Unfortunately, when you go to a supermarket, you still have to look at ingredient labels to figure which products are vegan and which ones aren’t. It’s not like everything is properly divided, with vegan products on one side, and non-vegan products on the other.
Oftentimes, the easiest thing to do is to ask google if XYZ product is vegan. And fortunately, you can find an answer to your question almost every time.
Gushers are actually vegan.
Contrary to what most people believe, Gushers do not contain animal byproducts and are thus suitable for vegans. However, Gushers also do have some questionable ingredients that stricter vegans are not in alignment with. If you’re interested in knowing more, feel free to dive in.
Fruit Gushers: An Overview
*The tropical flavor also has similar ingredients.
At first sight, you think they would have gelatin. However, that’s certainly not the case. In fact, what they have instead of gelatin is carrageenan, which is also an additive also used to thicken, emulsify, and preserve the snacks.
Among the ingredients shown on the left, however, there are a few questionable ingredients that may be related to animal cruelty. Those ingredients are sugar, natural flavors, artificial colors, and palm oil which is present in the tropical-flavored but not the strawberry flavored Gushers.
Feel free to continue reading if you want to learn why those ingredients are connected to animal cruelty. It’s saddening, but it’s true.
Why Some Sugar May Not Be Vegan.
The problem with sugar is that some companies may use bone char to refine cane sugar. If you don’t know what bone char is, it is a black powder obtained from heating the bones of cattle at really high temperatures until they disintegrate. Sugar companies use it specifically to filter and bleach sugar so that it crystallizes and attains that white, pristine color.
However, some companies also use granular activated charcoal, which is used to achieve the same result as bone char, but it’s a kinder option.
At the same time, you also have companies that use sugar extracted from sugar beets, which is a type of sugar that doesn’t follow the same process as cane sugar. In fact, beet sugar is put through a diffuser and mixed with additives to crystallize, and it does not require bone char.
Both cane and beet sugar are used in equal amounts in the United States. Unfortunately, although bone char is banned in some countries, it is not banned in the United States. So there is a pretty good chance Gushers may contain sugar bleached with bone char.
Another issue is that companies usually don’t specify what type of sugar is used to create their product. Some companies use both or just one of them. Oreos, for instance, sources from suppliers that use bone char, and suppliers that don’t. And the same may apply to General Mills, the company behind the Fruit Gushers.
Your best bet is to contact the company but rarely do companies have a simple answer.
Why Natural Flavors May Not Be Vegan.
Most natural flavors are vegan. Yes, most are extracted from plant-based sources, instead of animal sources. This being said, this is what the FDA has to say about natural flavors:
Unfortunately, one popular animal-based flavor is called castoreum. This is a liquid extracted from the anal secretions of beavers in the United States and Europe. This liquid is typically used to produce vanilla flavorings but it can also be used to enhance strawberry and raspberry flavors.
Following that logic, one of the Fruit Gushers flavors is strawberry. As such, there’s a slight chance they may use castoreum for that effect… but this is just speculation.
The Truth About Artificial Colors.
Artificial colors is a serious issue within the vegan community. Unfortunately, artificial colors are used in many foods and cosmetics, and sadly, Fruit Gushers have a series of artificial colors.
The strawberry-flavored Fruit Gushers have Red 40, while the tropical-flavored Fruit Gushers have four different colors (Blue 1, Red 50, Yellow 5 & 6). And as you probably know, artificial colors have been (and are) periodically tested on animals because, ultimately, they’re substances that are associated with health risks.
And, sadly, I don’t think these will stop anytime soon.
The Tie Between Palm Oil And Animal Suffering.
Technically, palm oil is vegan, which shouldn’t sound surprising because it comes from a fruit.
But conventional palm oil farming is highly destructive and is responsible for the deforestation of massive areas of rainforest. As a result, several animal species lose their natural habitats and die because they’re unable to adapt.
The insatiable demand for palm oil is the cause of rainforest destruction in Indonesia and Malaysia. Two countries that account for 85% of the world’s palm oil production. These are also the two countries where a population of orangutans is being pushed closer to extinction if we don’t do anything to curb that demand.
Here’s a sad, yet inspiring video of an orangutan fighting for his home:
Aside from the orangutans, you also have other animal species that are in danger, such as tigers. Besides, you have local people that have been evicted from their lands, as well as local communities that have been impoverished as a result of this massive deforestation.
Palm Oil Is In So Many Foods, Including Fruit Gushers.
Palm oil is not only used in foods, but it’s also used in cosmetic products and toiletries such as shampoos, soaps, detergents, and toothpaste.
By following a plant-based diet you’re avoiding many of the products that contain palm oil, but a lot of vegan-friendly products still contain palm oil. If you wish to still consume palm oil, the best option is to look for products by companies that are certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. This is just something we vegans must also be aware of if we want to ensure we’re not contributing to the death of animals in the Eastern world.
Consume the strawberry-flavored Gushers if you wish to avoid palm oil. Only the tropical-flavored Gushers have palm oil in the recipe.
Both the strawberry and tropical-flavored Fruit Gushers are vegan.
However, despite not containing any animal ingredients whatsoever, there are still some questionable ingredients. That’s because they may be associated with animal cruelty— such is the case with palm oil and artificial colors.
This being said, Fruit Gushers are still technically considered vegan, even though they may be avoided by the most strict vegans.