It’s no secret that vegans love to eat, and we like our sweets just as much as the next person. Fortunately, loads of candies are vegan, so we can indulge our cravings (mostly) guilt-free. Most dark chocolate is vegan, as are popular sweet treats such as Smarties (known as Rockets in Canada), Oreos, Airheads, Jujubes, and Swedish Fish (some Swedish Fish contain beeswax, so be sure to check the label). Check out PETA’s database of accidentally vegan foods for a full list, including candy, cookies, and ice cream.
While we update the list frequently, companies do change their ingredients from time to time. The main ingredients to watch out for in candy are carmine, which is a red pigment made from the crushed female cochineal insect; gelatin, obtained by boiling the skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones of cows and pigs; and shellac (also called confectioner’s glaze), which gives candies a glossy coating and is made from the resinous excretions of certain insects. Some sugar may also be refined with bone char—see PETA’s position on bone char here.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that being vegan isn’t about personal purity―it’s about reducing animal suffering. If we avoid products that are 99.9 percent vegan but contain trace amounts of animal products, we send the message to companies that there is no market for more animal-friendly goods, and we’ve hurt more animals than we’ve helped. It also makes being vegan seem difficult and time-consuming to people around us. PETA encourages people to do their best to maintain a vegan lifestyle but not to spend time worrying about trace amounts of ingredients that may be animal-derived.