ANSWER: Yes! Plain popcorn (just the kernels by themselves) are vegan since they only have one ingredient, corn. However, some brands season their popcorn with butter or other products that are derived from animals. While it is impossible to explore every popcorn brand under the sun, there are a few key things to look for when trying to ensure that your popcorn is indeed vegan. We also have come clever solutions to enjoy vegan popcorn on the cheap!
As the name might suggest, popcorn is actually a species of corn. When the kernel has heat applied to it, it expands out and puffs up creating the familiar crunchy and fluffy snack that gets stuck in our teeth. It can be cooked in any sort of enclosed area which includes a microwavable bag or sealable pot or pan.
Any sort of cheesy popcorn such as white cheddar is definitely not going to be vegan. Most of these products boast about being made with “real cheddar cheese” and are seasoning with a dried powdered version of whichever type of cheese that they use. Make sure to rule these out.
Due to recent health concerns with much of the artificial butter flavoring used in popcorn, many popcorn brands have opted to use real butter in their products, making them not vegan even if they were at one point. These products should be clearly marked as containing dairy.
Even though we found a PETA article talking about how some movie theater popcorn may be vegan we have some concerns that it would be best to check with whatever theater you’re going to at the time you’re going.
Here’s why: In 2015 the FDA removed Partially Hydrogenated Oil from their GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list. A compliance period of three years was set so that all products with Partially Hydrogenated Oil were no longer being produced. That being said, ingredient statements have most likely changed since then so it is better to check with your local theatre.
As stated earlier, you always have the option of buying your own plain popcorn kernels and popping them yourself. With modern kitchen appliances such as these silicone microwave popcorn poppers – it’s super easy to buy popcorn in bulk, cook it in one of these, and then season it however you like.
Nutritional yeast is a great option for making vegan popcorn cheesy!
If you’re insistent on microwave popcorn, Quinn Just Popcorn has a simple popcorn product that only has two ingredients: popcorn and salt. This is a convenient solution for someone who needs a quick fix or doesn’t eat enough popcorn to justify adding another tool to their kitchen.
If you love popcorn then odds are you're interested in other vegan snack foods. Being vegan doesn't mean that you need to give up your favorite snacks - odds are that you'll likely discover more that you never knew you liked!
There’s lots of great popcorn options and the ones that aren’t vegan are really easy to spot. If you decide to make your own from just the kernels, be sure to experiment with some cheesy vegan popcorn recipes! You’re sure to impress your friends and might even make them think about whether they really need animal products!
Cooking healthy, delicious, plant-based meals has been Joey’s true passion since he went vegan in 2015. He has a masters in Nutrition and Food Science and is committed to making the internet a place of education and knowledge rather than misinformation and clickbait. He currently lives in Delaware with his wife.