Are Golden Oreos Vegan?

are golden oreos vegan

Golden Oreos are essentially vanilla-flavored Oreos.

They seem to follow the same recipe as regular Oreos, but they have a different color and probably contain a distinct flavoring, which is likely to be vanilla, even though the source is not disclosed.

According to Oreo.co.uk, Oreo cookies are not vegan due to their cross-contact with milk, but if we take a close look at the ingredients, there isn’t a single animal-based ingredient.

For most vegans, that makes Oreo cookies a vegan-friendly snack. However, for some vegans, there are some ingredients that place Oreos in a rather gray area, more so considering that Oreos belong to Mondelez International, a multinational company that owns several brands such as Cadbury, Milka, Toblerone, and Chips Ahoy that make use of animal ingredients.

If you wish to learn more, feel free to continue reading this blog post!

Golden Oreos: Ingredients

golden oreos

Ingredients: Wheat Flour, Sugar, Rapeseed Oil, Palm Oil, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Wheat Starch, Raising Agents (Sodium Carbonates, Ammonium Carbonates), Salt, Emulsifiers (Soya Lecithin, Sunflower Lecithin), and Artificial and Natural Flavorings.

The Golden Oreos contain a combination of plant-based and man-made ingredients, making them a vegan-friendly. However, what some people may not know, especially brand-new vegans, is that even certain vegan-friendly ingredients are seen as controversial in the vegan community.

Those controversial ingredients are the following:

  • Refined Sugar
  • Palm Oil
  • Artificial & Natural Flavorings

The reason these ingredients are seen as questionable or controversial is because of their association with animal cruelty, even though they may not necessarily be animal-based.

Refined Sugar

While that’s not always the case — sugar derived from sugar cane can be refined using a decolorizing and deashing agent called bone char.

This agent is obtained by heating the bones of cattle until they convert into a porous, black material that closely resembles charcoal. Bone char is not present in sugar, but it allows to clean inorganic impurities like sulfates, as well as ions of magnesium and calcium.

Mondelez International, the company that ultimately owns Oreos sources sugar from multiple suppliers, including ones that use bone char.

That can be verified through this email:

Email by mondelez international

In other words, it’s difficult to trace which pack of Oreos contains the sugar refined with bone char, so you’re left with a choice to eat or avoid Oreos.

This is still debatable in the vegan community, and so you have one group that is fine with eating Oreos, and another that is highly against it.

Palm Oil

It’s not surprising that palm oil is connected to animal-cruelty.

After all, creating palm oil plantations involves getting rid of acres of forest which are ultimately inhabited by different animal species. It is unfortunate, but this leads to ruining the natural habitat of certain species, which eventually leads to their death.

Orangutangs, Tigers, Rhinos, and Elephants. These are some of the species that are endangered mostly due to palm oil production. Between 1999 and 2015, 100,000 species of orangutangs died as a result of this palm oil demand, at least according to this research.

Currently, it’s just a matter of time until these species disappear from this planet, and it will all come down to our lack of compassion and infinite greed.

Natural & Artificial Flavorings

While they may appear to be the same, there’s a slight difference between natural and artificial colors. According to the FDA, the term “natural flavors” means:

“…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…

And the term “artificial flavors” 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, natural flavors are derived from plant or animal sources, and artificial flavors are man-made, and both are used to impart flavor in food.

The issue with natural flavors is that it may or not be vegan depending on the ingredients used to create the flavor. However, because companies are not required to reveal those ingredients, there is a risk of some not being vegan. That is what vegans find problematic.

Take ginger ale, for instance. While it may seem to be 100% plant-based, there is a small chance a company may use a natural flavor derived from honey.

ginger ale

So, unless you’re confident that a certain product uses 100% plant-based natural flavors (i.e: orange juice), then it might be a good idea to contact the company or manufacturer.

Artificial flavors, on the other hand, are associated with animal-cruelty because regulations require them to be tested first before being considered safe for human consumption.

Making sure a certain ingredient is safe usually means testing them on animals.

However, I don’t know whether or not the testing for artificial flavors is a one and done deal, making it more acceptable from my viewpoint. What I know is that certain artificial ingredients like colors are periodically tested, which I’m less willing to consume.

In fact, here are two tests conducted in 2017 and 2018 on the artificial color Red #40.

As you can see, at least for some artificial colors, tests are still being conducted on animals.

Some Vegans May Be Against Products From Non-Vegan Companies Like Mondelez International

Indeed, not everyone, but some vegans are against consuming products from non-vegan companies. Especially if that company has a big portfolio of brands that “exploit” animal resources and contribute to animal torture at a large scale.

Like Nestlé, Mondelez International is another big multinational company that owns brands that heavily use dairy, etc. As such, some vegans are not willing to consume their products, believing these companies may eventually feel a negative financial impact.

However, you can also find vegans such as Gary Yourofsky that believe in a different approach:

I’m actually a big believer in this as well. In fact, we can see some big companies releasing vegan products, which proves that theory right.

Take Mars, for instance. They’ve launched vegan chocolates.

Summary: The Golden Oreos Are Vegan!

Yes, as far as I know, Golden Oreos do not contain animal-based ingredients, which makes them suitable for MOST vegans! 

However, some vegans may not consume “controversial” ingredients like refined sugar, palm oil, natural and artificial flavors, but those are usually the stricter folks.

Feel free to contact Mondelez International if you’re feeling doubtful about some of the ingredients, and also if you’re interested in knowing about the efforts they’re making to minimize their impact.

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About the Author: 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!