How well do you know your favorite gum? Do you always just peel and throw the wrapper in a hurry? Well now you might want to pause and check that label first before you open it. Or actually, before you even grab it from the shelf.
Aside from containing animal products, did you know that some of the ingredients in gums go through animal testing? Vegan gums shouldn’t be just free from animal products. They should also be cruelty-free!
And to cover both, here’s a list I made for all vegans, purists or not!
Animal Products In Chewing Gums
Sources: Made by boiling scraps from animal parts like skin, bones, cartilage, and tendons (cows and pigs); seaweeds
Uses: Binding agent. It makes food chewy, which is why you will often see it in gums and candies.
2. Stearic acid
Sources: Animal fats (mutton/beef tallow, lard, butter) or vegetable fats (cocoa butter or palm)
Uses: Thickening agent, surfactant, emulsifier, and fragrance.
Sources: Animal fats (from animal blood, fatty tissues, tallow) or plant oils (coconut, soy, or palm); synthetic (chemical reaction from petroleum)
Uses: Lubricant, humectant, plasticizer
4. Red Food dye
Sources: Insects (cochineal) or fruits and vegetables
Uses: Coloring food
Sources: Honey bees
Uses: Waterproof coating, glazing agent, binder, stabilizer; adds chewy texture to food
Sources: Egg yolks, soybean oil, rapeseed, corn, sunflower seeds
Uses: Emulsifier, coating, lubricant, bulking agent, thickener, antioxidant, stabilizer
Sources: Shellfish, animal bones, or mineral stones
Uses: Preservative, nutrient fortification
Other Gum Ingredients To Watch Out For
As a (very) health conscious vegan, it’s not just the animal products that I avoid. When it comes to sweet treats, particularly candies, and all other highly processed foods, I am very cautious. With chewing gums, here are other ingredients I avoid, which I believe you should, too:
1. Aspartame (and all other artificial sweeteners)
When a gum label says sugar-free, chances are it’s using an artificial sweetener. While these kind of sweeteners offer a low to zero calorie option, there’s also a dark side.
Despite FDA approvals, health studies and research about artificial sweeteners like aspartame, stevia, and saccharin are worrisome. Aspartame, in particular, has been known to cause a lot of health problems.
But as it turns out, the neurological effects of consuming artificial sweeteners also affect how the body responds to sugar.
Now how does this happen?
When we eat something sweet, our brain prepares the digestive system for calories. In the case of artificial sweeteners, no calories reach the gut, which messes up the body’s normal metabolic response. As a result:
- The increase of insulin does not happen.
- There is no trigger for the hormones that induce the feeling of fullness.
- The brain fails to get the “reward” feeling.
When this continues, the body’s response to all sugars eventually change. When calories enter the digestive system, neurologic and metabolic responses become weaker. This means real calories won’t make you feel as full anymore. And what do you tend to do when you don’t feel full? You eat more!
- Your taste tolerance for sweet foods increases.
- It may stop you from associating sweet foods with calories.
- Like all other sugars, it is more addictive than cocaine!
2. Gum base (if there are no details)
Did you notice how a lot of gum packagings just say “gum base” in one of its ingredients? You may think this is just a way to shorten a long list, but this also hides a lot of other ingredients.
So what’s in a gum base?
Most gum bases contain a combination of different resins, waxes, and latex. Some gum bases may contain animal products as ingredients like:
- Lanolin (from sheep)
- Glycerol (see the list of animal products in gums above)
- Animal resins (plant resin is a good alternative)
- Stearic acid
3. BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
A popular preservative and antioxidant in commercial chewing gums, BHT is known to be toxic and carcinogenic. Although the FDA considers BHT as a GRAS or generally safe ingredient, consuming it in high amounts may cause problems.
Chemical Food Dyes And Animal Testing
The thing with animal testing is although it is done to test safety, one can never guarantee that the effects on humans will be the same. However, food colors made from synthetic chemicals often require these tests.
According to Your Daily Vegan, these are the food dyes tested on animals:
- FD&C Blue No. 1– Brilliant Blue FCF
- FD&C Blue No. 2 – Indigotine
- FD&C Green No. 3 – Fast Green FCF
- FD&C Red No. 40 – Allura Red AC
- FD&C Red No. 3 – Erythrosine
- FD&C Yellow No. 5 – Tartrazine
- FD&C Yellow No. 6 – Sunset Yellow FCF
Synthetic food colors may be free from animal products, but they are often far from being cruelty-free. Chewing gums almost always contain food colors, so keep an eye!
There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that can work as vibrant food colors, which I’m sure you know already. So there’s really no need for synthetic ones, or even the need to crush insects for it.
1. Is 5 Gum vegan?
From the brand Wrigley, the popular 5 gum is NOT vegan except for the Wintermint Ascent flavor. This is according to VegFAQs. The glycerin in their gums are from vegetable sources. However, they use food dyes which are known to involve animal testing.
2. Is Trident Gum vegan?
The Veganism’s direct inquiry through Candy Schweppes back in 2007 indicates that Trident does carry vegan flavors. However, Trident is now under Mondelez International, who isn’t as generous with information.
I sent an inquiry to their Consumer Services, and they said that their “ingredient information is not currently available.” Their reason was, “As you can imagine our products change frequently and maintaining a list of products that contain enzymes would be virtually impossible. We apologize for any disappointment this may cause.”
Unlike most brands who know their products inside and out, Trident (or Mondelez in this case) does not seem to bother much about their ingredients in detail. So until they are able to keep track of what goes into their products, I’d say stay away from it.
3. Is Eclipse Gum vegan?
PETA lists Eclipse as a vegan gum although it didn’t include much details. I sent an inquiry through Wrigley’s to verify this, but as of now I’m still waiting for an answer.
4. Is Mentos gum vegan?
On PETA’s list, the tropical flavors of Mentos gums are vegan. However, I, of course, want to make sure so I sent my questions to the manufacturer Perfetti Van Melle. No luck with response yet, but I’ll update this article as soon as I get the answers I need.
5. Is Extra gum Halal?
6. Is Double Bubble gum vegan?
Dubble Bubble gum (or you might know it as Double Bubble) did answer my inquiry about their products:
“The DB Twist wrap (chunk) products do not contain any animal derived ingredients.
The DB gumballs contain shellac that is of animal origin. The component is listed among the ingredients as confectioners glaze. None of the products are tested on animals.”
7. Is Orbit chewing gum vegan?
Another gum brand from Wrigley, I had to ask the brand too if their gums are vegan and cruelty-free. I’ll update you on this. PETA says some of their flavors are vegan but didn’t go on to specify the flavors.
8. Is Wrigley’s chewing gum vegan?
Known for the Juicy Fruit gums, Wrigley’s is technically under the Mars company. PETA includes Juicy Fruit in their list of vegan gums but I am yet to verify this until they get back to me.
Vegan Gum Brands
This Swiss-made all-vegan gum is aspartame-free, gluten-free, nut and peanut-free, all-natural and with MSG-free flavors. Made of 100% xylitol, it is sugar-free, has no artificial flavors and colors, plus it’s non-GMO, and soy-free!
One of the best tasting vegan gums according to reviews, Simply Gum is all natural. No preservatives, no synthetics, no artificial flavors, and being biodegradable, there are no plastics in its gum base! It’s also non-GMO, Kosher, without aspartame and BHT.
It’s also pet-friendly and won’t cause an upset stomach since it has NO xylitol!
This all-natural vegan gum changes the game by adding B-vitamins and calcium to their gums. This xylitol gum does not use artificial ingredients, and is sugar-free, salt-free, soy-free and gluten-free. Its diabetic-safe ingredients also make it a unique vegan gum!
If you are allergic to latex, this is the vegan gum for you! With 100% xylitol as its sugar, this sweet treat is tooth-friendly. This Kosher gum is also made of only 5 simple ingredients! It is non-GMO, gluten-free, nut-free, with natural flavors, and no corn syrup or BHTs!
Have you ever heard of a brain-boosting gum? Check out this vegan brand that uses a nootropic formula! It’s also non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, aspartame-free, and sugar-free. If you need to be alert and want to keep your focus and energy, this is the gum to chew on!
This “100% organic, Mayan rainforest chewing gum” is not just vegan. It’s also gluten-free, Kosher, biodegradable, and sustainable.
How To Make Vegan Gum
Okay, before you try this out, let me just warn you: making chewing gums at home can be very messy!
Now if you’re up for that, then let’s begin! Here’s a gum recipe I tweaked from Instructables.
What you’ll need:
- ¼ cup chicle gum base (not for individuals with latex allergy)
- Oil flavors of your choice (try peppermint, lemon, licorice)
- Sugar syrup of choice
- Citric acid (if you’re using fruit flavors)
- Wax paper for wrapping
- Glass jar (one you’re okay to dispose of after)
- Pot for boiling water (must fit the glass jar inside)
- Utensils for stirring (ones you’re okay to dispose of after)
- Half-fill a pot with water and boil.
- Pour the pellets of gum base on the glass jar and place it inside the pot with boiling water. You can also melt it in the microwave.
- Once the gum base melts in about 20 minutes, it will be very sticky. To stir it, use a spoon that you’re okay to throw away after. The gum will stick to the glass jar and the spoon and it will be nearly impossible to clean.
- For kneading, dust your working surface (or cutting board) with sugar powder. Scoop out all the melted gum from the jar into the dusted surface and knead. Add more sugar powder as necessary until it starts to look like a loose taffy.
- Flatten the gum dough and pour the sugar syrup all over. Fold in, then pull and knead to combine everything completely.
- Use a dropper to add flavors gradually. Mix and then chew a bit of the gum to try the taste. Adjust the amount of flavor to your liking. You can also add food dye if you want.
- Once you’re happy with the taste, punch down the dough to flatten it. You can also use a rolling pin. Cut into squares or whatever shape you want.
- Wrap each in square-cut wax papers or just store in a jar or zip bag.
Commercial gums usually contain animal byproducts and ingredients that suppliers test on animals. Vegan chewing gums are not just free from all that. They’re also safer and healthier! Now that’s a no-brainer, right?
What vegan gum do you chew on? And what do you love about it? Let me know on the comment section below. And don’t forget to share this article in your favorite social media platform.