Can Vegans Eat Animal Crackers? (Or Is There Dairy?)

Everyone loves these cute little cookies—but are they cruelty-free? It's kind of a funny question to ask, but we're here to answer it as simply as possible...

Are Animal Crackers Vegan?​

are animal crackers vegan

Yes, they're vegan friendly. Animal crackers aren't real animals, of course, and the original confections by Stauffer's don't contain any direct animal ingredients like dairy or eggs. This means that vegetarians and vegans can eat most brands of animal crackers!

However, there are a few things to be aware of. Some people have concerns that eating animal cookies are not veg-friendly because it reinforces animal exploitation.

When it comes to reducing animal suffering, we think it's best to view issues like these in as black-and-white a way as possible. The purpose of veganism is to cause the least amount of suffering as possible or as is practicable with your food choices. 

You can think of it like this: Do the ingredients contain labeled animal products? If yes—it's not cruelty-free. If no—it's cruelty-free. Most people living a cruelty free lifestyle would agree with this sentiment.

That said, iced and frosted cookies frequently have ingredients you'll need to watch out for, which we'll get into below.

Let's move on to the brands and types of animal cookies...

Examining Different Brands

Stauffer's Crackers

They're vegan. Stauffer's is a classic name in these types cookies, and fortunately, the brand is veg-friendly (and delicious).

The Original cookies contain no eggs, dairy or any other non-veg products:

bag of stauffers animal crackers on shelf

Ingredients: 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.

While high-fructose corn syrup is not the healthiest ingredient for those of us following the whole-food, plant-based lifestyle, at least we know that the Original flavor is cruelty-free.

Trader Joe's

They're vegan. Trader Joe's offers these in case you're searching for some. Check out the ingredient list:

Ingredients: Organic Wheat Flour, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Sea Salt, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Ammonium Bicarbonate), Organic Lemon Flavor, Citric Acid, Organic Soy Lecithin, Organic Mace.

If you're going for organic, Trader Joe's is a good brand.

Barnum's

They're vegan. Barnum's were recently on the receiving end of some serious criticism for displaying caged animals on the boxes, which we'll explain in a little bit.

But the crackers themselves are cruelty-free...

Ingredients: Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, Riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, Folic Acid), Sugar, Soybean And/Or Canola Oil, Yellow Corn Flour, Dextrose, Fructose, Calcium Carbonate (Source Of Calcium), Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Salt, Natural Flavor, Artificial Flavor.

No animal products in the ingredients.

Kirkland 

They're vegan. Costco's brand Kirkland Signature offers Organic Crackers, just like Trader Joe's. 

Ingredients: Organic Wheat Flour, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Palm Oil, Organic Cane Invert Syrup, Organic Degermed Corn Flour, Organic Sunflower Oil, Baking Soda, Organic Vanilla Extract, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Cream Of Tartar, Natural Flavor, Organic Spice.

You can see that the ingredients are pretty similar to those in Trader Joe's. All cruelty-free!

bag of stauffers iced animal crackers on shelf

Sometimes cruelty-free. Iced and frosted cookies are dipped in or have a layer of frosting or icing that may or may not contain dairy and even confectioner's glaze, an ingredient that comes from lac insects.

You should probably expect these types of cookies to not be veg-friendly, but it's possible to find some that are veg-friendly (iced versions are more likely to be cruelty-free than frosted).

Let's take a look at some now.

They're vegan. As it turns out, there are no dairy or animal-based products in Stauffer's Iced Cookies...

Ingredients: Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Sugar, Soybean Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn, Syrup, Salt, Baking Powder (Leavening), Cinnamon, Corn Starch, Natural And Artificial, Flavor, Titanium Dioxide (For Color), Soy Lecithin (An Emulsifier), Carrageenan, Fd&C Red #40.

No non-veg products in the frosting or anywhere to be seen in the ingredient list.

Keebler Frosted

Not cruelty-free. You can see that there are two non-veg ingredients in Keebler Frosted Cookies: whey (milk) and confectioner's glaze (lac bugs).

Ingredients: Sugar, Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Vitamin B1 [Thiamin Mononitrate], Vitamin B2 [Riboflavin], Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil (Palm Kernel, Soybean And Palm Oil With Tbhq For Freshness), High Fructose Corn Syrup. Contains 2% Or Less Of Whey, Salt, Sorbitan Tristearate, Cornstarch, Color Added, Soy Lecithin, Baking Soda, Red 40 Lake, Confectioner's Glaze, Artificial Flavor, Carnauba Wax, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6.

As a rule, don't opt for the frosted cookies unless double checking.

Chocolate

bag of stauffers chocolate flavor on shelf

They're vegan.  are not dissimilar from plain variety. Unless they're iced, they should be cruelty-free, but always double-check for milk in the ingredients to make sure.

However, chocolate-dipped cookies are a different story. These usually have milk chocolate or dairy ingredients in them. The cruelty-free ones will be just like the original animal cookies, just with added cocoa.

Stauffer's Chocolate

They're vegan. If you weren't aware that Stauffers also offers Chocolate, feel free to grab these, too.

Ingredients: Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine, Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Sugar, Soybean Oil, High Fructose, Corn Syrup, Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), Graham Flour, Chocolate, Salt, Baking Soda, (Leavening), Soy Lecithin (An Emulsifier), Natural And Artificial Flavor, Caramel Color, Fd&C Blue, #1, Fd&C Yellow #6, Sodium Benzoate And Potassium Sorbate Added To Preserve Freshness, Sodium Metabisulfite (Dough Conditioner).

Again, no non-veg ingredients. Plain and chocolate Stauffer's are veg-friendly!

Nature's Promise

They're vegan. Nature's Promise contain no non-vegproducts in the recipe:

Ingredients: Organic Enriched Wheat Flour (Organic Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Palm Oil, Organic Cocoa Powder (Processed With Alkali), Organic Cane Sugar Syrup, Organic Brown Sugar, Natural Flavors, Baking Soda, Sea Salt, Ammonium Bicarbonate, Organic Soy Lecithin, Organic Vanilla Extract.

There is a warning that they "may contain: milk, eggs and coconut." However, since we don't see milk and eggs in the ingredients list, we're guessing that these cookies are made on equipment shared with non-veg products (that do contain milk and eggs).

This is common with foods, and it doesn't mean that they're made with non-veg ingredients. Warnings like these are usually informing you of the possibility for traces to be present.

For that reason, you don't need to worry—they're still cruelty-free.

Earth Fare

They're vegan. We found an ingredient list from Fooducate, which shows that Earth Fare are on the safe list:

Ingredients: Organic Wheat Flour, Organic Dehydrated Cane Juice, Organic Canola And/Or Organic Sunflower And/Or Organic Soybean Oil And/Or Organic Palm Oil, Organic Invert Sugar, Sea Salt, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Organic Vanilla Extract.

Add it to the list!

What's Behind Bars Scandal?

As we briefly mentioned earlier, the Barnum's brand from Nabisco has come under fire for its illustrations of animals in cages on the boxes. This attempt to create a circus motif is in poor taste if you ask not only vegans, but many people who care deeply about animal welfare.

PETA asked Mondelez, Nabisco's parent company, to change these illustrations back in 2016. The animal rights activist group felt supported by the rising consensus that caging animals for human entertainment is cruel.

And guess what? Mondelez responded with a brand new design depicting them in a more natural environment, free of cages. A small win, but a win nonetheless.

Wrap Up

In general, you can count on these cookies  to be cruelty-free. The exceptions are iced and frosted cookies, which may contain dairy and confectioner's glaze (lac bugs). However, it's possible to find cruelty-free varieties. Just read the labels on these carefully.

Otherwise, enjoy!

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