With so many M&M flavors, it was only a matter of time before we started wondering if any of them are vegan. Find out why M&M's are not vegan and what alternatives exist that are!
When you are vegan, it's important to consider all aspects of a food before consuming it.
For example, with regard to M&M’s: What type of food coloring do they use? Does the product have cow's milk in it? Is the chocolate being used fair trade?
Knowing these things before purchasing is an important part of living the vegan lifestyle.
At the same time, so is knowing where to find the alternatives if they aren’t vegan.
So are M&M’s vegan? No.
Are there alternatives? Yes!
Keep scrolling to learn more about what makes M&M’s not vegan and some amazing alternatives to try…
Why M&Ms aren’t vegan
When living a vegan lifestyle, your diet consists of food without any animal or animal byproducts in it.
For vegans, this means no dairy products, eggs or honey.
With that being said, the primary reason that the answer is ‘no’ to your question ‘Are M&Ms vegan?’ is because of the milk chocolate, the key ingredient for which is skim milk.
Of course, skim milk as an ingredient takes M&M’s out of the vegan category, but there's more to know about what's in these candies.
Ingredients in M&Ms
According to the M&M's website, the official ingredient list for regular M&M’s are:
- Milk Chocolate (sugar, chocolate, skim milk, cocoa butter, lactose, milk fat, salt, soy lecithin, salt, artificial and natural flavor)
And less than 1% of the following:
- Corn Syrup
- Artificial Colors (Blue 1 Lake, Yellow 6, Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Yellow 6 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Blue 2)
- Carnauba wax
- Gum Acacia
As you can see, "natural flavor" is one of the ingredients listed above. Have you ever wonder what it means when a package says “natural flavors?”
One little secret that is kept from many is that natural flavor may not be vegan. In fact, natural flavor is often an umbrella term describing several ingredients which can either be derived from a plant or animal source, and therefore, may not be vegan.
It’s so sneaky, it makes you wonder why it isn’t categorized as artificial flavors.
What about other M&M flavors?
Just like the regular M&M's, there are so many other flavors, none of the other flavors are vegan.
Milk products are the primary reason for M&M’s not qualifying as vegan, and this goes for any flavor variation of M&M’s…including crispy M&M, peanut butter M&M, peanut M&M, and even dark chocolate M&M’s (bummer).
In addition to M&M’s containing dairy, those colorful shells that help the chocolate “melt in your mouth, not in your hand” are also to blame.
While dairy is the main reason why this candy is not considered vegan, the artificial coloring on the candy coated shell is another ingredient that most vegans avoid.
This is because the amount of chemicals required to turn the chocolate shell into a bright color is continuously tested on animals.
Therefore, ethical vegans should avoid artificial coloring like the ones used on M&M’s (source).
Some flavors also contain palm oil, which is a controversial ingredient in the vegan community due to sustainability issues.
However, many companies are recognizing the need to switch to using sustainably-sourced palm oil.
Are M&Ms approved on a vegetarian diet?
Although it’s clear M&Ms contain non-vegan ingredients, vegetarians do not eliminate all of the same foods.
While they do not eat meat or fish, many consume dairy, eggs, honey, and other animal byproducts
From looking at the ingredient list (in the United States), it appears that M&Ms would be considered vegetarian-friendly as skim milk, lactose and milkfat are the only animal-derived ingredients.
Keep scrolling for the best vegan alternatives of the popular candy...
Vegan alternatives to M&Ms
Just because M&M’s are off of the list of approved vegan sweet treats doesn’t mean you can’t indulge from time to time!
Luckily there are plenty of other vegan candies that can satisfy your sweet tooth.
Here are a few vegan options that are sure to cure any sugar cravings:
Unreal Dark Chocolate Peanut Gems
They also come in a crispy quinoa flavor.
If you are looking for M&M's for their bright colors and hard candy shell as a way to decorate a vegan dessert, then this chocolate candy is the best alternative.
Unreal also has other candy options that are technically vegan including chocolate bars as well as peanut butter cups for those vegans craving the flavor of Reese's peanut butter cups.
My daughter’s favorite by this brand happens to be the dark chocolate almond cups which are made with almond butter instead of peanut butter.
Choco No No's
Complete with a fun name, these M&M alternatives are made by the popular vegan company, No Whey Foods. These vegan chocolates make the perfect replacement for any M&M needs in your life.
It is worth noting that this company works hard to avoid any of the top major allergens, so if that is your primary reason for trying a vegan diet, then this is a safe treat for you and your family.
In addition to being dairy and egg-free, Choco No No’s Are:
These M&M-style chocolate candies come in chocolate and peppermint flavors.
And the company has a variety of other candy options.
Next on the list of vegan M&M alternatives are these bite-size delights.
Made by YumEarth, these vegan M&M-like candies are allergy-friendly and tasty too.
They're available in chocolate, mint, and crisped quinoa.
Though not technically an alternative to M&M’s and not even chocolate, just hear me out on this one as this childhood favorite is considered vegan-friendly.
Without the use of gelatin, this candy will satisfy your sweet tooth while also being fat-free.
So, if it’s something sweet you crave, not necessarily chocolate, Swedish Fish might just fit the bill.
One of the best ways to avoid artificial ingredients and artificial colorings?
Try some fruit for dessert!
Dried fruit like plums or pineapple is sweet, simple, and with no animal ingredients, completely vegan.
M&M's aren't vegan, but...
If you are vegan, lactose intolerant, or avoid dairy for whatever reason, there are plenty of candies to satisfy your sweet tooth other than M&Ms.
Whether you are looking for the crunchy sweet taste that an M&M has or need a colorful topping for a rainbow cake, you can find some incredible alternatives out there.
Now go grab a delicious vegan alternative to treat yourself with.
More vegan resources
- Is cocoa butter vegan?
- Are Oreos vegan?
- Are pretzels vegan?
- How to use aquafaba
- Vegan egg replacements for cake mix
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