A custard cream is a sandwich-like biscuit filled with a creamy, custard-flavored centre. It’s quite popular in the United Kingdom, and sources like the Wikipedia suggest that it may originated in Britain in 1908.
A variety of supermarkets (within the UK) have created their own brand versions, with variations made from different flavors, including orange, lemon, chocolate, strawberry, coffee, and coconut. However, the most popular custard creams are sold by McVities and they contain whey, making them unsuitable for vegans.
Among the supermarket brands, there are vegan custard creams, but you still have to read the ingredients, since it’s not immediately obvious that they’re vegan.
Custard Creams: Ingredients
Historically, the custard cream’s filling has been made with buttercream (in fact, that’s how homemade custard cream filling is made), but other forms of fat have replaced the butter in mass-produced custard creams.
Today we have several custard creams brands, which include: McVities, Morrisons, M&S, Waitrose, Aldi Belmont, ASDA, Co-op, Crawford’s, Sainsbury’s, Love More, and Tesco. Most of the brands are not vegan.
For example, the ingredients in McVities custard creams are:
- Flour (Wheat Flour, Calcium, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin)
- Vegetable Oil (Palm Fruit)
- Dried Whey (Milk)
- Glucose Syrup
- Wheat Starch
- Raising Agents (Ammonium Bicarbonate, Sodium Bicarbonate)
- Natural Flavouring
- Colour (Carotenes)
The other non-vegan brands have similar ingredients, including dried whey.
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Which Custard Creams Are Vegan?
Fortunately, some brands have opted for only using plant-based ingredients, so you have custard creams that are completely free from animal ingredients.
The vegan custard creams are:
- Morrison’s Free-From Custard Creams
These custard creams from Morrison’s have rice flour, sugar, maize starch, palm fat, maize flour, glucose syrup, invert sugar syrup, potato starch, sunflower oil, raising agent (sodium carbonates), thickener (xanthan gum), salt, emulsifier (sunflower lecithins), flavouring, and coloring (beta-carotene).
- Love More Custard Creams
These custard creams from Love More contain rice flour, sugar, corn starch, palm fat, corn flour, glucose syrup, inverted sugar syrup, potato starch, refined sunflower oil, raising agent (sodium hydrogencarbonate), thickener (xanthan gum), emulsifier (sunflower lecithin), salt, natural vanilla flavoring, and coloring (beta-carotene).
- ASDA’s Free-From Custard Creams
These custard creams which you can purchase from ASDA have rice flour, sugar, palm fat, corn starch, cornflour, potato starch, invert sugar syrup, glucose syrup, sunflower oil, rice starch, thickener (xanthan gum), raising agent (sodium carbonates), emulsifier (lecithins), vanilla flavoring, salt, and coloring (beta-carotene).
As you can see, none of the brands contain ingredients from animal origin, however, they have what is usually referred to in the vegan community as a controversial ingredient.
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Palm Oil Is A Controversial Ingredient
If you’ve been vegan for a while, you’ve probably heard about the environmental issues associated with palm oil production in rainforests.
Put simply, palm oil production is responsible for the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the destruction of eco-systems, or animal habitats.
In fact, a study conduced by Cell found out that between 1999 and 2015, the rise in palm oil demand led to the death of 100,000 Bornean orangutangs. Unfortunately, to grow palm trees entire rainforests that are home to many animal species are bulldozed to the ground, which means that many animals will fail to adapt to an environment outside their original one, so many die as a result.
Therefore, even though palm oil is certainly a plant-based ingredient, it’s also associated with animal cruelty, mostly because of how it’s grown – unsustainably.
While that may not pose a problem for some vegans, others don’t tolerate it and cut off palm oil from their diet, or they opt for palm oil that is grown sustainably.
The palm oil in vegan custard creams is not grown sustainably, however.
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Custard creams are usually not vegan, however, some brands have managed to produce custard creams without animal ingredients. These supermarket brands include Morrison’s, Love More, and ASDA.
However, it’s also important to note that these brands use palm oil as an ingredient, which is a rather contested ingredient within the vegan community. According to experts, conventional palm oil has dire consequences to both the environment and animals, which is why many vegans choose to avoid it, unless it’s grown sustainably.