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Are Pop-Tarts Vegan?
Here’s What You Need to Know

Rafid Nassir
Published by Rafid Nassir
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: February 27, 2021

Pop-tarts conjure up warm fuzzy childhood memories, they’re a childhood snack from the past packed full of sugar and delicious flavor for the taste buds that will send the kid in you spiraling into a sugar-dizzy dance cycle.

But now you're an adult, and you've made the tough choice to eat more ethically. Can you still enjoy pop tarts? Let's take a look and find out.

Are There Any Vegan Pop-Tarts?

pop tarts in a toaster

Yes, some pop tarts are vegan. There are three flavors of pop-tart that could arguably be considered vegan.

The unfrosted strawberry pop tarts, unfrosted blueberry, and unfrosted brown sugar cinnamon flavors don't have the three main non-vegan ingredients shared amongst the rest of the brand's flavors.

However, I will point out that even these "vegan-friendly" pop-tarts still have problematic ingredients, which we will detail below.

3 Common Non-Vegan Ingredients

1. Gelatin

You expect it in candy but not in your breakfast foods. Although if we're entirely realistic about it, pop-tarts have more in common with candy than a healthy breakfast, don't they.

Gelatin, made from the liquified bone sludge of pigs and cows (mmm, yummy), is ordinary in most pop-tart flavors, being a vital component of the frostings.

This means flavors like apple cinnamon with frosting are not okay, but unfrosted flavors like brown sugar cinnamon might be.

2. Milk

You can find dairy milk and whey powder in several pop-tart flavors such as chocolate chip, strawberry milkshake, and the holy grail s'mores variety.

While the world has moved away to cheaper and healthier alternatives, it seems pop-tarts just can't quit that blood and puss-filled moo juice.

3. Egg Whites

Egg whites feature in all of the chocolatey flavors of pop-tarts such as the chocolate chip cookie dough. Whilst chicken periods have no apparent reason for inclusion as they don't feature in the batter mix of any other flavor, they are deemed necessary in all chocolate frostings.

We can only assume the use of egg whites is some sort of textural choice.

4 Problematic Non-Vegan Ingredients

sugar, artificial flavor, palm oil

Unfortunately, even the "vegan-friendly" have some problematic ingredients that the more ethical vegan will at least want to make a note of before scoffing the whole box.

1. Palm Oil

While it is plant-based, palm oil is not considered a vegan product by most due to the widespread environmental harm it causes. Palm oil farming is directly responsible for large swathes of deforestation and habitat loss for millions of animals, the orangutan being the unfortunate and heartbreaking poster child for the horrible and unregulated palm oil industry. [1]

2. Artificial Colors

Artificial colors have to be routinely tested on animals to meet and pass FDA regulations. It is not a one-and-done kind of deal; their use in foods and drinks means the continued misery and torture of animals from mice to dogs. This brutal truth flies in the face of all the scientific voices who claim that the data provided isn't even useful. [2]

3. Natural Flavors

While you would hope that the natural flavor included in the unfrosted berry filling pop-tart comes from a blueberry, unfortunately, you can never be sure about colors and natural flavors. Hiding behind such broad terms always raises an eyebrow for me, and the fact is that as many natural flavors are plant-based as are animal-based, and it's not a risk I'd be willing to take.

4. Sugar

At this point, I've written about the non-vegan nature of some granulated sugar enough that I sometimes forget it's not common knowledge. Refined white sugar is known to use animal bone char during the refining process to whiten the sugar. You can avoid this by buying brown organic or unrefined sugars, but you can never be sure if you see it in an ingredient list.

Are There Vegan Pop-Tart Alternatives?

When even the "vegan" pop-tarts aren't that vegan, you might be thinking, well, is there an alternative? Smart thinking, you're finally adapting to the vegan mindset; there is an excellent vegan alternative that is healthier and still just as delicious - Bobo's Toaster Pastry.

I stumbled across these vegan pop-tart alternatives while researching for this article and immediately bought myself a box. If you want my honest review, I can tell you that they are sufficiently moreish and tasty enough that I have to put them in a hard-to-reach spot so that I don't overindulge.

With a wide variety of different delicious flavors to choose from and all of which are gluten-free and vegan, you can munch away without having to make concessions or feeling guilty.

Similar Post: Are all Girl Scout Cookies Vegan?

FAQs

Are Pop-Tarts Egg Free?

No, while there are a few that are egg-free, several flavors (specifically the chocolate-based ones) contain egg.

Are There Any Pop-Tarts Without Gelatin?

Yes, some of the unfrosted pop tarts are gelatin-free—specifically the unfrosted blueberry, unfrosted strawberry, and unfrosted brown sugar cinnamon flavors.

Are Pop-Tarts Vegan?

No, Pop-Tarts are not vegan. Even the more vegan-friendly unfrosted varieties still have too many non-vegan ingredients to ignore.

Luckily there is an alternative, and it's easily as good as if not better than the original. Bobo's Toaster Pastries serve up that simple nostalgic sugar rush without the actual sugar. They're a healthier and completely vegan alternative to Pop-Tarts, and I can't recommend them enough.

Have you got any recipes for homemade vegan toaster tarts or do you have a favorite vegan alternative yourself? Let us know in the comments below.

References:

  1. https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/topics/palm-oil#start
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4594046

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