Are Nerds Vegan? (Some Flavors MIGHT Be)


Strict vegans won’t eat Nerds, but if you’re a little flexible on controversial areas, you might be okay with eating a few flavors still.

We’ll go over the problem ingredients in each flavor, and I’ll summarize the potential issues for you.

Then, you can decide for yourself whether or not you consider Nerds to be vegan-friendly.

Ingredients in Nerds

box of nerds candy

The ingredients in the 4 main flavors are all pretty similar, but there are a few important differences.

In the cherry/melon boxes (red and green), the ingredients are:

Dextrose, Sugar, Malic acid, Corn syrup, Natural flavors, Carnauba wax, Color added: Blue 1, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5

These are potentially vegan-friendly.

But there are 2 grey areas:

  • Sugar – Whenever you see “sugar” in the U.S., particularly in foods that are made on a huge scale (e.g. candy like Nerds), there’s a decent chance that the sugar is not vegan because it was filtered using bone char. It’s not the biggest deal, but still not vegan.
  • Artificial colors (“color added”) – Artificial dyes like Blue 1 and Red 40 are very controversial. While they themselves are made in a lab and are completely synthetic, they are often tested on animals. I’ve written a more detailed post on if artificial colors are vegan if you’d like more details.

You’ll have to decide for yourself based on that information whether or not you consider the Cherry and Melon Nerds to be vegan.

There are 2 other main flavors: grape/strawberry (purple and pink).

The ingredients are similar, but there’s a significant difference:

Dextrose, Sugar, Malic acid, Corn syrup, Natural flavors, Carnauba wax, Color added: Carmine color, Blue 1, Blue 2, Red 40 Lake

On top of the sugar and artificial colors like in the other flavors, there’s also carmine color.

Carmine is another food dye, but it’s not artificial. Instead, it’s made from the scales of insects. That alone means these flavors are not vegan.

And since the “Rainbow” pack has all 4 flavors, it isn’t vegan either.

Summary: Are Nerds Vegan?

For strict vegans, no flavors of Nerds are vegan.

But depending on where you fall on artificial colors and sugar, you might be okay with the cherry and melon box.

The grape and strawberry flavors are not vegan, as they contain carmine.

Finally, Nerd Ropes and Big Chewy Nerds have almost identical ingredients, so again, you’ll have to decide for yourself if you’d like to eat them.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.