Verdict: Swedish Fish might be vegan.
Summary (read on for full details):
- There are no obvious animal ingredients like gelatin in Swedish Fish.
- But there are artificial colors, which many strict vegans don’t eat.
- There’s also sugar, which may or may not be vegan since it is sourced from the U.S.
Whether or not Swedish Fish are vegan depends on how strict of a vegan you are.
It also depends on your location (I’ve heard some stories of Swedish Fish containing beeswax in some places), although that’s not an issue in North America.
I’ll break down the ingredients that may not be vegan, and then you can decide for yourself.
Swedish Fish Ingredients
Here’s the typical list of ingredients in Swedish Fish:
Sugar, corn syrup, modified corn starch, citric acid, white mineral oil, natural and artificial flavor, carnauba wax, red 40, yellow 6, yellow 5, blue 1.
I’ve highlighted the ingredients I’m most concerned are not vegan. As a side note, carnauba wax is a beeswax alternative that comes from a plant, some wax is vegan friendly.
Why Might “Sugar” Not Be Vegan?
Sugar seems like it should be vegan, even if it’s not healthy. Here’s my full post about whether or not sugar is vegan.
Long story short: In North America in particular, a large portion of white sugar is made by using bone char (from cow bones). It’s used to remove color from the sugar to make it as white as possible.
So when you see “sugar” on the ingredients label, it’s possible that it is or is not vegan.
Whether or not you want to take that risk is up to you.
Personally, I’d rather stick to companies that make it clear that they use bone-char free sugar.
Why Might Artificial Colors Not Be Vegan?
I’ve written a detailed guide to whether or not artificial colorings are vegan, but the gist of it is that those artificial colors in particular are all frequently tested on animals. (Mice, rats, dogs, and more).
To ethical vegans, these dyes are not vegan friendly, and personally I don’t consider Swedish Fish to be vegan.
Conclusion: Are Swedish Fish Vegan?
I don’t think it’s safe to conclude that Swedish Fish are vegan.
The sugar may be vegan-friendly, and then it comes down to your personal views on artificial colors.
I don’t speak for everyone, and these are certainly controversial areas, which is why I’ve laid out the facts the best I could, and now you can make your own decision.
It’s important to take some time to think about how you feel about these things, because they come up over and over when you’re trying to figure out if other candy like Skittles are vegan.