Mint and chocolate is a timeless combination that combines the rich earthy notes of cocoa with the bright, refreshing notes of peppermint.
Andes Mints are one of the oldest mint-chocolate candies in the country. They were first sold at a small chocolate shop in Chicago in 1921. Today, the brand is owned by the Tootsie company and Andes Mints are sold worldwide.
Are Andes Mints vegan, though?
Unfortunately, Andes Mints are NOT vegan. Although they’re made with mostly natural ingredients, all Andes Mints flavors are made with one or more dairy by-products.
Andes Mints are also made with refined sugar and palm oil, two products that many vegans boycott for ethical reasons.
Today, I’ll give you a little bit more background about these classic mint-chocolate squares and show you all of the ingredients used to make them so you know why they’re not vegan.
Let’s take a look!
Do Andes Mints Contain Dairy?
Sadly, vegans have to avoid a lot of popular candy brands due to their dairy content. Milk chocolate (which contains milk) is the most common culprit, as it’s used for candy bars and other chocolatey snacks.
Andes Mints contain a high concentration of dairy products, which makes them unsuitable for both vegans and lactose-intolerant dieters.
Currently, over 68% of the world’s population is lactose-intolerant. Of course, the severity ranges from one person to another. Some individuals simply experience a bit of gassiness or indigestion after consuming dairy, while others double over with severe stomach pain and inflammation.
The reality is that most humans, as a whole, naturally become lactose intolerant as they age.
Our bodies produce high amounts of enzymes to break down lactose when we’re babies and young children. This is what helps us process our mother’s milk. However, once we pass age four, our bodies gradually produce fewer of these lactose-dissolving enzymes.
This is what leads to indigestion and stomach issues. Our body is just resisting something that it can’t break down.
Are Andes Mints Gluten-Free?
I’ve met a number of vegans who also have an intolerance to gluten. Gluten is a small protein that’s found within wheat, rye, barley, and triticale. These are the primary grains that are used to make bread, chips, crackers, wafers, crunchy candy, and more.
Andes Mints are gluten-free, as they contain no wheat or grain by-products.
Don’t get excited, though. Andes Mints are still non-vegan due to the dairy, palm oil, and refined sugar they contain.
What Are Andes Mints Made Of? A Look At The Ingredients
Compared to some of the other candy bars that I’ve reviewed, Andes Mints are made with relatively few ingredients. They don’t have a lot of artificial preservatives or flavor additives. Even though they’re not vegan, it’s still a good idea to familiarize yourself with the ingredients.
These same ingredients are also used for other non-vegan candy. Knowing what they are will help you avoid them in the future!
Like countless other candy brands, sugar is the number one ingredient in Andes Mints. Unlike dark chocolate products (which often contain a high ratio of chocolate to sugar), Andes Mints have a sweeter flavor profile that makes them more appealing to the masses.
Sugar is a highly-debated additive in the vegan community. Almost everybody can agree that sugar isn’t healthy. However, many first-time vegans are also surprised to learn that not all sugar is vegan.
In fact, the majority of refined white sugar used in candy and other products is non-vegan.
To be fair, all sugar starts off as vegan-friendly. Cane sugar is what’s left over when the water is evaporated from sugarcane juice.
Natural cane sugar (which is unrefined) is used in a number of vegan cereal brands, candies, and other plant-based snacks.
To turn natural cane sugar into more concentrated white sugar, though, sugar refineries filter the organic crystals through bone char filters. This process removes the excess plant matter, leaving only pure sugar crystals behind.
Unfortunately, bone char is not vegan-friendly, as it’s quite literally made from animal bones.
2) Palm Oil
Palm oil is another common candy additive that most vegans try to avoid. Even though it technically counts as a “plant-based” oil, the palm oil industry itself goes against what most vegans stand for.
It would be one thing if commercial palm oil farms had respect for the environment. However, most commercial palm oil farms are located in Brazil or Indonesia, where they can bribe officials to look the other way while they burn down the rainforest to make room for more crops.
This flagrant destruction of the rainforest not only threatens our planet’s natural air filter but also endangers animal species that are already threatened by human expansion.
Cocoa is the main ingredient used to make chocolate. It’s a pure plant-based powder that’s made from grinding dried cocoa beans into a fine powder. Cocoa is always vegan-friendly and is used in a number of vegan treats!
4) Nonfat Milk
When sugar and milk are added to cocoa, the resulting mixture is milk chocolate. Milk makes for smoother, creamier-tasting chocolate, which is desirable for candy. Unfortunately, milk (nonfat or otherwise) isn’t vegan.
Lactose is a special type of sugar that’s only found in milk. Lactose powder is often added to candy, and powdered drink mixes as a natural sweetener. This sweetener pairs particularly well with milk chocolate, which is why it’s used here.
Unfortunately, lactose is still a dairy product, which makes it non-vegan.
6) Milk Protein Concentrate
Concentrated milk protein (otherwise known as whey protein) is used to thicken the chocolate and helps all of the ingredients mix well together. Just like lactose, though, milk protein is non-vegan.
Check out this video to see exactly how Andes Mints are made:
7) Soy Lecithin
Soy lecithin is a common food additive that serves as both an emulsifier and a preservative. Basically, it keeps the mint and the chocolate separated and prevents them from melting into each other.
Soy lecithin is a soy-derived product, which means that it’s plant-based. However, it’s also a highly processed ingredient that’s not all that great for our digestive system.
8) Natural & Artificial Flavors
Andes Mints are made with a number of natural and artificial flavors. The company isn’t required to disclose these flavors, as they’re protected by the brand’s trademark.
9) Peppermint Oil
The sharp mint flavor that everybody adores Andes Mints for is the result of added peppermint oil. Peppermint oil is a highly concentrated extract of mint leaves that’s known for its strong taste. Without it, Andes Mints wouldn’t be Andes Mints.
10) Artificial Colors
Last but not least, Andes Mints contain some artificial colors, specifically yellow 5 lake and blue 1 lake. When combined, these two colors form green.
Peppermint oil, by itself, is a clear liquid. For visual purposes, though, it helps the brand if the layer of peppermint looks as natural as possible. Therefore, the brand colors the peppermint layer green using artificial food dyes.
What Kind of Mints Are Vegan?
Just because you can’t eat Andes Mints doesn’t mean that you can’t get your peppermint fix! Most mints are actually vegan-friendly. Problems usually don’t arise until you start combining mint with milk chocolate, ice cream, and other non-vegan foods.
Conclusion – Are Andes Mints Vegan-Friendly?
Unfortunately for mint-chocolate fans, Andes Mints are not vegan-friendly due to the dairy ingredients, palm oil, and refined sugar in them. There’s no reason why you can’t get your chocolate fix, though, as there are plenty of great-tasting vegan chocolate options out there!
Keep on reading to find out about my favorite vegan chocolate brands!