When I first went vegan over two years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I thought my diet would be limited to fruits, vegetables, and tofu for the foreseeable future, and I would have to give up my favorite foods. My own naivety speaks to the fact that there’s a common misconception that all vegans are health freaks who wouldn’t dare to eat anything diet culture would consider “unhealthy.”
But that could not be further from the truth, because many vegans (myself included) have a sweet tooth and enjoy some candy from time to time.
Almost all commercially produced chocolates contain some form of dairy, which I expected, but to my surprise, many other candies also did not pass the vegan test. As it turns out, many gummy candies are made using various animal products like gelatin, carmine, and shellac (also commonly labeled as confectioner’s glaze). I’ll save you the details of what those exactly are so you can enjoy your favorite candies in peace, but long story short, it’s pretty gross. I won’t lie, parting ways with dark chocolate Milky Ways, Hot Tamales, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and Haribo Gummy Bears was difficult at first.
But after a bit of research, I found out that some of my favorite Halloween candies I’ve eaten since I was a kid are totally 100% vegan! To save you some trouble, I’ve put together a list of what are, in my humble opinion, the best “accidentally vegan” candies on the market today.
- Sour Patch kids
Yup, you read that right. Everyone’s favorite, Olivia Rodrigo approved, sour-then-sweet candy, is in fact totally vegan friendly! And before you ask, yes, the Sour Patch Watermelons are vegan as well. I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t enjoy at least one variety or type of Sour Patch kids. I don’t know what they put in them to make them so addicting to the point where they hurt my mouth, but I do know that all their ingredients are free of animal byproducts and able to be safely enjoyed by vegans and non-vegans alike.
This one may be a little niche and specific to just me, but I freaking love smarties. Something about the taste of them just takes me back to elementary school Halloween celebrations where everyone came to school in costumes and each grade had a mini-party towards the end of the school day. I know they’re not everyone’s favorite (one of my friends once claimed their taste and texture were comparable to mini disks of chalk), but I don’t care, I’ll continue to enjoy their mini-chalky goodness until the day I die.
Growing up, my sisters and I would go trick-or-treating with our respective groups of friends on Halloween. But at the end of the night when we returned home, we would dump out our bags of candy and begin counting, sorting, and trading our loot. Airheads were a rare find amongst the sea of mini Snickers, Starbursts, and M&M’s, so whoever was able to snag one rarely wanted to trade it, and understandably so. While no one has ever been able to figure out exactly what the white “mystery” flavor is, I’m not too upset about it, so long as they remain vegan.
Ahh Twizzlers, my younger sister’s personal favorite and my older sister’s personal nightmare. In my experience, most people either love or hate licorice, and while I wouldn’t exactly consider strawberry Twizzlers licorice, they do fall somewhere in that general category. Twizzlers come in a variety of flavors and types, and for the most part, they are all generally considered to be vegan-friendly. There is a bit of a debate about whether or not they’re 100% vegan because they do list glycerin as one of their ingredients, but that’s a debate best saved for another time.
Okay okay, I know Oreos aren’t technically candy and they’re more of a year-round treat (looking at you, red-filled Christmas Oreos), but they’re worth putting on this list. While it does seem a little strange that the Oreo “cream” filling doesn’t actually have any real dairy in it, I’m not going to question it. Oreos are such a classic and can be found at virtually any party or gathering. They’ve been a saving grace to vegans for God knows how long. Self-described as “milk’s favorite cookie,” I feel like everyone enjoys an Oreo every now and then, so maybe next time you can try having one with a glass of oat milk for a truly delicious vegan treat.
This is by no means a complete list, and many companies are changing their product compositions to be more vegan/vegetarian friendly. So who knows, maybe by this time next year even more of your favorite childhood candies will have the vegan stamp of approval! Happy Halloween!