Vegan & vegetarian sweets in the UK
Vegan sweets? Why wouldn’t sweets be vegan or vegetarian, we hear you ask?
Disgustingly, some sweets recipes actually contain animal and insect-derived ingredients like carmine (also called Cochineal – a red colouring derived from beetle shells!), beeswax and the nastiest of nasties: gelatine. Gelatine is the skin and connective tissue of, typically, pigs or cows that’s heat treated and often dyed bright colours to make it appear more attractive. Thankfully though there are plenty of sweets on the market today that are vegan and vegetarian friendly. You can find all these vegan sweets in Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and other major UK supermarkets.
Are Starburst vegan? Yes they are! Formally known as Opal Fruits (whoop out loud if you’re an old school sweet connoisseur who remembers that name?!), Starburst are made with concentrated fruit juice and they are as sweet and as tangy as they are chewy. These sweets make it a tough job not to eat the whole packet in one go!
Millions are chewy little nuggets of joy that are approved by The Vegetarian Society and are also suitable for vegans (apart from Chocolate Strawberry flavour). They come in a range of flavours, from Bubblegum to Vimto, and can be bought for as little as 30p. There are large jars available online and multipacks so you can try most of the flavours in one go.
Haribo – Sour Rainbow Strips
Haribo are not known for their extensive range of gelatine-free sweets, but these strips are just that: fizzy fruit-flavoured gums that are made with real fruit extracts and no animal by-products. The most fun part of these sweets is that the rainbow coloured sections are reelable – try not to peel them apart section by section!
These sweets are a real blast from the past and fondly remembered by many a British schoolchild. For those who haven’t tasted their uniqueness, they are a papery-textured (nicer than it sounds), brightly-coloured, spaceship-shaped sweet that melt in your mouth revealing a fizzy, powdery, sherbet inside. Sainsbury’s now use colourings such as Beetroot Red and Curcumin to naturally colour their version of these uniquely funky sweets.
Love hearts have to be vegan as veganism is all about love! The production of Love Hearts began in the UK in the fifties, and they’re an updated version of the Victorian Conversation Lozenge which were typically adorned with more serious sounding messages such as “Honour your parents” or “Can you polka?’’. Nowadays, Love Hearts have an almost cult status for their modern and tongue-in-cheek messages, coupled with an eye-catching look and even the ability to personalise them for special occasions like weddings.
Jelly Tots could win ‘the cutest name of all sweets’ award, we think. They’re equally cute looking too, being small, squishy drops of sugar coated roundness. They come in five flavours: blackcurrant, strawberry, lemon, lime and orange and offer a moment of child-like playfulness, whatever your age.
Who grew up in the nineties (or before) and didn’t regularly pick out a Sherbet Fountain from the pick n’ mix section of their local newsagents/school tuck shop/ice cream van? This sweet is a classic! With its sweet liquorice stick to dip in the fizzy sherbet the combination is, well, a classic. Best of all, it’s vegan too.
Skittles are now suitable for vegans as the manufacturers Wrigley’s recently removed E120, or beetle-derived Cochineal, from the red sweets. They are also gelatine-free and contain natural and artificial colourings. They come in a range of flavours, such as: Wild Berry, Sour, Tropical and Orchards. Although the classic flavour is by far the most popular in the UK.
Goody Good Stuff
Goody Good Stuff is a free-from company that specialise in yummy gummy sweets. They use plant-derived technology, which eliminates the need for gelatine. In addition, the company have taken out artificial colours and flavours and have removed all allergens such as gluten, lactose and nuts to create a product that is suitable for vegans. The range includes everything from Fizzy Cola Bottles to Sweet Summer Peaches and Sour Mix Match. The sweets can be bought from Holland and Barrett and most larger Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s.
To complete this list of vegan sweets, we’ve included a hard-boiled sweet. Whilst by no means the favourite sweet of the masses, it has its plus points. The main one being that you can suck on them for ages without gorging yourself! Fruit sherbets are that lovely combination of hard outer shell and fizzy inside, that typically come in flavours such as lemon or strawberry. They can be found in most commercial UK supermarkets and Morrison’s list their brand of fruit sherbets as vegan friendly.
If you have any other vegan sweet favourites, please let us know in the comments below!
By Laura Elizabeth Tomlinson.