Is Cotton Candy Typically Vegan?


cotton candy

Cotton candy is typically made of 2-3 ingredients:

  • Sugar
  • Flavors (natural or artificial)
  • Artificial colors

Figuring out whether or not it’s vegan comes down to how strict of a vegan you are.

I’ll need to go over each of them to explain why you might or might not consider cotton candy to be vegan.

Why Sugar in Cotton Candy Might Not Be Vegan

Some sugar is processed with bone char and is not vegan.

This is only a problem in North America, so if you live elsewhere, don’t worry about it.

If you do live in North America, you’ll need to decide if you’re okay with taking the risk that the sugar in your cotton candy was made using bone char. Alternatively, contact the manufacturer and try to get more details.

Note that organic sugar is always vegan, and you might be able to find cotton candy with it.

Why “Flavors” Aren’t Always Vegan

There are two types of flavoring ingredients you’ll see on labels: artificial flavors and natural flavors.

Let’s start with natural flavors. These are derived from “natural sources” like berries, trees, and honey. Some natural flavors are vegan, and some are not. Again, you’ll need to contact the manufacturer to find out if you see “natural flavors” on the ingredient list.

Then there are artificial flavors. These are made synthetically in a lab and are vegan.

Why Artificial Colors Might Not Be Vegan

In the past I’ve made the case that artificial colors are not vegan.

While the products themselves are made synthetically, the most common artificial colors (e.g. red 40, yellow 5, etc.) are often tested on animals.

Some vegans feel like it’s unreasonable to avoid them since they’re so common and used in such small amounts. Read the post I just linked above and decide for yourself where you stand.

Summary: Is Cotton Candy Vegan?

It’s not like there’s a directory of vegan products anywhere, you’ll need to decide on your personal definition of veganism when it comes to these sorts of ingredients.

  • Will you take a risk on sugar being made with bone char?
  • Will you take a risk on natural flavors coming from animal sources?
  • Do you feel it’s reasonable to avoid artificial colors?

Based on that, you’ll likely find that you consider some cotton candy brands to be vegan, and some to not be.

If you have any questions about any of this, just leave them in the comments below.

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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