While many folks think that vegans are extremely limited in what they can eat, the vegan diet actually leaves plenty of room for indulgence! From dark chocolate to vegan-friendly sours and gummies, there are lots of candy makers out there catering to vegan diets. Plenty of candies that aren’t even marketed as “vegan” are completely free of animal products.
However, unexpected animal products are common ingredients in candies and packaged foods, so finding vegan-friendly sweet treats requires reading labels and ingredient lists. In this article, we delve into how to identify vegan foods and candy, what to look for, and some go-to picks of the best vegan candies for when you’re craving a vegan sugar fix.
Common Animal Products in Candies
Traditional dairy-based chocolates are some of the most obvious non-vegan candies. But there are a number of sneakier animal products that are frequently found in sweet treats that vegans should check labels for. The most common of them are below:
- Gelatin, which is made from animal bones and tendons
- Casein or milk fat
- Refined cane sugar, which may be processed with charred bone fragments
- Carmine, which is used in some artificial color and confectioner’s glaze, and is made from beetles
- E 904, E 120, 901, 904, 542, all of which are derived from animals
We know that this list seems intimidating, but we promise that there are candies out there that are in line with the food ethics of vegans. To find them, remember that you must be diligent in checking ingredient lists as it’s easy for these additives to be snuck in where you’d least expect it!
So, you might be asking – are Jolly Ranchers vegan? What about Nerds and Gummy Bears? Unfortunately, not all of our faves come guilt-free… scroll down to learn more.
Common Candies that Contain Animal Products
We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but there ARE a few candies you’ll want to keep an eye out for if you want to stick to a vegan food diet. The following candies notoriously contain animal products:
- Gummy bears (contains gelatin)
- Candy corn (contains gelatin, although they do make vegan options)
- Starburst (contains gelatin derived from beef)
- Gummy worms (contains gelatin)
- Red candies (contains red dye, made from the dried bodies of female beetles)
- Nerds (contains pork gelatin)
- Altoids (contains pork gelatin)
Sour, Gummy, and Hard Candies that are Vegan-Friendly
Now onto the fun part! Sure, there are some candies you should avoid, but there are plenty more that you can keep enjoying. We’ve tracked down some of the best vegan candy out there, so you can rest easy as you feed your sweet tooth.
Below is a list of vegan-friendly candies that are commonly found and that will allow you to indulge whenever you’re in the mood without the worry of accidentally consuming an animal product:
- All varieties of Jolly Ranchers
- Cracker Jacks
- RJ’s Raspberry Soft-Eating Licorice
- Sweet’s Fish (Non-GMO)
- Sweet’s Lotsa Sour Candies
- Blow Pops
- Sweet’s Lemonade Rings
- Sweet’s Sour Worms
Chocolate Candies that are Vegan-Friendly
Even though you probably wouldn’t think of chocolate as being vegan, many dark chocolates are actually also vegan foods. This is because, in most cases, dark chocolate is actually completely plant-based rather than being made with dairy products.
If you’re a chocolate lover who can’t bear to give up your favorite sweet treats, you’re in luck. Some of the best vegan candies happen to be chocolate! Take a look at some go-to brands to fill your chocolate cravings:
- Crispy Cat Chocolate Bars
- Newman’s Own Dark Chocolate Varieties
- Kallari Chocolates
- Alter Eco Dark Chocolate Varieties
Vegans Can Live Sweetly, Too
While it’s easy to equate being vegan with having everything delicious off-limits, as you can see, that’s certainly not the case. With a little research and vigilance, those who are committed to a diet free of strictly vegan foods can still enjoy candy and many other indulgences.
However, it should be noted that companies do occasionally change ingredients that are in their products. With that being said, even if a candy was listed on the “vegan approved” list above, always check the ingredients on the wrapper prior to consuming to ensure that its compliancy has not changed.
Vegans should also be aware that many products that contain animal products don’t necessarily sound like they do. It’s important to get the most up-to-date information you can.
Luckily, we’ve done some of the hard work for you with our list of some of the best vegan candy out there. Happy snacking!