Halloween has become a major holiday for candy makers and the bigger brands are raking in the big bucks. As vegan consumers, we are already no longer wanting candy options that contain the following:
•Gelatin (made from animal bones and tendons)
•Carmine, used in some artificial color and confectioner’s glaze (made from beetles)
•Refined cane sugar (can be processed with charred bone fragments)
<– If you’ve ever seen the image of what goes into making gelatin, you can see why we consider that ingredient as scary. With piles of bloody dead carcasses going into candy, it doesn’t get any more macabre than that!
However, seeking out vegan options as candies include brands that may or may not include other ingredients that are questionable. When you consider all the ingredients that go into candies that are technically vegan, they still contain some really scary ingredients. The websites citing “vegan-safe” halloween candies are listing all kinds of products that still contain ingredients that should not be considered as safe, or ethical to give to children.
So, before you go out and buy those packages of sour patch kids, hubba bubba, dots, skittles, twizzlers or red vines, double bubble, air nerds, smarties, jolly ranchers, dum dums, or blow pops, and others, be sure to read those ingredients and do your due diligence in understanding what you are putting into your body and if you are actually okay with it.
Wouldn’t it ultimately be better to consider getting candy options without the artificial colors, artificial flavors, chemicals, and preservatives? Those types of ingredients are as bad as, if not more terrible than the ingredients mentioned earlier that make candy not vegan.
Sour Patch Kids contain artificial flavors, yellow 5, yellow 6, red 40, blue 1
Skittles contain hydrogenated palm kernel oil; Artificial Flavors, Colors (Red 40 Lake, Titanium Dioxide, Red 40, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Blue 2 Lake, Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake)
Dots contain Artificial Flavors, Sodium Citrate, Artificial Colors (Including FD&C Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1).
Smarties contain Artificial Flavors, Colors (Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Blue 2 Lake)
Look what’s in Twizzler alone… Corn syrup, wheat flour, sugar, cornstarch, contains 2% or less of: palm oil, salt, artificial flavor, glycerin, citric acid, potassium sorbate (preservative), artificial color (red 40), and soy lecithin.
Potassium sorbate as a preservative in processed foods is simply not good for you. According to Fooducate, potassium sorbate is a genotoxin and causes mutagenicity and DNA damaging activity. Artificial food coloring is also something you should absolutely avoid. According to the report, “Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks” published by the Center For Science In The Public Interest, red 40 is a known carcinogen to the immune system. After reading that report, you will see all the other dyes that are common in the popular candies like jolly ranchers, nerds, and sour patch also cause a lot of health problems.
If you want to abstain from industries that harm animals, purchasing anything containing palm oil is also going to be tricky. Palm oil is derived from industries that are clear-cutting the rain forests and harming/endangering the Orangutans.
Artificial flavor is another very problematic area and we should have our red flags raised because they are so very vague. Did you know that that one simple phrase artificial flavor(s) can come with all sorts of nasty ingredients? We should question why the food manufacturers don’t even list these ingredients, because as it stands now, they don’t have to. But here’s the ingredient list for one artificial flavoring we found from a Healthy Kids Happy Kids article, “Artificial Flavors, Preservatives & Dyes – OH MY!”
This is the ingredient list for the artificial flavor for strawberry…
amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, g-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent
With there being zero requirements to list the ingredients in artificial flavors, it’s simply better to go without. Why? Because many of the ingredients are known carcinogens. So, you are basically dolling out higher probabilities of getting cancer to children, or yourself, and your loved ones by buying these kinds of products. There are other ingredients to consider as well, which you can find in the, “What’s in Halloween Candy” article by Greatist.
When it comes to scary, let’s leave the scary to the music, decorations, and the costumes, shall we? The things we eat, or that we provide for children to eat shouldn’t have scary ingredients in them. Yes, sugar is not great for us either. But if we are going for the sweets, let’s get the kinds of sweets that are less harmful.
Here are a few options of brands we think are a lot better because they’re all natural food based ingredients are better to put in your body, than any of those other candies that contain hard to pronounce chemicals, or artificial flavors, or colors…
Sjaaks Orange Bites (only available for purchase between Sept. 01 and Oct 31)
Ingredients: Organic dark chocolate (organic evaporated cane juice, organic cocoa butter, organic cocoa paste, organic vanilla) organic rice syrup, organic evaporated cane juice, organic cocoa butter, organic orange oil, citric acid
JJ Sweets Cocomels Coconut Milk Caramels (available in vanilla, sea salt, and original)
Ingredients: All natural, kosher, vegan, non gmo, organic. Organic coconut milk, organic brown rice syrup, organic dried cane syrup, sea salt, xantham gum.
JJ Sweets Chocolate covered, sea salt Cocomels
Ingredients: coconut milk (coconut milk, xanthan gum), organic brown rice syrup, organic evaporated cane juice, organic Fair Trade 66% dark chocolate (organic cacao beans, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, soy lecithin, organic vanilla beans), organic vanilla extract, sea salt
YumEarth Vitamin C Lollipops
Ingredients: Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Natural Flavors, Colored With Concentrate (Carrot, Blackcurrant), Colored With Organic Concentrate (Carrot, Apple, Blackcurrant), Turmeric (color), Organic Annatto (Color).
For those without peanut allergies, you can enjoy
Justin’s Organic Mini Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Ingredients: Organic Dark Chocolate (Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar, Organic Chocolate Liquor, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Soy Lecithin, Organic Vanilla), Organic Peanuts, Organic Powdered Evaporated Cane Sugar, Organic Peanut Flour, Organic Palm Fruit Oil*, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Vanilla Flavor, Sea Salt, Organic Soy Lecithin.
* The palm fruit oil source for Justin’s is certified sustainable.
Have other healthier candy options to recommend? Let us know in the comments!