Are Skittles Still Vegan in 2021? (Full Flavor Breakdown)

The world of candies is a minefield for vegans. Recipes change over time, and it’s not always for the better – a product that was vegan three years ago may not be so today. 

Skittles is a global phenomenon, and it’s rare to find a person who hasn’t heard of them.

Back in 2010, Skittles reformulated their recipe and removed gelatin from their formula, opting for plant-based ingredients which left many vegans overjoyed. 

However, is that still the case today? Are vegans still able to eat Skittles and not feel guilty about it? This is the question I tried my best to answer in this article.

Can Vegan Eat Skittles?

According to its US distributor, the original Skittles contain the following ingredients:

  • Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil
  • Citric Acid
  • Tapioca Dextrin
  • Colors
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Carnauba Wax
  • Natural and Artificial Flavors
  • and Modified Corn Starch.

The original Skittles contain no animal ingredients and thus are vegan. However, there are several varieties of Skittles and each one has its own ingredients.

If you are interested in learning about the other varieties, I’ve also covered them below.

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Are Sour Skittles Vegan?

The Sour Skittles contains the following ingredients:

  • Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Citric Acid
  • Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil
  • Tapioca Dextrin
  • Modified Corn Starch
  • Natural and Artificial Flavors
  • Colors (Red 40 Lake, Blue 1 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Titanium Dioxide)
  • Sodium Citrate
  • and Carnauba Wax.

The Sour Skittles are also without animal ingredients and thus are vegan.

Are Wild Berry Skittles Vegan?

The Wild Berry Skittles have the following ingredients:

  • Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil
  • Fruit Juice from Concentrate (Strawberry, Cherry, Raspberry, Grape, Blackberry)
  • Citric Acid
  • Dextrin
  • Modified Corn Starch
  • Artificial And Natural Flavors
  • Colors (Red 40 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Blue 1 Lake, Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Yellow 6)
  • and Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).

All the ingredients are plant-based, so the Wild Berries Skittles are vegan. 

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Are Tropical Skittles Vegan?

The Tropical Skittles contains the following ingredients:

  • Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil
  • Apple Juice from Concentrate
  • Citric Acid
  • Dextrin
  • Modified Corn Starch
  • Colors (Includes Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Blue 1 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1)
  • Artificial And Natural Flavors
  • and Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).

The Tropical Skittles do not contain animal ingredients, so they’re vegan. 

Skittles Contain Controversial Ingredients

While Skittles are vegan because they don’t contain animal ingredients, I still want to point out the ingredients that are still deemed controversial within the vegan community. 

These ingredients are sugar, palm oil, natural flavors, and colors.

They’re controversial because they may have an association with animal cruelty, however, allow me to be more explicit by explaining each case below. 

Sugar

Manufacturers typically source sugar from two sources: sugarcanes or sugar beets.

Sugar derived from sugar beets is always vegan, as the processing doesn’t require a decolorizing agent and is more straightforward, but with cane sugar, the story is different.

Sugar refineries in the US often use bone char to decolorize cane sugar and remove any existing impurities like sulfites and ions of magnesium and calcium. 

Bone char is another term for burned animal bones, and it’s difficult to tell which product contains it because most companies source their sugar from a mixed pool of suppliers. 

I’ve found out that many companies, including Mars Incorporated, follow that model. 

Therefore, some vegans choose to avoid sugar — particularly if they know that the company sources from sugar suppliers that use bone char. 

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Palm Oil

Palm oil is a plant-based ingredient, but that might not make it vegan. 

There is a lot of demand for palm oil, and that gives birth to issues like deforestation and a decline in biodiversity. 

Animals like the Sumatran orangutans, tigers, elephants, and rhinoceros are decreasing in numbers because they can’t adapt to an environment outside their own, and as they are fleeing, they’re hunted by poachers.

I believe it’s difficult to convince everyone to avoid products with palm oil. Especially because they’re present in an unlimited number of products, including vegan products. However, it’s not impossible if you have a clean whole-food, plant-based diet that isn’t reliant on products with palm oil.

Swapping palm oil with a different plant oil will not solve the problem as palm oil is the most efficient oil plant because it requires comparatively fewer resources. 

Some organizations promote sustainable RSPO palm oil as the solution, but non-profit organizations like Greenpeace suggest that it’s just a free ticket for further deforestation

I don’t really purchase a lot of products that contain palm oil, but if I have to purchase it, I’ll do it. 

Natural Flavors

Natural flavors are controversial because they can come from plant or animal sources.

This is what the FDA has on their website about natural flavors:

“The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means… which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice… or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products… etc.”

Companies can add animal ingredients to foods without labeling them unless they’re one of the major allergens like milk or seafood.

With that being said, most natural flavors are plant-based, and the same goes for the ones in Skittles.

I’ve written an article about natural flavors, so if you’re interested in the topic, please check it out. 

Colors

Colors are controversial because they’re a byproduct of animal testing, which is a cruel practice that tortures and takes the lives of innocent animals. 

However, some people reason that it’s a necessary evil because it helps prevent potential health problems, so you will have vegans that consume food colors, and others that avoid it. 

Most food colors come from plants or are man-made, except for carmine which is extracted from bugs.

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Who Owns Skittles?

Skittles is owned by Mars Incorporated, the company known for creating Mars bars, Milky Way bars, M&M’s, Snickers, and Twix.

However, the Wrigley Company, a division of Mars Incorporated, produces and markets Skittles.

For many vegans, buying Skittles means you’re helping Mars Incorporated gain a profit so that they can invest in products that contain animal ingredients. 

There is an opposing argument that suggests that if we purchase Skittles, we are fueling the demand for more vegan-friendly products, and we’re pressing Mars Incorporated to recognize the ethical shift

The opinions are mixed, and it’s difficult to settle for one. 

Gary Yourofsky, a popular vegan advocate, thinks we should consume vegan products from multinational companies, as that should generate the most impact. 

You might not agree with his view, but he puts some interesting things into perspective.

However, it’s also important to point out that Mars continues to fund animal tests, despite the existence of more reliable human tests and the fact none of the tests are required by law. PETA has urged Mars to stop animal testing, but they did not. 

So, if you wish to stop consuming products from Mars Incorporated, it’s more than understandable. 

READ NEXT: Are Pixy Stix Suitable For Vegans?

Conclusion

Skittles do not contain animal ingredients, so they’re technically vegan. 

However, you can find a few controversial ingredients such as sugar, palm oil, natural flavors, and colors. If you take an issue with any of these ingredients, then Skittles are probably not for you. 

Also, Skittles is owned by Mars Incorporated, which is not an ethical company. They’re associated with several negative things, including deforestation, animal testing, and unethical supply chain practices in China.

Whether you decide to consume Skittles is up to you, but I hope you can make the best decision with the information I’ve provided you.  


Skittles FAQs

skittles ingredients
Photo by kiliweb with additional modifications by stivolonski, license CC BY-SA 3.0, per Open Food Facts

Are Skittles Gluten-Free?

Skittles contain no gluten or wheat ingredients or byproducts of wheat. In the United States, Skittles are labeled as gluten-free, so they should be safe. 

Are Skittles Halal?

No, Skittles contain E120 red dye, which means they’re not halal. 

Are Skittles Made Of Bugs?

Sometimes products contain carmine, which is a red dye extracted from the cochineal bug, but that’s less common in food products. Skittles colors do not come from bugs as they’re plant-based or synthetic. 

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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