Gummies, chocolate bars, marshmallows, suckers … vegans love their candy just as much as everyone else. Luckily, there’s a plethora of animal-free, dairy-free candy to choose from—and you won’t find gelatin, confectioner’s glaze, dairy, or eggs in any of these sweet treats. Whether you’re looking for accidentally vegan versions of mainstream brands or specialty vegan novelties, VegNews unveils the ultimate list of vegan candy. 

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Is candy vegan?

Not all candy is vegan, but a lot of sweets are. The inclusion of animal-derived ingredients, no matter how big or small, makes candy not vegan. Some sweets will display a “vegan” logo on the packaging, but there are also plenty of accidentally vegan candies out there (looking at you, Sour Patch Kids) so it’s good to read the label. Here are the animal ingredients to watch out for.

  • Dairy: Usually listed as milk, milkfat, butterfat, and whey. It’s typically found in candy bars and caramels.
  • Confectioner’s glaze: Also known as “shellac,” this gives candies a glossy coating. But, it’s derived from insect secretions.
  • Carmine: A red pigment made from crushed female cochineal insects.
  • Eggs: Thankfully, eggs aren’t common in candy.
  • Gelatin: This is made from the boiled tendons, ligaments, or skin of pigs and cows.

In addition to that, some vegans avoid anything that doesn’t come from a vegan company. This is because, in the US, most refined white sugar is refined with bone char. The choice to consume these sugars is 100 percent yours to make—nobody will take away your vegan card for doing so. The finished sugar doesn’t actually contain bones, but it’s certainly a symptom of how pervasive the use of animal byproducts is in the food industry (see also: why do so many potato chips contain milk?!). Look for products made with organic sugar or these options if you want to avoid sugar processed with bone char. 

Some ingredient lists will say “may contain traces of …” or “made on shared equipment with …” animal products. But these warnings are for people with serious allergies, not the deliberate inclusion of an animal product. Purchasing these candies won’t up the demand for non-vegan candy—but there’s no shame if you choose to avoid these products. 
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Is vegan candy healthier?

Vegan food tends to come with a health halo. And in many cases, plant-based versions of meat and dairy products are healthier in some ways. So does the same apply to vegan candy? Sorry to say it, but the answer is “no.” 

Vegan candy is still just that—candy. “Just because it has the term ‘vegan’ slapped on the label does not necessarily mean it is healthy,” explains Blair Persyn, MS, RDN, LDN, CNSC. “There are also many types of mainstream candies that are accidentally vegan but still ultra-processed and full of sugar. Any type of candy—whether vegan or not—will be high in sugar and should be enjoyed in moderation.”

But don’t let that stop your sweet tooth. A little candy, as a treat, every now and then is fine. If you’re limiting your sugar intake, look for the brands SmartSweets (vegan-friendly) or Zolli Candy (100-percent vegan). 

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Accidentally vegan candy

When a candy craving strikes, you’re in luck! You can find many “accidentally vegan” candies at convenience stores and gas stations, as well as lurking on the shelves at many of your favorite grocers. That means you can grab that nostalgic favorite any time of day. 

VegNews.VeganCandy.OchoVegan candy bars

Gooey caramel coated in chocolate, shortbread cookies paired with nutty nougat, chewy nuts rolled in sticky sweet coating and dairy-free milk chocolate … the world of vegan candy bars is gourmet and nostalgic all in one. Find that vegan replacement for your old-school favorite below. 

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You won’t find any nasty gelatin lurking in these chewy, fruit-sweetened, animal-shaped gummies. From zero-sugar options to sugary goodness, the world of vegan gummies is flavorful and sweet. While not all of the below brands are 100-percent vegan, they offer several vegan options, so check the ingredients list before purchasing. 

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Peanut butter cups, rich chocolate truffles, white chocolate goodness, and more are waiting in the realm of dairy-free vegan chocolate novelties. If you would rather bite into a gooey chocolate treat than a gummy or hard candy, you’re in luck! Try one of the below.

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Typically made with dairy, these chewy, sweet, sticky candies are a favorite. Whether you chop and bake into cookie dough, cover in chocolate, or enjoy in their simple, basic state, these melt-in-your-mouth treats are offered in vegan versions by the following companies. 

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Sweet chewy goodness awaits on this list. While cult favorite Starburst candy is not vegan, you’ll find plenty of flavorful, juicy vegan chewy candy alternatives on the market in tropical, sour, fruity, citrusy flavors. 

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From mainstream brands that you can find at any convenience store to all-natural, low-sugar, fruit-sweetened varieties of suckers, there are plenty of vegan options to choose from when it comes to lollipops.

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There’s one culprit that makes marshmallows not vegan: gelatin. A clear, flavorless protein made from animal collagen, gelatin is used to create a bouncy marshmallow texture. But many brands have ditched the cruelty and launched gelatin-free vegan versions that taste even better. 

For more on vegan candy, read: