Everyone loves to indulge their sweet tooth when the cravings come, but it begs the question – what candy is vegan?
When following a plant-based diet, there are several problematic ingredients in confectionery, and the sugar processed with bone char is just the start of the issues. We’re going to look at what the vegan options are, and how to spot unsuitable brands.
Vegan Candy List
Not every candy on this list is completely vegan, but they are plant-based. Anyone looking to follow a vegan diet will need to make their mind up on whether they want to consume some of these products:
Soft and chewy and found in many movie theatres, Swedish Fish are vegan. The recipe does differ depending on the flavor but the regular packets of these fun-shaped chews are plant-based.
The issue is in the source of the sugar. If it has been decolorized with bone char to make it a more desirable white (using the charred bones of cattle and pigs), then many vegans will avoid them, but it is hard to tell.
Also, the artificial color Red 40 is problematic. Although it is derived from petroleum byproducts and therefore not animal-derived, it has been routinely tested on animals and will therefore be avoided by many following a plant-based diet.
Be sure to check the label as it is not uncommon for the brand to use beeswax as part of their ingredients which read as follows:
Sugar, Invert Sugar, Corn Syrup, Modified Corn Starch, Citric Acid, White Mineral Oil, Artificial Flavors, Red 40 And Carnauba Wax.
Brach’s Lemon Drops
This sweet and a little bit sour candy is a must-have for any sweet-toothed adults and kids, but just how are Brach’s Lemon Drops vegan?
They get their sourness from real lemon juice and veganess from plant-based ingredients. Still, it is another case of an artificial color being used only this time it is yellow 5. This has been tested on animals over the years, even causing hypersensitivity reactions among other issues.
The ingredients read as follows:
Corn Syrup, Sugar, Citric Acid, Lemon Juice From Concentrate, Lemon Oil, Malic Acid, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Yellow 5.
Dum Dums Lollipops
These are another plant-based options with the same potential issues. They are made without animal products but whether they are suitable for a vegan is questionable because of the artificial colors. Dum Dums Lollipops include Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, and Blue 1.
Big League Chew
These popular bubble gum chews are plant-based and technically fine for a vegan but they contain the artificial color Red 40 yet again.
There is also the concern of aspartame, added to make the flavor last longer but not without its health concerns. It has been linked to causing cancer, cardiovascular diseases, dementia, Alzheimer’s, seizures, and strokes which makes it difficult to comprehend why it hasn’t been banned.
Sour Patch Kids
Sure, this is another fun candy that doesn’t contain gelatin despite being chewy, but Sour Patch Kids are still problematic for a strict vegan because of the artificial colors.
They include common culprits Yellow 6, Red 40, Yellow 5, & Blue 1.
Jolly Rancher Hard Candy and Lollipops
Not all Jolly Rancher candy is vegan, but most of their hard candy and lollipops are. There are no gelatin or animal-based products, but still, the issue of artificial colors remains.
These old-fashioned candies are retro and similar to Taffy so no wonder they are still easily found. But are they vegan?
Yes, they are. The brown look may look a little unsightly, but they manage this without the use of artificial colors.
The majority of gum is vegan friendly, but with artificial colors, you need to be streetwise and make an informed decision.
Some brands contain gelatin such as Orbit which is why you need to check on each particular pack of gum, but it is not unusual for them to include carmine, a red food dye derived from the cochineal insect.
Another controversial candy is that there are no animal products used in the making of Pixy Stix. However, there are plenty of artificial colors that are tested on animals so it is a matter of how strict you are when it comes to this issue.
From the root beer flavor to that orangey hit of these tiny bullet candies that everyone seems to love, Bottle Caps are vegan in that they only contain plant-based ingredients.
However, with artificial colors like Blue 1 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, and Yellow 6 Lake, they aren’t perfect so it is another matter of how strict you are.
For some people, these are close to being as vegan-friendly as candy could be. However, as the ingredient in the Sour Warheads will show, they can contain a list of artificial colors once again.
In an approach that will be refreshing for vegans, Cocomels make it easy to know if their products are vegan on their website. They state:
All Cocomel products are USDA certified organic, non-GMO, made without Gluten & Dairy, and Vegan to offer delicious and innovative treats that strive to inspire the spirit, support our bodies and be sustainable for the environment.
The intense sour flavors may make you want to wince, but the ingredients won’t. They are plant-based and fine for vegans to enjoy if you can get past the list of artificial colors.
PETA says that DOTS are vegan which is good enough for us. Given the texture, it is surprising to see that they do not contain gelatin although once again there are artificial colors.
Although it seems like pure sugar, it is not. Still, Fun Dip is considered vegan because of the plant-based ingredients, despite the number of artificial colors involved.
More chewy fruity candy, and more plant-based ingredients with a combo of food coloring involved.
Now & Later
Their original mixed fruit chews are plant-based but include plenty of artificial colors to make them controversial.
Charms Blow Pop
Down to their bubble gum center, these are vegan. So you can chew until you get past that hard candy if you don’t mind the artificial colors once again.
These bite-sized candies may have a unique taste, but how are SweeTARTS vegan? Because of their lack of animal products, they are riddled with artificial colors so it is down to how strict you are as to whether you can enjoy them or not.
Although they tend to have fewer artificial colors, the likes of Red 40 are still there. Otherwise, these are completely plant-based.
This is a strange one. Smarties sold in the USA and made by the Smarties Candy Company do not contain animal-based products, but the Smarties made by Nestle and sold in the UK contain animal products and are not vegan because they contain skimmed milk powder among other ingredients.
Annie’s Fruit Snacks
Organic, non-GMO, and completely vegan, these are some of the best candies a vegan can enjoy.
Their website even says they are vegan so these bunny-shaped snacks are on the menu.
As popular as these slightly sour sweets are, Lemonheads are not vegan. This is because they contain a confectioner’s glaze. It is what gives them their shiny appearance but is made from shellac, or crushed beetles.
Some can overlook this, but the majority of vegans will say the likes of Lemonheads are off the Halloween candy treat list as a result.
The grape flavor is vegan but as a general rule, most Nerds are not completely plant-based.
This is because they use red or pink colors derived from carmine, which is made from crushed bugs, and what’s more – it is difficult to get your hands on grape Nerds as they are often combined with the strawberry flavor that is not vegan.
With palm oil and a handful of artificial colors, these are often avoided by vegans. Still, their vegan status may be debated by some as they are made from only plant-based ingredients.
Many vegans won’t touch them because palm oil kernels are on the label which contributes to the deforestation of the rainforest, displacing numerous animal species from their natural habitat.
There’s something about these red twisty laces that has people coming back for more, but the inclusion of palm oil, and potentially Red 40, makes these non-vegan for many.
Vegan-Friendly Safe Candy Ingredients
The majority of ingredients included in the above candies are vegan. It is when additional colors and other no-go ingredients are added that they become a problem.
Fruit pectin is often used in place of gelatin which is good to see and we also like to see as many fruit products as possible.
Other ingredients include organic sugar as it removes the risk of bone char being included.
Non-Vegan Ingredients To Watch Out For
Some of the most common include gelatin, carmine, and shellac. They are all animal-derived and creep into various candies. Also, look out for dairy in milky or chocolatey candies.
Anything with a color and a number is a serious no-go that should be avoided where possible. Look out for Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 as some of the most common inclusions that are regularly tested on animals.
Can Vegans Eat Chocolate?
Because chocolate is derived from the cacao bean tree, it is vegan when it is raw. When companies add dairy and animal ingredients like milk, butter, and even eggs, it is no longer vegan.
Vegan companies are making plant-based chocolate alternatives that are close to the real thing, you just have to look a little harder.
Why Is Chocolate Considered Vegan?
Because the cacao bean is vegan and used to make chocolate. It is only when it is combined with non-vegan ingredients that chocolate becomes non-vegan.
What Brand Of Chocolate Is Vegan?
Some of the best brands making vegan chocolate include Nomo, Miiro, Vego, and Rhythm 108.
Is Dark Chocolate Actually Vegan?
It can be, but be wary.
It is made from cacao beans but then mixed with cacao butter to make it a non-dairy alternative. Be careful when looking for 100% vegan chocolate.
Are There Vegan Candy Bars?
Yes, there are.
Even store-bought brands are making vegan candy bars so be sure to check the likes of KitKat are even making a vegan version.
Look for brands like Unreal and Whoa Dough who are making tasty plant-based products.
Is this candy vegan?
- Are Twizzlers Vegan?
- Are Smarties Vegan?
- Are Jelly Beans Vegan?
- Are Jolly Ranchers Vegan?
- Are M&M’s Vegan?
- Is Salt Water Taffy Vegan?
- Are Mike and Ikes Vegan?
- Are Warheads Vegan?
- Are Lemonheads Vegan?
- Are Hi-Chews Vegan?
- Are Starbust Vegan?
- Are Dum Dums Vegan?
- Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan?
While there are plenty of options for some vegans to enjoy, there are strict plant-based diets that will now allow for most brands.
The inclusion of artificial colors is always tricky, but thankfully, you can find vegan candy that does not use it in their recipes.