Are Wheat Thins Vegan? Here’s What I Found Out!

If you love Wheat Thins, you know what a healthy snack looks like!

Wheat Thins are baked whole grain snack food crackers distributed in the United States and Canada by Nabisco, an American manufacturer of cookies and snacks. Wheat Thins are also available in Australia through wholesaler USA Foods.

They’ve been in the market since 1940, so they’ve grown close to people’s hearts, so when people go on a vegan diet, they want to know if it’s 100% plant-based.

The original Wheat Thins are vegan. Based on the ingredient list provided by Amazon, Wheat Thins don’t have any animal ingredients, so they are technically vegan.

However, I cannot ignore some of the more questionable ingredients in Wheat Thins as they’re pretty infamous among stricter vegans.

In addition, we also have to consider that since 1940, tons of variations have also come out, so we have to also take those into account.

Wheat Thins Ingredients

According to the Wheat Thins website, there are about 8 variations of Wheat Thins crackers:

  • Original
  • Hint of Salt
  • Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil
  • Tomato & Basil
  • Big Baked
  • Reduced-Fat
  • Multigrain
  • Spicy Buffalo (discontinued)
  • Zesty Salsa
  • Ranch
  • Honey Mustard (discontinued)

And for most of the variations, the ingredients are the following:

Ingredients: whole grain wheat flour, canola oil, sugar, cornstarch, malt syrup (from corn and barley), salt, refiner’s syrup, leavening (calcium phosphate and baking soda). BHT added to packaging material to preserve freshness.

Among all the different variations I’ve mentioned, there are only two variations that contain a different number of animal-based ingredients.

One is the Ranch Wheat Thins which contains the following ingredients:

Ingredients: whole grain wheat flour, vegetable oil (soybean and/or canola oil), sugar, cornstarch, malt syrup (from corn and barley), salt, refiner’s syrup, leavening (calcium phosphate and/or baking soda), buttermilk, tomato powder, onion powder, monosodium glutamate, garlic powder, spices (contains mustard), cheddar cheese powder (cultured milk, salt, enzymes), turmeric oleoresin (for color), sodium caseinate, natural flavor, Whey, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate (flavor enhancers), soy lecithin, annatto extract (For Color), artificial flavor, red 40 lake. BHT Added To Packaging Material To Preserve Freshness.

As you can see, the number of animal ingredients in the Ranch Wheat Thins are numerous, with some being more obvious than others. For example, sodium caseinate is essentially the same as casein. They are both proteins naturally present in milk, but it’s not immediately obvious.

On top of that, we also have a number of questionable ingredients which include sugar and colors such as the red 40 lake, which is periodically tested on animals.

The other non-vegan option is the Honey Mustard Wheat Thins which contain the following ingredients:

Ingredients: whole grain wheat flour, soybean oil, sugar, cornstarch, malt syrup (from corn and barley), refiner’s syrup, salt, maltodextrin, dextrose, leavening (calcium phosphate and/or baking soda), onion powder, prepared mustard (distilled vinegar, mustard seed, salt, turmeric (color), spices, garlic powder), honey solids, citric acid, spices, natural flavor, vinegar solids, vegetable color (turmeric oleoresin, annatto extract), yeast extract, sodium diacetate (a flavor), *lactic acid.

Other than honey, there are no other flagrant animal ingredients in the Honey Mustard Wheat Thins. Some people may wonder about *lactic acid, but according to The Vegetarian Resource Group, lactic acid is formed by a fermentation process using cornstarch or beet sugar.

In other words, in spite of the name, lactic acid is actually plant-based.

Besides, the Honey Mustard Wheat Thins have been discontinued, so there’s one less product to worry about when it comes to keeping the bees safe!

Questionable Ingredients

Lastly, although the other variations don’t have animal-based ingredients, there are some questionable ingredients that may disqualify the Wheat Thins from being vegan.

Those ingredients include sugar and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene).

Why Is Sugar a Questionable Ingredient?

It sounds surprising, but one ingredient that isn’t seen with good eyes among folks in the vegan community is the good ol’ refined sugar.

Not because it’s unhealthy, but because it may be refined using animal ingredients.

Put simply, refined sugar can be derived from two sources: sugar cane and sugar beets.

While they’re both used in similar amounts in the United States, there’s a major difference in the way they’re processed after being extracted.

Beet sugar is filtered using a diffuser and is mixed with additives to crystallize, a process that doesn’t require the use of animal ingredients. On the other hand, cane sugar is filtered and bleached using bone char, a decolorizer that is obtained by heating the bones of cattle.

However, some sugar companies also use activated charcoal to achieve the same result, so not all cane sugar is bleached using bone char.

I don’t blame stricter vegans for being upset considering ingredient labels only include the word “sugar”— with no further description. Hence, the only way they can know what type of sugar is being used is by actually contacting the company.

But if Nabisco is anything similar to both Ghirardelli and Oreos, then they might obtain their sugar from several suppliers that source different sugars and use different processing methods.

And this is why sugar is a questionable ingredient. 

What About BHT?

BHT or Butylated Hydroxytoluene is a chemical that companies use to prolong the shelf life of their products (namely cereals and other baked goods), and also to prevent spoilage in products made with oils or fats.

This chemical is also a derivative of volatile organic compounds, which are components of petroleum.

Petroleum is the result of millions of years of compressing the fossil fuel remains of pre-historic animals, so according to some vegans, any petroleum derivative is also an animal derivative.

However, I am of the opinion that it can be considered vegan because living beings are not suffering or dying as a result of that exploitation.

Though, if you wish to avoid BHT, I do think it’s a good environmental choice.

Alternatives to Wheat Thins

While we can certainly consider the majority of Wheat Thins as being vegan, I do believe there are more solid alternatives as far as sustainability is concerned.

Here are a few more natural, organic crackers you could take a glimpse at:

This being said, the Wheat Thins have a unique taste, so It’s hard to say whether or not one of these choices can come close in terms of taste, especially because they don’t contain sugar.

In hindsight, they’re way healthier and make for a better snack.

Conclusion: Most Wheat Thins Are Vegan!

Most of the Wheat Thins variations are technically considered vegan, with the exception of the Ranch Wheat Thins and the Honey Mustard Wheat Thins (discontinued) because they contain a given number of animal-based ingredients.

However, we also have to keep in mind that ingredients like sugar should always be questioned because it’s quite common in the United States for suppliers to rely on bone char to filter and bleach the sugar derived from sugar canes.

This said, the Original Wheat Thins, as well as most of the other variations, are considered vegan.

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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