5 Fall Food Favorites & Vegan-Friendly Alternatives

Fall is something that we welcome with joy, but since I've gone vegan, I haven't been able to partake in some of my favorite autumn traditions. Even when I was vegetarian, I didn’t realize what ingredients I had overlooked before. In many of my fall faves, there are still non-vegan aspects that stop me from enjoying fall to the fullest. Here are five fall staples that I found were surprisingly not vegan.

1. Candy Corn

There are two types of people in this world: those who like candy corn, and those who don’t. Whether you do or not, companies still mass produce and market it around September through October. Sometimes even candy pumpkins are sold. But, neither are vegan. Candy corn—and candy pumpkins—have different recipes depending on the brand. However, most are made with honey and gelatin. Often, they will also contain beeswax and lac-resin, which is a coating that comes from red insects found in Asia. So, they’re not even vegetarian or kosher.

2. Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Pumpkin spice lattes are the first sign of fall for many, but one ingredient lurking in the pumpkin formula ruins it for the rest of us. Companies like Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts use milk products in their pumpkin spice recipes. So, if you substitute the milk with a dairy alternative you still can’t get the pumpkin flavoring. Unless you have time to make your own PSL, or locate a Peet’s Coffee, then you end up missing out.

3. Caramel Apples

While apples are perfectly vegan the caramel is not. Again, depending on the brand or recipe, caramel usually contains butter and a version of milk. I’ve even seen some caramel apple recipes that add extra milk to the melted caramel. Fortunately, if you liked candied apples then you can opt for those instead of caramel.

4. Pumpkin and Pecan Pie

In any pie recipe, most call for milk, eggs and butter to make the crust. Traditional pumpkin pie recipes also require evaporated or condensed milk to thicken the filling. But, if you find a premade vegan pie crust—or make one yourself—then you can save both your pumpkin and pecan pie traditions. And, if you add molasses to thicken your pumpkin pie it works just as well as milk.

5. Candles

We all know how much fun it is to raid stores like Yankee Candle and Bath & Body Works for their fall collections. But, some brands test their products on animals or contain animal-derived ingredients. Yankee Candle is cruelty-free but Bath & Body Works is not. Most candle companies also use beeswax. Though it’s a natural option, beeswax is still considered an animal by-product. Yet, other companies will use paraffin wax, which is vegan. It is important to read the ingredients, check the label and do background research with products that you wouldn’t necessarily think about their vegan or cruelty-free status.

Part of the reason people commit to their lifestyle and diet switch is so that vegan, and vegetarian, products become more prevalent, cheaper and accessible to others. Though we can be distracted by the fun and novelty of seasonal products, it’s still important to remember to check if they’re vegan and cruelty-free.