Are Animal Crackers Vegan? (Yes, But Beware Of These Brands…)

Everyone loves animal crackers—but are they vegan? It's kind of a funny question to ask, but we're here to answer it as simply as possible...

are animal crackers vegan

This article will cover...

  • Whether or not animal crackers are always vegan.
  • The vegan brands of animal crackers.
  • The meaning of the ingredients.

Lets go!

Are Animal Crackers Vegan?

Yes, they're vegan. Animal crackers aren't real animals, of course, and the original confections by Stauffer's don't contain any direct animal ingredients like milk or eggs.

However, there are a few things to be aware of. Some people have concerns that eating animal crackers is not vegan 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 vegan. If no—it's vegan. Most vegans would agree with this sentiment.

That said, iced and frosted animal crackers 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 crackers...

Stauffer's Animal Crackers

They're vegan. Stauffer's is a classic name in animal crackers, and fortunately, the brand is vegan-friendly (and delicious).

The Original Animal Crackers contain no eggs, dairy or any other animal products:

bag of stauffers animal crackers

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 vegan.

Trader Joe's Animal Crackers

They're vegan. Trader Joe's offers organic animal crackers 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 for vegans.

Barnum's Animal Crackers

They're vegan. Barnum's Animal Crackers 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 vegan...

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 Animal Crackers

They're vegan. Costco's brand Kirkland Signature offers Organic Animal 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 Organic Animal Crackers. All vegan!

Iced or Frosted Animal Crackers

bag of stauffers animal crackers

Sometimes vegan. Iced and frosted animal crackers 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 animal crackers to not be vegan, but it's possible to find some that are vegan-friendly (iced versions are more likely to be vegan than frosted).

Let's take a look at some now.

Stauffer's Iced Animal Cookies

They're vegan. As it turns out, there are no dairy or animal-based products in Stauffer's Iced Animal 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 animal products in the frosting or anywhere to be seen in the ingredient list.

Keebler Frosted Animal Cookies

Not vegan. You can see that there are two non-vegan ingredients in Keebler Frosted Animal 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 animal cookies unless double checking.

Chocolate Animal Crackers

bag of chocolate animal crackers

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

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

Stauffer's Chocolate Animal Crackers

They're vegan. If you weren't aware that Stauffers also offers Chocolate Animal Crackers, 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 animal ingredients. Plain and chocolate Stauffer's animal crackers are vegan-friendly!

Nature's Promise Organic Chocolate Animal Crackers

They're vegan. Nature's Promise Organic Chocolate Animal Crackers contain no animal products 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 animal crackers are made on equipment shared with non-vegan products (that do contain milk and eggs).

This is common with vegan foods, and it doesn't mean that they're made with animal-based 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 vegan in most vegans' books.

Earth Fare Animal Crackers

They're vegan. We found an ingredient list from Fooducate, which shows that Earth Fare Organic Animal Crackers 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 of organic and vegan animal crackers.

What's the Animal Crackers 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 animals in a more natural environment, free of cages. A win for animal rights.

Wrap Up

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

Otherwise, enjoy your animal crackers!

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