How often have you left your childhood favourite packet of biscuits behind in the shopping aisle? These peanut butter sandwich cookies don’t seem like they don’t contain dairy, but seriously, are Nutter Butters vegan?
This question has become so important now that you have grown up and become responsible. Nutter Butter may be easily called the best selling brand of biscuits in the US.
Surprisingly, they are also vegan. Well, they are according to most vegans. But stricter vegans have their doubts.
If your parents have been vegans and Nutter Butter biscuits were allowed in your house, you may keep eating them as an adult without questioning. But the essence of a vegan’s life is constantly researching which foods they can and cannot eat. Because it is such a cruel world.
Now owned by Nabisco, a billion of these are eaten every year in the US alone. You gotta find out if one of those packets is worthy if entering your doorstep too.
Nutter Butter biscuits have some considerably controversial ingredients
All varieties of Nutter Butter biscuits, Traditional, Fudge covered Nutter Butters, and Nutter Butter Creme Patties have these few ingredients that may be problematic for some vegans while others may consider them entirely vegan: Sugar, Natural and Artificial Flavours, Palm oil, Artificial Colors.
The Fudge Covered Nutter Butter biscuits also contain non-fat milk and are NOT vegan. Milk is the predominant ingredient vegans should avoid in all foods.
While the other ingredients we have listed may appear basic and non-dangerous to you, we’d like to take you through our findings to clear the air.
Is it true that sugar is non-vegan?
White sugar is a debatable topic because of a substance called bone char used in its filtration. Bone char itself is produced by heating the bones of animals at very high temperatures so that they turn into carbon with highly absorptive properties.
The sugar extracted from cane is initially brown and the process of bleaching and filtration through bone char turns it pristine white.
It may or may not be true for all sugars. You never know how the white sugar used in these food products is filtered. All the large manufacturing units acquire sugar from a widely different array of sources and it is so hard to tell or assume which is which. The information regarding the source of sugar is hardly preserved by any manufacturer
It is still important to be certain that even cane sugar may not always be filtered by this sole process. Bleaching with the help of bone char does come handy to large scale manufacturers but some companies also use granular activated carbon to achieve the same white results.
At the same time, a lot of sugar manufacturing units produce sugar from beet or coconut to minimize dependence on sugarcane and bone char. This information regarding the type of sugar used is not available at the back label of the packets and many vegans find this worrying.
It may be a little comforting to know that the bone char or its products are not passed into the filtered and refined sugar. So you might as well take out your Nutter Butter biscuits.
This really is an ethical choice. If you are not okay with the animal cruelty employed in the production of your food, you may ditch the foods where the source of sugar isn’t known. If you are comforted by the fact that this sugar does not contain the remnants of bone char, you may as well consume it.
The other controversial ingredients here are Natural and Artificial flavours.
Are natural flavours not plant based?
Natural flavours, although called natural, may not always be acquired in harmless natural ways. A few may be acquired from plants, but many are derived from animal sources.
According to the US FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations, fruits or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, spices, edible yeast, bark, herbs, roots, leaves, meat and poultry, dairy products, and eggs may be used to obtain natural flavours.
Producers get these flavours by heating the plant or animal source to obtain a concentrate. It is possible to inquire with the company regarding which natural flavours are used in Nutter Butters and get a clear answer.
Many vegans continue the consumption of natural flavours considering that they are indeed obtained from plants. A commonly known and widely considered plant based natural flavour called Castoreum is actually extracted from some specific anal secretions of beavers.
A lot of vegans hold the view that avoiding natural and artificial flavours may not even be as impactful as avoiding meat, dairy, eggs, and honey which directly impact large scale producers of animal based foods.
We also have palm oil in this line of discussion. And you might not believe why.
Palm oil is ethically non-vegan
Extracted from commercial agricultural plantations and obviously plant based, palm oil production is harmful and poses too many grave ethical, social, and environmental problems. For this reason, palm oil is considered a product of cruelty and not regarded as vegan.
The palm oil as an ingredient in your Nutter Butter biscuits has to its name the uprooting of thousands of acres of rainforests which have in turn created a death like situation for so many wild animals. This valuable fauna was already struggling to attain the required food and shelter amidst star-like capitalist growth.
Some of the many species severely suffering the plantations’ impact are the Orangutan, the Bornean Pygmy Elephant, and the Sumatran Rhino because their natural homes are lost.
Not only this, mindless clearing of these rainforests has also contributed to a sharp spike in global warming in recent years. The soil underlying these plantations gets filled with peat when the plants die out. This leads to the release of huge amounts of greenhouse gas methane. Methane is twenty times more responsible for global warming than carbon dioxide. The greenhouse effect as an impact of these gases, and the subsequent global warming has indeed endangered the earth.
The harm caused by palm plantations is unrecordable and large in extent. The poor bonded labourers employed in these plantations are unfairly treated and it may be called a version of modern slavery. Their families suffer social and societal prejudices as they toil tirelessly for meagre meals.
If your veganism is about the sustainability of the planet, palm oil as an ingredient in diet is totally unacceptable. Although it may not directly lead to animal cruelty.
Artificial colors are the next common ingredient we want to address for you.
Are artificial colors cruel because they are animal based?
True. Many artificial colors are obtained from insects and animals. Insect bodies have to be crushed to extract these seemingly essential food colouring substances.
Well, as you may never know from where the artificial colors in your food are obtained from, that still may not be the only problem with them. You definitely know that artificial colors have to be tested on animals in a laboratory from time to time. These products are dangerous and periodic lab animal tests have to be performed to make sure they remain safe for consumption.
Animals like monkeys, rabbits, mice, and even dogs are literally tortured in these labs whence they have to sustain terrifying pain in order to prove that the colors are safe for use in humans. These animals are abruptly killed when they develop the adverse reactions on use of these products. That, if they survive the tests. In most cases, they die on the table due to the testing.
This cruel practice leads to irreparable losses in ethics and humanity. It has also been established in some studies that artificial colors pose a significant risk to human health as well. They are a prominent and known etiological agent in cancer and ADHD.
Considering these ingredients, you would have noticed that it is indeed quite difficult to find something absolutely vegan. Nutter Butter biscuits may or may not be vegan for you now that you know about these ingredients.
How do you ascertain that a product is vegan?
Let’s consider you are in a supermarket browsing through various items and you have to choose vegan products for yourself. How do you do that?
First, read the label carefully. Check the full ingredients list and be aware of the various tricky names of non-vegan food products.
Never pick up unlabelled products. If we have to be so careful when the constituents are listed. Imagine, what all could be done when there is no responsibility for information.
Having done this, come back to Nutter Butters.
So are Nutter Butters vegan or not?
There is no dependable answer to this question. If you are a strict vegan, Nutter Butter biscuits are not cruelty free because they contain artificial colors, natural flavours, palm oil, and probably processed sugar. It is also known that these products may come in contact with dairy during manufacture even if they themselves don’t incorporate dairy products.
Are Nutter Butters vegan? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on how strict a vegan you are.