Altoids were created in the 1780s in London, but they’re still around today, in fact, they’re quite popular on Amazon, which is arguably the biggest retailer in the world.
Unfortunately, the classic Altoids are not suitable for vegans because they’re made from gelatin, which is essentially a protein derived from animal cartilage, bones, and skin. However, some varieties like the Sugar-Free and Artic Altoids do not contain gelatin or other animal ingredients.
What are Altoids?
Altoids are a brand of mints sold in distinctive metal tins.
Altoids mints are available in four flavors: peppermint, wintergreen, spearmint, and cinnamon, though you can find a wide range of varieties from sugar-free mints to dark chocolate-dipped mints and even other forms of Altoids such as hard sweets and chewing gum.
While Altoids is a brand that was created by a London-based company, the product was mostly exported to the United States, where it’s still consumed to this day.
Do Altoids Contain Animal Ingredients?
The classic Altoids, as I’ve mentioned earlier, are not vegan, nor even vegetarian.
Most flavors, including peppermint, cinnamon, spearmint, and wintergreen, contain similar ingredients such as sugar, gum arabic, flavoring, gelatin, and food coloring which varies based on the flavor.
Most Altoids have gelatin, except for Sugar-Free Smalls and Sugar-Free Artic mints, which are arguably the only two varieties that are vegan-friendly.
Gelatin is a protein obtained by boiling the skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones of animals, which are either pigs or cows. Gelatin acts as a thickening agent, so it helps shape the mints.
It also plays the same role in so many other products like fruit gelatins, puddings, marshmallows, ice cream, and even shampoos and face masks.
The bottom line is that gelatin is never vegan, so products that contain it are a no-go.
You may or may not be aware of how refined sugar is whitened, but often, it is not vegan because charred animal bones are used to bleach the sugar. This practice certainly makes it unsuitable for vegans, and unappealing for many people.
Fewer sugar producers are using this technique now, but unfortunately, it is very difficult to know whether the sugar is vegan or not. The only true way to tell in most cases is to get in touch with the manufacturer directly.
Otherwise, all you can do is choose chocolate that is labeled vegan, as there is no other way to know for sure.
As you’re aware, artificial colors have a long history of animal testing. Scientists follow procedures designed to prove the safety of certain substances. Some say it’s necessary for our safety.
However, even if that is the case, mice, rats, and dogs are used and discarded. In most cases, they die, all for the sake of scientific advancement.
Artificial colors are not made from animal ingredients (except for carmine), so many vegans (including me) still consume products with added colors. I try to stick to a fully whole-foods plant-based diet, so it’s rare for me to drink Gatorade (or eat foods with artificial colors).
Altoids is Owned by Mars Incorporated
Altoids is owned by Mars Incorporated, the company known for creating Mars bars, Milky Way bars, M&M’s, Snickers, and Twix – all brands that use dairy.
For many vegans, buying Altoids means you’re helping Mars gain a profit so that they can invest in products that contain animal ingredients.
There is an opposing argument that suggests that if we purchase vegan products from these multinational companies, we are fueling the demand for more vegan-friendly products, and we’re pressing Mars Incorporated to recognize the ethical shift.
The opinions are mixed, and it’s difficult to settle for one.
Gary Yourofsky, a popular vegan advocate, thinks we should consume vegan products from multinational companies, as that should generate the most impact.
You might not agree with his view, but he puts some interesting things into perspective.
However, it’s also important to point out that Mars continues to fund animal tests, despite the existence of more reliable human tests and the fact none of the tests are required by law. PETA has urged Mars to stop animal testing, but they did not.
Vegan Alternatives to Altoids
There are a few mints besides Altoids that are 100% vegan, which we’re going to briefly cover below.
Simply is a brand that creates both gums and mints, which are both certified vegan by Vegan Action.
They’re known for using simple and natural ingredients and avoiding artificial ones. For instance, the peppermint-flavored Simply Mints contain cane sugar, peppermint oil, and calcium stearate. You also have other flavors such as ginger, cinnamon, and peppermint mixed with matcha.
Besides being certified vegan, the Simply Mints are also Non-GMO and Kosher.
Vermints makes vegan, USDA organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, nut-free, kosher mints.
The Wintergreen flavor includes organic crystallized cane sugar, organic tapioca syrup, organic maple syrup, natural flavoring, agar, and gum tragacanth.
Vermints are also available in other flavors such as coffee, chai, ginger, peppermint, and cinnamon.
Root Chews are simple mints that combine parsley root and peppermint oil.
They come in packets made from recyclable and biodegradable paper, and each box comes with approximately 300 mints, which means it might last you for months.
Root Chews don’t have any sugar, so they have a ridiculously strong mint flavor.
Pur mints are vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, nut-free, soy-free, and non-GMO.
They contain xylitol, a sugar alternative that is more diabetic-friendly and it also helps reduce the plaque buildup in your teeth.
Pür Mints come in spearmint, mojito lime, tangerine tango, peppermint, and polar mint flavors.
The original Altoids are not suitable for vegans as they contain gelatin, an ingredient that is obtained by boiling specific animal body parts.
However, varieties such as the Sugar-Free and Artic Altoids do not contain flagrant animal ingredients, therefore, they should be okay to eat.
Some vegans might have a problem with Altoids because they contain sugar, which might be processed with bone char, and some might also dislike the fact that Altoids are owned by Mars Incorporated.