All posts by Joey Bruno

vegan chocolate brands

Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Vegan Chocolate Brands

Survey 100 random people on the street and you'd be hard pressed to find someone that doesn't love chocolate. There's something about the rich, deep and earthy flavor that makes people react to the stuff as if it were catnip for humans. Despite popular misconceptions, being vegan does not mean that you have to give up chocolate.

Unfortunately, many of the big chocolate brands that might find on the supermarket checkout line are going to contain things like milk or milk derivatives. In an effort to save money, bigger companies will dilute the delectable flavor of cacao with cheap ingredients, even on their dark chocolate products. If you're thinking about giving the vegan lifestyle a try this is something to get excited about. Avoiding milk chocolate and cheap chocolate is going to give you a reason to explore all that the cocoa (or cacao) bean has to offer by trying some high quality chocolate brands.

What is Chocolate Exactly?

Believe it or not, chocolate originates from a bean called a cocoa or cacao bean. It mainly grows in tropical locations. The bean itself grows pods and like other beans are the seeds of the tree. The beans are surrounded by a pulp type material and the seeds are scooped out during the harvest.

Once the beans are harvested, they are sent into several different streams of production, creating the products that we know and love today. Whether they are chopped up to make cacao nibs, made into a powder, or a liquid - it all still originates from that same bean!​ (1)

You may have noticed that nothing about the bean itself involves animal products. This means that chocolate in its purest form is vegan!

How Do I Know if My Chocolate is Vegan?

The most common non-vegan in ingredient added to chocolate is milk or milk products. The majority of the time, the ingredient statement will state "CONTAINS: MILK" at the bottom. This is not because the companies are trying to warn vegans about milk, but rather because milk is a major allergen (2). Therefore, companies will make it pretty clear that their product has milk in order to make sure people that are allergic don't have a bad reaction. Even if the product has a milk derived ingredient in it such as casein, the label will most likely still have an allergen warning.

However, we have seen some exceptions to this rule, so we do recommend just giving a quick read through the ingredient statement of the bar you're trying to buy and looking for: milk, milkfat, and casein.

The Best Vegan Chocolate Bars Brands

Green and Black's Chocolate

Known for being one of the highest quality chocolates available, it is no surprise that Green and Black offers traditional dark chocolate options with no milk. They do offer a wide range of milk containing chocolates as well, so just be careful and be sure to check all of the labels. From what we can find, the vegan offerings they have are the following:

  • 70% Dark Chocolate Bars
  • 85% Dark Chocolate Bars
  • 60% Dark Chocolate Bars with Currant and Hazlenut
  • 60% Dark Chocolate Bar with Ginger

Below we have linked the Classic 70% Dark Chocolate for your eating pleasure:

Pascha Organic Dark Chocolate

Pascha is unique because its claim to fame is that its made in an allergen free facility. This means there's no risk of traces of peanuts, nuts, dairy, soy, eggs, wheat, and gluten. Food allergy sufferers rejoice! They keep their ingredient list super simple which allows the sacred cocoa bean to perform at its best. They manufacture a few flavors and cocoa percentages, but from what we can see, they are all allergen free. In addition, they've gone so far as to get Vegan Certified (7)!

They're even coming out with a "milk chocolate" made creamy with rice milk! This is truly a great brand to support as a vegan.

We've linked the 85% dark chocolate below so be sure to check it out. Some of the other vegan varieties they manufacture are:​

  • 55% Cacao
  • 55% Cacao with Nibs
  • 55% Cacao with Goldenberries
  • 60% Cacao with Maca
  • 70% Cacao
  • 70% Cacao with Arabica Coffee

Trader Joe's 72% Dark Chocolate

One of our absolute favorite chocolate bars - Trader Joe's 72% Dark Chocolate is one that you can't miss out on! It's got a simple ingredient list and a taste and texture that's to die for. They've pretty much perfected the dark chocolate bar! To make things even better, they sell a variety with almonds as well.

We've linked the original 72% Pound Plus bar below for you to check out online, but also keep in eye out for the 72% with almonds!

Lindt Dark Chocolate

Although not all the products that they make are vegan, Lindt does have a few vegan options which includes some of their super dark chocolate. From what we've seen, Lindt's plain dark chocolate bars that are labeled for a cocoa percentage - say 70% cocoa are above -  don't have any milk products in them. However, when you see a package that's not labeled with a percentage, even if it says dark, there's a good chance that it is not vegan. We recommend double checking for milk or milkfat just to be sure, though. Here are a list of the different vegan dark chocolate bars that they offer:

  • 70% Smooth Dark
  • 85% Cocoa Extra Dark (linked below)
  • 90% Supreme Dark
  • 99% Noir Absolu

The rule above does not apply to Lindt's truffles.​ Their 60% dark chocolate truffle still had milk in it, most likely from the filling in the middle. 

Taza Chocolate

When it comes to simplicity, Taza Chocolate takes the cake. Their Wicked Dark chocolate bar is 95% cocoa and is made using Mexican stone mills. This gives the chocolate a bit more grit making it closer to the the true authenticity of the cocoa bean itself (7).

When it comes to tradition and simplicity, this brand takes the cake (besides for just the regular cacao nibs of course). Their Wicked Dark bar is made of just two ingredients: Cocoa Beans and Cane Sugar.​ If you're used to eating Hershey bars, this is going to be a big leap, but high quality dark chocolate is a lot like wine in that there are a wide range of complex flavor notes to appreciate.

Diving a bit deeper into Taza's product line, we were very pleased to see that many if not all of their products were vegan including their peanut butter truffles! They manufacture a variety of bars, barks, discs, and other things that would make any chocolate lover drool.

We've linked their​ Wicked Dark chocolate bar below for you to check out!

Alter Eco

For vegans who like their chocolate bars with added flavor elements, Alter Eco has a lot of great options (8). Unfortunately, not all of their products are vegan, but there are a lot of unique flavors and great options that we haven't seen before. Some of the most delicious vegans options we saw from Alter Eco were:

  • Peppermint Dark Chocolate (linked below)
  • Orange Dark Chocolate
  • Salted Almond Dark Chocolate
  • Dark Chocolate and Quinoa

Choc Zero Ultimate Dark Chocolate

Choc Zero is an interesting vegan dark chocolate option because they don't actually sweeten it with sugar. They use monk fruit extract as as sweetener and also add some fiber in an attempt to give it some more nutritional value. The lack of sugar gives it a low caloric profile, ideal if you're trying to trim off additional calories. Unfortunately, not all of their products are vegan, so be sure to check the ingredient statements. The one we linked below is, though so be sure to check it out!

Stivii Vegan Dark Chocolate

Unlike traditional dark chocolate which is sweetened with sugar, Stivii is a brand that has chosen to sweeten their coffee with Stevia to appeal to people that don't want to consume sugar. As a result, their original chocolate bar contains less than 1 gram of sugar. Their fruit flavored varieties are still quite low in sugar, but have up to 4 grams per serving from what we've seen. This may not be the best fit for you if you're sensitive to stevia (which some people seem to be), but many people love it and its a great option for diabetics! Their flavors include:

  • Original Dark Chocolate
  • Blueberry Almond Dark Chocolate
  • Pomegranate Dark Chocolate
  • Chili Dark Chocolate
  • White Peach Dark Chocolate

Trying one of their fruit flavored ones (linked below) may be the best option if you're not too keen on stevia. This is because real sugar and stevia when combine take on a whole different flavor profile than just stevia on its own.

Endangered Species Chocolate

Endangers species makes some really rich dark chocolate varieties and most of them are vegan certified. In addition, they claim to donate 10% of their net profits to protect wildlife (6). While we can't vouch for the effectiveness of their program, we can let you know which of their chocolate varieties are vegan:

  • 88% Dark Chocolate Bar
  • 72% Dark Chocolate Bar
  • Dark Chocolate with Cranberries and Almonds
  • Dark Chocolate with Forest Mint

Check out the link below to check out one of their vegan offerings online!

The Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Brands

When it comes to vegan chocolate chips, things can be split up into two categories: classic chocolate chips and cacao nibs. Classic chocolate chips are probably what you're most familiar with. Cacao nibs are chopped up chunks of the unsweetened bean itself which actually have an entire different flavor and texture profile. Both definitely have their place in the kitchen!

Classic Chocolate Chips

Enjoy Life

A quick perusal through your grocery store's baking aisle and you'll quickly discover that most of the chocolate chips there aren't vegan - except one. One brand called Enjoy Life is taking the market by storm and can be found in most grocery stores in the US. Their chocolate chip products are not only vegan, but also nut free and soy free. They're manufactured in a bunch of different sizes including mini chips and large chunks. If you're interested in buying them online, please do check the link below. If you want to see if they're in a store near you - check out Enjoy Life's Store Locator.

Lily's Dark Chocolate Chips

If you're looking to have tighter control over your macronutrient intake, Lily's Dark Chocolate Chips are also a vegan option that's sweetened with stevia. This means it doesn't have any added sugar and thus packs a smaller caloric punch. Some people are sensitive to the taste of stevia, but these are definitely worth a try! If you put them into something that's already otherwise sweetened, such as cookies or vegan ice cream, you're unlikely to notice a difference. In addition, the company also supports cancer research which you can learn more about on their website.

To learn more about buying Lily's Chocolate Chips online, check out the link below!

Kirkland's Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Perhaps by accident, the Costco generic brand: Kirkland is also vegan! As with all Costco products, they come in a huge bag as well so you're sure to never run out. Putting them in the freezer or fridge will ensure that they stay good for a long time as well! From a taste perspective, they're very similar to the Enjoy Life chips from our experience!

Note: there have been rumors that this product has been discontinued, but as of July 2017 its still available on Amazon (linked below). Be sure to check the ingredient statement in case it has changed or been reformulated. 

Cacao Nibs

You'll probably notice that there are a bunch of cacao nib brands out there. From our experience, they are all pretty similar. We like to buy them at least by the pound that way we get the best bang for our buck. Health food stores and even grocery stores often overprice their cacao nibs, which is why we like to shop online for them. TruVibe (linked below) makes some great nibs, but again they are all pretty much the same. The only exception we've found is that there are some sweetened brands of nibs, however at that point we'd rather just go for the regular chips!

Other FAQs About Vegan Chocolate

Is Dark Chocolate Vegan?

Dark chocolate can be vegan, but it isn't all of the time.  For example, Hershey's Semi-Sweet Dark Chocolate bar still has Milk Fat in it (3). However, most of the higher end brands dark chocolate will be vegan, especially if the packages read 70% cacao or above. We recommend checking the ingredient statement and looking for the "CONTAINS: MILK "warning. If you don't see it, odds are it is vegan friendly!

Is Milk Chocolate Vegan?

Most milk chocolate won't be vegan, but we did find a brand that uses rice milk!

Is Lindt Dark Chocolate Vegan?

Yes! Many of the Lindt dark chocolate bars we found were vegan. To see our list of the best Lindt vegan chocolate bars, check out the top section of this page.

Is Dove Dark Chocolate Vegan?

We were disappointed to find that all of the Dove Dark Chocolate Bars that we researched were not vegan. According to their website (5), all of their dark chocolate bars contain milk fat.  In addition, from what we could see most of them contained sugar as a first ingredient which means that they aren't that dark to begin with.

There are plenty of other vegan brands available, though! Check out our list above.

Is Vegan Chocolate Healthy?

Deciding whether or not something is healthy can be a bit nuanced. Chocolate in its purest form, much like any other whole plant based food, chocolate is high in antioxidants which are beneficial for combating inflammation which is very important for optimal function. When consuming chocolate bars, candies or chips which have added sugar and fat the positive impacts of the cacao bean become more dubious.

To learn more about healthy eating, we highly recommend checking out NutritionFacts.org. Their work on chocolate has been summarized on this page (4).

Should I Be Concerned About Shared Equipment as a Vegan?

From an ethical standpoint, there's no reason to be concerned about shared equipment. In fact, it may even be beneficial for veganism as the companies that make the chocolate see the demand for their non-dairy varieties increasing which will prompt them to come out with more! 

If you have a dairy allergy, this is obviously a different matter. We recommend consulting your doctor for that one as it depends on how sensitive you are and how severe your allergy is.​

Sources

1. https://www.candyusa.com/story-of-chocolate/what-is-chocolate/

2. https://www.foodallergy.org/allergens

3. http://www.fooducate.com/app#!page=product&id=6178A786-E108-11DF-A102-FEFD45A4D471

4. https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/chocolate/

5. http://dovechocolate.com/nutrition/listing/36#Dove

6. http://www.chocolatebar.com/?page_id=18

7. https://www.tazachocolate.com/pages/our-process

8. http://www.alterecofoods.com/

vegan gum brands

Is Gum Vegan? The Best Vegan Gum Brand List and FAQ

​Most of the time, unless it contains gelatin, gum is vegan. As with anything with sugars, flavors, and long ingredient lists, there runs the risk of animal products being somewhere in the supply chain, but that doesn't mean that buying a pack of gum off the shelves (without gelatin) isn't considered vegan. We've documented all the considerations about chewing gum as a vegan below (including brands and products).

Vegan Gum Brands

If you're at the supermarket checkout or in the convenience store, you may be wondering which gum brands are vegan and which ones aren't. From out research, it comes down to two ingredients: gelatin and glycerin. Gelatin is never appropriate for vegans to pick up, but glycerin is a bit more nuanced. From our research, most glycerin in foods is indeed derived from plants, but there's the always chance that it won't be. 

We hold the position that veganism isn't about personal perfection or being completely pure, but about reducing the most practically possible amount of animal suffering and death. If you're in a rush at the store or if your favorite gum contains glycerin, you don't have to feel bad about it. Even worse, you should never make someone who is not already vegan guilty about consuming these types of potentially harmful trace ingredients as it is liable to make them less likely to consider veganism as a lifestyle due to their perception of increased complexity.

With our little disclaimer out of the way, our best vegan gum brand list is as follows:

  • PUR Gum (lots of mint flavors and cinnamon)
  • Treehugger Gum (fruity bubble gum)
  • Simply Gum (creative flavors such as coffee and ginger)
  • Spry Gum (minty flavors, fruity flavors, and even green tea!)

PUR Gum

PUR Gum

Advertised as being 100% vegan, PUR gum is an excellent option for the vegan who wants to avoid artificial sweeteners including Aspartame which is found in most of the big gums. It's also free of many of the major allergens including: gluten, soy, nuts and peanuts.

PUR makes a wide range of flavors including:

  • Cinnamon
  • Coolmint
  • Pomegranate Mint
  • Wintergreen
  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint

Even though it doesn't have an aspartame, that doesn't mean that it is unsweetened gum (yes, such a thing exists). Its sweetened with Xylitol which is a common ingredient in many dental health promoting gums. Xylitol is also diabetic friendly (1).

Tree Hugger Gum

Tree Hugger Gum

For vegans looking for a bubble gum fix, we've got you covered! Tree Hugger makes 100% vegan gum and has a lot of different flavors compared to the other gums that we've listed. The two flavors that we found that they manufacture are:

  • Citrus Berry
  • Fantastic Fruit

It is also important to note that they recently took beeswax out of their gum.

These gums don't have any artificial colors or flavors, ​but this means that they contain real sugar in some form or fashion. Probably not enough real sugar to warranty any health concerns for healthy individuals from a dietary perspective, but your dentist may not be too happy with you if you're chewing it all the time!

Neurogum Nootropic Gum

NeuroGum Nootropic Energy Gum

While we're always skeptical about supplement claims (and you should be too), we figured it might be worth listing this gum just because it looked interesting and because it is 100% vegan. 

If you've never heard of a Nootropic before, its the latest trend in the supplement world that's designed to improve brain function. As with all supplements of this nature that promise to improve performance, it's always good to be skeptical. However, this gum does have caffeine and many people can vouch for caffeine's performance enhancing properties. It's also got L-Theanine which has been reported by many to have excellent synergistic effects when combined with caffeine.

Again, we're not citing any studies on this one, so the jury is still out, but we thought it would be interesting to at least show people that this kind of gum exists.

Simply Gum

Simply Gum

Known for their minimalist packaging you may have seen Simply Gum on the shelves at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, or even more traditional grocery stores. Being that they advertise as 100% vegan, you can rest assured that they go out of their way to source all plant derived ingredients, even if you're not sure what all of them are!

The packaging is pretty unique as the gum doesn't come individually wrapped, it's all together inside the box. There is then a separate compartment for "post chew wraps" so that you can put your chewed gum in a wrapper rather than sticking it under the table (don't do this)! The other thing that's pretty cool about Simply Gum is that they have some pretty unique flavors such as:​

  • Cinnamon
  • Mint
  • Fennel Licorice
  • Ginger
  • Maple
  • Coffee

Spry Gum

Spry Gum

Although marketed as an oral health gum, Spry gum is also a great options for vegans who are looking for gum with a simple ingredient statement. The company specifically points out that their glycerin is plant based. It's great that they do this because glycerin does have the potential to be animal derived (more on this in the "Potential Non-Vegan Ingredients" section). Spry gum is manufactured in a variety of different flavors including:

  • Cinnamon
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Peppermint
  • Green Tea
  • Spearmint
  • Peppermint

As an added bonus, Spry gum is formulated to help with dry mouth and bad breath. Although we haven't tested it for these specific purposes, we can say that the gum chews and tastes pretty good and is a great alternative to aspartame based gum. 

Evaluating Vegan Status of Popular Bigger Gum Brands

For the big gum brands, we're working with the information that's currently available on their website. Many of the manufacturer's state that this is subject to change and advise consumers to check current packaging or call for any updates.

Also, most of the big brands and flavors that you see on the shelves are owned by Wrigley's. Wrigley's owns gum brands such as:

  • Big Red
  • Doublemint
  • Eclipse
  • Extra
  • Freedent
  • Hubba Bubba
  • Juicy Fruit
  • Orbit
  • Winterfresh
  • Wrigley's Spearmint

All of the nutritional information that we're analyzing below can be found on this page of their website.

It is also important to note that Skittles​ which are also owned by Wrigley, used to contain gelatin. As recent as 2010, gelatin was removed from the formulation. One can assume that this decision by the company indicates that they are moving away from animal based products in their gum and candies as the demand for cruelty free products grows.

They haven't done this for everything, though. All of the Altoid's flavors we found still contained gelatin.

Note: All of the products below contain artificial sweeteners. Covering their effects is complex out of the scope of this article, but we recommend checking out this video by NutritionFacts.org to begin your research process.

Orbit Gum

Based on the ingredient panels from their website we found that Orbit Gum did not have any animal ingredients. All of their gums that we looked at contained glycerol which is the same thing is glycerin. From our research, glycerin used in food products is usually plant derived (see FAQ). That being said, we would added orbit gum to our accidentally vegan list.

Here's what the ingredient statement looked like for their bubble gum:

SORBITOL, GUM BASE, XYLITOL, GLYCEROL, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, MANNITOL; LESS THAN 2% OF: SOY LECITHIN, HYDROGENATED STARCH HYDROLYSATE, ACESULFAME K, SUCRALOSE, COLORS (RED 40, RED 40 LAKE), BHT (TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS), ASPARTAME.

5-Gum

Much like Orbit Gum, 5-Gum has a similar formulation. The only difference between the two is likely the branding, packaging, and presentation. Just like Orbit, glycerol is the only ingredient that would raise any red flags for us. The ingredient statement for their Ascent flavor is as follows:

SORBITOL, GUM BASE, GLYCEROL, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS; LESS THAN 2% OF: HYDROGENATED STARCH HYDROLYSATE, ASPARTAME, MANNITOL, ACESULFAME K, SOY LECITHIN, BHT (TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS).

Big Red

Big Red actually contained some real sweeteners as well as some artificial ones. That means that it contains sugar, another "controversial" vegan ingredient that we advise not stressing too heavily over (see the linked article for more information). We didn't see any gelatin in Big Red, so we're also adding it to our accidentally vegan list. It had the following ingredient statement:

SUGAR, GUM BASE, CORN SYRUP, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS; LESS THAN 2% OF: GLYCEROL, ASPARTAME-ACESULFAME, GUM ARABIC, SOY LECITHIN, MANNITOL, HYDROXULATED SOY LECITHIN, ACESULFAME K, COLORS (RED 40 LAKE, BLUE 1 LAKE), SUCRALOSE, BHT (TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS).

Doublemint

Just like Big Red, Doublemint isn't a sugarless gum. It has a combination of sugar and artificial sweeteners, but again no gelatin.

SUGAR, GUM BASE, DEXTROSE, CORN SYRUP, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS; LESS THAN 2% OF GLYCEROL, ASPARTAME, GUM ARABIC, SOY LECITHIN, ACESULFAME K, COLOR (TITANIUM DIOXIDE, BLUE 1 LAKE, BETA-CAROTENE), BHT (TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS).​

Eclipse Gum

Heres what their Peppermint ingredient statement looks like:

MALTITOL, SORBITOL, GUM BASE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, ACACIA; LESS THAN 2% OF: MANNITOL,, GLYCEROL, ASPARTAME, SOY LECITHIN, COLOR (TITANIUM DIOXIDE), ACESULFAME K, CARNAUBA WAX, BHT (TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS).

Extra

Nothing new to talk about for Extra. No gelatin to be found. We weren't sure about Extra Fruit Sensations because the ingredient statement wasn't available. Here's what their Mixed Berry ingredient statement looks like:

SORBITOL, GUM BASE, GLYCEROL; LESS THAN 2% OF: NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, HYDROGENATED STARCH HYDROLYSATE, CITRIC ACID, MALIC ACID, ASPARTAME-ACESULFAME, SOY LECITHIN, MANNITOL, SUCRALOSE, COLORS (TITANIUM DIOXIDE, BLUE 2 LAKE, RED 40), ACESULFAME K, BHT (TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS).​

Juicy Fruit

We were excited to see that Juicy Fruit's Sugar-Free Pellet Gum (ingredients below) didn't contain any gelatin! This was great news because pellet gums do have a greater likelihood to have it. This indicated to us that there's a chance gum companies are purposefully not including it in their products (or perhaps they've found a cheaper alternative).

MALTITOL, SORBITOL, GUM BASE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, MANNITOL, ASPARTAME, COLOR (TITANIUM DIOXIDE), SOY LECITHIN, ACESULFAME K, CARNAUBA WAX, BHT (TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS).​

To conclude our big gum brand analysis, we were hard-pressed to find any gums that had gelatin in them, so it seems like this is a dying practice. Mints and other confectioneries were another story so be sure to not assume that just because a brand makes gum without gelatin that their other products won't contain it.

Which Potential Non-Vegan Ingredients Can Be in Gum?

Note & Disclaimer on Trace Ingredients

As we state in much of our other content, we don't recommend worrying about trace ingredients, especially as a new vegan or one that is trying to convince others to try out the lifestyle. Making veganism seem overly complicated or nuanced can give people more excuses to not give it a fair shot. However, it is important to be educated about the food supply, but please consider this when trying to introduce he lifestyle to new people or even if its becoming too complicated for yourself.

Eliminating all specifically labeled animal products is the number one goal.

Gelatin

Out of this entire list - gelatin is going to be the number one red flag ingredient. This is because unlike the others, gelatin is always going to be 100% animal derived. Other ingredients on this list can have multiple sources and much like sugar, it is likely that manufacturers source a combination of animal-derived and vegan-friendly product.

Thankfully, gelatin is mainly only found in pellet gum according to the International Gum Chewing Association.​ It's also super easy to identify on a gum label. We didn't see gelatin on Juicy Fruit's Pellet Gum, though - so that's a good sign!

Glycerin or Glycerine

A common ingredient in chewing gums, glycerin has the potential to be animal derived. However, according to the Vegeterian Resource Group, most glycerin used in foods is plant derived. If the pack of gum you're looking at doesn't state that it has "plant derived glycerin", contacting the company is the only way to know, but you may want to consider not making it complicated for yourself and not worry about the "potential" for animal ingredients. See our "Note and Disclaimer on Trace Ingredients" below.

Note & Disclaimer on Trace Ingredients

As a concerned vegan, it may be disheartening to learn that there is the potential for animal contamination almost everywhere that you turn. Given the complex world that we live in, there is the potential for unethical practices in almost any product you would buy, whether they include animals or not. However, the goal of veganism doesn't have to be complicated.

By abstaining from all labeled animal products you are doing the world a great service.​ Any animal derived trace ingredients like those used in gum are likely a byproduct of the animal industry and not the major drivers of it. By not buying labeled animal products, all trace ingredients will likely go the way of plant based as animal based ingredients become more costly.

is polenta vegan

Is Polenta Vegan?

ANSWER: Yes! Polenta is typically just cornmeal and water making it 100% vegan. There are a few things to be aware of though. Often times polenta is cooked with butter (not vegan) and some recipes even call for cheese. However, this won't be an issue with most polenta products you buy as even the seasoned loaves don't have any animal products. Keep in mind, some spice blends added to polenta may contain parmesan cheese, but this was very rare from our research.

What Vegan Brands of Polenta Do you Recommend?

We've compiled a bunch of great vegan polenta options available online. Despite what you might think, most pre-formed polenta's don't actually need to be refrigerated and have quite a long shelf life. That being said, ordering polenta online is a good option if your grocery store doesn't carry it.

Polenta Brands Available Online

Bob's Red Mill Corn Grits

Buying the corn grits to prepare the polenta yourself is going to be the most cost effective option in most cases. This is because the product is made without the extra processing step and without the additional water which adds cost to the transportation from the additional weight. We recommend comparing a few different prices and sizes and getting the best cost per pound deal:

If you want to get the pre-formed polenta logs which are by far the easiest to prepare. Simply slice the log and put in the oven or in a pan. There are plenty of options available online. We've listed some of the top-selling polenta products below:

Click Any of the Links Above to Check Prices on Amazon

How to Find Polenta in Stores

If you want to pick up polenta on your next trip to the grocery store, it is most likely going to be a small section in the pasta aisle and the international aisle in some cases. You can also check the baking aisle to pick up the plain corn grits to make your own polenta patties in the comfort of your home.

What is Polenta Exactly?

Polenta can be purchased in primarily two different forms: as a flour or in a preformed log. Both are just corn grits with added spices and added water in the case of the log. The plain variety is the going to be the most popular as that is the traditional style that polenta is used in Italy. From our experience, the best way to serve polenta is to use the plain variety and use it to compliment the other ingredients such as fava beans.

What Kind of Polenta Might Not Be Vegan?

We've seen in some rare instances polentas that had spice blends that included parmesan cheese. We haven't seen this in the store, but rather in some off brands we found online. Most of the big brands in your supermarket are 100% vegan, but just be sure to keep an eye out for added cheese or bacon.

are skittles vegan

Are Skittles Vegan? What You Need to Know!

ANSWER:Although they contained gelatin up until 2009-2010, skittles can now be considered vegan as they don't have any animal products in the ingredients. This includes all of the flavors listed on the Wrigley's website (1). However, there is some controversy about skittles which we will cover in detail below.

What Are the Ingredients in Skittles?

According to the Wrigley website (checked June 2017) the Original Skittles have the following ingredient statement:

Sugar, Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, less than 2% of: Citric Acid, Tapioca Dextrin, Modified Corn Starch, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Colors (Red 40 Lake, Titanium Dioxide, Red 40, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Blue 2 Lake, Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake), Sodium Citrate, Carnauba Wax.​

There are also several other Skittles flavors, but the ingredient statements don't change all that much and there weren't any other controversial ingredients worth noting.

As you can see, there are no animal products, but several ones that are controversial within the vegan community. However, this does not mean that you should necessarily give up skittles without considering the entire picture. These controversial ingredients are:

  • Sugar
  • Palm Oil & Carnauba Wax (processed from palm)

Why is the Sugar in Skittles Controversial?

The sugar in any candy is controversial because some cane sugar in the supply chain is processed with bone char as a whitening agent. Whether or not this is the case with skittles is unclear. Many big candy  manufacturer's wouldn't even know themselves as they have a variety of sugar suppliers that they source from. Our position is that vegans should be focusing on giving up all labeled animal products first and foremost and encouraging those around them to do the same.

Learn more about sugar on our "Is Sugar Vegan?" article.

Why is the Palm Oil in Skittles Controversial?

It's not so much palm oil in itself that is controversial, but rather the practices of the palm oil industries. The ethics surrounding palm oil are not all that clear cut, but in a nutshell, clearing land for palm oil plantations is causing lots of deforestation and destroying the homes of orangutans. But what is the driving cause of deforestation?

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists the absolute biggest driver of deforestation is clearing forests for beef cattle pastures and soy being used for animal feed. If humanity was able to give up its addiction to animal products and abolish the animal agriculture industry, there would be a lot more room on the planet to produce palm oil in an ethical fashion instead of fighting over a shrinking amount of land resources. 

At the end of the day, your most important task as a vegan is to give up all labeled animal products. Taking on extra tasks such as the sourcing of single otherwise vegan products such as palm oil or sugar can actually be counterproductive to the vegan movement for the following reasons:

  • Getting the majority of the planet to give up animal agriculture on its own is a daunting task in itself and more complexity will give people more excuses.
  • Palm oil and sugar aren't directly responsible for the suffering and death of animals. The implications of these ingredients can therefore be rectified with improved practices rather than boycott.

Should Vegans Still Eat Skittles? 

At the end of the day, it's up to the individual person on how far they want to take veganism. All ingredients (including whole plant foods) cause some sort of suffering, but the goal of veganism is to reduce the amount of animal suffering and death as possible.

We think that eliminating your consumption of labeled animal products (meat, eggs, dairy, fish, etc.) is going to have the most drastic impact on the animals and the planet. Ingredients like palm oil and sugar (although important) should be considered secondary, so don't worry about it if it makes veganism too hard to follow.

what is seitan

What is Seitan? Everything You Wanted to Know About Wheat Meat!

What is Seitan: Seitan, also known as "wheat meat" is a mock meat made from vital wheat gluten. It is increasingly popular among vegan, vegetarians, and meat eaters alike because when prepared correctly it is shockingly similar to the real meat. Depending on how it is prepared, it can take on a wide variety of different textures including shredded beef, turkey deli slices, burgers, and chunks for kebabs or stir fry.

Brief History of Seitan

Even though it may seem like the latest fad, Seitan has actually been around for a long time - perhaps even the 6th Century in China. The oldest reference we have to date is in a Chinese encylopedia dating back to the year 535. Seitan was popularized by Buddhists or anyone looking to abstain from meat during that time period. It started appearing in Western Cultures around the 1800s.

What is Vital Wheat Gluten?

Gluten is a form of protein found in the wheat plant. If you've tried any gluten free products, you may have found that it is more crumbly than products with gluten. This is because the vital wheat gluten is stripped out. 

Where Can I Buy Seitan?

If you're looking to try some seitan, you have two options: make it yourself or buy it already prepared. If you already live by a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, you're in luck because they are pretty much guaranteed to carry it. Whole Foods specifically tends to have a section specific to meat substitutes or replacers which is totally awesome! It's also possible to get online using the links below!

Seitan Available Online

Getting Seitan online is an option if the stores around you don't carry it. It's also obviously more convenient if you don't feel like driving to the store.

We found WestSoy, Chicken Style Seitan available online and ready to purchase on Amazon. WestSoy is one of the most popular brands in stores as well, so you really can’t go wrong their any of their seitan products.

WestSoy, Chicken Style Seitan, 18 oz

WestSoy Cubed Seitan is more appropriate for things like kebabs that require you to have something that’s easy to put on a skewer. 

WestSoy, Seitan, 8 oz

Companion Braised Seitan is a product of Taiwan and is perfect for Asian Cuisine. An ideal choice if you’re going to be making stir fries, fried rice, or even General Tso’s Seitan!

Companion - Braised Gluten Seitan Tidbits, 10 oz. Can (Pack of 6)

Click any of the links above to read customer reviews and check prices on Amazon!

Store Locators for Big Brands

Upton's Naturals

When it comes to seitan, Upton's Naturals is one of the biggest brands out there. They make a variety of seitan flavors including: bacon, chicken, chorizo, Italian, and traditional. You can find their store locator here.

Pacific Foods

Although most people know them for their vegetable stock, Pacific Foods also makes seitan! They also have some unique flavors which include Korean BBQ (one of our favorites at Thrive Cuisine!). If you're looking to get your hands on some, you can use the store locator on any of their products. 

Tofurky

Probably one of the most widely distributed brands of seitan, Tofurky Deli slices are most likely going to be the one's you find in your local supermarket. Their products tend to be more akin to "seitan hybrids" as some of them contain soy as well as vital wheat gluten. However, the similarities between their products and regular deli slices is totally uncanny, meat eaters aren't even likely to notice. Check out their store locator to see if they're near you!

WestSoy

Another big name in the industry, WestSoy not only makes seitan, but also a wide variety of vegan products including plant milks. Their seitan selection is interesting because they have cubed seitan which is difficult to find and also perfect for vegan kebabs! It also comes in a tofu-like package. See if they're near you by checking out their locator!

How Do I Make Seitan?

Many people have likened making seitan to both an art and a science. There are so many different ways to prepare it to change up the texture and the flavor. The video below is a very simply and easy recipe to follow and it's only a 4 minute watch!

How to Make Seitan by VegTimes

The ingredients seitan base are always going to be pretty similar. Here are some of the ingredients that you are going to need that may not be too easily found in stores:

The first time you cook seitan probably won't yield you the results you want (again it's a bit of an art), but don't give up!  

Here's a very basic recipe that we use for you to build in. Feel free experimenting with your own spices and flavor profiles to create the results you're looking for. Also, rather than slicing it, you can cook it in a cheese cloth to create one big loaf if you'd like! 

Basic Seitan Recipe

Ingredients You'll Need

For the Dough:

  • 2 Cups of Vital  Wheat Gluten
  • 1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 1/4 Cups Veggie Broth
  • 3 TBSP Soy Sauce 

Cooking Liquid:

  • 3 Cups of Veggie Broth
  • 2-3 Drops of Liquid Smoke

Directions

  • Mix all of the dry ingredients and knead until a dough forms.
  • Knead the dough for about a minute and then let it rest for five minutes.
  • Knead the dough again for another minute and then let rest again for ten minutes.
  • While resting, bring the cooking liquid to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
  • Slice the seitan to medium sized strips or cubes and simmer in the cooking liquid for around an hour. Using a cheese cloth without slicing is another option if you want a big loaf.
  • More broth may need to be added throughout the process so check every 15 minutes or so.
  • Serve on a sandwich or in a dish such as a stir fry.

Be sure to watch the video above for a visual aid on how the dough should look and perform. You can be conservative about adding the veggie broth to the dough because you can always add more but can't take out.

Other FAQs About Seitan

Is Seitan Healthy?

When assessing whether seitan is healthy or not, what you're comparing it to is going to make all the difference. Science has clearly shown that plant-based whole foods are going to be the ideal choice when it comes to health. Seitan is more of a processed plant food so you won't be able to compare it to something like broccoli that's rich in nutrients and phytochemicals.

However, if you're craving meat, you're much better off picking seitan than the real thing. Despite a flurry of popular blog posts about the "benefits" of things like coconut oil, butter, eggs, and other forms of saturated fat and cholesterol, the stuff is terrible for you. Picking seitan allows you to enjoy a meaty taste and texture without saturated fat and cholesterol, which makes it a clear winner over meat for health reasons.

Don't take our word on this - the American Heart Association had to recently put out a press release to warn people about this misinformation. 

Is Seitan Gluten Free?

Nope - the stuff is pretty much all gluten! If you've got a gluten allergy your best bet is to stick to soy-based mock meats.

Is Seitan Vegan?

Yup! We've never seen a seitan that wasn't vegan, especially store bought ones. One could theoretically add milk or eggs if they were a vegetarian, but highly unlikely.

Is Seitan a Complete Protein?

The only reliable source we could find on this was this article by Jack Norris RD who spoke directly with the authors of this paper. This particular paper is probably the only one out there that did a lab analysis on the amino acid composition of wheat gluten. The author of the paper reported seitan is extremely low in tryptophan and not lysine like many other sources report. Given the negligible amounts of tryptophan in wheat gluten, it probably cannot be considered a true complete protein - although it depends on what you truly mean by complete.

But does this matter? If you're eating seitan as part of a reasonable diet, there's no reason to think that you're going to be deficient in any amino acid. The myth of the "protein-combining" was something that started in Vogue Magazine many years ago, but has proven time and time again to be nonsense.

Dr. Greger from NutritionFacts.org explains the myth of complete proteins.

Why? Well, if you're a vegan, consuming a well balanced-diet within reason, it would be virtually impossible to be deficient in any amino acids. Our body has a finely tuned protein recycling program as well as stores of extra amino acids to be broken down and reassembled to maintain the perfect balance. Check out the video above to learn more.

Is Seitan Soy?

Yes and no. Some seitan products like Tofurky slices can have soy in them, but seitan doesn't have to necessarily be made with soy. A majority of seitan products or homemade seitans won't have soy in them.

What Does Seitan Taste Like?

Much like tofu, seitan is a blank canvas for flavor. You can make seitan take on the flavor or texture of almost any meat dish or product that you can think of. Check out the recipe section below to spark some ideas!

How Do I Cook With Seitan?

OK, so you've picked up some seitan at the store, but are wondering what the heck to do with it! Basically, you can do anything that you would do to sliced or cubed meat. This includes stir fries, stews, kebabs, marinating, grilling, smoking, etc. It really is a blank canvas for any meat dish you'd like to recreate.

science behind soy

The Truth About Soy – What Does the Science Actually Say?

Soy has quickly gone from a relatively unknown in Western culture to a highly debated and controversial food. Of course, soy has not been embraced by communities who have been advocating against grain and legume consumption for decades. Even people who eat predominately plant-based diets will campaign against this humble legume. The question is: are these harsh criticisms warranted or does the scientific literature say otherwise?

Introduction on Soy

A flurry of blog posts, most without any or with limited sources from scientific literature, has emerged attempting to prove once and for all how dangerous soy consumption is for human health.

Claims can range anywhere from “soy causes breast cancer and increases estrogen levels” to “phytates in soy leeches nutrients from your body”.

In this post, we will closely examine common objections against soy. We will explore the truths many online resources got right and the falsehoods that many got wrong.

We will dive deep into the actual scientific research behind soy consumption and ultimately be able to conclude soy, when consumed in any reasonable amount, protects against disease and promotes overall health.

**Please note that this article is about whole-foods plant based sources of soy, not soy additives in processed foods.

Debunking Anti-Soy Claims

Soy Allergies

Summary

  • Soy is the least common of all food allergens.
  • You're much more likely to be allergic to fish, eggs, shellfish, nuts, wheat, or peanuts.

To start, yes there are some people who shouldn’t eat soy. Some people do have allergies to soy, but it is actually the least common of all the main allergens.

A national survey found that 1 in 2,000 people have a soy allergy. For comparison, this is 40 times less likely than dairy, and 10 times less than fish, eggs, shellfish, nuts, wheat, or peanuts. [1]

What About GMO Soy?

Summary

  • Majority of GMO soy grown is for the purpose of feeding animals.
  • Consuming factory farmed (and even pasture-raised animals in some cases) means you're consuming GMO soy second-hand.
  • The immediate danger comes in the pesticides being sprayed on the soy. Genetic modification needs to be tested long-term and should be labeled.
  • Buying organic soy products is the easiest way to avoid the dangers of GMO soy.

Concerning GMOs, there certainly has not been enough testing done on the long-term effects of these foods, and they should be, at-best, labelled so each consumer has the right to know what they’re eating.

The main issue with GMO soy may not necessarily be the modification, but the actual Roundup being sprayed in large doses on these crops. This substance has been proven to product toxic and hormonal effects at even lower concentrations than what’s used on crops.[2]

Organic or conventional Non-Gmo soy has no Roundup of course, and less pesticide residues overall than GMO-soy. [3]

More Details on GMO Soy by NutritionFacts.org

If you’ve been avoiding soy because you think it’s either unhealthy, GMO, or similar, there is an unfortunate dilemma. 90% of the soy production in the world goes to animal feed and given to cows, chickens, and pigs.  If you’re eating any of these animals and fearful of the dangers of soy, you’re still consuming it second-hand. [4]

The main soy used for for humans manufacturers use Non-GMO soy, but we recommend buying organic soy products just to be safe.

Is Soy Environmentally Destructive?

Summary

  • Most soy is grown to feed animals for slaughter, not humans.
  • Livestock systems are far more unsustainable than growing soy to feed humans.
  • By consuming factory farmed animal products, you're indirectly consuming GMO-soy in much greater quantities.
  • Grass-fed animal products may still be fed soy/grain and are much more unsustainable.
  • Organic soy products are an environmentally safe option.

Soy gets a lot of flak for being a crop that is environmentally destructive. However, the brunt of this issue falls upon consumers of animal products and the animal agriculture industry, not soy itself. As stated above, the majority of GMO soy is grown for the sole purpose of feeding animals.

Of course, there are the grass-fed free, range animal options, which may not be fed with soy. Even "grass-fed" options, though, may be fed grain during a portion of the year during the end of their lives to fatten them up before slaughter . It’s also completely unsustainable for the environment. Livestock systems already cover 45% of the earth’s total landmass and cattle ranching is responsible for 91% of Amazonian rainforest destruction. [5][6]

These are huge numbers, and our limited land resources will only decrease as the demand for grass-fed meat increases. One grass-fed cow takes 9 acres of land to raise, whereas a grain-fed cow takes 3 acres. We simply don’t have enough land for everyone to eat grass-fed animals. [7]

With the majority of GMO-soy feed going to animals and the already massive occupancy of land used for animal agriculture, trying to avoid GMO-soy while still consuming animal products is quite counter-intuitive. By consuming most factory farmed animals, you're consuming GMO-soy indirectly and in much greater quantities. Not to mention you are increasing demand for this GMO soy, which leads to more destructive land-clearing.

Again, the healthiest, more environmentally friendly, and less cruel option would be to purchase organic soy products, which are by law non-GMO. However, many people still have concerns over some of the actual proteins and chemicals inside soy.

What About Lectins?

Summary

  • Lectins aren't only in soy, but present in many of foods.
  • Separating lectins from their original food source isn't a viable way to study them for human consumption.
  • Cooking lectins removes any negative consequences they may have.
  • "High lectin" legume based diets are staples for the longest living populations and are undoubtably associated with positive health outcomes. 

Another main talking-point against soy is the fact they are high in lectins. Lectins are proteins present in plants, dairy, yeast, eggs, and seafood. They can bind to other molecules, notably sugar and carbohydrate molecules, that are present both in foods, and in the membranes of our cells.

A case made by anti-grain authorities is that binding of lectins from plant foods to our cells is a major cause of ill health and nutrition malabsorption. They claim high-lectin foods like beans, grains, potatoes, tomatoes, and peanuts should be avoided for this reason.

This claim doesn't add up when you look at the actual research on lectin-containing foods.

First off, experimentation on lectins is often done in high concentrations and separated from it’s actual food source. Isolating lectins make them substantially more effective to bind to our cells compared to if they were consumed in food.

Also, by simply cooking your food, most of the lectins are deactivated or bind to other substances. Even a study from 1998, which attempts to frame lectins as a serious problem in the food industry, fails to dance around the point that lectin activity for most beans is deactivated within 10 minutes of boiling. [8]

Overconsumption of lectins can cause gastrointenstinal distress, but again, simply cooking your legumes/grains will remove any chance of negative consequences.

When we look at the longest living, healthiest populations in the world, known as the Blue Zone groups, “high lectin” legumes were a staple in their diet. Most of these cultures reserved meat for use as a condiment and on special occasions. In fact, the longest living Blue Zoners actually didn’t consume any meat [9][10]

Additionally, a Journal of Nutrition review concerning whole grains found that:

“Protease inhibitors, phytic acid, phenolic acids, and saponins present in whole grain have also been suggested to lower the risk of certain cancers, such as colon cancer and breast cancer. Phytic acid, lectins, phenolic acids, amylase inhibitors, and saponins have also been shown to lower plasma glucose, insulin, and/or plasma cholesterol and TG levels” [11][12]

The fact is, most people who try to write off lectin containing foods, just because they contain lectins, while absolutely ignoring all of the positive research regarding the benefits of lectin-containing foods.

This concept is most eloquently stated by Dr. David Katz, founder of the True Health Initiative :

The idea that you should renounce many of the foods most decisively and consistently linked to good health outcomes because they contain a compound that can be called a toxin may be the most egregious example of missing the forest for the trees I’ve ever seen, and I’ve spent my career scrutinizing, and repudiating, just that variety of nonsense. For the sake of false promises dangling from one gilded tree, this is a case of burning the forest down. [13]

What About Phytates?

Summary

  • Studies on human phytate consumption is drastically different than animal studies.
  • High phytate diets have been shown to be protective of bone loss in humans.
  • Phytates must be consumed in the form of whole plant foods to realize the benefits and avoid the potential pitfalls.

Phytates, another compound found in soy, have been labelled as a mineral-absorption inhibitor. These phytates can wind up supposedly causing mineral loss leading to calcium deficiency and weak bones.

The original concern about phytates on bone health actualy originated from experiments done on puppies in the 1940s. These studies were followed up by research done on rats where they were fed the equivalent of 10 loaves of bread a day.

However, actual human research suggests differently. Studies where people are put on high-phytate diets actually wound up with better bone density and stronger bones (heel, spine, hip). Phytates prevented bone dissolution similar to anti-osteoporosis drugs and women with high phytate levels in the blood had a much smaller risk of major bone fractures. [14]

Phytates for the Prevention of Osteoporosis by NutritionFacts.org

While high phytate diets may appear to be a cause for concern, the health-harming effects of this anti-nutrient

...can be manifested only when large quantities of [phytates] are consumed in combination with a [nutrient-poor] diet.

When phytates are consumed in the form of soy and whole plant foods, the result is less heart disease, diabetes, kidney stones, fractures, and possibly cancer. [15]

Phytates and Cancer by NutritionFacts.org

Soy Beans and Mortality

Blue Zones and Long Living Cultures

Summary

  • Legume consumption is one of the pillars for long living cultures.
  • Increased legume consumption (including soy) has been shown to be protective against all-cause mortality and a host of chronic diseases.

In addition to the Blue Zones study, which showed regular legume consumption as one of the pillars for the longest lived cultures [16], another study analyzed 785 partcipants aged 70 and over. Here were the results [17]:

The FHILL longitudinal study shows that a higher legume intake is the most protective dietary predictor of survival amongst the elderly, regardless of their ethnicity. The significance of legumes persisted even after controlling for age at enrolment (in 5-year intervals), gender, and smoking. Legumes have been associated with long-lived food cultures such as the Japanese (soy, tofu, natto, miso), the Swedes (brown beans, peas), and the Mediterranean people (lentils, chickpeas, white beans). [18]

When it comes to raw statistics, the study found that every 20g of legumes consumed daily resulted in an 8% reduction in risk of death.

Soy and Estrogenic/Breast Cancer

Summary

  • Soy has phytoestrogens which function differently compared to mammalian estrogens.
  • Phytoestrogens can be both pro-estrogenic as well as anti-estrogenic.
  • Misconceptions about hormonal impacts of soy came from research on rats who metabolize soy vastly different than humans.
  • Human studies have shown soy to prevent bone loss and breast cancer.

Another major myth about soy is it’s alleged “estrogen-mimicking” chemicals, which some claim can result in breast cancer and other hormonal issues.

This is actually misinformation with no substantial evidence to support it. It's actually quite ironic because meat and dairy contain actual animal estrogens, not plant phytoestrogens.

The truth is that phytoestrogens act different than real estrogen, and can actually be pro-estrogenic in some parts of the body, but anti-estrogenic in others. Let us examine this further:

Phytoestrogens can have simultaneously pro-estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects because there are two types of estrogen receptors: alpha and beta.

Soy phytoestrogens, such as genistein, prefer to bind to beta estrogen receptors. Beta receptor activation in the breast has an anti-estrogenic effect, which actually inhibits the growth and cancer-promoting effects of animal estrogen, can be enhance endothial function in post-menopausal women, and protect against other menopausal symptoms. [19][20][21][22]

At the same time, soy phytoestrogens can be pro-estrogenic when it comes to protecting post-menopausal women from bone loss. A robust study was done comparing soy milk consumption to progesterone cream (a common hormone therapy for post-menapausal women), and a control group.

The control group lost significant bone mineral density in their spine over the two-year study period, the progesterone group lost significantly less, and the two glasses of soy milk a day group wound up preventing bone loss and increasing bone mass. [23][24]

Pro-estrogenic and Anti-estrogenic Properties of Soy by NutritionFacts.org

This misconception that soy can contribute to breast cancer came from research on rats, who metabolize soy isoflavones (phytoestrogens) quite differently from humans, as distinctly noted in the study itself. The circulating levels of geinstein in the blood in the rats that had an increase in tumor size were 58 times greater than human levels after 1 serving of soy. [25]

When soy consumption in humans is put to the test against breast cancer, it has been shown that soy intake during childhood, adolescence, and adult life were all associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer. Those women who ate the most soy in their youth appear to grow up to have less than half the risk. [26]

Breast cancer rates are much higher in the USA than in Asia, where there are some of the highest soy consumption rates. But, when Asians migrate to the US and start eating a western diet, their breast cancer rates increase to average American levels. [27]

Soy and Feminizing Men

Summary

  • Phytoestrogens don't necessarily have pro-estrogenic properties 
  • Extremely high doses of soy has been shown to have some feminizing effects in a few rare cases.
  • Once these extremely high doses (3 quarts of soymilk per day) were reduced, the effects were reversed.
  • Nine clinical studies have shown no impact in circulating estrogen levels in men.

Everyone has heard about how too much soy consumption can result in feminizing effects in males, but is this claim substantiated?

A common reasoning for this is, again, the potential estrogenic affects of isoflavones in soy. As discussed earlier, phytoestrogens are quite different than the estrogens found in meat, and phytoestrogens can have anti-estrogenic properties in some circumstances.

Studies have found soy consumption in rat’s ability to produce offspring, but as mentioned earlier, rodent metabolism of soy is completely different, making these studies useless. [28]

Many have heard of how consuming too much soy can cause gynecomastia (man boobs), but the only report of this was from men consuming extremely high doses of soy, 3 quarts of soymilk a day in one instance. The feminizing effects of this extraordinary soy habit were reversed once intake was reduced. [29]

Finally, the peer-reviewed Fertility & Sterility journal concluded that after reviewing the clinical trials regarding soy intake and feminization there was:

“Essentially no evidence from nine identified clinical studies that isoflavone exposure affects circulating estrogen levels in men.” [30]

Can You Have Too Much Soy?

Summary

  • Massive amounts of soy can increase IGF-1 levels.
  • Vegan men eating huge amount of soy had the IGF-1 levels of meat eaters.
  • Stick to 5 servings a day or less of soy to reap the benefits without the downsides.

While we’ve demonstrably proven that non-GMO soy is beneficial for our health and protective against disease, can too much soy be bad?

The answer is possibly yes. IGF-1, insulin-like growth factor 1, is a growth hormone responsible for turning children into full-grown adults. But if this hormone keeps circulating in the blood, your cells should continue to divide and grow. The more IGF-1 in the bloodstream, the higher our risk for cancer. Those on a plant based diet tend to have lower IGF-1 levels.

However, studies have shown that vegan men eating huge amounts of soy, 7 to 18 cups of soy milk worth per day, for an entire year, would up with similar levels of IGF-1 in the body as meat eaters.[31]

How Much Soy is Too Much by NutritionFacts.org

To be as safe as possible, one shouldn’t consume more than 5 servings of soy a day. [32]

Conclusion on Soy

Much of the controversy around soy has been the result of misrepresentation.

GMO-Soy is certainly a problem and should be labelled properly so consumers can have freedom of choice. However, the overwhelming majority GMO-soy is fed to animals, and attempting to get meat from only grass-fed sources only poses a more unsustainable problem due to limited land resources.

The best choice for consuming soy is always organic or non-GMO.

Most of the hysteria regarding the negative health risks of soy are based on the potential dangers of certain compounds (such as lectins or phytates) in isolation, but when soy itself is studied on humans, it can be protective against bone loss, breast cancer, and overall mortality.

However, to air on the safe side, stick to no more than 5 servings daily.

Sources

  • 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17451802
  • 2. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-monsantos-roundup-pesticide-glyphosate-safe/
  • 3. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-gmos-safe-the-case-of-roundup-ready-soy/
  • 4. http://anhinternational.org/2010/04/21/europeans-consuming-gm-animal-feed-unknowingly/
  • 5. https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/handle/10568/10601/IssueBrief3.pdf
  • 6. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/758171468768828889/pdf/277150PAPER0wbwp0no1022.pdf
  • 7.http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_green_lantern/2010/12/pass_on_grass.html
  • 8.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/50272913_Assessment_of_Lectin_Inactivation_by_Heat_and_Digestion
  • 9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24210636
  • 10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11434797
  • 11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19079919
  • 12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078018/pdf/nut14101011S.pdf
  • 13. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/do-we-dare-to-eat-lectins_us_5935c6a7e4b0cca4f42d9c83
  • ​14. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/phytates-for-the-prevention-of-osteoporosis/
  • 15. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/phytates-for-the-treatment-of-cancer/
  • 16. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24210636
  • 17. https://nutritionfacts.org/2017/01/17/what-do-all-the-blue-zones-have-in-common/
  • 18. http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/APJCN/13/2/217.pdf
  • 19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16513288
  • 20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18843590
  • 21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15084758
  • 22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9247129
  • 23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15309425
  • 24. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/who-shouldnt-eat-soy/
  • 25. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/94/5/1284.long
  • 26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19318430
  • 27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8230262
  • 28. http://joe.endocrinology-journals.org/content/189/3/565
  • 29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18558591
  • 30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20378106
  • 31. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/too-much-soy-may-neutralize-plant-based-benefits/
  • 32. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-much-soy-is-too-much/
vegan pancake mix brands

The Top Vegan Pancake Mix Brands

Pancake mixes are a super easy way of getting the boring part of making pancakes out of the way, taking you one step closer to a delicious breakfast when you’re groggy in the morning. It’s easy to make pancake mixes at home – you just need to combine dry ingredients and store them in a jar – but store-bought mixes can up the ante with different flavors and a more professional outcome. There are two varieties of store-bought vegan pancake mix: ones that you just add water to, and ones to which you have to add other things like non-dairy milk, egg substitutes, and butter substitutes.

Because some of the brands on this list are accidentally vegan, the instructions will sometimes call on you to add milk and eggs to the mix. Don’t worry! Just replace them with your favorite vegan substitutes and you’re ready to go. For milks, this is pretty easy: get any sort of non-dairy milk, like almond, coconut, soy, rice, or hemp milks. For eggs, you can use eggs made from flaxseed, apple sauce, chia seeds, or your favorite commercial egg replacer. 

Vegan Pancake Mix Brands You Can Buy Online

Surprisingly Vegan

We could only find one specifically vegan brand online that had a mix you just add water to: Suprisingly Vegan, with their Original Recipe Waffle Mix. Although this is a waffle mix, it can of course be used in the same way as a pancake mix.

Surprisingly Vegan Original Recipe Waffle Mix 2-Pack

Hungry Jack

Hungry Jack’s Complete Wheat Blends Pancake and Waffle Mix is also a complete mix, but it isn’t advertised vegan – so make sure whenever you buy it to check the ingredients, because they can easily change. However, the manufacturer’s website currently confirms its vegan status.

Hungry Jack Complete Wheat Blends Pancake and Waffle Mix 28 oz. (Pack of 4)

Cherrybrook Kitchen

For brands that aren’t complete (in other words, that you have to mix with other ingredients) there are a couple of specifically vegan options. Cherrybrook Kitchen’s Gluten Free Pancake and Waffle Mix is a great pick and advertised as being free of any animal products.

Cherrybrook Kitchen Gluten Free Pancake & Waffle Mix, 18 oz

Angie's Pancakes

So is Angie’s Pancake and Waffle Mix, which is also a very popular brand. 

Angie’s Pancake and Waffle Mix – Gluten free, Grain free, Dairy free, Organic, Sprouted, Vegan, Kosher by Functional Medicine Chef (12 oz)

Bob's Red Mill

Bob’s Red Mill’s Gluten Free Pancake Mix, Pancake & Waffle Mix, and Organic 7-Grain Pancake & Waffle Whole Grain Mix are all also vegan. For any grain based-needs – Bob’s Red Mill always has  wide vegan selection.

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pancake Mix, 22-ounce (Pack of 4)

Vegan Pancake Mixes You Can Buy In Stores

When you’re out at the supermarket, it’s unlikely that you’re going to find a niche pancake mix brand that’s advertised vegan. Luckily, a number of popular brands offer accidentally vegan options, but you should be careful with these – these brands’ recipes change often, so a mix may become non-vegan without you being aware of it.

So if you’re out in stores, look out for these popular brands: Hungry Jack, Bob’s Red Mill, Bisquick, and Aunt Jemima. You can use the links below to check the store locators on their website and see if their products are near you.

Hungry Jack's 

Hungry Jack’s Complete Wheat Blends Pancake and Waffle Mix is vegan and just needs you to add water, and their website makes it look as if their Complete Chocolate Chip Pancake & Waffle Mix is vegan too!

Bob's Red Mill

Bob’s Red Mill offers the Gluten Free Pancake Mix, Pancake & Waffle Mix, and Organic 7-Grain Pancake & Waffle Whole Grain Mix for options that are accidentally vegan – to each of these you’ll need to add other ingredients, though - but making a flax egg is easy enough!

Aunt Jemima and Bisquick

According to their website, Bisquick’s Original Pancake & Baking Mix is vegan, as are Aunt Jemima’s Original Pancake Mix and Whole Wheat Pancake Mix! These are probably the biggest brands in pancake mixes so they're most likely going to be at your local supermarket.

We actually also compiled a post on all of Bisquick's Vegan Products.

Position on Potential Non-Vegan Trace Ingredients in Pancakes

Many of these products have added minerals and vitamins that may not come from plant-based sources; you’ll need to contact the manufacturer to be sure. There’s a possibility that niacin, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, and folic acid all come from non-plant-based sources.

However, given that these are all present in trace amounts and that there’s only a possibility that they’re non-vegan, we suggest that you don’t worry about them. It’s better not to sweat the small stuff – and it’s better to be 99.9% vegan than 0%! Just for your peace of mind, however, we didn’t include any products in this list that contain ingredients that are likely to be non-vegan – just those where there’s a slight possibility.

Our article on sugar clears up our position on trace ingredients and you can also refer to PETAs article here.

Making Your Own Vegan Pancake Mixes at Home

It’s very easy to make pancakes at home – so pancake mixes are also a breeze. Instead of completing the entire recipe in this video, just combine the dry ingredients and pour them into a jar. When the time comes for you to make pancakes, scoop some of your dry mix out, combine it with your wet ingredients, and you’re ready to go!

vegan salad dressing brands

The Best Vegan Salad Dressing Brands and Homemade Recipes! (Including Ranch)

If you’re trying to eat more salads, don’t underestimate the impact that a vegan salad dressing can have on your meals. The main difference between a delicious restaurant salad and the ones you take to work is probably the dressing; it can make or break the entire thing!

Unfortunately, many people’s favorite salad dressings tend not to be vegan. We’re taking the stereotypical unhealthy dressings full of saturated fat and cholesterol: ranch, thousand island, and other thick mayo-based dressings. These tend to have eggs in them and sometimes milk or anchovies. Vinaigrettes and the lighter dressings tend to be vegan, which makes things easy; you don’t need to seek out specifically-vegan brands for these types of dressings.

Luckily, when you have an unquenchable desire for ranch, you can find a bunch of vegan options both online and in stores to satisfy that need.

Vegan Salad Dressing Brands You Can Find Online

Don't worry if you don't feel like scouring the supermarket aisles to find  a decent vegan salad dressing or don't have the time to make your own. There are many options available online for those with a limited local selection. We've compiled a list below of the best vegan dressings that are readily available on Amazon.

Daiya Salad Dressings

Daiya, famous for its cheese substitutes, has three dressings available on Amazon: Creamy Caesar Creamy Caesar, Homestyle Ranch, and Blue Cheeze. This is one of only two blue cheese dressing substitutes that we could find on the market.

Daiya - Dairy-Free Dressing Creamy Caesar - 8.36 oz.

PROS

When it comes to recreating cheese flavors, Daiya always hits home runs.​ Their shredded "cheeses" are staples in a lot of vegan households and their dressings are no different. Expect a creamy, delicious experience comparable to the "real" thing.

CONS​

Although vegan and delicious, these dressings are more of a processed food than a compilation of whole foods. Not a problem if you're having a bit of dressing and a whole bunch of salad, though!

Foods Alive Salad Dressings

One of the more popular brands is Foods Alive, which produces raw and vegan products and which offers a bunch of vegan salad dressings on Amazon including: Better Than Ranch and Garlic Paprika.

Foods Alive Superfood Dressing, Garlic Paprika, Organic, 16oz

PROS

Made with a lot of whole food ingredients, although it does have some oil. This brand is one of the closest you'll get to a whole foods plant based dressing without making your own from scratch.

CONS​

Not really any bad things to say! Although nuts and seeds are the best fat option for salads compared to oils.

Simple Girl Salad Dressings

Simple Girl is another brand that focuses on super light and low calorie salad dressings.  They don’t contain any oil and are sweetened with Stevia, but are still packed with flavor. These are a great selection if you’re trying to reduce your calories or are on a specialized diet that restricts fats and oils.

Simple Girl Salad Dressing-3 Bottle Pack- Sweet Vinaigrette, Sweet Mustard and Citrus Ginger (Sugar Free Dressings, No Carb Dressings, Fat Free Dressings, Diabetic Dressings, Gluten Free Dressings, Vegan Salad Dressing, Vegetarian Dressing), 16 fl.oz each

PROS

If you are really trying to limit calories, sugar, or oil this dressing is going to be a lifesaver! The brand makes a lot of great flavors so there are many opportunities to find one you like.

CONS

The flavor is simply not going to be as good (to most people) as a higher fat more traditionally sweetened dressing. Also, some people may find the taste of stevia to be off-putting. 

Follow Your Heart Salad Dressings

Follow Your Heart, which offers Vegenaise, has a massive range of vegan salad dressings listed on their website (linked in the next section), but these were the only two that we can find online – their Vegan Ranch and their Miso Ginger Salad Dressing.

Follow Your Heart High Omega Vegan Ranch Salad Dressing, 12 Ounce -- 6 per case.

PROS

Much like Daiya, these dressings are going to be the most comparable to their original flavors. Being that this brand specializes in vegan condiments and dressings, you know their research and development is going to be on point. Expect a delicious dressing!

CONS

Mostly made with processed foods much like the others, but again not a huge deal if you're using a little to eat a bunch of greens!

Hampton Creek Salad Dressings

Just, the brand formerly known as Hampton Creek, has four dressings on Amazon: Ranch, Sweet Mustard, Truffle Mayo, and Caesar. This product selection may differ from those found on their website and those that you’ll find in store, because many were switched around and replaced when the brand changed its name and packaging.

Hampton Creek Just Caesar Dressing | Vegan | Non GMO | Egg Free | Gluten Free | 12 Oz | Pack 1

PROS

Flavor and texture of these dressings are top notch. Expect them to exceed your expectations and please even your non-vegan friends!

CONS

​Lots of fat from oil much like the others. Something to be enjoyed sparingly as a tool to eat more greens (if you're health conscious). If you're not - then eat up!

Annie's Salad Dressings

Known best for their vegetarian products, Annie’s has a selection of Vegan salad dressings as well. Not all of them are vegan though – some do have animal products such as milk or eggs. Their Annie's Natural Lemon and Chive is a vegan favorite, though!

Annie's Natural Lemon & Chive Dressing 8 fl oz Bottle

PROS

This brands tends to have lots of great options to choose from. 

CONS

The brand seems to be more "vegetarian" focused so be sure to double check any labels to make sure there's no dairy or eggs in it.

Primal Kitchen Salad Dressings

Primal Kitchen isn’t a specifically vegan brand, but they did have one vegan dressing. They have one vegan dressings that we could find is their Avocado Oil Greek Dressing.

Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil Greek Dressing & Marinade, 8 ounce, (237 ML), Paleo, Whole30

PROS

We couldn't find another Greek dressing that was vegan and vegan Greek salads are awesome!

CONS

The brand isn't vegan focused so ingredients may change down the line. Be sure to double check!

Brands You Can Easily Find In-Stores

It’s not very hard to find vegan salad dressings in-store; many are accidentally vegan, as in they don’t contain animal-derived ingredients even if they don’t explicitly list that they’re vegan. However, this varies greatly by the dressing type.

Dressing Flavors Most Likely to Be Vegan

Most Italian dressings, some tomato-based dressings and most vinaigrette dressings are already vegan; just double-check the ingredients, but they rarely contain ingredients that make them non-vegan. Be on the look out for eggs, milk, anchovies and bacon which can easily sneak their way into salad dressings.

Because so many non-creamy dressings are vegan, it didn’t seem worthwhile to list them here. Instead, we rounded up the vegan alternatives for creamy dressings. All of the links below go right to the company's store locator, so check them out and see if you can find them locally!

Follow Your Heart

Follow Your Heart has a massive list of salad dressings that you should be able to find in store, including a range of creamy ones. See if they're available near you!

Just Salad Dressings

Just, which makes Just Mayo, does Ranch, Caesar, Chipotle Ranch, Thousand, and Sweet Mustard creamy salad dressings is available across a lot of the nation.  They also make cookies and even cookie dough!

Annie's Salad Dressings

Annie’s creamier vegan dressings include their Goddess Dressing, Organic Goddess Dressing, Organic Papaya Poppy Seed Dressing, Organic French Dressing, and Woodstock Dressing. They also have a bunch of other options of the non-creamy variety.

OrganicVille Salad Dressings

And OrganicVille has the Non Dairy Coleslaw Dressing and Non Dairy Thousand Island Dressing. Although not really super creamy, their Miso Ginger dressing is also quite delicious!

"Accidentally" Vegan Salad Dressing Brands

There are a couple of other brands that don’t specifically identify as vegan or vegetarian, but have created creamy vegan dressings accidentally. When you pick up these products, be sure to check the ingredients every time – they can easily change, and since it’s not listed as vegan they won’t need to alert you.

Brianna's

Brianna’s has a Rich Poppy Seed Dressing, which is one of its most popular and also vegan.

Walden Farms'

Walden Farms’ whole range except for Zesty Italian, Italian, Asian, and Honey Dijon dressings are vegan, including a wide range of creamy dressings. This is one of the more impressive ranges, in our opinion – there’s so much to choose from!

Trader Joe's

Trader Joe’s Goddess Dressing developed a cult following after people realized it was accidentally vegan, but we’re unsure as to whether it still is – or whether it’s still available at all. Keep a look out.

Making Your Own Vegan Salad Dressing at Home

Vegan salad dressings are pretty easy to make; you usually just have to combine your ingredients and shake. If you want to make some creamy ones, you might need to find a good blender which we talk about in our Kitchen Appliances section. Making your own is going to be the most economical option. We've compiled some of the best recipes we could find so that you can make something to please any crowd!

Some Key Ingredients for Vegan Salad Dressings

To recreate some of the flavors it helps to have these ingredients on hand. We always have them in our households as they are staples in a lot of vegan cooking. Buying in bulk helps us save a few bucks compared to going to the store and buying them in smaller packages.

Use any of the links to check them out on Amazon!

Balsamic Vinaigrette, Citrus Ginger, and Creamy Bacon Ranch

This video (embedded above) shows you how to make three different salad dressings: a balsamic vinaigrette, citrus ginger dressing, and a creamy bacon ranch. Hot For Food is a great website and YouTube channel to follow if you’re new to veganism, because their recipes are both delicious and really easy.

Vegan Caesar Salad

This Vegan Caesar Salad, with dressing of course, by Oh She Glows is a great one to have in your recipe arsenal. The dressing isn't only good for salads, you can use it for dipping celery, carrots, or anything else you can imagine. We like to use vegan caesar dressing on sandwiches and wraps!

Vegan Ranch Dressing

If you didn't feel like watching the video above for the Vegan Creamy Bacon Ranch recipe, don't worry. This vegan ranch dressing by Eat Within Your Means is delicious and easy to follow with only a few ingredients. You'll never want the "real" thing again!

Vegan French Dressing

French dressing traditionally is ketchup mixed with mayo (not vegan), but that doesn't mean that's the best way to make it. This recipe by Happy Cow shows how you can make it with just a few ingredients, including tahini (which we linked above). You can likely replace the tomatoes with ketchup if you were in a pinch, but fresh flavors are always best!

Are Vegan Salad Dressings Healthy?

A very common inquiry people have is whether a salad dressing is healthy just because it doesn't contain any animal products. The answer is of course no. Determining the "healthfulness" of a food comes down to a few factors, but the main one being whether or not it is a plant-based whole food. If it is a plant-based whole food the second question to ask is are you eating it as a part of a reasonably balanced whole-food plant based diet?

Determining the Healthfulness of Any Given Food

Although a bit lengthy, we highly recommend the above video by Dr. Fuhrman on this subject. While not specifically about salad dressings, Dr. Fuhrman gives you the base knowledge you need to determine if a food is healthy on your own! When it comes to feeding you and your family, knowledge is your most powerful tool.

Is Your Vegan Dressing Made from Whole Foods?

Making a salad dressing from whole foods such as nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, etc. is going to be a huge step above making one out of oil. The reasoning behind this is simple: whole plant foods are the richest source of phytochemicals and antioxidants which are crucial for disease prevention. Processed foods and animal foods simply can't measure up in these categories and also come with baggage such as saturated fat and cholesterol.

If you've been confused about saturated fat and cholesterol, we highly recommend you check out this press release from the American Heart Association.

You can learn more about phytochemicals and nutrient density here or in the video above.

Does the Vegan Dressing Make Up a Big Chunk of Your Daily Calories?

If you've watched the presentation above, you'll have learned that a majority of Westernized people (specifically Americans) get most of their calories from processed food and animal products. This means that there's very little caloric room in the diet for disease preventing foods. Check out Dr. Greger's Daily Dozen app if you want to ensure you're getting a good range of health promoting foods in your daily diet.

If you're eating 100 calories of vegan salad dressing (even if it isn't whole foods based) and the rest of your diet is a variety of whole plant foods - it's not such a bad thing! Trouble presents itself when you have 500 calories of processed dressing and hardly any whole greens, nuts, seeds, beans, etc!

What About Sugar in Vegan Dressings?

Unless a salad dressing is specifically designed to be vegan, there is a chance that any added sugar could have involved bone char in the processing of it. However, we (and many other vegan organizations) hold the position that vegans (especially new ones) should not worry about added sugar or other dubious trace ingredients. Focusing on avoiding all specifically labeled animal products is going to have the biggest amount of harm reduction to animals.

Without the direct demand for animal products, using bone char for commercial processes would likely phase out anyway since the cost for it would increase. To learn more, read our full position on vegan sugar.

are animal crackers vegan

Are Animal Crackers Vegan?

ANSWER: Yes. The purpose of veganism is to cause the least amount of suffering as possible or practicable with your food choices. Animal crackers aren't real animals of course, nor do the original ones by Stauffer's contain any direct animal ingredients such as milk or eggs. However, there are a few things to be aware of when it comes to confectionery and baked products including animal crackers. Full details below!

Vegan Brands of Animal Crackers


Animal Crackers with Organic Sugar*

Conventional Animal Crackers

Use any of the links above to read customer reviews on Amazon!

In the chart above, we've listed the most popular vegan brands of animal crackers. Beware of other brands with frosting and double check if they have any milk, eggs, gelatin, or any other animal products. We've separated the organic from the conventional animal crackers as some more experienced vegans may choose to avoid conventional sugar. More on sugar in the final section.

What Are Animal Cracker's Exactly?

Animal crackers are a bit of a cross between a cracker and a cookie. They are a slightly sweet, but with the texture of a cracker. As the name implies, they are shaped like animals such as horses, giraffes, bears, etc. The Original Animal Crackers by Stauffer's actually contain 13 different shapes according to their website.

What Does the Ingredient Statement Look Like for Animal Crackers?

Here's the Stauffer's Animal Cracker's ingredient statement (please note that other smaller brands might be different):

ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), SUGAR, SOYBEAN OIL, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SALT, BAKING SODA (LEAVENING), SOY LECITHIN (AN EMULSIFIER), NATURAL FLAVOR, SPICE.

As you can see they are mainly comprised of flour, sugar, and oil. There's no milk, eggs, or anything that can be stated with 100% certainty that it was animal derived. You don't have to feel guilty about eating them, especially if you're new to veganism. Sugar is a controversial ingredient within veganism and there's a chance that if the sugar isn't organic that animal products were involved in the processing of it.

Why Mention Sugar in Animal Crackers*?

Conventional sugar is sometimes processed with animal bone char, but it is not something that you should put too much thought into, especially if you are having trouble eliminating all labeled animal products from your diet. Veganism is about maximum harm reduction and if you're in the transition phase, you don't want to make things even more confusing.

If you want to be super safe stick with the Kirkland Organic Animal Crackers or the Trader Joe's Organic Animal Crackers. You don’t have to feel guilty if you choose to do otherwise, though.

For the full scoop on sugar, check out this article.

is laffy taffy vegan

Is Laffy Taffy Vegan?

ANSWER:  Like many sugar-based candies, the small version of Laffy Taffy doesn't contain any blatantly labeled animal products which means that it would be considered Vegan. The big version of Laffy Taffy does however have eggs, making it not vegan. There are a few ingredients (including sugar) in the small version which could potentially involve animal products which we discuss below. However, we don't recommend stressing about trace ingredients.

Most Popular Vegan Taffy Candies


Click any of the links above to check out customer reviews on Amazon!

In the chart above, we've compiled the most popular vegan taffy candies we could find online. Many of the smaller taffy brands had egg or milk in them, but the big brands above did not. Please note that different larger versions of any of these given candies may not be vegan (besides Mambas which we found to be all vegan).

What About the Sugar in Laffy Taffy?

Here's the most up to date Laffy Taffy ingredients we could find:

Corn Syrup, Sugar, Palm Oil and Less Than 2% of Mono- and Diglycerides, Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Malic Acid, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Artificial Flavors, blue #1, red #40, yellow #5. Contains Soy Ingredients.​

Laffy Taffy is primarily Corn Syrup and Sugar. Conventional (meaning non-organic) sugar has the capacity to be filtered with animal ingredients such as bone char. Laffy Taffy is a huge brand who most likely sources sugar from different places. This means that tracking whether or not any animal derived products (filtering materials in this case) were involved in the making of one specific candy would be nearly impossible.

The same applies to any natural colors and flavors in Laffy Taffy. Tracking their origins, especially given the different types of the candy out there would be difficult, but we believe that the same principle applies.​

We've fully detailed our position on sugar being vegan in this post.​

Laffy Taffy and the Definition of Veganism

The definition of veganism according to the Vegan Society is as follows:

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

The keywords in this definition is possible and practicable. While this is not an excuse to go out and eat products blatantly made from animals, veganism isn't something to be overthought, especially for someone that's new to it. Veganism is grounded in maximum harm reduction simply because 100% harm reduction is impossible

While one doesn't necessarily need to eat Laffy Taffy in order to survive, it is not constructive for a new vegan to over think ingredient statements that aren't blatantly labeled with animals, especially if it makes veganism too complicated for them. A more experienced vegan may opt to give up questionable products as a matter of principle, but the harm reduction to animals isn't going to be anything of impact.

Conclusion on Laffy Taffy

When it comes to sugary candy including Laffy Taffy, we've boiled it down to one rule of thumb. Check the label for any animal ingredients (including gelatin) that are clearly labeled. If they aren't, you can consider it 99.9% vegan. As you become more experienced on plant-based eating, you may want to consider avoiding anything questionable, but that's your choice.

Finally, because candies don't really contain any nutritional value, we recommend sticking as close to whole foods plant based as possible!

1 2 3 5