Your Guide to Vegan Halloween Candy: Is It Any Healthier?
This Halloween, dig a little deeper into the nutrition label of your candy before you pass it out by the handful. Many candies available in your local grocery store are actually vegan -- what we're calling "accidentally vegan," meaning the company didn't set out to make a "plant-based" product, rather, their ingredients just happen to be devoid of animal products. But that does not mean that "vegan" treats are healthy or any better for you than the sugar-filled ones that happen to also include dairy, as traditional chocolate Halloween mins generally do.
We decided to do a deep dive into the plastic pumpkin candy container to look at: What vegan, accidentally or vegan by design, and how they stack up against the traditional Halloween choices (Snickers, M&Ms and the like). Before you reach into the bucket of treats, check out how your favorite (or newly discovered) treats stack up in terms of calories, carbs, fats, and sugars. The point of this post is not to ruin Halloween for you, nor to tell you that you should be eating apples and orange slices. It's simply to show you which candies to buy this Halloween, and give you some perspective -- by comparing them to the classic non-vegan favorites that contain dairy. Check out the chart below, for candy by the numbers.
"Accidentally" Vegan Candy
Although many gummy candies contain gelatin, and most candy bars stocked by your local grocery store typically contain milk in their chocolate, you might be surprised to learn how many of your favorite candies are indeed vegan. From childhood favorites like Dots and Bottlecaps to classic offerings like Skittles and Twizzlers and Swedish Fish, there's something for everybody that's happily, accidentally vegan.
- Swedish Fish
- Fun Dip
- Bottle Caps
- Charms Blow Pops
- Dum Dums
- Jolly Rancher Hard Candy
- Now and Later
- Pixy Stix
|Smarties Candy Roll (1 roll)||25||0g||6g||6g|
|Fun Dip (1 pouch)||45||0g||11g||11g|
|Pixy Stix (1 Straw)||45||0g||11g||10g|
|Lemonhead (10 pieces)||50||0g||14g||11g|
|Sweet Tarts (13 pieces)||60||0.5g||14g||11g|
|Bottle Caps (13 pieces)||60||0g||14g||13g|
|Dum Dums (3 pieces)||60||0g||15g||11g|
|Nerds (1 tablespoon)||60||0g||14g||14g|
|Charm Blow Pops (1 Pop)||70||0g||17g||13g|
|Jolly Rancher Hard Candy (3 pieces)||70||0g||17g||11g|
|Dots (8 Dots)||100||0g||24g||15g|
|Jujyfruits (11 pieces)||120||0g||32g||22g|
|Now And Later (7 pieces)||120||0g||26g||18g|
|Airheads (1 bar)||140||0g||34g||24g|
|Twizzlers (3 pieces)||150||1.5g||33g||19g|
|Swedish Fish (7 pieces)||150||0g||28g||32g|
|Skittles (4 pieces)||160||1.5g||37g||28g|
Intentionally Vegan Candy Brands
- Smarties: You might assume we would include Smarties in the 'accidentally vegan' category, but co-president Liz Dee is also the founder of Vegan Ladyboss, a global network of vegan women in business. (Note these are the sugary lozenges, not the British chocolate Smarties that look a lot like our M&Ms.)
- Hu Kitchen: Hu Kitchen makes some of the most delicious vegan chocolate bars around. They are a favorite of celebrities, including a certain drummer who buys them by the case to hand out for Halloween. (Wish we lived in his neighborhood -- lucky kids!) Although they ring in at a premium, you won't find a more decadent treat than Hu's variety. The only argument is which ones are the best since the rich flavors range from hazelnut to orange dream to mint.
- No Whey!: This chocolate company doesn't play around when it comes to their allergen-free, vegan selections: the whole website boasts that its chocolates, candies and truffles are "100% Milk Free, Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Gluten Free, Egg Free, Soy Free, No Artificial Colors and Flavors! Free of the common eight allergens! Vegan and Kosher!"
- Alter Eco: Alter Eco Foods boasts truffles equally as decadent as any gourmet chocolatier's offerings, sans the milk products. The brand also participates in 'full circle sustainability', meaning their products are fair-trade certified and they are sourced directly from small-scale farmers.
- Justin's: For seasoned vegans, this comes as no surprise, since Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups have long been thought of as the vegan's answer to Reese's, although the dark chocolate adds an elegant, sophisticated touch that the classic candy lacks.
- Smart Sweets: This woman-owned candy company has a 'plant-based' array of gummy treats free of gelatin on the site, which all deliver only a fraction of the sugar of traditional gummies.
- YumEarth: Many of YumEarth's products are entirely vegan, notably their fruit snacks, lollipops, licorice and more items that are very clearly marked with potential allergens.
What makes your favorite classic candies nonvegan?
Gelatin: PETA defines gelatin as "a protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water. It is usually obtained from cows or pigs. Many gummy candies, unfortunately, contain gelatin to give them their texture. Look for candies that instead contain agar-agar, a jelly-like substance derived from red algae.
Milk or Eggs: Look out for milk, milkfat or eggs, which are common ingredients in chocolate or the filling of chocolate candies.
Artificial Colors: Shockingly, some artificial coloring is not vegan. PETA describes these as "Pigments from animal, plant, and synthetic sources used to color foods, cosmetics, and other products. Cochineal is from insects. Widely used FD&C and D&C colors are coal-tar (bituminous coal) derivatives that are continuously tested on animals because of their carcinogenic properties." For an exhaustive list of which colors are non-vegan, visit The Daily Vegan's article on food coloring.
Vegan Candy by the Numbers
|Gin Gin (Ginger Candies) (3 pieces)||40||0g||10g||10g|
|Justins Peanut Butter Cups (40g pieces)||80||6g||7g||5g|
|Unreal Dark Chocolate PB Gems (13 pieces)||150||10g||16g||13g|
|Wholesome Organic Delish Fish|
|Hu Kitchen Salty Chocolate Bar (1/2 bar)||160||13g||14g||9g|
|No Whey Candy Bar (57 grams)||260||7g||44g|
|Alter Eco Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Truffles (3 pieces)||230||19g||15g||12g|
|Theo Organic Dark Chocolate (1/2 bar)||210||19g||7g||17g|
|Yummy Earth Organic Lollipop (3 pops)||60||0g||16g||12g|
Non-Vegan Candy by the Numbers
|Candy Treat||Calories||Fat||Carbs||Sugar||Contains the following Animal Product|
|Haribo Gummy Bears|
|100||0g||23g||14g||Gelatin, White and Yellow Beeswax|
|Candy Corn (Brach's)|
|Sour Patch Kids (16 pieces)||150||0g||37g||26g||Gelatin|
|Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (1 package)||170||10g||18g||16g||Chocolate, Skim Milk, Milkfat, Lactose|
|Milk Duds (13 pieces)||170||6g||29g||21g||Nonfat milk, chocolate|
|Whoppers (1 package)||190||7g||31g||24g||Malted milk|
|Kit Kat (1 package)||210||11g||27g||21g||Lactose, Milkfat, Nonfat MIlk, Chocolate|
|Hershey's Dark (1 bar)||210||15g||22g||17g||Chocolate, Milkfat|
|Almond Joy (1 package)||220||13g||26g||21g||Chocolate, Milk, Milkfat, Lactose, Skimmilk|
|Milky Way Bar (1 bar)||230||9g||36g||31g||Skim Milk, Lactose, Milkfat, Eggs|
|M&Ms (Plain) (1 pack)||230||9g||35g||31g||Lactose, Milkfat, Skim Milk and Additives that come from animal product|
|Butterfingers (1 bar)||250||10g||36g||21g||Milk, nonfat milk|
|Skittles (1.4 ounces)||250||2.5g||56g||45g||Gelatin|
|M&Ms (Peanuts) (1 pack)||250||13g||30g||25g||Skim Milk, Lactose, Milkfat|
|Snickers Bar (1 bar)||380||14g||35g||30g||Skim Milk, Lactose, Milkfat,, Egg|
|Twix (1 bar)||80||4g||11g||8g||Skim Milk, Lactose, Milkfat|
|Tootsie Pop (33g)||120||2.5g||23g||17g||Skim Milk, Cocoa|
For all your vegan Halloween candy treats, you can find everything you need at The Mylk Guys. Check it out. The entire market is full of great plant-based and vegan choices!