Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to stop eating everything, nor does it mean that you can’t find suitable alternatives to the foods you deem as delicious but that contain animal ingredients. In fact, some of the foods that we assume are animal-based (and thus automatically exclude) may also be vegan.
Keep in mind that vegan food is any food that doesn’t contain any meat or fish, as well as ingredients such as milk, eggs, cheese, and honey. We can also find ingredients derived from those ingredients, namely ones like casein, whey, lactose, albumin, gelatin, beeswax, and more.
To briefly summarize, here the 15 vegan junks foods I’m referring to:
- Sour Patch Kids
- Doritos Spicy Sweet Chili-flavored Chips
- Fruit by the Foot
- Nutter Butter Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
- Ritz Crackers
- Lays Classic Potato Chips
- Ruffles Original Potato Chips
- Pringles Original Chips
- Skinny Pop Original Popcorn
- Lindt Dark Chocolate
- Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
In this article, we will analyze these different junk foods that we thought to contain animal ingredients but are actually suitable for vegans.
Vegan junk food recommendations
Sour Patch Kids
Ingredients: Sugar, Invert Sugar, Corn Syrup, Modified Corn Starch, Tartaric Acid, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavoring, Yellow 6, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Blue 1.
Unlike other candies of the same kind, Sour Patch Kids do not contain gelatin, which is an ingredient obtained by boiling the skin, bones, cartilage, and ligaments of animals like cows or pigs.
You have other ingredients, namely sugar that generates some controversy due to how it’s processed, but most vegans (those who are less strict) are fine with consuming it, nevertheless.
Sour Patch Kids are extremely popular candies, and I’m sure that most vegans will be happy to know that these don’t contain any flagrant animal ingredients.
Ingredients: Unbleached Enriched Flour, Sugar, Palm and/or Canola Oil, Cocoa, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Leavening, Corn Starch, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Vanillin, and Unsweetened Chocolate.
Once I converted to a vegan diet, one of the things that surprised me soon thereafter, was the fact that Oreos did not contain any animal ingredients, even though they’re so delicious, and arguably considered the best cookies around.
Yes, they contain sugar (which is deemed controversial), but you won’t find any flagrant milk-based ingredients, which is common among cookies of the same kind.
Doritos Spicy Sweet Chili-Flavored Tortilla Chips
Ingredients: Corn, Vegetable Oil (Corn, Canola, and/or Sunflower Oil), Salt, Sugar, Monosodium Glutamate, Fructose, Sodium Diacetate, Soy Sauce (Soybean, Wheat, Salt), Onion Powder, Maltodextrin (Made from Corn), Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Garlic Powder, Torula Yeast, Malic Acid, Extractives of Paprika, Spices, Caramel Color, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Dextrose, and Natural Flavor.
Another junk food that surprised the heck out of me was this one. The spicy and sweet chili-flavored Doritos are incredibly addictive, and I first assumed that they contained milk-based ingredients, given that most Doritos contain derivatives like whey or casein. These Doritos, in particular, are vegan-friendly.
Fruit by the Foot
Ingredients: Sugar, Maltodextrin, Corn Syrup, Pear Puree Concentrate, Palm Oil, Carrageenan, Citric Acid, Monoglycerides, Sodium Citrate, Acetylated Monoglycerides, Malic Acid, Xantham Gum, VitaminC (Ascorbic Acid), Locust Bean Gum, Potassium Citrate, Natural Flavor, Red 40.
Fruit by the Foot, like Sour Patch Kids, also doesn’t have gelatin, which is what these type of candies tend to contain in terms of non-vegan ingredients.
Nutter Butter Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
Ingredients: Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar, Peanut Butter (Peanuts, Corn Syrup Solids, Hydrogenated Rapeseed And/Or Cottonseed And/Or Soybean Oils, Salt, Peanut Oil), Canola Oil, Whole Grain Wheat Flour, Palm Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Salt, Leavening (Baking Soda And/Or Calcium Phosphate), Cornstarch, Soy Lecithin, Artificial Flavors.
For a cookie that is packed with peanut buttercream, it’s surprising that it doesn’t have any animal ingredients. Outside Oreos, it’s not that easy to find vegan cookies filled with cream.
Ingredients: Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Soybean Oil, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Salt, Leavening (Baking Soda And/Or Calcium Phosphate), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Soy Lecithin, Malted Barley Flour, Natural Flavor.
The Ritz Crackers have a very rich, buttery taste but have zero butter. However, you can still find some of the most questionable ingredients in the vegan community, namely sugar and palm oil.
Lays Classic Potato Chips
Ingredients: Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Sunflower, Corn and/or Canola Oil), and Salt.
With only three ingredients, Lays Originals are 100% vegan.
Ruffles Original Potato Chips
Ingredients: Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Sunflower, Corn, and/or Canola Oil), and Salt.
Akin to Lays, the Ruffles are also comprised of three simple ingredients, all of which are vegan.
Ingredients: Corn Syrup, Wheat Flour, Sugar, Cornstarch, Palm Oil, Salt, Artificial Flavor, Glycerin, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Red 40, And Soy Lecithin
Twizzlers are without animal ingredients, which is quite uncommon for treats of the same kind, which almost always have ingredients like gelatin and beeswax.
Ingredients: Dried Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Corn, Cottonseed, High Oleic Soybean, And/Or Sunflower Oil), Degerminated Yellow Corn Flour, Cornstarch, Rice Flour, Maltodextrin, Mono- And Diglycerides, Salt, Wheat Starch.
Pringles, although not as simple as Lays and Ruffles, are also vegan-friendly.
Skinny Pop Original Popcorn
Ingredients: Popcorn, Sunflower Oil, And Salt.
Popcorn, at its core, is 100% vegan. The problem arises when you add butter or cheese on top, to confer them with unique taste. These ones by Skinny Pop are 100% vegan.
Lindt Dark Chocolate
Ingredients: Cocoa Mass, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Vanilla Beans.
Lindt has a wide variety of dark chocolates, but not all of them are vegan. Typically, if you want to find vegan dark chocolates, you have to look for varieties with a cocoa content superior to 70%, since they’re less likely to contain milk, at least from what I’ve concluded after finishing this article.
Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Ingredients: Organic Dark Chocolate (Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar, Organic Cacao Beans, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Soya Lecithin [Emulsifier]), Organic Peanut Butter (Organic Ground Peanuts), Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Quinoa, Organic Peanut Flour, Organic Palm Oil, Sea Salt, And Organic Sunflower Lecithin.
Among the different junk foods on this list, the Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are probably the healthiest choice, considering their use of organic ingredients.
Ingredients: Dextrose, Citric Acid, Calcium Stearate, Natural And Artificial Flavors, Colors (Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Blue 2 Lake).
Unlike the Smarties sold in Europe, these Smarties (also referred to as Rockets) are vegan.
Should you eat vegan junk food?
Just because a certain food is vegan, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy, which is what many people assume when they look at someone following a vegan diet.
There’s a term coined “junk food vegans” – that refers to people that regularly consume highly processed vegan foods filled with sugar and artificial ingredients. It’s a mistake to assume that because someone is vegan, she/he is automatically a healthy individual, which isn’t certainly the case if your diet includes a lot of these sorts of foods.
You can be vegan and have an awful diet, especially if you avoid a lot of the whole plant-based foods that popularized the vegan diet, namely vegetables, legumes & beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, superfoods, healthy fats, grains, and fermented foods. This is what you should strive to eat most of the time.
However, I do understand that with the rise of junk food options in supermarkets, that becomes increasingly difficult, especially when cafes and fast food chains like Mcdonalds or Dominos start launching vegan options like veggie burgers or vegan cheese on their menus.
Still, do not allow that food to be the bulk of your diet, otherwise, it’ll be impossible to be healthy.
Healthy vegan junk food recipes
Notably, there are plenty of vegan junk foods available, and oftentimes what people will look for is replacements for their favorite foods like cookies, burgers, ice cream, chocolate, and more. However, as we’ve learned, eating junk food is not particularly healthy, so it’s not something you should do on a regular basis.
In this section, we’re going to share with you some healthier variations of vegan junk foods.
Healthy Vegan Oreos
Oreos are generally considered vegan, but they’re filled with awful amounts of refined sugars. An alternative is to make homemade Oreos, using fewer quantities of sugar, or other, less-processed options.
This recipe by Chocolate Covered Katie will offer you the same deliciousness as the original, but you can regulate the sugar, and you’re not using ingredients like palm oil, or high-fructose syrup.
Healthy Vegan Ice Cream
Vegan ice creams are quite common nowadays, but what you’ll find is that they contain ingredients like corn maltodextrin, cane sugar (a lot of it), glucose syrup, and sunflower oil, which are not good news.
However, at home, you can create healthier ice creams. For instance, this recipe by Beaming Baker uses ingredients such as bananas, coconut cream, maple syrup, vanilla extract, coconut shreds, and chopped paleo chocolate, which makes it a more nutritionally adequate alternative to commercially sold ice cream.
Healthy Vegan Chocolate
Rather than eating bland dark chocolates (from non-vegan brands) which are still filled with weird ingredients, why not make your own chocolate with healthier ingredients?
This amazing recipe by the Minimalist Baker shows you how to EASILY make vegan chocolate with only three ingredients: cocoa butter, maple syrup (or agave nectar), and cocoa powder. You can also add other ingredients like vanilla extract and cocoa nibs, but the author leaves it up to you.
Fortunately, for those of you who want to occasionally taste some of your favorite junk foods, there are many popular ones that remain vegan-friendly.
However, keep in mind that just because you’re vegan, that doesn’t mean you’re healthy, especially if you abuse the consumption of the foods we’ve mentioned in this blog post.