Growing up, I never really liked Fig Newtons. My grandparents used to always eat them and they’d try to buy them for me instead of the candy I wanted.
So, needless to say, I didn’t have the best association with them. That being said, I’ve gained a newfound appreciation for them as an adult, now that I favor less-sweet snacks.
Are Fig Newtons vegan, though?
For the most part, Fig Newtons (today known simply as Newtons) are vegan-friendly! They don’t contain any animal by-products, such as gelatin or dairy-based derivatives like whey or casein.
They’re also made with real figs. However, they do contain refined sugar, an ingredient that some vegans aren’t very fond of.
Today’s post is going to be all about fig newtons! Below, I’ll answer some of the most recent questions I’ve been getting about the most popular brand of fig bars. Then, I’ll provide you with a full breakdown of all of the ingredients so that you can decide for yourself.
Let’s take a look!
Are Fig Newton Bars Vegan?
Fig Newton bars are mostly vegan. Almost all of the ingredients, except for a couple of preservatives and artificial flavors are 100% plant-based! If you look at the original recipe for Fig Newtons, you’ll see that it’s a relatively simple snack made from a few basic parts:
- A wheat-based soft wafer
- A sugary, fig-based filling
The main reason why many vegans question Fig Newtons is because they contain refined white sugar. While refined sugar is dietarily vegan, it’s not 100% ethical.
Although refined white sugar all starts off as 100% vegan and ethical, the filtration and refining process it goes through involves some not-so-vegan additives.
In short, to turn raw brown cane sugar into the pretty white crystals we’re used to today, the raw sugar must first be filtered through animal bone char.
Animal bone char is a high-carbon form of charcoal that effectively strips the sugar crystals of their malty, syrupy outer coating. This brown syrup is later used for malt flavoring and is used to make molasses.
The leftover crystals are pure white sugar crystals, which are sweeter and have less flavor, allowing the sugar to be mixed with almost anything.
From an ethical standpoint, sugar can be considered non-vegan since its production involves the use of animal by-products. Pure vegan foods tend to use raw organic cane sugar in place of white sugar.
That being said, many dietary vegans still choose to consume white sugar as it’s technically still plant-based.
Do Fig Newtons Contain Dairy?
If you’ve ever tried a Newton before, then you’ve probably realized that the little fruit bars have a super-soft, almost powdery texture, especially on the outside of the cookies.
When it comes to processed foods, whey powder and other milk derivatives are often responsible for this light, powdery texture.
However, you’ll be pleased to hear that Fig Newtons (and all other varieties of Newtons) are 100% dairy-free!
The soft, powdery texture that most people know and love about Newtons is thanks to the fact that the cookies are all coated with a starch called maltodextrin.
This simple starch is one of the main ingredients in vegan mass-building supplements and is a common food additive used to help foods remain soft and dry.
Are Fig Newtons Made With Real Figs?
One of the reasons why Fig Newtons have remained so popular over the years is that they’re one of the few American snacks that are made with real figs! Figs are incredibly filling, very sweet, and have a number of health benefits.
For example, figs are very high in natural plant fiber. Fiber improves digestion and can relieve constipation and bloating by speeding up the digestive process.
This is one of the main reasons why elderly people consume Fig Newtons and other fig-based products more than the younger generation.
Are Figs Vegan?
Yes! Figs are 100% vegan.
Figs are a type of fruit and are very similar to dates, apples, and other fruits. They naturally grow on fig trees and are full of small white seeds, which can be grown into young fig trees if the fruit is allowed to set roots.
Did Fig Newtons Change Their Recipe?
Growing up, I remember the snacks were always called Fig Newtons. In 2015, though, Nabisco (the company that owns the brand) changed the name of the snack to Newtons.
This was because they started to add other fruit flavors to the brand in an effort to make it more appealing to the younger generation, many of whom don’t appreciate figs. For example, “strawberry-flavored Fig Newtons” is a lot harder to say than simply saying “strawberry Newtons.”
That being said, the original recipe for fig-flavored Newtons did not change.
The only thing that really changed was that Nabisco added a greater variety of flavored fillings for consumers to choose from.
What Are Fig Newtons Made Of? A Look At The Ingredients
Now that you have some basic background information on Newtons, it’s time to take a look at what exactly Fig Newtons are made of! Since the fig-flavored Newtons are still the most popular flavor, by far, I decided to use that recipe instead.
The recipe for the other flavors of Newtons is pretty much the same, other than the fact that they contain different types of fruit and corresponding “natural flavors” that accentuate the particular fruit.
Here’s the shortlist of the ingredients:
Now, I’ll take a couple of minutes to go through the list and show you the ingredients that you should pay special attention to, as well as the innocent ingredients that you don’t need to worry about!
Also, while I’m at it, here’s a cool video showing how Fig Newtons are made:
1) Whole Grain Wheat Flour
The main ingredient in Newtons is whole grain wheat flour, as this is used as the base for the dough used to make the soft wafers. Wheat flour is always vegan, as it’s just dried, finely-ground wheat.
Sometimes, wheat flour is enriched with added minerals or bleached using chemicals. However, I like the fact that Newtons just use pure, undiluted whole grain wheat flour, which is far more nutritious (and filling) than white bleached flour!
One of the things I like about Newtons is that they’re all flavored with real fruit. This means that one of the main ingredients in Fig Newtons is real fig filling. This filling is made using a combination of mashed figs, sugar, and corn syrup.
Since figs naturally contain a lot of small seeds, the mashed figs are de-seeded before they’re used to create the filling. This makes them safer for people with sensitive teeth to consume!
Sugar is the second main ingredient used to make the fig filling. However, it’s also the first problematic ingredient.
As I described above, the refined white sugar used in all Newtons is filtered and refined through animal bone char, which makes it more unethical than pure cane sugar.
Dietary vegans typically don’t mind consuming a bit of white sugar, but ethical vegans may want to avoid Fig Newtons because of this.
4) Corn Syrup
Corn syrup is 100% vegan and is never filtered through any animal bone char. It has a sweet, syrupy taste and a thick, viscous texture that helps create a paste-like fig filling.
5) Invert Sugar
Invert sugar is a type of malty sugar syrup that’s made from a mixture of glucose and sucrose. It’s not very natural, as it’s the result of refining fruit and grain-based sugar through chemical processes.
However, it’s a relatively simple ingredient that’s plant-based and serves as a sweetener in Newtons.
6) Vegetable Oil
All Newtons use a small amount of vegetable oil in the recipe. Nabisco is rather unclear about what type of vegetable oil they use, listing that it could be soybean, canola, palm, sunflower oil, or a combination thereof.
Like sugar, palm oil is another hot-button ingredient that some vegans choose to avoid. Palm oil harvesting is destructive to the environment and is one of the biggest factors contributing to the extinction and endangerment of rainforest species.
7) Soluble Corn & Oat Fiber
Corn and oat fiber are mixed with the dough of the Newton wafers. This not only gives them a softer texture and consistency but it also gives the Newtons a higher fiber content, making them better for your digestion.
A bit of salt is typically added to wafers and cookies to help offset the sweet flavors of the syrupy filling.
As I mentioned above, Newtons are coated with a bit of maltodextrin, which helps keep them dry and gives them a super-soft texture and consistency. Although maltodextrin isn’t healthy, small amounts shouldn’t be cause for worry. Plus, maltodextrin is 100% plant-based!
10) Baking Soda
A bit of baking soda is added to each Newton to prevent the dough from rising and creating a more puffy snack. Baking soda is just sodium bicarbonate and is naturally derived.
11) Calcium Lactate
Although it may sound like dairy, calcium lactate is dairy-free. This compound is the result of mixing lactic acid with calcium carbonate, and is generally considered to be a healthy bone-building calcium supplement.
12) Malic Acid
Malic acid is a plant-derived acid that’s used to give food a tart, slightly sour flavor. For example, the presence of malic acid is part of what gives the wine a slightly sour taste.
13) Soy Lecithin
Soy lecithin is a soy-based substance that serves as an emulsifier and a natural preservative.
Newtons contain a small amount of sodium benzoate and sulfur dioxide, which are both artificial preservatives. They create a more acidic environment in the food, making it harder to spoil.
15) Natural & Artificial Flavors
All Newtons contain a mixture of both natural and artificial fruit flavors designed to accentuate whichever fruit-flavored filling is being used for the Newtons.
The Verdict – Are All Fig Newton Bars Vegan?
As long as you’re okay with white sugar, then yes – Newtons (fig-flavored or otherwise) are dietarily vegan!
If you’re looking for something a little bit simpler that doesn’t have such a lengthy ingredients list, then be sure to check out my list of the best vegan cookie brands next! Not only are they delicious but many of them are quite nutritious as well!