Are Luna Bars Vegan? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Luna is a brand developed by the Cliff Bar Company and is dedicated to supporting equality between men and women by helping bridge the pay gap and bringing into focus the inequities for women in the workplace, particularly women of color. 

They’ve partnered with TIME’S UP FOUNDATION to finance a body of research to help understand the people’s perceptions of the pay gap, and what needs to be done to make the workplace more equal. 

Luna bars are low-calorie bars that are free from trans fats and high fructose corn syrup, but a few years ago they started making gluten-free bars to cater to people with dietary restrictions.

Do they also cater to people following a vegan lifestyle? Well, Luna bars do not contain any animal ingredients, but some vegans might avoid them out of concern for cross-contamination and the fact their bars contain palm oil, a rather controversial ingredient. 

In this article, we look into the two Luna Bar product lines, and we’ll help you determine whether or not they’re suitable for someone following a vegan diet. 

Are Luna Bars Vegan?

The regular Luna bars offer a wide variety of flavors, namely:

  • Chocolate peppermint stick
  • Lemon zest
  • Nuts over chocolate
  • Blueberry bliss
  • Lemon zest & blueberry
  • Chocolate cupcake
  • Chocolate-dipped coconut
  • S’mores
  • White chocolate macadamia
  • Caramel walnut brownie. 

Even though the bars are not advertised or certified as being vegan, none of them contain any animal ingredients, which means they’re approved by most vegans. 

luna bar

For example, the white chocolate macadamia flavor contains the following ingredients:

  • Protein grain blend (rolled oats, soy protein isolate, rice flour, roasted soybeans, soy flour)
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Cane sugar
  • Chicory fiber syrup
  • Macadamia nuts
  • High oleic sunflower oil
  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Palm kernel oil
  • Palm kernel solids
  • Soy flour
  • Sea salt
  • Natural flavors
  • Cocoa butter
  • Soy lecithin
  • Soy flour
  • Mixed tocopherols (antioxidant).

As you can see, there are no animal ingredients in the formula above, but there are a couple of ingredients that some vegans often look to avoid. Those ingredients are cane sugar, palm oil, and natural flavors. 

Cane Sugar

Sugar generally comes from two sources: sugarcane and beets.

Both sugars are similar in taste and texture, but their refining processes differ. Beet sugar is extracted using a diffuser and mixed with non-animal additives to crystallize, which means it’s always vegan. 

Cane sugar is made by crushing sugarcane stalks to separate the pulp from the juice and then filtering the juice with something called bone char. 

What is Bone Char?

According to PETA, bone char is made from the bones of cattle from countries like Afghanistan, Argentina, India, and Pakistan. The bones are sold to traders in Scotland, Egypt, and Brazil who then re-sell them to sugar companies in the United States.

cattle bones

Bone char, also known as natural carbon, is used by the sugar industry as a decolorizing filter, which is what gives refined sugar its white, pristine color. Bone char can also be added to other forms of sugar. 

For instance, brown sugar is created by adding molasses to refined sugar, so companies that use bone char in regular, refined sugar, also include bone char in brown sugar production.

For this reason, some vegans are hesitant to buy products that contain refined cane sugar, particularly if they know that the company sources from suppliers that rely on bone char, and unfortunately, that is still a common practice in North America. 

Side Note:
We don’t know whether Cliff Bar & Company uses sugar that has been refined with bone char. What we want to say is that it’s common for sugar to be refined with bone char, so opting for an organic form of sugar is better if you want to completely avoid ingredients bleached with bone char.

Palm Oil

Conventional palm oil farming is responsible for the destruction of rainforests and natural habitats. As such, several animal species are getting close to extinction because they can’t adapt to an environment outside their own.

deforestation
Cunningchrisw, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The insatiable demand for palm oil keeps increasing, having even surpassed soy in terms of usage. That demand has fueled the forest 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 orangutangs, a primate species that is nearing extinction thanks to the handiwork of greedy humans.

For example, a study conducted by Cell found that between 1999 and 2015, 100,000 Bornean orangutans died because of the demand for palm oil and other natural resources. 

Not only are palm oil plantations a danger to wildlife but they’ve also led to conflicts with local communities over land rights, particularly in Indonesia.

Locals have been evicted from their lands and local communities have been impoverished as a result of the exploitation of palm oil companies.

For these reasons, some vegans choose to avoid consuming conventional palm oil. 

Natural Flavors

Natural flavor is a term used to describe natural ingredients that are used for flavoring purposes. Some of these ingredients are vegan, but some might not be. 

Certain brands might hide non-vegan ingredients under the “natural flavors” umbrella.

The FDA definition of “natural flavors” is the following:

“The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means 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.”

Basically, natural flavors can be anything approved for use in food.

The good news is that LUNA does not seem to use animal ingredients:

All of our products can fit within a plant-based diet and are made with predominantly plant-based ingredients. In fact, most of our foods contain no intentionally added animal-based ingredients.

There are only a few Clif products that contain animal-based ingredients:

– CLIF Whey Protein, LUNA Protein, Zbar Protein, and CLIF Recovery Protein Drink Mix contain whey protein from milk.
– CLIF Bar Peanut Butter & Honey w/ Sea Salt contains honey.”

Assuming that this statement is legit, I don’t think we need to worry about their natural flavors being made of animal ingredients.

Potential Cross-Contamination

While this is not necessarily an issue that most vegans worry about (otherwise many wouldn’t claim that Oreos are vegan), there are definitely a few that worry about, particularly if they have some kind of allergy. 

Luna bars alert consumers that they “may contain milk”, and this is because they’re produced in a facility where different allergens are handled, in this case, it’s milk. Therefore, if the potential for cross-contamination bothers you, then I’d suggest you avoid Luna bars. 

Are Luna Protein Bars Also Vegan?

Luna also has a line of protein bars that contains slightly fewer calories and more protein than regular bars.

Unfortunately, the Luna protein bars are not suitable for vegans. To get the extra protein, they use whey protein, which is essentially derived from milk. 

However, if you’re interested in their protein bars, let me assure you that there are amazing vegan options out there, namely from brands like Aloha, Vega, and No Cow. 

That goes for bars in general, not just protein bars. There are a lot of vegan brands out there that specialize in snack bars, and they’re super delicious. You should give them a try. 

Summary

Luna Bars have two different product lines: regular snack bars and protein bars. 

Their regular snack bars have a variety of flavors available and none of them contain flagrant animal ingredients, which by most vegan’s standards, makes them vegan-friendly. However, you’ll still come across ingredients such as cane sugar, palm oil, and natural flavors, which are a bit controversial. 

Their protein bars, however, do contain animal ingredients, namely whey protein, which is a well-known milk-derivative that’s often used in protein powders. Therefore, these are definitely not vegan.

If your intention was to purchase Luna’s protein bars but now you can’t— let me tell you that there are some amazing vegan brands selling protein-packed bars that are incredibly delicious. Some of the brands we like to recommend are Aloha, Vega, and No Cow (this one has an amazing range of flavors). 

Fortunately, nowadays, if you want to avoid animal products, you can easily do so because there is no shortage of alternatives, and it’s getting increasingly harder to NOT find vegan products. 

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than five 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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