Are Veggie Straws Vegan?

A crunchy savory snack that may not offer massive nutritional benefits, but to satisfy a craving, are Veggie Straw’s vegan? The answer is that some are, but with a variety of flavors available, you need to be careful about others.

We’re going to take a look at the ingredients that will be cause for concern to a vegan, as well as the flavors that are fine.

Ingredients

The appearance of Veggie Straws is created by different vegetables. So, expect to crunch into a variety of veg that is flavored with different ingredients. 

Looking at one of the most popular brands, Garden Veggie Straws by the people at Sensible Portions shows the basic ingredients to expect:

POTATO STARCH, POTATO FLOUR, EXPELLER PRESSED CANOLA OIL AND/OR SAFFLOWER OIL AND/OR SUNFLOWER OIL, SPINACH POWDER, TOMATO PASTE, SALT, CANE SUGAR, CORN STARCH, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, TURMERIC (COLOR), BEETROOT POWDER (COLOR), SEA SALT.

As you can see, there is nothing in there that should worry a vegan. This is except for cane sugar. It is not unusual for US brands to use bone char to decolorize sugar, and make it a more desirable white. 

Made from charred bones of cattle and imported from abroad, there may not be any trace in the sugar, but it does raise questions of ethics. 

It is not easy to say whether or not a company uses this approach as most ingredient lists do not specify. This is why many vegans will look past sugar on a label. 

Looking closely at their other flavors is more interesting and brings up some surprises for what should be a simple snack.

The following flavors are vegan, and follow a simpler recipe to the Sea Salt flavor:

  • Sweet Potato – using beta carotene, an orange-red pigment found in plants, fungi, and fruit, as a coloring agent, they can remain natural.
  • Sea Salt and Sweet Potato – A combination of the previous two vegan options brings up no surprises, they are fine to snack on.
  • Zesty Ranch – Unfortunately, they are not vegan. This is because of the dairy ingredients that include buttermilk, dairy milk cream, sodium caseinate, and sour cream.
  • Sour Cream and Onion – Sour cream, cultured nonfat milk, whey, milk fat all make this unsuitable for a vegan diet.
  • Cheddar – More dairy makes this flavor non-vegan. It contains whey, cheddar cheese, and sour cream.
  • Rosemary Olive Oil – Thankfully, these contain a similar ingredient profile to the sea salt flavor only with a different seasoning. They are vegan.

How They’re Made

These straws are made by a process that is similar to other puffed-up snacks. Using a screw extruder, the combined ingredients are fed into a heated tube and pushed through before moving onto a plate.

We cannot say if they have been made in an environment that could put them at risk of cross-contamination or not. 

Some are rightly wary of vegetable starch (or amylum) since it can be a hidden animal-derived ingredient. Thankfully this is not the case here. The starch used comes from potatoes, corn, sweet potato, and spinach. (https://askanydifference.com/difference-between-glycogen-and-starch/)

This form of starch is often confused with glycogen, a form of carbohydrates found in animal tissues. This is not often used in foods, but it can creep into some recipes.

The colors used in Veggie Straws are natural, often derived from different vegetables. This is a valid concern for any vegan since artificial colors are often tested on animals at some point. 

Many animals are left in dire condition after the tests, some suffering from horrific diseases as a result of testing colors for human consumption.

Thankfully, veggie straws do not use this approach. Instead, turmeric is used for yellow, and the darker shades come from the use of tomato paste and beetroot powder. 

Final Thoughts

Although Veggie Straws can be vegan, watch out for the use of dairy in creamy or cheesy variants among others. 

Thankfully, this still leaves plenty of options, even the colors used are plant-based.