Vegan alternatives are becoming easier to find for practically any type of food nowadays, but it isn’t precisely the same case when it comes to snacks. Not to mention, vegans are on the fence about many snacks and whether they’re vegan or not, to begin with.
Taking marshmallows as an example, these squishy yet fluffy treats are irresistible and tempting like no other, especially when eaten around a campfire at night with our favourite friends and family. But wait, are marshmallows vegan? That’s a question many are afraid to know the answer to.
And luckily, that’s what we’re going to help you answer today since you’ve asked.
The Short Answer
Unfortunately, the majority of marshmallows available in supermarkets and grocery stores aren’t vegan because they contain gelatin, which is an animal protein. Essentially, gelatin is a gelling agent derived from animals’ skin and bones in the form of collagen.
Additionally, marshmallow creams and fluffs that come in jars also contain albumen, which is egg whites, also making them non-vegan.
On the bright side, a few popular marshmallow brands don’t incorporate gelatin into their marshmallows, and they’re vegan. So all you need to do is look at the ingredients!
The Full Scoop on Marshmallow Ingredients
In the 1800s, when marshmallows were first introduced, French confection makers simply whipped the mallow plant’s sap with egg whites and sugar, later pouring the mix into milds. However, since the sugary blend didn’t stay in shape for long, gelatin started being used to replace the standard mallow sap, and that’s what makes marshmallows not vegan.
The main problem lies in how gelatin is made. In a nutshell, it’s a protein that’s produced by boiling animal skin, tendons, bones, or ligaments. So now, it becomes clear why marshmallows containing gelatin are a complete no-no for vegans.
In addition to gelatin, another non-vegan ingredient that’s commonly found in marshmallows, especially those that come in jars, is albumen (egg whites). And more rarely, you may find bone char sugar, which is also non-vegan.
Therefore, the fact is that most marshmallows contain either gelatin or albumen, rendering them not vegan. Yet, many brands are starting to offer vegan marshmallows that don’t include these non-vegan ingredients. With that being the case, you should carefully consider the ingredient list on the marshmallow’s packaging to make sure you don’t make a wrong choice.
What Are Vegan Marshmallows Made of?
We’ve established that gelatin is considered an “essential” ingredient of marshmallows for many manufacturers, so how can there possibly be a vegan version of marshmallows without that pillow-like texture?
To make marshmallows, vegans use any sugar form and a non-gelatin gelling agent to serve gelatin’s purpose. Examples of these are agar-agar or carrageenan, which are both derived from seaweed. Carob bean gum is also often used along with other combinations of plant-derived starches.
Then, using these ingredients, vegan manufacturers (or if you decide to make marshmallows yourself) would proceed with the regular process of making marshmallows, with the typical ingredients including:
- Cane sugar
- Filtered water
- Tapioca syrup
- Tapioca starch
- Soy protein
- Natural vanilla flavour
Since no gelatin or albumen are involved, these marshmallows would make for the perfect vegan treat.
Are Haribo Marshmallows Vegan?
Nearly everyone loves to treat their sweet tooth to Haribo gummy treats and snacks, and that includes their marshmallows. Sadly, though, you’re going to have to pass on Haribo marshmallows since the majority of Haribo products include either pork or beef gelatine.
> Read more: are Haribo vegan?
Although Haribo offers halal options for Muslims, they use halal beef gelatine instead of the pork gelatine they use in the rest of their products, but they don’t completely omit it.
Not just that, but gelatine isn’t the only animal ingredient used in Haribo products. Others include beeswax (from bees) and carmine (crushed insects).
So, if you look at Haribo Chamallows, for example, you’ll find that its ingredient list includes gelatine and carmines, immediately making them non-vegan.
Are Jet-Puffed Marshmallows Vegan?
Jet-Puffed marshmallows are always advertised as being both gluten-free and dairy-free, which led many vegans to believe that they’re vegan. Yet, if you look at a pack of Jet-Puffed marshmallows’ ingredient list, you’ll easily spot gelatin. Although, yes, it says “contains less than 2% of gelatin”, it’s still gelatin at the end of the day.
So, while it may be true that Jet-Puffed marshmallows are gluten-free and dairy-free, that doesn’t mean they’re also vegan because they aren’t.
Are SmashMallows Vegan?
Similar to Jet-Puffed marshmallows, SmashMallows are also constantly promoted for being gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, corn syrup free, non-GMO certified, and made of organic cane sugar. Not to mention, they don’t contain any artificial colouring, flavouring, or preservatives. That’s all great until this point.
But do you know what they also don’t contain? Carrageenan. To remind you, that’s the only way to keep vegan marshmallows fluffy. Instead, they use non-GMO bovine gelatin.
Of course, you know what that means – SmashMallow isn’t vegan. They also say that upfront in their frequently asked questions and claim that they don’t use carrageenan because they’re “not comfortable with its adverse gastrointestinal effects”.
What Marshmallows Are Vegan? The Vegan Alternatives
Okay, so is that the end of it? Do vegans not get to eat marshmallows anymore? Of course not – don’t get disappointed. There are a decent number of vegan options on the markets, and we’re about to present you with some of the best ones.
1. Dandies Vegan Marshmallows
If you don’t want to miss out on roasting marshmallows over the campfire or making s’mores, Dandies Vegan Marshmallows are just what you need. They’re offered in an absolutely delicious vanilla flavour, and over and above that, they’re made in an exclusive vegan facility.
When it comes to ingredients, Dandies Vegan Marshmallows are made of tapioca syrup, cane sugar, filtered water, tapioca starch, carrageenan, soy protein, and natural vanilla flavour.
Does that list sound familiar to you? Yes, it’s exactly what vegan marshmallows are made of, so you have the green light for this one. Enjoy their softness and watch how they seamlessly melt.
2. Ananda’s Vegan Vanilla Marshmallows
If you’ve been considering making marshmallows on your own but lack the time or the energy, Ananda’s Vegan Marshmallows can provide you with the handmade taste you’re seeking. That’s because they’re literally handmade in a dedicated vegan and nut-free kitchen in the UK.
These marshmallows are free of artificial colours and flavours, are gluten-free, dairy-free, and caffeine-free. Instead, they’re wholly reliant on natural flavours, fruit powders, and vegetable colourants, resulting in a unique taste that’ll resonate with you. Plus, if you aren’t into carrageenan, rest assured that these are made of agar-agar.
Not only are these marshmallows vegan, but Ananda’s is also registered with the Vegan Society, and it’s an award-winning family-owned company!
3. Freedom Mallows Strawberry Vegetarian Marshmallows
Despite that the Freedom Mallows marshmallows are promoted as vegetarian, they’re actually vegan. They’re egg, gluten, gelatine, and dairy-free. And although we’re speaking about the strawberry flavour here, these tasty marshmallows are also available in vanilla.
We don’t know of anyone who has tried these marshmallows and didn’t get hooked, and it’s for the right reasons. They’re made of carrageenan and all-natural flavourings, making them super fresh and exceptionally delicious.
Give them a shot, and you’ll love them more than non-vegan marshmallows – that’s guaranteed!
So, as you see, you no longer have to miss out on marshmallows if you’re a vegan. We’re not about to put an end to your childhood memories. Plus, as time passes by, even more confectioners will produce vegan marshmallows, and there won’t even be a difference when it comes to taste.
In the meantime, make sure to check the ingredients list and labels for animal-derived ingredients on marshmallow packs, especially gelatine and egg. Usually, the labels are pretty obvious and straightforward.
But since there are vegan options that happen to be readily available, those are your safest bet, and they’ll get you just as excited as standard marshmallows!