Are Skittles Vegan? (Original, Sour, Tropical, etc.)

A

Verdict: Skittles might be vegan.

Highlights:

  • There are no obvious animal products in Skittles, but every type of Skittles has some questionable ingredients for vegans.
  • Both the “natural flavors” and “sugar” may or may not be vegan.
  • Many strict vegans don’t consider the palm oil or artificial colors to be vegan either.

Read on for the full details.

Some people say that Skittles are vegan.

I’d argue that they’re not.

While there’s no obvious animal products like gelatin, there’s a handful of questionable ingredients in them.

I’ll walk you through them, and then you can decide for yourself whether or not you think they’re vegan.

Are Original Skittles Vegan?

skittles

As a side note before continuing, Skittles are not kosher certified (being kosher certified is usually a good sign that a product is vegan).

Now onto the ingredients of Skittles:

Sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernel oil; less than 2% of: Citric Acid, Tapioca Dextrin, Modified Corn Starch, Natural and Artificial FlavorsColors (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), Sodium Citrate, Carnauba Wax.

None of the ingredients I’ve highlighted are clearly non-vegan.

However, they are controversial at the very least. Let me explain why:

  • Sugar – Some sugar in the United States is filtered using bone char (not vegan). Big companies that make popular candy like Skittles usually have multiple sugar suppliers, and the odds that at least one uses bone char is pretty high.
  • Palm kernel oil – Palm oil is from a tree, but the palm oil industry is rife with animal abuse and unethical work practices. Many vegans don’t think palm oil is vegan.
  • Natural flavors – This is an umbrella term that can include both plant and animal ingredients, only the makers of Skittles knows for sure if these natural flavors are vegan or not. These are probably vegan here, but we can’t know for sure.
  • Artificial colors (Red 40, Yellow 5, etc.) – I’ve written a detailed post about whether or not artificial colors are vegan. It’s a grey area for vegans, as a lot of animal testing surround them.

Some vegans are okay with eating these, others are not.

I don’t think there’s a clear answer of whether or not Original Skittles are vegan. However, I think most strict vegans would pass.

Are Tropical Skittles Vegan?

tropical skittles

Not surprisingly, all types of Skittles have similar ingredients.

I won’t go over the full list here, but Tropical Skittles have all the same ingredients of concern to a vegan as the original version:

  • Sugar
  • Palm kernel oil
  • Natural flavors
  • Yellow 5 (tartrazine)

Again, some vegans will eat these, while others won’t. Decide for yourself.

Are Sour Skittles Vegan?

sour skittles

Sour Skittles have an identical ingredient list to Tropical Skittles.

So again, we’re dealing with the same 4 potential issues:

  • Sugar
  • Palm kernel oil
  • Natural flavors
  • Yellow 5 (tartrazine)

You’ll have to choose where you stand on these controversial ingredients.

Are Skittles Chewies Vegan?

skittles chewies

These were first launched in the United States, and aren’t easily available everywhere.

Skittles Chewies are still just like Original Skittles, just without the traditional shell.

They have most of the same ingredients, with slight differences. Vegans really only might care about:

  • Sugar
  • Palm fat
  • Artificial colors
  • Flavorings

I feel like I’m repeating myself at this point, but again you’ll need to decide how you feel about these grey areas of veganism.

Refer to the explanations near the start if needed.

Verdict: Skittles Probably Aren’t Vegan

The sugar is my big concern, there’s a good chance it’s not vegan, at least for somewhat strict vegans.

On top of the sugar, you also need to decide where you stand on the other controversial ingredients like the palm kernel oil and natural flavors.

It’s pretty important to think about these issues, since they come up time and time again. You’ll find that candy like Twizzlers and Sour Patch Kids have similar ingredients.

Personally, I can live without Skittles, there’s plenty of other candy that is vegan for sure.

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.

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