You must have forever been a lover of these fruity candies. But are Airheads vegan? The answer, like most answers to veganism, is not straight.
There are so many different varieties of Airheads: Airheads Bites, Airheads Bars, Airheads Soft Filled Bites, Airheads Gummies, Airheads Gum, Airheads Xtremes, and Airheads Xtremes Sourfuls. While some of the basic ingredients may be common in all types of Airheads. Every variety has one or another special ingredient that may or may not be vegan. Let’s find this out one by one.
Airheads Bars: Except the controversial ingredients like sugar, palm oil, artificial and natural flavours, and artificial colors, all other constituents of Airheads Bars are vegan.
Airheads Bites: In addition to the known controversial ingredients, Airheads Bites also contain Shellac and Beeswax. Beeswax, obtained from honey bees, is an animal based product and is not vegan. Shellac, on the other hand, is derived from insects.
Airheads Soft Filled Bites: Sadly, this product contains gelatin. If you are not aware, gelatin is a type of protein obtained by a process of boiling animal bones, tendons, ligaments, and skins in water. Cows, pigs, and fish are amongst the animals sacrificed. This cruel substance is utilized to give a chewy texture to food products. Airheads Soft Filled Bites are not vegan.
Airheads Gummies: Because they contain beeswax and gelatin both, Airheads Gummies are not vegan.
Airheads Gum: No maker of chewing gums ever states what the base of their chewing gums is made of. We will never know. But we know that one of the colors used in Airheads Gums is Carmine. Carmine is a red food coloring substance extracted from a certain species of insects. This ascertains that Airheads Gums are not vegan.
Airheads Xtremes: There are no animal based ingredients except the ethically wrong controversial ingredients. Hence Airheads Xtremes may be considered vegan.
Airheads Xtremes Bites: Just like Airheads Gums, Airheads Xtremes Bites contains Carmine which is an animal derived food coloring substance. Hence these are not vegan.
Airheads Xtremes Sourfuls: The makers have ingrained gelatin in the constituents to render these candies a chewy texture. Because Airheads Xtremes Sourfuls contain gelatin, they are not vegan.
These juicy and chewy taffy candies always contain sugar, palm oil, artificial colors, and natural and artificial flavouring. These four controversial ingredients may drive a strict vegan away at the first glance. Why? These ingredients have their own reasons to be either ethically non-vegan or be non-vegan in a tricky way.
How controversial are the controversial ingredients?
Since veganism is about reducing your carbon footprint and decreasing the cruelty of animals, many vegans consider that avoiding meat, poultry, honey, and dairy has more effect on a larger scale than avoiding the controversial ethical ingredients. But since these ingredients too have a role to play in the degradation of the environment and animals and many vegans raise their voice against their evils, we’ll tell you how they are non-vegan.
You must wanna know why your simple sugar is in the debate
Sugar is a problematic vegan ingredient and has always been controversial. This is because of a certain bleaching process used in the production of sugar which renders it pristine white. The factories that produce sugar from cane often use bone char in this bleaching process. Made after burning animal bones up to high temperatures, bone char is highly absorptive and just as much a nuisance for vegans.
The step of bleaching is considered indispensible in the process of sugar production because raw brown cane sugar is esthetically unpleasant.
While the whole lot of sugar in America may not be bleached by bone char, it is impossible to recognize which sugar may have been. Big food manufacturing plants obtain their sugar from several factories and there is no record of the bleaching process used by each of them.
Today, America has found various other methods of bleaching cane sugar. One such method utilizes granular activated carbon. This substance is produced artificially and is as effective in bleaching sugar as bone char.
Sugar is not obtained from cane alone. It is common for factories to extract sugar from coconut and beetroot instead. Because we never know whether the sugar in our food is bleached by bone char or not, avoiding sugar altogether may be too harsh a step.
Palm oil may be obtained from plants, but the impact of its cultivation is not far from slaughtering
Although palm oil is extracted by cultivation of commercial agricultural plantations. And palm trees are totally plants. But palm oil cultivation and production has proven to be a disaster by creating many grave ethical, social, and environmental problems. For this sole reason, palm oil is considered a product of cruelty even though it is plant based.
The palm oil in your food has to its name the uprooting of thousands of acres of valuable rainforests which have in turn created a graveyard like situation for too many wild animals who were already struggling to attain the required food and shelter amidst rapidly shooting capitalist growth.
The Orangutan, the Bornean Pygmy Elephant, and the Sumatran Rhino have lost their natural homes and are on the thin line beyond endangerment.
Such careless erasure rainforests have also contributed to a rapid increase in global warming. The soil underlying these wide spanning plantations gets filled with peat when the plants finish their life span. Next comes the release of huge amounts of greenhouse gases like methane because of the peat. Methane is twenty times more responsible for global warming than carbon dioxide. The greenhouse effect is an adverse impact of the gases like methane and carbon dioxide, and the subsequent global warming has proven disastrous for our planet.
The damage caused by palm plantations is extensive and large. The poor bonded labourers employed like slaves in these plantations are given very harsh and unfair treatment. Their families suffer the social consequences of being slaves while toiling endlessly for meagre meals.
Natural and artificial flavours are too often not natural enough to be vegan
Natural flavors are obtained from plants as well as animal-based sources. This is why vegans label natural flavors as a controversial ingredient.
These flavors are extracted from concentrates obtained by heating the source. The manufacturers may or may not specify the original source from which the flavors were obtained. In any case, it is advisable for vegans to be cautious and ask the manufacturers about the original source.
The manufacturers will most likely answer your queries so that you can then choose for yourself.
Artificial colors are cruel
Oftentimes artificial colors are derived from insects and animals. Insect bodies have to be crushed to extract these food colouring chemicals.
Animal based sources are not the only problem with artificial colors, these chemicals have to be tested periodically on animals in a laboratory.
Animals like monkeys, rabbits, mice, and dogs are subjected to cruel chemical exposures in labs to determine the extent of damage these colors cause in them. Animals have to sustain terrible pain and often die in the process. The animals who survive with the adverse effects are killed too. This is too inhumane to be allowed in the first place.
Airheads may contain dairy
The following words have been specified on Airheads website,”Airheads do not contain dairy; however since it would not be typical for dairy to be found in our products, we perform no specific test for it. Please keep in mind that due to the fact that most of the ingredients are agricultural products and could be processed on equipment that may also handle products containing these items, we cannot make the claim that our products are free of said items.”
Airheads may not directly contain dairy. But it is not obviously certified that they are dairy free. They may as well be processed on the same equipment as other dairy containing products.
So after all this, are Airheads vegan?
Considering the fact that all foods that contain animal products are not vegan, Airheads Bars and Airheads Xtremes are vegan because they do not contain any animal-derived products. But most varieties of Airheads are not vegan because they clearly contain animal-based products in their constituents. This category includes Airheads bites, Airheads soft filled bites, Airheads Gummies, Airheads Gum, Airheads Xtremes Bites, Airheads Xtremes Sourfuls
Well, the vegan varieties may be considered vegan if you are not a strict vegan. Veganism is about changing your lifestyle to better suit the sustainability of our planet. It is about reducing the animal cruelty, degradation, and drainage of the Earth’s natural resources. To what amount you reduce your dependability on these sources depends on you alone.
A strict vegan will not consume any product with palm oil, white sugar, natural and artificial flavours, artificial colors, and even traces of dairy. But it is not important to be strict. It is important to bring a change where there was no responsibility before.