified wheat starch, yellow corn flour, caramel color, xanthan gum, cornstarch, turmeric extract color, soy lecithin, red 40, yellow 6, blue 1, color added.

Here is a list of the ingredients that make this flavor non-vegan:

Gelatin

One of those ingredients that jump off the page, gelatin is made from boiled ligaments, skin, tendons, and even bones of cattle and pigs. 

It creates a gel-like substance used to bind ingredients and give them a chewy texture. We can only assume this is to stabilize the frosting of these Pop-Tarts. 

It is found in cosmetics as well as confectionery items like marshmallows chew candies, yogurts, and even ice cream. 

Of course, its inclusion on an ingredients label makes any product non-vegan. 

Sugar

A controversial ingredient yet again since it can be difficult to tell which brands use bone char to process their sugar.

That’s right, some companies use sugar that has been decolorized by the charred bones of cattle and pigs.

Imported to the US, it is used to make sugar a more desirable white, and although there is no trace found in sugar after, it raises questions of ethics. 

It can be difficult to tell if a brand has used this method or not as they do not need to specify on a label.

To stay safe, many vegans choose to only consume organic sugar, or sugar from beets or coconut. 

This frosted flavor also includes Red 40, as well as other food dyes that could be tested on animals. 

Vegan-Friendly Pop-Tarts 

The unfrosted strawberry version might be suitable for some as there are no animal-derived ingredients.

Other flavors that have a similar ingredient profile (but still use food dyes that may have been tested on animals) include:

  • Unfrosted strawberry 
  • Unfrosted blueberry
  • Unfrosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon

This means that all the other flavors contain problem ingredients. We’ve already identified gelatin, sugar, and Red 40 as ones to look out for, but there are others. 

Do Pop-Tarts Contain Dairy?

Some flavors of Pop-Tarts contain milk and milk-derived ingredients such as cream and whey. 

Dairy is derived from animals and it is an industry that is particularly cruel.

Calves are taken from their mother within a day of being born which is distressing for the mother and the young. 

They are impregnated time and again so that they are constantly producing milk, and are even injected with hormones to speed up milk production. 

Vegan Alternatives

Bobos Cinnamon Brown Sugar Toaster Pockets 

These vegan-friendly alternatives use organic ingredients to make them plant-based and cruelty-free. 

The ingredients read as follows:

PASTRY (ORGANIC ROLLED OATS, BROWN RICE SYRUP, OAT FLOUR, COCONUT OIL, WATER, ORGANIC BROWN SUGAR, GARBANZO BEAN FLOUR, GLYCERIN, ORGANIC CANE SUGAR, MILLET, BUCKWHEAT GROATS, SEA SALT, CITRUS FIBER, XANTHAN GUM, NATURAL VANILLA FLAVOR, TOCOPHEROLS), BROWN SUGAR CINNAMON FILLING (BROWN SUGAR, WATER, SUGAR, ORGANIC CANE SYRUP, GLYCERIN, MODIFIED TAPIOCA STARCH, DRIED CITRUS PULP, CINNAMON, PECTIN, CITRIC ACID, LOCUST BEAN GUM, NATURAL FLAVORS).

Final Word

There seem to be limited options for a vegan breakfast at times, but depending on how strict you are, it is possible to try plant-based pop tarts.

Because they are whoever adding to their list of flavors, be sure to check the ingredients on any packet of Pop-Tarts.