If you’ve recently adopted a vegan diet and lifestyle, you may have already started wondering which of your favourite candies are vegan-friendly. Some are obviously non-vegan, while others need some research to figure out.
When it comes to Skittles, if you asked this question before 2015, the answer would’ve been a resonating no. This is because Skittles initially contained gelatin, which was responsible for the chewy texture of the candy. Gelatin is obtained by boiling the skin, ligaments, and bones of animals.
Some colourings were also made from animals and insects, such as Carmine Red, extracted from female Cochineal insects. This substance goes by other names like E120, Crimson/Carmine Lake, Natural Red 4 and many more. Unless you memorize all the different names, you may find yourself unknowingly eating something that’s not vegan-appropriate.
Thankfully, the current Skittles no longer contains animal products and have a new plant-based formula. Nonetheless, the lack of animal products doesn’t mean that something is truly vegan. Some constituents can involve animals or their byproducts in some way, which goes against the morals of veganism.
To figure out whether Skittles is wholly suitable for vegans, we must look at its current components.
Ingredient List of the Original Skittles:
- Corn Syrup
- Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil
- Citric Acid
- Tapioca Dextrin
- Modified Corn Starch
- Natural and Artificial Flavors
- Colours (Red 40 Lake, Titanium Dioxide, Red 40, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Blue 2 Lake, Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake)
- Sodium Citrate
- Carnauba Wax
Now, most of these ingredients are absolutely fine for vegans; however, some are somewhat questionable. Let’s get into those.
The first of the questionable ingredients is sugar. Sure, you may be thinking, how in the world is sugar not vegan when it comes from plants? Unfortunately, the answer is that some sugar manufacturers use bone char to filter sugar.
Of course, that isn’t to say that all companies do so. However, it hasn’t been established whether the sugar used in Skittles is absolutely vegan because it comes from various suppliers with different manufacturing processes.
Palm Kernel Oil
Another ingredient that raises concern is palm kernel oil, a plant-derived substance used to improve a candy’s taste and texture. Considering its source, it should be safe for vegan consumption, right?
However, many controversies and issues surround the palm oil industry, animal abuse and exploitation being the ones that concern us the most. Some species have even become endangered because of this industry.
That’s why many vegans tend to avoid palm oil. Even though it’s technically vegan, it isn’t cruelty-free, and that doesn’t go with the true essence of veganism.
The natural flavours used in Skittles are also not ideal. These flavours sit in somewhat of a grey area when it comes to veganism. They can come from plant sources like fruits and spices. However, they can also come from meat, eggs, dairy, and other animal products.
Since it’s much more likely for Skittles to have fruit-derived flavours than animal-derived ones, many vegans don’t worry about this issue. Others avoid products that contain these flavours all together. Ultimately, it’ll come down to your own sense and judgment.
The last thing that doesn’t sit well with vegans is the use of artificial colours. Nowadays, most artificial colours are a petroleum byproduct, so, again, they’re technically okay for vegans. However, numerous colours are regularly tested on animals.
Mars Inc. -the mother company that owns Skittles- say that their studies cause no harm to animals. However, many vegans disapproved of such experimentation and decided to boycott products with artificial colours like Red 40 and Yellow 5.
Still, this can be a challenging thing to do as countless products contain these colours. Once again, how to deal with this dilemma is totally up to you, so do what seems right in your opinion.
What About Other Skittles Varieties?
Are Tropical Skittles Vegan?
Tropical Skittles were one of the first varieties offered on the market after the launch of the original Skittles in 1974. It only differs from the original one by way of its range of flavours.
Otherwise, it basically has the same formula as the original one. Naturally, therefore, it contains the same controversial ingredients; alas, we can’t say it’s vegan with certainty.
Are Sour Skittles Vegan?
The beloved Sour Skittles are also composed of the same ingredients as the original Skittles, with minor variations in the colours and flavours.
They can be vegan if you only look at the ingredient list without considering its implications, but again those implications have neither been confirmed nor denied.
Are Skittles Chewies Vegan?
Skittle Chewies are a bit of a rare variety of Skittles. They’re basically the same as the original Skittles, just without the hard candy coating. Unfortunately, the lack of the hard shell doesn’t change one thing about the four problematic ingredients.
Are Wild Berry Skittles Vegan?
An oldie but goodie, Wild Berry Skittles are also not wholly suitable for a vegan lifestyle when you read the fine print, so to speak. So until Skittles are certified to be vegan-friendly and cruelty-free, it’s best to keep your distance or use your own judgment.
Vegan Alternatives to Skittles
Most importantly, for all the chocolate lovers out there, most dark chocolates are vegan-friendly, so knock yourself out.
Ultimately, the answer to whether Skittles are vegan is a bit vague. We can’t say it is, and we can’t say it isn’t because we don’t know for sure what goes into each batch of the candy.
Some may have sugar that isn’t filtered with bone char; some may not. The used palm oil may be ethically sourced with no animal casualties, but it’s all guesses and speculation in the end.
So, ultimately, you can take a chance and hope for the best. But, if you don’t feel comfortable making that decision, steer clear of Skittles for now and look for alternatives.
Just try your best and remember to check the ingredients of whatever you decide to eat. Sometimes, certain non-vegan ingredients have different names, so research any substance you aren’t familiar with to be on the safe side.