Are Girl Scout Cookies Suitable For Vegans?

Girl Scout cookies are sold by Girl Scouts to raise funds to support girl scout councils and individual troops. Tied to an initiative like this one — no wonder vegans are asking if girl scout cookies are vegan so they can support the cause.

They are sold door to door, through school and in town-wide fundraisers. These cookies are extremely popular, which is reflected upon the 1 million girl scouts selling the cookies between January and April. In an average selling season, over 800 million dollars are made.

But are Girl Scout Cookies vegan?

To understand whether Girl Scout Cookies are vegan or not, we must look individually at each variety, and check which ones have animal ingredients, and which ones don’t.

Girl Scout Cookies: An Overview

Fortunately, among the 12 existing varieties, 5 of them are suitable for vegans. This is a generous amount, considering Girl Scout cookies have been around for a while.

Here are the 12 girl scout cookie varieties:

  • Lemon-Ups
  • Lemonades
  • Thin Mints
  • Caramel Delites/Samoas
  • Peanut Butter Patties/Tagalongs
  • Do-si-dos/Peanut Butter Sandwich
  • Shortbread/Trefoils
  • Thanks-a-Lot
  • Toffee-Tastic
  • Caramel Chocolate Chip
  • Girl Scout S’mores
  • Girl Scout S’mores w/ Chocolate Coating

Most of them are not vegan, for obvious reasons. They contain dairy and eggs that are taboo ingredients within the vegan community. It’s also worth mentioning that among the vegan varieties, you can find questionable ingredients that I believe some stricter vegans look to avoid.

Therefore, before we get into the vegan varieties, let me first mention a few questionable ingredients some of them contain.

Sugar

I’ve mentioned this many times before. Sugar companies in some countries (including the United States), use a black powder named bone char in the refinement stage. Bone char is the result of heating up the bones of cattle at high temperatures until they get carbonized. It’s also what sugar companies use to filter and bleach cane sugar so that it gets its white, glowing color.

However, it’s important to mention that not every company uses bone char.

In fact, some companies use an alternative called granular activated charcoal which achieves the same result as bone char and doesn’t require animal sacrifice. Furthermore, some companies also use sugar extracted from sugar beets, which does not go through the same process as cane sugar. In fact, it’s extracted using a diffuser and mixed with additives to crystallize.

Both cane and beet sugar are used in equal amounts in the United States. The problem is that companies don’t specify which type of sugar they use to make the product. Oftentimes, they use both types of sugar, which is what Oreos does.

But even so, I believe it is a good idea to ask companies and hope they’re transparent about it. Oreos was quite transparent about it when asked about the sugar they source.

Palm Oil

Palm oil comes from palm fruit so it’s technically vegan. However, conventional palm oil farming is responsible for massive deforestation, and the destruction of natural habitats. As a result, several animal species lose their homes and die because they’re unable to adapt.

The demand for palm oil has fed the rainforest destruction in Indonesia and Malaysia, two countries that account for 85% of the world’s palm oil production.

These two countries also happen to be the home of orangutans, which is a primate species that is at risk of extinction. Here’s a video of an orangutan fighting for his home:

But orangutans are not the only ones in danger. The list of wildlife is long. Even locals have been evicted from their lands and local communities have been impoverished as a result of this massive exploitation and deforestation.

Palm Oil Is In So Many Foods.

Palm oil is found in many baked goods such as cookies, chips, and even chocolate. It is also extensively used in cosmetics and toiletries in the form of foam. It’s crucial in the making of shampoos, soaps, detergents, and toothpaste.

By following a plant-based diet, you’re avoiding plenty of foods that contain palm oil. However, you don’t have to completely avoid palm oil. You can look for products from companies that comply with sustainable palm oil policies. For instance, you can search for products by companies that are certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

That’s if you want to minimize the impact of conventional palm oil farming.

Natural Flavors

Whether it’s natural or artificial flavors, they’re rarely defined on the label. So, there’s no expansion on what natural or artificial flavor is actually being used.

Fortunately, most natural flavors are vegan, but there are some exceptions. Here’s what the FDA has to say about the definition of Natural Flavors:

“the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

A commonly used natural flavor is castoreum. A yellowish liquid extracted from the anal secretions of beaver species in the United States and Europe. It is used in both food and perfumes and it is typically used to produce vanilla flavorings, although it can also be used to enhance raspberry or strawberry flavors.

Fortunately, among the vegan girl scout cookie varieties, there isn’t one with either flavor.

Artificial Flavors

Technically, all artificial flavors are vegan-friendly. They’re synthetically made and do not use any animal extracts. Here’s what the FDA has to say about artificial flavors:

“The term artificial flavor or artificial flavoring means any substance, the function of which is to impart flavor, which is not derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof.”

In other words, artificial flavors refer to anything that isn’t plant or animal-based. Instead, it uses petroleum-based and synthetically created substances.

However, we must not forget that everything that is created in a lab and goes into whichever product must be previously tested. Unfortunately, tests are usually run on animals, and thus you can also say that artificial flavors should not be vegan-friendly.

This being said, it all comes down to each person’s personal view. Some avoid it, some don’t.

List of Vegan Girl Scout Cookies

Thin Mints

thin mints
Ingredients
Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, vitamin B1 [thiamin mononitrate], vitamin B2 [riboflavin], folic acid), sugar, vegetable oil (palm kernel, palm, and soybean oil), cocoa, caramel color, contains 2% or less of cocoa processed with alkali, invert sugar, leavening (baking soda, monocalcium phosphate), cornstarch, salt, sorbitan tristearate, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavors, oil of peppermint.

These crispy, chocolate covered cookies are amazingly delicious. Not surprisingly, they are the highest-selling Girl Scout cookie, something that hasn’t changed year after year. If you love mint-flavored chocolates, you’ll definitely enjoy these ones.

Feel free to stock them up in the freezer and eat them whenever you want! You can also order through here (amazon link), without having to go out and search for them.

Thanks-A-Lot

thanks a lot cookies
Ingredients
Enriched wheat flour (flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), sugar, vegetable oil shortening (palm kernel and palm oils), high fructose corn syrup, cocoa (processed with alkali), salt, modified corn starch, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate), soy lecithin, cornstarch, artificial flavor.

The Thanks-a-Lot cookie tastes like a shortbread cookie dipped in chocolate fudge. It has it’s named stamped on top, and it has a chocolate fudge layer on the bottom.

They taste really well by itself, but feel free to dip them in plant-based milk!

Peanut Butter Patties

peanut butter patties
Ingredients
Sugar, peanut butter (peanuts, palm oil, corn syrup solids, salt), enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), vegetable oil shortening (palm and palm kernel oils), cocoa (processed with alkali), high fructose corn syrup, leavening (baking soda, monocalcium phosphate), soy lecithin, salt, natural and artificial flavor.

Among the four peanut butter girl scout cookie varieties, only the Peanut Butter Patties are vegan. They have a very crispy, and nutty flavor enveloped in chocolate heaven.

This being said, make sure you avoid the Tagalongs, Peanut Butter Sandwiches and Do-Si-Dos which are not suitable for vegans.

Lemonades

lemonades girl scout cookies
Ingredients
Enriched wheat flour (flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), sugar, vegetable oil shortening (palm and palm kernel oils), cornstarch, corn syrup, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda), salt, natural and artificial flavor, soy lecithin, annatto extract (color), citric acid, malic acid.

These shortbread round cookies have achieved the right balance of sweetness and lemon sourness. These are tasty on their own with a glass of plant-based milk or a hot cup of tea.

S’Mores W/ Chocolate Coating

girl scout s'mores
Ingredients
Sugar, vegetable oil shortening (palm and palm kernel oils), enriched wheat flour (flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine monoitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), whole wheat flour, cocoa (processed with alkali), cornstarch, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, salt, soy flour, soy lecithin, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate), artificial flavor.

There are two versions of this classic girl scout cookie, and only the chocolate coated cookie is vegan. It’s a sweet and crunchy graham cracker dipped in icing and coated in chocolate.

Bottom Line

The Girl Scout cookies are sold in 12 different varieties. Fortunately, 5 of those varieties are suitable for vegans. Among the 12 varieties, here are the ones you can eat:

  • Lemonades
  • Thin Mints
  • Peanut Butter Patties
  • Thanks-a-Lot
  • Girl Scout S’mores w/ Chocolate Coating

They don’t have any animal-based ingredients, but they contain questionable ingredients such as palm oil, as well as natural & artificial flavors. If you’re a stricter vegan and are against such ingredients, I’m afraid every single variety contains at least one of them.

This being said, these are “technically” considered vegan for most people.

Our Recommendation For Vegans

Future Kind’s Essential Vitamins: This is our favorite multivitamin. It’s not the typical multivitamin because it was formulated to specifically address potential shortcomings in the vegan diet. It contains the essential vitamin B12, vitamin D, and Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA & EPA) delivered in necessary doses so you don’t have to worry about potential deficiencies. Want to learn more about it? Check out the review we did on it.

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than three years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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