Some salt water taffy is vegan, but most isn’t.
It depends on the brand, and sometimes depends on your personal definition of veganism.
Let me quickly explain why.
Obvious Non-Vegan Ingredients in Salt Water Taffy
The core ingredients of taffy are various forms of sugar (corn syrup, plain white sugar, etc.), plus oils.
The big issue is that some popular salt water taffies contain egg whites, which are of course not vegan.
It’s the reason I wouldn’t accept taffy from someone without seeing the ingredients label.
Possible Non-Vegan Ingredients
Taffy also often contains white sugar, artificial colors, and palm oil.
These ingredients may or may not be vegan, depending on a few factors.
The Potential Issue With Sugar
If you ever just see plain “sugar” on the label, it’s white sugar.
The potential issue with that is that sugar is often filtered with bone char, from the bones of cows, in order to make it as white as possible.
Sugar made in this fashion is clearly not vegan.
The tricky thing is that you can’t tell which sugar is and isn’t vegan just from the ingredients label, you’ll have to ask the manufacturer. But it’s not safe to assume that it is vegan-friendly.
The Problem With Artificial Colors
Artificial colors (e.g. Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5, etc.) are all synthetic ingredients derived from fossil fuels. Due to safety concerns, they have been continually tested on animals for as long as they’ve been around.
Dogs, mice, rats, and more have been fed high doses to see how much kills them (or causes things like tumor growth). For those reasons, many vegans avoid artificial colors.
The Problem With Palm Oil
Growing palm products has resulted in the near extinction of many species like Sumatran tigers and orangutans.
Here’s a detailed look at why you might not consider palm oil to be vegan.
Summary: Is Salt Water Taffy Vegan?
Some salt water taffy is vegan, but a lot of it is clearly not. Depending on where you stand on palm oil and artificial dyes will also affect the answer.
It is NOT safe to assume that taffy someone gives you is vegan-friendly. You’ll need to check the specific ingredients of a product to determine that.
If you really want some, I’d suggest making your own, there are plenty of vegan salt water taffy recipes that you can make.