Quick Guide to Vegetarian and Vegan Halloween Treats

Vegetarian and Vegan diets are becoming more and more popular. Because of this, there are plenty of Vegetarian and Vegan Halloween treat options available.

Maybe you’ve adopted this dietary lifestyle or someone close to you has.  Maybe you just want to make sure you can have something for every child in your neighborhood regardless of their dietary preferences.

Whatever your reason, Vegetarian and Vegan Halloween treat options are a great idea to have on hand for the holidays!

Quick Guide to Vegetarian and Vegan Halloween Treats

Vegetarian Candy

Candy is not Vegetarian if it contains ingredients derived from animal flesh. Vegetarian candy can generally contain eggs, dairy products, and milk.  If you are not sure whether your Vegetarian friend(s) still eat eggs and dairy, you may want to just opt for Vegan candy.

Examples of ingredients that are not vegetarian are:

  • Gelatin: made from boiled animal bones and tendons, especially used in gummy candies
  • Carmine: also known as “Natural Red 4”, or shellac, this natural color is made from crushed insects
  • Rennet: scraped from the inside of calf stomachs, often used in cheese making and might be used to produce whey
  • Pepsin (digestive enzyme from animals)
  • Lard (fat from pigs)
  • “E” numbers 904, 120, 542 (see below)

Vegan Candy

Candy is Vegan if it does not contain any animal parts or by-products, including milk, dairy products, honey or eggs. Some vegans also do not consume sugar that has been filtered through bone char – an animal product.

As most commercial candies do not use unfiltered (unprocessed) sugar, and do not specify whether their sugar is filtered through bone char, it might be harder to find alternatives. Look for products containing natural sugars like molasses or cane sugar.

Vegans do not eat:

  • Gelatin, carmine, rennet, pepsin, lard
  • Milk chocolate
  • Casein, whey
  • Butter
  • Lactose
  • Honey
  • Beeswax

The International Vegetarian Union (IVU) has compiled a list of “E” numbers that definitely contain animal ingredients and should be avoided, including:

  • 120 (cochineal/insects/carmine)
  • 542 (derived from bone)
  • 901 (beeswax)
  • 904 (shellac/insects)
  • 920 (L-cysteine hydro-chloride; derived from hair and feathers)

What Candies are Vegetarian/Vegan?

Candy manufacturers may change their formulas at any time; therefore, it is important to check the most updated ingredient listing on the package or by contacting the company. Keep in mind that information on the Internet might refer to specific regions or countries only. For example, Smarties are a fruit-flavored candies (and Vegan) in the United States but in Canada they are chocolates, containing lactose and milk ingredients.

Some natural colors and flavors are animal-derived. Check with the regulations in your country or with the manufacturer to determine which these are. One of the most common examples is Natural Red 4, which is actually crushed cochineal beetle.

Some candies on the Peta Vegan candy list are:

  • Airheads taffy
  • Blow pops
  • Hubba Bubba
  • Jolly Ranchers hard candy
  • Twizzlers licorice.

Spending a little bit more money or searching out more “gourmet” alternatives might yield a better chance of finding Vegan treats. For example, specialty or health food stores (including Whole Foods) usually carry gelatin-free gummy candy.

Candy Ideas and Alternatives

Looking for something other than Vegan candies to give? Look for lunchbox-sized version of Vegan treats and candies, not just those specifically made for Halloween. Some other ideas include:

  • Vegan tofu jerky
  • Raisins
  • Individually-wrapped dark chocolate
  • Lunchbox-sized cookies like Teddy Grahams

What to do if you Receive Non-Vegan / Non-Vegetarian Candy?

If sending the kids out to treat-or-treat, set the ground rules first. For example, let your child know things like: It is polite to accept all candy when trick-or-treating, but non-veg treats will be removed at home.

Once you remove the treats, consider donating this candy to charity or shelters.

Show your kids some examples of Vegan/Vegetarian candy before they leave. If choice is offered when trick-or-treating, they can them more easily choose an appropriate candy.

Also, rather than visiting neighborhoods you are not familiar with, trick-or-treat at houses of friends and family who know and support your dietary choices.

Other Vegetarian and Vegan Halloween Treat Considerations

Keep in mind that other things besides food are not Vegan.  Besides candy, face paint, masks, and leather accessories may not suit your lifestyle.

Talk to your family and friends about Vegetarian and Vegan candy. Many people would not even consider this aspect of Vegetarianism.  Or they might think it is “cruel” to deprive kids of their holiday.

Work together to find appropriate Vegan or Vegetarian alternatives.  If your neighbor or friend seems resistant to the idea of having Vegetarian and Vegan Halloween treats, then you may want to offer to supply them with a few.  They might just be unsure of what to purchase.

Remember, Halloween trick-or-treating is really for the children.  There’s no need to insist or impose a view.  If we all work together, though, and celebrate our differences in a considerate way, the holiday sure will be a lot more fun for everyone!

Barb Webb. Founder and Editor of Rural Mom, is an the author of "Getting Laid" and "Getting Baked". A sustainable living expert nesting in Appalachian Kentucky, when she’s not chasing chickens around the farm or engaging in mock Jedi battles, she’s making tea and writing about country living and artisan culture.
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