Love Hearts are manufactured by Swizzels Matlow in the United Kingdom and they are known as Sweet Hearts in the United States. They are hard, tablet-shaped sweets available in a variety of fruit flavors, also featuring short, love-related messages, hence why they’re very popular during Valentine’s Day.
Love Hearts are currently available in six flavors, each one associated with a color:
- White (sherbet-like flavor with slightly tart vanilla flavor)
- Yellow (sherbet-like flavor with lemon aftertaste)
- Green (lime flavor with sherbet-like aftertaste)
- Orange (sweet flavor with a slight orange aftertaste)
- Purple (berry-like flavor with strong aftertaste)
- Red (cherry flavor)
None of the flavors contain animal ingredients, but it’s important to mention that they contain artificial colors and stearic acid, a few brow-raising ingredients among those in the vegan community.
Love Hearts: Ingredients
These are the ingredients present in Love Hearts:
Among these ingredients, some are deemed questionable by the vegan community, namely stearic acid, and the various artificial colors.
Vegans also point out that sugar may not be vegan because it may be processed with bone char, a granular carbon that is obtained from charring animal bones.
However, in this particular instance, I don’t think that’s applicable because Love Hearts are manufactured in the United Kingdom, where bone char is not used. It would be worrying, however, if they were manufactured in the United States, where the use of bone char is common.
With that being said, let’s look at why stearic acid and artificial colors may not be vegan.
According to the Vegetarian Resource Group, stearic acid is used as a binder in foods, and its source can be either animal or plant-based. It can be found in both vegetables and animal oils, animal fats, cascarilla bark extract, and also in synthetic form.
It is used in many products, including butter flavoring, vanilla flavoring, chewing gum, candy, and fruit waxes.
Stearic Acid may not be suitable for vegans, depending on the source, which is why more stringent vegans may opt to avoid products containing stearic acid regardless.
Unfortunately, artificial colors are often a by-product of animal testing as their safety must be secured before they are to be included in products.
Naturally, this is not something vegans agree with, particularly when noticing that testing artificial colors (namely, red #40) is a practice that routinely takes place.
These recent studies from 2017 and 2018 evaluate the genotoxicity and other effects the Allura Red AC (or red #40) may have on mice. Needless to say, vegans are against animal testing, especially when done periodically.
By definition, Love Hearts are vegan because they don’t contain any animal ingredients.
However, the waters become murky because of ingredients like Stearic Acid and Artificial Colors, for two very specific reasons:
- Stearic acid may (it does not mean it is) be derived from an animal source
- Artificial colors are periodically tested on animals (from what we have found)
For these reasons, it’s difficult to say whether Love Hearts are vegan-friendly. For less strict vegans, Love Hearts are okay to be consumed, but for those with a stricter stance, Love Hearts are not vegan.