When I first transitioned to a vegan lifestyle, one of the very things I thought of was “Will I be able to eat Skittles ever again?”. I mean these colorful and sweet and tangy candies were huge parts of my childhood.
And I certainly did not want to miss out on this beloved confection.
So in my quest to answer the rather important question of “Are Skittles Vegan?, I had to put my thinking cap on to figure it out. And after all my research, I sadly concluded that Skittles are most likely are Not Vegan, but maybe.
As you will see, the answer to this question is not black and white, and depending on how vegan are you, the answer will differ.
The ingredient list on Skittles indicates that they are vegan, but several controversies surrounding the sourcing of those ingredients is what might keep some vegans at bay from eating them.
Keep reading to find out what those controversies are, and then you can decide yourself if you still want to eat skittles or not.
What Are Skittles?
For those of you who might not be familiar with Skittles, it’s a fruit flavored candy that comes in various colors. It was first produced by a British company in the 1970s.
How its name came about is still something that remains a mystery. Perhaps there was a “Mr. Skittles” somewhere in Great Britain back in the day!
Skittles came to the US in 1979 and since then, these colorful hard-shelled candies have been enjoyed by millions and millions of people. This is evident by its title as America’s No. 1 non-chocolate candy.
Skittles is currently produced by the Wrigley Company, which is a division of the famous Mars Inc. Since 1994, Skittles has been running an ad campaign called “Taste the Rainbow”.
This campaign has been dubbed as one of the longest ad campaigns in history! Come to think of it, if they are still running this campaign after all these years, then it must mean that it’s doing extremely well.
Another interesting thing about Skittles is that it is actually one of the most popular brands on Facebook with over 23 million likes!
Now that we have given you a brief history of one of the most popular candies in the world, it’s time to get into the thick of things and determine if Skittles candies are something vegans can really enjoy!
Are Skittles Vegan?
This is perhaps the million dollar question that leaves some people puzzled? Is it? Is it not?
First of all, let me say that no where is the company’s website, do they say that Skittles are vegan. In fact, I couldn’t even find the ingredients! Let me get it out my frustration here and just say that the Skittles.com website is definitely not user-friendly.
Anyways, to answer the question, technically you can consider it vegan. However, we might have to look into its past and present. This would make it easier for you to judge if Skittles is something you should consider eating.
Before 2009, Skittles in the US made the bold move of removing one of its ingredients – gelatin. Gelatin is derived from boiling the certain parts of pigs, cows, or fish like their cartilages, bones, and skin.
By removing gelatin, it made the candies more appealing to vegetarians, vegans and even to those looking for kosher candies. It should be noted though that the removal of gelatin as part of the ingredients only applies to US Skittles.
You might want to double check your Skittles packet. If you take a look at the current ingredients of the original Skittles below, there is nothing there that indicates the use of animal products.
- Corn Syrup
- Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil
- And less than 2% of:
- Citric Acid,
- Natural and Artificial Flavor
- Tapioca Dextrin
- Colors (Red 40, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Blue 2 Lake, Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake)
- Sodium Citrate
- Modified Corn Starch
- Titanium Dioxide
- Carnauba Wax.
By looking at it, you might think that there is no controversy at all and it’s safe for all vegans. This is the part where I tell you that the decision to eat Skittles as a vegan lies entirely in you.
If you’re wondering why, let’s take a look at some noteworthy controversies that come with certain Skittles ingredients.
BONUS: To learn how to make gelatin free Vegan gummie candy check out the video below.
Why Is Sugar Controversial?
We all know that sugar is one of the primary ingredients in any candy. What makes it controversial (and this does not only apply to Skittles but in candies, in general) is that the cane sugar being used might be processed using a whitening agent called Bone Char.
According to the People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), bone char is made from the bones of cattles found in places like India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Argentina. The bones are then sold to different traders who would then sell it to the sugar industry in the United States.
As for candy and confectionery makers, this might be something that they are not too aware of given that they have different sugar suppliers. So if the idea of where the sugar in the candies come from makes you uncomfortable, then it’s up to you if you want to give Skittles a miss.
Why Is Palm Oil Controversial?
The issue with this is not the Palm Oil being used in Skittles but the questionable ethical practices of the Palm Oil industry in general.
Palm Oil is considered plant based, so it is safe for vegans to consume. It is, however, the environmental and societal consequences that Palm Oil cultivation has caused that makes it controversial.
Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that comes from the Palm fruit. Its origin can be traced back to Western Africa. However, it is being cultivated in other parts of the world including Asia and North and South America.
When you take a look at the Palm Oil industry, about 85% of all palm oil in the world comes from Malaysia and Indonesia. And the methods by which Palm Fruit are being planted are questionable to the point of being unethical.
Rainforests and other types of land particularly in Malaysia and Indonesia are being converted into palm oil plantations. This causes deforestation, destroying the habitat of endangered animals like elephants and orangutans.
The more palm oil farms expand, the more ecosystems in the countries where they are farmed will be affected. In the past 20 years, 90% of orangutan habitats have been destroyed, killing thousands of these animals in the process.
It should also be noted that it is not only orangutans who are in danger here. In the jungles of Sumatra and Borneo, hundreds of thousands of animals are in danger due to displacement and deforestation.
Apart from this, it also affects water quality and climate temperatures.
Another noteworthy takeaway from the palm oil controversy that I feel should also be highlighted is that the industry has also been linked to human rights violation, including violating child labor laws in remote areas in Malaysia and Indonesia.
If the practice of the palm oil industry is something that brings you discomfort, then one of the things you can do is to cease supporting products that make use of this highly in demand ingredient.
Why Is Artificial Coloring Controversial?
If you take a look at the Skittles ingredients list again, you can clearly see that it contains artificial colors. What’s controversial about this is that these artificial colors are used in animal testing.
There have been studies focusing on the possible ill effects of these colorants to us humans. In these studies, dogs and rats were given artificial colors and were euthanized so they could be studied.
This form of animal cruelty is one that doesn’t sit well with people, vegans included.
Are There Other Alternatives To Skittles?
If the controversial points I have mentioned before has left you a bit baffled, consider other Skittle alternatives. If you are looking for options, there are plenty of naturally flavored candies on the market that are perfect for vegans.
It certainly doesn’t hurt to do some research first before considering other options being sold today. You can look always through the ingredient lists of any candy and figure out whether they are vegan or not.
And also, if you have time and energy, you can scour the Internet to look for their sources. I know it sounds like a long shot but it if you are very passionate about animal rights, it is worth it!
If you see the “Vegan” label/logo on the packaging, then you are all good to go!
Also, there are some vegans out there who have chosen to skip candies like Skittles due to the high sugar levels. We all know that when we consume too much sugar, it’s never good for our health, weight, teeth and so much more!
You might also consider looking for other healthier and sweeter alternatives. You might want to check out PETA’s list of vegan sweet treats!
Before I bring this to a close, I would like us to answer the question “Should we (vegans) eat Skittles?” again.
My take on this matter is that it all depends on you! Technically the listed ingredients of Skittles are vegan. However, it’s the controversial sourcing of these ingredients that are against some vegans’ stand.
At the end of the day, you call the shots. If it’s to your liking, go for it. If it isn’t, then no problem.
What do you guys think about this whole Skittles issue? Are you still going to indulge in their sweet tangy goodness or not? Let me know what you think below! And don’t forget to share this with your friends on your socials!