Answer: No, Cheetos aren't vegan, and they're not even vegetarian. Not only are they made with cheese and whey protein, some contain rennet, a common animal-based cheese ingredient.
In case you're wondering, rennet comes from stomach enzymes produced by certain types of animals.
So you'll need to stay away from all types of Cheetos, including:
- Flamin' Hot Cheetos
- Cheetos Puffs
- Cheetos Baked Crunchy
So you can see for yourself, here is a sample list of ingredients from the Flamin Hot Cheetos...
Ingredients: Enriched Corn Meal (Corn Meal, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, and Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil (Corn, Canola, and/or Sunflower Oil), Flamin' Hot Seasoning (Maltodextrin [Made From Corn], Salt, Sugar, Monosodium Glutamate, Yeast Extract, Citric Acid, Artificial Color [Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Yellow 5], Sunflower Oil, Cheddar Cheese [Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes], Onion Powder, Whey, Whey Protein Concentrate, Garlic Powder, Natural Flavor, Buttermilk, Sodium Diacetate, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate), and Salt. CONTAINS MILK INGREDIENTS
As you can see, there are several milk products in there and the allergen statement makes it blatantly clear!
Alternatives to Cheetos
If you're craving a cheesy snack, fear not. There are plenty of alternatives to Cheetos that are crunchy and downright delicious.
Try some of these when the craving strikes:
- Takis in selected flavors
like Fuego, Zombie and Salsa Brava. Of course these aren't the healthiest snack on the planet (far from it), but being vegan isn't about being healthy by definition.
- Vegan White Cheddar Hippeas - this is a really delicious snack that we included on our Vegan Snacks at Target list so you know it's readily available.
- Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos - Believe it or there is at least one variety of Doritos that doesn't have animal products. See our post on: Are Doritos Vegan?
- Earth Balance Vegan White Cheddar Puffs - Since Earth Balance makes loads of vegan products already, you don't have to worry about whether their stuff contains animal products.
This is just a small list of snacks to look for instead of Cheetos. Depending on which variety you're in the mood for, you can find a vegan version to match it, and usually at big stores like Target and Whole Foods.