Twinkies are not vegan or vegetarian because they’re made with beef fat. Shortenings like beef fat, or tallow, are used to preserve packaged foods. Not only are twinkies full of dairy, but they contain other ingredients that are unsuitable for vegans. Twinkies are among the worst foods a vegan could eat, and we’re going to look at why.
What Are Twinkies Made Of?
Twinkies have changed a fair bit since they were first made in 1930. They used to be made with real ingredients such as milk and butter and although these have been removed, it is still bad news if you are vegan. We mentioned the exhaustive list of over 30 ingredients, and some of them will stand out straight away.
Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour [Flour, Reduced Iron, B Vitamins (Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Folic Acid)], Water, Sugar, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable and/or Animal Shortening (Soybean, Cottonseed and/or Canola Oil, Beef Fat), Whole Eggs, Dextrose. Contains 2% or Less of Soy Lecithin, Leavenings (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda, Cornstarch, and Monocalcium Phosphate), Modified Corn Starch, Glucose, Whey, Glycerin, Soybean Oil, Salt, Mono and Diglycerides, Polysorbate 60, Corn Starch, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Sorbic Acid (to Retain Freshness), Xanthan Gum, Cellulose Gum, Enzyme, Wheat Flour, Yellow 5, Red 40.
There is a lot to unpack, but the most notable ingredients are Beef Fat and Whole Eggs. These aren’t the only culprits.
Beef fat is a preservative sometimes known as ‘tallow.’ This helps to extend the shelf life of foods, which is why animal fat is prevalent in ice cream, cheese, chewing gum, pastries, and hard candy. Not exclusive to food, it is also used in the production of candles, resins, rubber, lubricants, and shaving cream among many other items.
Whole eggs ensure twinkies are nonvegan. They are part of what makes these taste like fluffy cakes, maintaining their structure. Eggs contain a lot of water to give them some of their richness.
Besides the main ingredients, Twinkies also contain a tonne of preservatives. We mentioned that Twinkies are known for lasting forever, and it doesn’t seem surprising now.
There is sorbic acid to make sure mold doesn’t grow, cellulose gum to give the filling its smooth texture, and many other artificial flavors.
Some ingredients are not cruelty-free. These include Red40 and Yellow5. The two main dyes in Twinkies must be tested on animals before the FDA will approve them for human consumption.
Some Twinkies flavors also include Palm Oil. This is an ingredient that many vegans avoid because of the impact its production has on the rainforest. Slowly decreasing the habitat size of animals decreases their numbers.
What Is The Inside Of Twinkies Made Of?
The filling has been kept as a bit of a secret by Hostess, even the original recipe which was banana flavored. Now ‘vanilla,’ it is often thought to be a combination of superfine sugar, corn syrups, polysorbate 60, and cellulose gum. The latter is a key ingredient in that it is highly absorbent.
When moistened, cellulose gum has a gel-like texture and can keep this slippery feel for longer. Yes, Twinkies may get their satisfying creamy filling because of this, but cellulose gum isn’t even digested. For a vegan, this isn’t necessarily an issue, but for the health-conscious, it can be.
Polysorbate 60 keeps the filling creamy whilst saving money on using actual fat.
Do Twinkies Contain Beef Fat?
Yes, they do. It is the preservatives in Twinkies that make them non-vegan, with ‘tallow’ being the most eye-opening.
The animal shortening ingredient makes Twinkies unsuitable for vegans and vegetarians. However, beer fat might not be the only ingredient made with cattle. Some sugar can be processed using bone char to give it its white color.
No particles make it into the recipe, but since most companies leave this area vague, it can be hard to tell if they use this method.
How Are Twinkies Made?
It all starts with the batter, those whole eggs, and beef fat will be used at this stage. The eggs make the batter fluffy, as well as some of the other preservatives to maintain the cake texture for longer.
The sugar may have been processed using bone char, but this is tricky to determine. Still, there are already ingredients that make the manufacturing process non vegan.
Once mixed it is poured into metal pans, before they are baked and left to cool. The cooling process can involve 35,000 twinkies at any time.
Once cooled, the filling is injected through the bottom of the Twinkie.
Are There Any Brands Making Vegan Twinkies?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to buy vegan Twinkies, and there is a lack of alternatives. Still, it is possible to make your own. There are plenty of recipes online and the substitute ingredients make a lot of sense.
The good news is that a lot of the recipes are delicious. Coconut whipped cream makes the filling, especially when it is flavored with a mix of agave and maple syrup.
Although there are differences, the texture can be made similar and the benefit is that you know you are eating something vegan and not full of preservatives.
Buying vegan Twinkies is not possible as of yet. Gluten-free versions are available, but these often contain eggs.
The childhood favorite may look harmless, but not only are Twinkies non-vegan, but they are also full of a lot of questionable ingredients. They say you are what you eat, and vegans can rest easy knowing they are not putting some of the unsavory ingredients into their system.
With a lack of alternatives, only leaves home baking as the answer to the cravings. Thankfully, it won’t require as many ingredients as the original recipe.
The ingredients list is so long that it gets more and more concerning that these sweet treats are not suitable for a plant-based diet. Unfortunately, twinkies are not vegan.