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Gummy bears have been a household favorite for decades, and many of us certainly grew up while enjoying these delicious treats. Unfortunately, most gummy bears contain gelatin, which is essentially a protein made from the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals such as cows, chickens, pigs, and fish.
Most gummy bears are not vegan, hence why it’s important to provide vegans with alternatives they can enjoy and purchase feeling no guilt. And while it may be difficult to find some of these vegan alternatives in a grocery store near you, there’s no better place than online to find them.
Here are the 10 best gelatin-free vegan gummy bears:
- Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks
- Surf Sweets Organic Fruity Bears
- Kanibi Organi Gummies (Contain CBD)
- The Organic Candy Factory Gummy Cubs
- Wholesome Cinnamon Organic Bears
- Smart Sweets Vegan Sweet Fish
- Yum Earth Gummy Bears
- J. Luehders Vegan Soft Gummi Candy
- Trader Joe’s Scandinavian Swimmers Gummy
- Zhou Nutrition Elder-Mune Elderberry Gummies
In this article, we’re going to explore in detail each of the vegan gummy bears, learn how vegan gummy bears can be made, and I’ll even share with you an amazing recipe to make vegan gummy bears at home.
10 Best Gelatin-Free Vegan Gummy Bears
1 – Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks
While it’s true that their gummies are shaped like bunnies and not bears, that doesn’t change the fact that the flavor equally delicious. What’s more, bunnies are cute as well.
These gummies are certified organic and gluten-free and are made with real fruits, which means you won’t find any artificial ingredients, synthetic colors, or high fructose corn syrup.
Each pack comes with 24 pouches, and each pouch offers 100% of Vitamin C’s daily value.
2 – Surf Sweets Organic Fruity Bears
These organic fruit bears by Surf Sweets are another interesting alternative to regular gummy bears, starting with the fact they’re certified organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free.
You won’t find any flagrant animal ingredients as Surf Sweets use pectin as a substitute for gelatin in both their sweet and sour gummies.
Unfortunately, some people dislike the fact they are coated in sugar, which makes them extremely sweet.
3 – Kanibi Organi Gummies (Contain CBD)
Kanibi’s CBD gummies are manufactured using Organic PCR Hemp grown using solely soil, water, and sunlight, before undergoing extraction by CO2.
They’re different from any other gummies on this list, as they’re designed to provide relief for anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In other words, you get the benefits of CBD while also eating one or two delicious fruity gummies.
Kanibi is well-known for its line of organic CBD products, and these are certainly our number one vegan CBD gummies.
4 – The Organic Candy Factory Gummy Cubs
The Organic Candy Factory’s Gummy Cubs come in two different variations: Mixed Berry which basically includes flavors like Boysenberry, Blackberry, and Raspberry, and Peach.
These unique flavor profiles help the brand stand out from the competition, which all typically opt for the same flavors. Packaged within a resealable bag, these Gummy Cubs are actually the first organic and kosher gummy bears in the world.
Stickier and sugar-coated than most gummies, these are yet another alternative to consider.
5 – Wholesome Cinnamon Organic Bears
With the right amount of natural cinnamon flavor and the absence of high fructose corn syrup and synthetic colors, it’s possible that these will have you hooked on one bite.
The flavor is addicting, the size is just right, and even though the texture is less satisfying than the originals, the diminished density may be a good thing if you’re concerned about teeth problems.
With that being said, for a 6 ounce (170g) bag, they’re certainly more expensive than the artificial cinnamon gummies. Still, we have to keep in mind that they’re certified organic, non-GMO, and the sugar is actually Fairtrade certified (more ethical).
6 – Smart Sweets Sweet Fish
Smart Sweets has created a delicious chewy plant-based candy that uses stevia, which is a much healthier alternative to regular sugar.
Each bag comes with 80 calories and 3 grams of sugar, which isn’t comparable to the 14g of sugar you’ll find in regular gummies.
Smarts Sweets is a good choice if you wish to avoid eating heaps of sugar, as well as the other artificial crap present in regular gummies.
7 – Yum Earth Organic Fruit Snacks
Yum Earth’s organic fruit snacks are available in two unique bundles of flavors: the Fruit Flavor which offers flavors such as banana blast, strawberry smash, very very cherry, and perfectly peach; and the Tropical bundle which offers flavors such as playful pineapple, razzmatazz berry, and mango tango.
While Yum Earth is not a vegan brand, they’ve adapted by replacing (in some products) gelatin with pectin, while also avoiding artificial flavors and dyes, as well as high fructose corn syrup.
This product is also among the highest reviews vegan gummies on Amazon, with most them being positive.
8 – J. Luehders Vegan Soft Candy
The reason why I’ve included J. Luehders gummies on this list is because German gummies are widely recognized by consumers for being uniquely delicious.
What’s more, J. Luehders are not new to veganism, they’ve always used vegan ingredients to manufacture their vegan gummies, which tells us a lot about their values as a brand.
They might not be bear-shaped, but they’re certainly worth trying, and I’m sure that if you do, you won’t regret it.
Trader Joe’s Scandinavia Swimmers feature a unique selection of brightly colored sea animals like sharks and lobsters with a very chewy texture, which is what you would expect from regular gummy bears.
The Scandinavia Swimmers can be bought very cheaply at Trader Joe’s, making them way more affordable than any other vegan option on this list.
However, that’s most likely associated with the lack of organic ingredients, as well as the use of other ingredients that can be obtained more cheaply, namely cane sugar and palm oil.
10 – Karma Not Pharma Vegan Gummies (Contains CBD)
Karma Not Pharma creates USA-made vegan CBD gummies using 100% organic and natural ingredients.
Much like Kanibi’s CBD gummies, these are designed to provide relief for anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. So it’s not only a delicious treat, but it’s also clinically proven to provide therapeutic effects.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that they should not be consumed like regular candy, since they essentially serve a different purpose than the other options in this article.
What To Look Out For When Buying Vegan Gummy Bears
Unfortunately, regular gummy bears contain ingredients that are not vegan, and as such you need to be mindful of the ingredients you ought to avoid when purchasing a vegan alternative.
Here are some of the ingredients that you might want to avoid:
Gelatin is the main reason why a lot of the regular gummy bears are not vegan. Gelatin is a binding agent and is essentially what gives gummy bears their unique gummy texture.
Sadly, it’s made from the leftovers discarded by the meat industry, and it usually includes parts like hooves, skin, ground bones, and even connective tissue.
The good news is that you can easily find alternatives. Some of the better-known alternatives are called pectin, agar-agar, and carrageenan, and they’re either made from seaweed or fruit peel.
Used since the beginning of civilization, beeswax coats gummies like the Haribos at the end of the production process. It gives the gummies shine and prevents them from sticking together in the bag.
Beeswax (also termed as Cera alba in some labels) is a naturally occurring wax produced by honey bees to build honeycombs, the structure needed to store honey and safeguard younger bees.
Some vegans argue that honey and beeswax can both be vegan as long as the bees are not hurt in the process, and as long as the beekeeper leaves enough honey for the bees to thrive. In other words, these ingredients must be obtained through ethical beekeeping, a term that isn’t acceptable among most vegans.
Some gummy bears may include an ingredient called natural red dye or natural red 4, and in some instances, it may also be labeled as carmine or cochineal extract.
It’s a red dye that essentially provides gummies with their dark-red color.
Unfortunately, carmine is not vegan as it comes from an insect called cochineal. The cochineal lives on cacti in parts of Central and South America. It produces a red acid to deter predators, which both the Mayan and Aztec populations used as a dye for centuries before the Spanish conquest.
In addition to carmine, you’re also going to find a load of artificial colors.
For example, Haribo contains combinations of FD&C (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics) Yellow No. 5, Red No. 40, and Blue No. 1 to create white, green, yellow, orange, and red candies. These are colors or color additives that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Why are some vegans against the use of artificial colors? Well, some vegans believe that artificial colors are a by-product of animal testing. While at its core these ingredients are vegan, it’s also true that some of these colors (Red 40) still seem to be tested on animals to prevent potential health risks on humans.
Refined sugar as we know it can either be sourced from sugarcane or sugarbeets.
While these varieties share the same flavor and texture, their refinement processes are different. On one hand, we have beet sugar that is processed through a diffuser and mixed with non-animal additives to crystalize. On the other, we have cane sugar that may or not be vegan depending on how it’s processed.
Unfortunately, some sugar suppliers use bone char to process, filter, and bleach sugar, which is often why cane sugar has this white, pristine color, free from impurities. If you’re not familiar with bone char, it’s basically a charcoal-like powder obtained by heating the bones of cattle at high temperatures.
The use of bone char is still common practice in the United States, even though, fortunately, it’s possible to see a growing trend in which a lot more suppliers are relying on alternatives like activated carbon and ion-exchange resins that ultimately help achieve the same result.
However, it’s very difficult to trace what type of sugar was used in a product, and oftentimes you’ll find that companies might rely on a mixed pool of sugar suppliers, which means it’s nigh impossible to know if a product actually contains vegan-friendly sugar.
Because of this, some vegans choose to buy products that contain sugar derived from sugar beets (i.e: Redbull) or sugar that hasn’t been processed at all (i.e: organic sugar). Alternatively, you can also find brands (like Smart Sweets) that use stevia or other forms of sugar/sweeteners.
Are Vegan Gummy Bears Healthier?
Even though the notion that plant food is healthier than animal food can be established in a lot of scenarios, I don’t think that claim can be made for products that are high in sugar. Yes, vegan gummy bears are indeed made from organic or all-natural ingredients, but it’s still candy at the end of the day.
In other words, the less sugar a candy contains, the healthier it is. That doesn’t mean you have to completely avoid these products, but you need to be mindful to not consume them frequently and in exaggerated quantities.
How To Make Vegan Gummy Bears At Home
Store-bought vegan gummy bears can be quite expensive, so I want to show you an alternative that will allow you to save money, especially if you’re someone who loves gummy bears.
Rather than using gelatin, the Edgy Veg’s recipe uses Agar Agar Powder, which is extracted from red algae. It has a natural jelly-like consistency and makes for a perfect gelatin substitute.
What’s more, you don’t need too many ingredients, other than the following:
If you’re down to make these vegan gummy bears at home, see the full recipe here.
Are Haribo Gummy Bears Vegan?
No, Haribo Gummy Bears are not vegan. Since they contain ingredients like gelatin and beeswax, that alone makes them not suitable for vegans.
Are Black Forest Gummy Bears Vegan?
Black Forest Gummy Bears are not vegan.
Even though they contain many plant-based ingredients, they also contain gelatin, which is why they’re not suitable for vegans.
Are Albanese Gummy Bears Vegan?
Unfortunately, according to the manufacturer, Albanese Gummy Bears contain gelatin derived from a mixed pool of pigs and cows, making them non-vegan.
Are Brach’s Gummy Bears Vegan?
Brach’s gummy bears are made with real fruit juice concentrate, but unfortunately also contain gelatin, which means they’re not vegan.
Most gummy bears that you’ll come across in a co-op or supermarket are not vegan, as they often contain ingredients like gelatin or beeswax. However, the good news is that even originally non-vegan brands are adopting new modus operandi and using vegan alternatives such as pectin.
In this article, I’ve provided you with plain, sweet options so that you can fill in the gap left from not eating some of your all-time favorite candies (Haribos, anyone?), and I’ve also added in two options for those who love CBD gummies for many health benefits, notably fending off anxiety and depression.
If you feel like this blog post was helpful, please share it with friends or family that may find it equally helpful, as that will certainly help elevate the vegan movement further.