When most people think of Oreos, they’re usually thinking of the original chocolate-flavored Oreos, made with chocolate wafers and a smooth, creamy filling.
However, Nabisco also offers Golden Oreos for those who aren’t so keen on chocolate or those who don’t want to stain their teeth with a bunch of dark brown chocolate bits.
The only question is, “Are Golden Oreos vegan?”
Golden Oreos aren’t made with any animal by-products. However, they do contain refined sugar and palm oil, which are ethically concerning for many vegans.
There’s also the chance that Golden Oreos may be exposed to dairy and eggs from cross-contamination in the factory they’re manufactured in.
Below, I’ll show you exactly what Golden Oreos are made of and explain why they’re not quite as vegan-friendly as some blogs make them out to be. Let’s take a look!
Do Golden Oreos Contain Dairy?
If you look at the front of the package, you’ll see a giant cookie splashing into a thick white liquid that we can only assume is milk. Additionally, Oreos are one of the most popular cookies to pair with a glass of milk, so Oreos and dairy often go hand-in-hand.
Despite what the packaging may imply, Golden Oreos do NOT contain any dairy. No milk, whey, casein, or any other by-products are used to make Golden Oreos.
This means that Golden Oreos are perfectly safe for anybody who’s lactose-intolerant.
Even though Oreos aren’t made with any animal-derived dairy, vegans may still want to look at the other “gray area” ingredients used to make Golden Oreos before making a final decision, though.
Which Oreos Are Vegan?
The two main varieties of Oreos are the original Oreos (with the chocolate cookies) and Golden Oreos, which are chocolate-free and have a stronger vanilla flavoring. There are also some varieties that contain added stuffing and seasonal colors that are available as well.
Strictly speaking, none of Nabisco’s Oreo varieties are vegan. While none of them contain any animal-derived ingredients, they all contain refined sugar and palm oil, which many consider being non-vegan.
If you’re a simple dietary vegan, who’s just following the diet to avoid meat, then you may not have a problem with sugar or palm oil. However, the vast majority of vegans chose this lifestyle for ethical reasons as well. The community generally refers to us as “ethical vegans.”
We don’t want to consume anything that harms the planet or even remotely contributes to animal cruelty. Since palm oil contributes to rainforest deforestation and white sugar is refined using animal bone char, neither of these products is very ethical.
Here’s why palm oil is so problematic:
I’ll leave it up to you to decide what your own opinions on the matter are, though! I’m not here to force my beliefs on anybody. I just want to make sure that you guys get the facts and the best information to make your own judgments.
What Are Golden Oreos Made Of? Ingredients Analyzed
Have you ever wondered just what’s stuffed in the “stuffing” of Oreos? If so, then you’ve come to the right place! Below, I’ll show you all of the ingredients in Golden Oreos and explain which ones are vegan, non-vegan, and quasi-vegan, so you can see for yourself.
Regardless of your decision on the matter, this will help you better understand your nutrition labels and some of the ingredients in processed foods. Here’s the shortlist of the ingredients for visual reference:
Now, let’s go through the list and clear up any confusion you might have!
1) Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour
The main ingredient used to make the cookie wafers is unbleached enriched wheat flour. I know that’s a bit of a mouthful, but I promise you that it’s a lot simpler than it sounds.
Unbleached wheat flour is just a fancy term for all-purpose wheat flour. They’re just drawing a separation by explaining that they don’t use the low-quality, highly-processed, bleached flour used by some brands.
Wheat flour is just a dried baking ingredient made from ground wheat berries. It’s a pure, plant-based product that’s the result of mechanical processing machines, which means that it’s 100% vegan!
This flour mixture is then enriched with an added blend of B vitamins and essential minerals, making for a more nutritious product. All of these added vitamins and minerals are vegan, though, so you don’t have to worry about these.
Next up, we have sugar (refined white sugar, in particular). While most people tend to think of white sugar as an all-natural sweetener that comes from sugarcane juice, that’s not the full story…
To turn the all-natural cane sugar crystals into refined white sugar, it must first be filtered through a type of high-carbon charcoal filter that contains animal bone char.
This refining process removes the outer coating of the sugar crystals, leaving behind a more pure, concentrated form of sugar that’s sweeter, easier to blend, and simpler to bake with.
Of course, the only problem with this refining method is that it involves the use of animal remains. Even though animal bones aren’t present in the final product, they’re still used. This means that sugar refineries support the meat industry.
If you’re ever lucky enough to stumble upon an organic vegan-friendly brand of Oreos, you’ll notice that they almost always use “cane sugar” instead of “sugar.” Although the written difference is subtly and often overlooked, the ethical difference shouldn’t be ignored!
3) Vegetable Oil
Like most cookies, Golden Oreos are made with vegetable oil. According to the label, Nabisco uses canola oil and palm oil to make their Oreos, depending upon market availability.
While canola oil is sustainable and generally regarded as vegan, palm oil is problematic for many vegans.
Even though palm oil is “plant-based,” the majority of the world’s palm oil production is destructive to both the environment, and our natural rainforests, and also puts endangered rainforest species at risk.
Unfortunately, it’s pretty much impossible to tell whether or not your Golden Oreos contain palm oil, as each batch can vary. Some batches may use only canola oil, while others may use only palm oil, and others still use a combination of the two.
4) High-Fructose Corn Syrup
High-fructose corn syrup is the main sweetener used to make the soft white stuffing in the center of each Golden Oreo. This is the same stuffing that’s used to make the original chocolate Oreos as well.
High-fructose corn syrup gets a bad rep because it’s highly processed and is a super-concentrated form of sugar. While it certainly isn’t very healthy to consume in large amounts, it does have one advantage over white sugar – high-fructose corn syrup is vegan!
It’s naturally derived from sweet corn before being artificially modified. No animals or animal by-products are used at any point during this process, making it a cruelty-free sweetener.
A bit of iodized salt is added to the cookies, to create a stronger dough. This prevents the cookies from crumbling or falling apart too easily. Salt is a natural product and is 100% vegan.
6) Baking Soda
Baking soda is the common name for sodium bicarbonate, which is a natural compound consisting of sodium and carbon. This baking additive is used to give the cookies texture and is a vegan-friendly ingredient.
7) Soy Lecithin
Soy lecithin is a naturally-derived preservative that comes from soy. In addition to acting as a preservative, it’s also an emulsifier that helps keep the Oreo stuffing stable. Soy lecithin is vegan-friendly and FDA-approved.
8) Artificial & Natural Flavors
Golden Oreos contain undisclosed natural and artificial flavors. However, I’d be willing to bet that they contain vanilla flavoring, due to the strong vanilla flavor. These flavorings should all be vegan-friendly, but it’s hard to know for sure.
The Verdict – Are Golden Oreos Vegan?
From a dietary perspective, Golden Oreos can be considered vegan. However, if you’re an ethically-driven vegan who’s trying to avoid palm oil and refined sugar, then you may want to go with a more vegan-friendly brand of cookies.