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October 23, 2020

Are Jelly Belly Jelly Beans Vegan?
The Complete Guide

Rafid Nassir
Published by Rafid Nassir
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED

Eating jelly beans is like eating a rainbow; they are as delicious as they are colorful.

Whether you're a kid or a terrible president trying to give up a nasty pipe smoking habit (ReagaNOMics), they're an irresistible treat. Some say addictive, even.

But are jelly beans vegan?

Or to be even more precise: Are the famous Jelly Belly jelly beans vegan - and if not, why?

Stick around and we'll answer all these chewy, fruity questions and also find out what are some of the vegan-friendly alternatives in today’s jelly bean market.

Are Jelly Beans Vegan?

Sadly, no. Jelly Belly jelly beans contain both shellac and beeswax, which technically make it non-vegan. It is easy to get confused as they are gelatin free and labeled vegetarian-friendly.

While beeswax and shellac are not vegan ingredients, there are also some other problematic ingredients mixed in the formula, such as sugar, artificial flavorings, and coloring.

Related post: Are Nerds Vegan?

Are Jelly Belly Jelly Beans Vegetarian?

Since they don't contain gelatin, yes, they can be considered vegetarian. In fact, Jelly Belly even claims to be vegetarian on the packaging.

But a lot depends on where you draw the line. There is no way to produce shellac without the death of many female beetles as you collect the resin [1].

The same is true of beeswax, and while it is possible to collect it humanely, some industrial manufacturers tend to uphold cruel practices to ensure greater production [2].

Although the label states there aren't any trace amounts of animals in the product, for some people, it is still not enough to prevent them from raising their eyebrows.

Jelly Belly Ingredients List

Jelly Belly is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. They've been the bean of choice for many ever since the Jelly Belly Candy Company was founded way back in 1898.

What is a bit shocking is that they haven't managed to develop a vegan version of their signature sweet -and the ingredients list proves that claim:

Sugar, Corn Syrup, Modified Food Starch, and the product contains 2% or less of the following: Citric Acid, Fumaric Acid, Lactic Acid, Malic Acid, Phosphoric Acid, Sodium Lactate, Sodium Citrate, Natural And Artificial Flavors, Color Added, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5 & 6 Lake, Blue 1 & 2 Lake, Yellow 5 & 6, Red 40, Blue 1 & 2, Turmeric (Color), Vegetable And Fruit Juice (Color), Tapioca Dextrin, Vanilla Beans, Beeswax, Carnauba Wax, Confectioner's Glaze, Salt, Caffeine.

Controversial Ingredients to Watch Out For

Sugar

Vegans don't just avoid sugar for their health. A lot of raw cane sugar is processed using bone char to achieve that "authentic" pure white hue [3].

While there might not be any actual bone particles in the product itself, a true vegan would avoid the substance as much as possible anyway.

Why? Well, if you check the label, you notice it says "sugar" and not "the good kind of sugar that doesn't use bone char whitening."

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Natural & Artificial Flavorings

This ingredient is a bit confusing to examine since there are natural and artificial flavorings that are animal-based, just as there are plenty of those which are plant-based.

Given the vegetarian label, we'll assume these jelly beans contain flavors made of plants and not that naughty non-vegan kind.

But this goes to show why vegans like small and simple ingredients lists and typically prefer to avoid candy products [4].

Colorings

food coloring

There are a lot of food colorings out there which, at first glance, can be considered vegan.

Fortunately for Jelly Belly, they aren't made from crushed up beetles or the blood of lemmings. In fact, the formula has no animal-based colorings.

But the dealbreaker is the fact that the animals were force-fed the chemicals while they were safety tested. Like Blue No 1, which for some reason, they had to find out the exact chemical dosage enough to kill a beagle [5].

Although most people label it as "non vegan," testing on and potentially killing animals is anything but ethical.

Vegan Friendly Jelly Beans

While Jelly Belly might not be vegan friendly, there are plenty of vegan jelly beans out that don't rely on beeswax and confectioners glaze to coat their jelly beans.

So don't fret you can still grab a handful of chewy fruity goodness even if you prefer not to have the blood of bees, beagles, and beetles on your conscience.

Jolly Rancher's Jelly Beans

Jolly Ranchers are famous for serving up big fruity flavors, and the same is true for their outrageously morish jelly beans.

Whether deliberate or accidental, the jelly beans ingredients are delightfully free of anything problematic, and they still get that beautiful shine from carnauba wax.

And if you’re curious about flavors, they got them all: orange, strawberry, grape, watermelon, apple, blue raspberry, you name it.

Warheads Sour Jelly Beans

warheads sour jelly

I don't know about you, but I love sour sweets. I remember being a little boy and competing with friends to see who could handle the most, which must have been hilarious to anyone watching us all gathered around with puckered up lemon faces.

Is there a scale rating for sour? I mean, there’s Scoville for spicy foods, but whatever it is for sour, Warheads Sour Jelly Beans are way up on it.

Best of all, they're vegan! Can you handle their mouth-watering vegan tang?

Wonka Nerds Bumpy Jelly Beans

wonka nerds

Wonka Nerds Bumpy Jelly Beans are made from a crunchy outer shell, which is way more texturally satisfying - and most importantly, completely vegan.

Once you crunch through the outer layer, you are treated to a chewy fruity center full of flavor.

They may be "crunchy' n' chewy, bumpy' n' lumpy, tangy' n 'sweet" but unfortunately the only downside is that they are limited to just four flavors: orange, lemon, strawberry, and grape

YumEarth Organic Sour Beans

yum earth

Are they a vegan health supplement or vegan jelly beans? Well, they are definitely meant to be candy, but YumEarth Organic Sour Jelly Beans contain 100% of your daily dose of vitamin C.

The fact that you'll most likely want to eat more than the recommended dose is a testament to these jelly beans' taste.

They are made with real fruit juice and all-natural flavoring - and yet they feel much, much naughtier.

 

Here are some vegan junk food essentials you'll want to keep in stash:

You already know that soda and the food from the list above are perfect combinations. But first, you should check which popular drinks are vegan first.

Final Words

Whether this article has entirely put you off anything sugar based or introduced you to your new favorite "vegan" candy, at least we hope it's been informative.

The answer to the question: “are jelly beans vegan?” is often a resounding issue. Luckily, there are a few brands that are trying harder to be vegan-friendly than others


References:

  1. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-is-shellac-not-vegan-127609
  2. https://www.peta.org/about-peta/faq/whats-wrong-with-beeswax/
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/refined-sugar
  4. https://www.happycow.net/blog/vegan-beware-natural-flavorings-and-other-hidden-animal-sources-in-your-food-supply/
  5. https://www.yourdailyvegan.com/2011/10/warning-what-you-dont-know-about-food-colors/

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Rafid Nassir is a health and fitness fanatic, with the main aim of maximising muscle mass and minimising body fat, with as little time investment as possible.
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