Are Twizzlers Vegan? [Probably Not…]

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When I first went vegan, I heard that Twizzlers were vegan in a few different places.

They don’t contain gelatin, like many other non-vegan candies, so I can see why someone might think that.

However, there’s a very good chance that Twizzlers are not vegan-friendly.

I’ll walk you through why I think this, and you can decide for yourself if you still want to eat them.

Twizzler Ingredients

package of twizzlers

Here are the ingredients for strawberry twists (the standard ones), but the other Twizzler varieties made by the Hershey company, like pull ‘n peels and nibs, have similar ingredients:

Corn Syrup, Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, and Folic Acid), Sugar, Cornstarch, Contains 2% or Less of: Palm Oil, Salt, Artificial Flavor, Mono- and Diglycerides, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Artificial Color (Red 40), Mineral Oil, Soy LecithinGlycerin

There’s no obvious ingredients from animals like gelatin, which is common in other candy. However, that doesn’t mean that Twizzlers are vegan.

I’ve highlighted the ingredients we need to go over.

  • Sugar – Quite a bit of sugar in the United States is not vegan, it’s made with bone char. Companies that make candy like Twizzlers at such a large scale usually get sugar from multiple suppliers because they need so much, meaning there’s a high chance that at least some of that sugar  is made with bone char and is not vegan. (Some vegans don’t care about this, choose for yourself).
  • Palm oil – While palm oil is technically vegan, many vegans still don’t eat it because the palm industry is responsible for pushing multiple species to the edge of extinction. Again, decide for yourself.
  • Mono- and diglycerides – Glycerides can come from plants or animals, we have no way of telling which one here.
  • Glycerin – Glycerin (or glycerol) may also be vegan, as it can come from plants or animals. Again, we have no way of telling from the ingredients list.
  • Artificial colors (i.e. Red 40) – These are used to give Twizzlers their red colors. And while artificial colors are made synthetically, many vegans don’t consider them to be vegan because they are often tested on animals. These are found in all sorts of food and candy (Sour Patch Kids, gummy worms, taffy, etc.).

So on top of ingredients like glycerin or monoglycerides that may contain animal products, we have other ingredients that are controversial at best.

You’ll need to decide where you stand on those issues if you’re considering eating Twizzlers.

Summary: Are Twizzlers Vegan?

Let’s say that you’re okay with palm oil, that leaves 3 potential issues.

There is a chance that all these 3 “problem” ingredients are in fact vegan, but the chance is fairly high that at least one is not.

So, we can’t conclude for sure that Twizzlers are vegan or that they’re not.

Most candy from the Hershey company (and others like Nestle) that you probably grew up with has similar issues (e.g. Skittles probably aren’t vegan, and Sour Patch Kids probably aren’t vegan as well).

If you’re okay with taking a risk like this, then enjoy your Twizzlers.

Otherwise, look for snacks that are clearly vegan candies, or skip the unhealthy candy and go for something like dark chocolate, or make a vegan health snack.

Do What You Feel Is Reasonable

Remember that even if you eat products like this that are considered controversial, you’ve already eliminated 99.9% or so of animal suffering on your behalf by avoiding obvious animal ingredients.

That’s why I’ve even seen PETA (or PETA kids) say that Twizzlers are vegan. Their argument would be that they contain no obvious animal products in them, and it may be overwhelming or unreasonable to avoid them for other reasons.

For me, it’s no problem to avoid candy like this and be on the safe side. I barely ate anything like this when I wasn’t vegan in the first place.

But being this cautious for everything you eat may be much more difficult for you.

So while I may personally disagree with PETA on this specific topic, you need to decide what you feel is reasonable for you as a vegan. No one, not even PETA or The Vegan Society, can tell you what you’re comfortable with, or what’s right or wrong.

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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