What Are Vegan Lollies?
Vegan lollies are a delicious, plant-based alternative to traditional lollies or candies that we might already be familiar with. But, did you know that several well-known confectioners in Australia make lollies that are already vegan? Some manufacturers identify these as 'accidentally' vegan, as the ingredients simply don't contain any animal products as it stands. As long as there's no gelatin, egg, butter, milk, cream (any dairy) or other animal-derived ingredients, you're good to go.
People who choose vegan products often do so for ethical purposes such as opting out of animal consumption, but vegan lollies can be enjoyed by everyone. Vegan lollies come in all shapes and sizes and can offer an amazing treat that isn't just tasty but also ethically conscious.
Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons of vegan lollies, learn if they're good for you and determine if your vegan lolly is *actually* vegan.
Are Vegan Lollies Better For You?
When considering vegan lollies, nutrition as well as non-animal derived ingredients are crucial factors. Just because there are no animal products in it, doesn't automatically make it healthier for you. You’ll want to look for treats that don’t contain fake ingredients or other processed additives, as it can be difficult for your body to break down and digest them. If you’re looking for something truly healthy, go for a lolly that is made with natural, plant-based ingredients like fruit juice and natural colours.
What To Look Out For When Choosing Vegan Lollies
Australians are quite partial to lollies and proudly boast some of the best local confectionery products that are enjoyed here and exported worldwide.
These days, there's an increased need to provide a wider range of confectioneries that suit people with varying dietary needs. It's common to find gluten-free, sugar-free and preservative-free alternatives to some household favourites. Now, with more companies also producing vegan options for sweets, Aussies can have access to a wide selection of treats suitable for everyone.
However, just because it's vegan doesn't always mean it's better for you. In place of ingredients like gelatin and natural colours or flavours, there can be double the sugar and even a chemical cocktail of ingredients to make up for it.
So, if a vegan lolly option is important to you, double-check the ingredients list to make sure that the overall product is as healthy as it can be, as far as lollies go. Beware of a vegan lolly (or vegan food generally) that's posing as a health food, but is actually an artificial frankenfood in disguise.
That said, there’s some ingredients to look out for if you want to make a clear vegan choice in your sweet treats. You may be shocked to learn that many of your favourite confectioneries have animal products in them, without you even realising it.
Here are some commonly found animal products in lollies, confectionery, chocolates and treats to look out for.
Anything with a distinctive 'bounce' to it and a decent chew to follow will more than likely contain gelatin. Gelatin is an animal-derived protein made from collagen extracted from the bones and connective tissues of animals. When heated, gelatin becomes a thick, sticky solution which helps to give food its unique shape and texture. Gelatin is used in a variety of food products, including jellies, jube lollies, marshmallows, gummy bears and other sweets.
To bypass the need for gelatin, some brands use products like carrageenan, glucose syrup, high-fructose corn syrup or algae called agar to give a similar result in the final food product. Is it healthier? Perhaps not. But if there is a clear absence of gelatin, you can be confident it is vegan and make a choice accordingly.
Egg is, of course, an animal product from our feathery chicken friends. It's usually clearly labelled in foods, as it’s also a known allergen. Therefore it's easy to see if your vegan lollies have any egg in them. Egg can be used to produce a glaze or shine on lollies, chocolate bars, cakes and similar baked goods. This particular ingredient can also be identified as albumin (egg white), so it pays to be vigilant when reading the labels on your vegan lollies.
Carmine and Cochineal
Carmine is a red or pink food colouring that's derived from the shells of the female cochineal insect. This is one of those ingredients that's ubiquitous in different processed foods, so if you're looking to buy vegan lollies, steer clear of any containing carmine or cochineal ingredients. It's also labelled as the food colouring E120 or Natural Red 4 and while it's a natural food dye, it's actually not vegan.
On the other side of the coin, artificial colours aren't a great alternative in terms of health outcomes. While they might be vegan, they're also linked to an increased incidence of allergic reactions (hypersensitivity), particularly in children.
Once you become a discerning consumer, you're constantly scouring the back labels to read the nutrition panel and ingredients list. It's important to be informed about what's in the food you eat, if for no other reason than to make sure you can take responsibility for your choices as a consumer.
In most cases, vegan-friendly lollies will contain natural colourings instead, such as beetroot powder, spirulina or turmeric. These ingredients are definitely vegan and yes, definitely better for you.
Honey and Beeswax
It's important to remember that honey is an animal by-product, as bees are animals. As such, any lollies containing honey won't be considered vegan. Likewise, if a product contains beeswax then it cannot be classified as vegan either. Beeswax is a type of wax created by honeybees and can be used as a thickening agent in various food products.
To replace these ingredients in lollies, some companies use vegetable waxes like carnauba or candelilla, as a vegan-friendly alternative to beeswax. Similarly, sugar, maple syrup or glucose are sometimes substituted in place of honey as vegan sweeteners.
Dairy (butter, cream and milk)
This one may be obvious, but it's worth mentioning to satisfy a vegan-friendly ingredients list. Milk, cream and butter are all animal-derived products, so it's important to check that your vegan lollies don't contain any of these ingredients. Also, look out for any milk solids or derivatives, as these will indicate that dairy is present in the product.
Thankfully, most confectioners now offer a range of vegan alternatives to dairy ingredients. These include plant-based milks like soy, oat or nut milk, or coconut cream and coconut milk. If you want to guarantee that your vegan lollies are 100% free from animal-derived products, it's worth checking the product label again to be sure.
What Sweeteners Are Found In Vegan Lollies?
Just like regular lollies, the sweeteners used in vegan lollies can vary. Typical sweeteners can range from refined or raw cane sugar (which is plant-based, conveniently!) all the way up to sugar alcohols like sorbitol and mannitol. Other sweetening agents found in vegan lollies may include agave nectar, maple syrup, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, fruit concentrates and purees (such as apple or pear concentrates). Many vegan lollies also offer other sugar alternatives or natural sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, yacon syrup and xylitol.
The brain chemistry related to sweet foods is complex. Some research indicates that consuming sugar changes something called the 'hunger-satiety continuum'. This concept explains the constant desire to keep eating sugary sweet foods, well over and above a reasonable amount. Our 'fullness' signal fails to be sufficiently switched on with sweet food, and instead the body is stimulated to just keep eating. Therefore, it's important to be mindful of this phenomenon when enjoying the occasional sweet treat, including vegan lollies. Read more about sugar and sugar substitutes in this ultimate guide to sugar article, here.
Above anything else, it's important to avoid artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin, sucralose (splenda) and aspartame . Plenty of evidence shows that these chemical sweeteners can cause allergies, immune impairment, microbiome disturbances and even cancer. Fortunately, most high-quality vegan lollies skip these harmful ingredients in favour of natural sweeteners.
Where to find a wide range of vegan lollies
If you're looking for a wide selection of vegan-friendly lollies, your best bet is to head to your local health food store, gourmet food store or international food store. Many of these stores now stock a range of vegan lollies, which are also perfect for those with dairy or gluten sensitivities. You can also find vegan lollies at many supermarkets as well as online.
Here are some more incredibly delicious and totally vegan sweet treat options to consider:
- Make your own vegan chocolate with premium-quality Callebaut vegan chocolate drops
- Try an all-natural and utterly delicious chocolate hazelnut spread, straight from the jar!
- Indulge in a vegan-friendly treat with these chocolate freeze-dried raspberries
Today, there are so many delicious vegan lollies on the market, it's hard to know where to start!
Ensure Your Vegan Lollies Are High Quality
When it comes to vegan lollies the taste is important (obviously!), but you also want to make sure the ingredients are up to scratch too. Look for natural and organic ingredients that come from reliable suppliers. Also make sure there are no hidden nasties like preservatives, artificial colours or flavours, and hydrogenated oils. This way, you’ll get a quality vegan product every time.
Also keep an eye out for delicious inclusions like real fruit pieces, dried fruit, nuts and seeds. It's a good sign if you can recognise all of the ingredients on the label. By taking the time to find vegan lollies made with quality ingredients, you can be confident your treat is a guilt-free one.
Whether you're looking for a delicious fruity flavour or something rich and chocolatey, there's definitely a vegan lolly out there for you. Go forth, vegan lolly lovers and enjoy your sweet spoils!
Vegan Lollies - Frequently Asked Questions
Are all lollies vegan?
Not all lollies are vegan as some may contain animal-derived ingredients like honey, beeswax, milk and cream. To ensure that your lolly is vegan-friendly, look for a product with an ingredient list made up of plant-based items.
Are vegan lollies healthy?
Vegan lollies are typically made with healthier ingredients like natural sugars, fruit purees and plant-based milks. However, as with all types of food, it's important to remember that moderation is key. Enjoy your vegan lollies in moderation and opt for higher quality, organic products whenever possible.
Are vegan lollies gluten-free?
Not all vegan lollies are free from gluten as some may contain wheat-derived ingredients like flour or barley malt extract. Check the product label carefully to ensure that it is gluten-free, or contact the manufacturer directly if you have any doubts.
Are vegan lollies safe for people with allergies?
It is always important to check the product label carefully when purchasing vegan lollies, as some may contain allergens like dairy, nuts and wheat. Similarly, plenty of lollies may still have sulphites or other preservatives to maintain their shelf life. This may be especially true if the product contains dried fruit. If you or someone in your family has an allergy, contact the manufacturer directly for more information.
Where can I find vegan lollies?
You can find vegan lollies at health food stores, gourmet food stores, pantry suppliers and international food stores. Many supermarkets now also stock vegan-friendly lollies, as do some online retailers.
With all these delicious vegan lolly options, you can indulge your sweet tooth without guilt. Just be sure to check the ingredients list and opt for products made with natural, organic ingredients. Enjoy.
Abou-Donia, M. B., El-Masry, E. M., Abdel-Rahman, A. A., McLendon, R. E., & Schiffman, S. S. (2008). Splenda alters gut microflora and increases intestinal p-glycoprotein and cytochrome p-450 in male rats. Journal of toxicology and environmental health. Part A, 71(21), 1415–1429. https://doi.org/10.1080/15287390802328630
Landrigan, P. J., & Straif, K. (2021). Aspartame and cancer - new evidence for causation. Environmental health : a global access science source, 20(1), 42. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12940-021-00725-y
Matsyura, O., Besh, L., Besh, O., Troyanovska, O., & Slyuzar, Z. (2020). HYPERSENSITIVITY REACTIONS TO FOOD ADDITIVES IN PEDIATRIC PRACTICE: TWO CLINICAL CASES. Georgian medical news, (307), 91–95.
Olszewski, P. K., Wood, E. L., Klockars, A., & Levine, A. S. (2019). Excessive Consumption of Sugar: an Insatiable Drive for Reward. Current nutrition reports, 8(2), 120–128. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13668-019-0270-5
Peteliuk, V., Rybchuk, L., Bayliak, M., Storey, K. B., & Lushchak, O. (2021). Natural sweetener Stevia rebaudiana: Functionalities, health benefits and potential risks. EXCLI journal, 20, 1412–1430. https://doi.org/10.17179/excli2021-4211
Song, X., Chiou, B. S., Xia, Y., Chen, M., Liu, F., & Zhong, F. (2022). The improvement of texture properties and storage stability for kappa carrageenan in developing vegan gummy candies. Journal of the science of food and agriculture, 102(9), 3693–3702. https://doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.11716