Characterized by their distinctive metal tin packaging and robust flavor, Altoids are one of the oldest mint brands that exist today. It may come as a surprise to many, but they have been around since the 18th century and were originally created as a lozenge to relieve intestinal discomfort. Interesting, isn’t it?
Altoids have come a long way since then. But are Altoids vegan?
Original Altoids aren’t vegan. They contain gelatin, which is, as we all know, an animal-derived ingredient. Sugar-free Altoids are, however, free of gelatin and considered vegan-friendly. These include Altoids Arctic and Altoids Smalls.
Having said that, all Altoids contain natural and artificial flavors, and the majority also contain artificial colors and sugar. As many of you may already know, the status of these ingredients has long been debated in the vegan community.
So, the decision to eat Altoids or not is individual and can vary from one person to another.
Let’s dig a little deeper into this topic to give you a clear idea of Altoids composition and help you make an informed decision.
What Flavors of Altoids Are Non-Vegan?
All of the Original Celebrated Curiously Strong Mints are sadly non-vegan.
Here’s a list of non-vegan Altoids flavors for your reference:
- ALTOIDS Classic Peppermint Breath Mints
- ALTOIDS Wintergreen Mints
- ALTOIDS Cinnamon Mints
- ALTOIDS Spearmint Mints
What Makes These Altoids Non-Vegan?
As mentioned earlier, Original Altoids contain gelatin, making them unsuitable for vegans.
There are also a few controversial ingredients in Altoids. These include flavors, colors, and sugar. But their presence doesn’t really matter here. The original mint candies wouldn’t be vegan even without them, as they have gelatin.
Why is Gelatin Not Vegan?
Gelatin is a sticky substance used as a thickener or gelling agent in a variety of edible and non-edible products, including skin and hair care products and cosmetics.
It’s a type of protein obtained from collagen-containing body parts of animals. The parts used include skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments, and the animals it mostly comes from are cows and pigs.
Since it comes from animals, gelatin is clearly non-vegan. Check out this short video to see (at your own discretion) how it’s made:
Are There Any Vegan Alternatives to Gelatin?
There are a few vegan alternatives to gelatin. These include:
- Agar Agar – The most popular plant-based gelatin alternative, agar agar is extracted from red algae.
- Carrageenan – A less popular plant-based alternative to gelatin, this is derived from dried red seaweed and is also referred to as Irish Moss.
- Pectin – A fiber found in many fruits, pectin is heated and combined with sugars and acids to make a gelatinous substance for use in plant-based products. In the commercial industry, pectin is most commonly obtained from apples and citrus fruits.
- Vegan Jel – Unlike the previous three natural gelatin alternatives, this is a commercial product that contains a variety of plant-based ingredients. The exact constituents of Vegan Jel can vary across brands, but they include ingredients like carrageenan, vegetable gum, dextrose, and tapioca.
What Flavors of Altoids Are Vegan?
As mentioned in the beginning, Altoids Arctic and Smalls do not contain gelatin and hence, are considered vegan-friendly. They are also sugar-free, making them a somewhat healthier alternative to regular mints.
Gelatin-free Altoids flavors include:
- ALTOIDS Arctic Peppermint Sugar-Free Mints
- ALTOIDS Arctic Strawberry
- ALTOIDS Arctic Wintergreen
- ALTOIDS Smalls Peppermint Sugar-Free Mints
- ALTOIDS Smalls Wintergreen
What Are Altoids Made of? A Quick Breakdown of Altoids Ingredients
Although there are multiple varieties of Altoids mints, all varieties in each category have more or less the same core ingredients. Let’s take a look at what they are and figure out their standing in the vegan community:
Original Altoids Ingredients
The Original Celebrated Curiously Strong Altoids contain the following common ingredients in all flavors:
Many vegans avoid refined sugar, used in commercially manufactured food items because it is processed using bone char.
Bone char is a granular material made by crushing charred animal bones.
Gum Arabic is a natural plant-based gum made from the hardened sap of the acacia tree. It’s 100% vegan. It’s also called Acacia Gum.
Altoids Original mints use both natural and artificial flavors (some contain only one of them, others have both). And for those who do not know, both are controversial ingredients in the vegan world.
The debate around natural flavors emanates from their ambiguous origin, whereas that over artificial flavors is linked with animal testing.
To further simplify it, the word ‘natural’ doesn’t specify the origin of flavors. They could be made from animal ingredients as they are natural, too.
The controversy surrounding artificial flavors is based on the evidence showing that they are tested on animals.
As discussed above, Gelatin is made from animal skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments. It’s clearly not vegan.
All Original Altoids except the Classic Peppermint Breath Mints also contain:
Artificial colors are essentially vegan. But, they are routinely tested on animals, which is why many vegans (try to) avoid them.
Altoids Cinnamon also contains:
As evident from the name, corn starch is made from corn. Its manufacturing process also doesn’t entail the use of any animal-derived ingredients. It’s 100% vegan.
Altoids Arctic Ingredients
Altoids Arctic mints are available in three flavors. Let’s take a look at their ingredients lists one by one to see what they are made of:
Due to space limitations, I will only discuss ingredients that are different from the Original Altoids
ALTOIDS Arctic Peppermint
- Sorbitol – Used as a substitute for sugar in vegetarian, vegan, and sugar-free products, sorbitol is extracted from fruits and vegetables. No animal-based items are used in its manufacturing or processing either. Therefore, it’s suitable for vegans.
- Magnesium Stearate – It’s used as a binder, lubricant, and/or anti-caking agent in food items, pharmaceuticals, and nutritional supplements. Though it’s possible to derive it from animal fats, it is not the standard practice in the modern-day food industry. Therefore, it’s considered vegan-friendly.
- Acesulfame K – This is a zero-calorie artificial sweetener made from acetoacetic acid and potassium. It does not contain any animal ingredients and hence, is vegan-friendly.
- Sucralose – It’s a synthetic sweetener made from sugar derivatives. It’s generally considered vegan as it’s free of animal ingredients.
ALTOIDS Arctic Strawberry
- Malic Acid – Although it is found in animals, too, the variety used for human consumption is either sourced from fruits or, more commonly, produced synthetically. It is vegan.
- Citric Acid – Used as a natural preservative in foods, citric acid is derived from fruits, corn, or fungus. It is 100% vegan.
- Aspartame – Aspartame is comprised of aspartic acid and phenylalanine, neither of which is sourced from animals in the commercial sector. Hence, it is considered vegan-friendly.
ALTOIDS Arctic Wintergreen
Altoids Arctic Wintergreen ingredients are the same as Altoids Arctic Peppermint, except that it doesn’t have artificial colors.
Altoids Smalls Ingredients
Altoids Smalls come in two flavors:
ALTOIDS Smalls Peppermint
Altoids Smalls Peppermint has all the same ingredients as Altoids Arctic Peppermint. This one just has more colors than the Arctic mints. Refer to the Altoids Arctic Peppermint section above for details of these ingredients.
ALTOIDS Smalls Wintergreen
The only ingredient different in Altoids Smalls Wintergreen is:
- Maltitol – It’s a sugar substitute mainly derived from corn and sometimes from wheat, maize, and tapioca. It is vegan.
The Verdict – Are Altoids Vegan-Friendly?
The Original Altoids are all non-vegan as they contain gelatin.
Altoids Arctic and Altoids Smalls are generally considered vegan-friendly, as they neither have gelatin nor sugar, which is refined using bone char. They do, however, contain added flavors and/or colors that many vegans (prefer to) avoid due to their controversial status.
So, even though they are normally classified as vegan-friendly, some hardcore vegans may avoid them. There’s, unfortunately, no universal answer.
Did you find this article helpful? Interested to learn about the vegan status of other types of mints available on the market? Check out my article Are Andes Mints Vegan to determine if these chocolate-covered mint candies are vegan-friendly.