Are Goldfish Vegan? The Answer Might Not Cheer You Up In 2024

I always loved the Goldfish motto – The snack that smiles back. Ever since I first heard it as a kid, I always looked forward to eating the little smiling fish.

My mom would always pack a small bag of Goldfish in my school lunch when I was little, and they’re one of the most common kids’ snacks in America. 

Are Goldfish vegan, though? 

Unfortunately, there are NO vegan-friendly flavors of Goldfish. The original Cheddar flavor clearly contains cheddar cheese, which is a non-vegan dairy product.

All of the other flavors of Goldfish, including Pretzel, Graham, and Flavor Blasted Goldfish are also non-vegan, as they all contain at least some form of dairy or refined sugar. 

I know, I know… It’s a bit of a bummer to find out your favorite childhood snack isn’t as vegan-friendly as you may have thought. 

But, thankfully, you have me here to help explain why Goldfish aren’t vegan. Below, I’ll answer all of your Goldfish-related questions and give you a full breakdown of the exact ingredients used to make Goldfish. 

Then, maybe I’ll help you find a new vegan-friendly snack to help you smile! 

Do Vegans Eat Goldfish? 

Do Vegans Eat Goldfish

Goldfish are generally regarded as a healthy snack. Goldfish are known for using:

  • Whole wheat flour
  • No artificial preservatives
  • No artificial colors (only plant-based colors) 
  • Low-sugar
  • Real milk and cheese

Compared to most of the other brands of crackers and chips marketed toward kids and parents, Goldfish are pretty healthy! Sure, they’re still a source of empty carbs that should be consumed in moderation. But they’re far healthier than potato chips or Cheetos

Unfortunately, vegans do not eat Goldfish. The snack contains a significant amount of dairy, in the form of milk and cheese. All dairy products are non-vegan, as they’re animal products obtained through cruel and unnatural treatment of female cows. 

Dairy is a very cruel and unusual industry in today’s world. Long ago, before commercial meat farms were a thing, dairy could have been considered vegan. It came from cows that were naturally raised on a farm and allowed to have a natural birth process. 

Female cows were milked whenever they naturally got pregnant and had extra milk to spare after feeding their young calf. For the most part, they were respected and treated well. They weren’t slaughtered for meat until they were old, wise, and had lived a full life. 

Today, however, female cows are viciously raped and artificially inseminated to ensure that they’re producing a constant supply of milk.

When they give birth, their calf is immediately taken from them and slaughtered as veal (which is the extra-tender meat of young cows). Nothing about this is natural, healthy, or remotely ethical. 

Can Vegetarians Have Goldfish? 

Can Vegetarians Have Goldfish

Veganism and vegetarianism are often confused, as both diets are centered around plant-based eating. However, there are a few key differences between vegan and vegetarian diets. One of the most prominent differences is that vegetarians consume animal by-products

While they may not consume meat, vegetarians still consume milk, cheese, honey, and other non-vegan products that are obtained (stolen) from captive animals. 

Therefore, vegetarians can eat Goldfish. Since cheese and dairy are vegetarian-friendly, vegetarians have no issues consuming Goldfish. 

Are Goldfish Gluten-Free? 

Are Goldfish Gluten-Free

Gluten is a small protein that’s commonly found in grains, such as:

  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Triticale
  • Barley
  • Some forms of oats

Most humans consume gluten without any problems and it’s even the main ingredient in one of my favorite forms of vegan protein, seitan, which is made from pure gluten protein. 

However, a small percentage of the population is allergic to gluten or has an inflammatory disease like celiac that’s triggered by gluten and sugars. When individuals like this consume gluten, they can experience painful and even life-threatening side effects. 

Unfortunately, Goldfish aren’t gluten-free either. The main ingredient in Goldfish is wheat flour, which is packed full of gluten. 

Do Original Goldfish Have Dairy? A Look At The Ingredients

Do Original Goldfish Have Dairy_ A Look At The Ingredients

Goldfish has a wide variety of different products. However, the Original Cheddar Goldfish are still the best-selling variety. As good as they may taste to non-vegans, though, the Original Cheddar Goldfish do contain dairy, which makes them non-vegan

Here’s the short list of ingredients, which I obtained from the Pepperidge Farms website:

Original Cheddar Goldfish

Now that you can see the list for yourself, let me take a couple of minutes to break down each ingredient. This will not only help you understand your food better, but it will also help you better understand why Goldfish aren’t a vegan-safe food. 

1) Enriched Wheat Flour

Enriched Wheat Flour

Like most crackers, the main ingredient used in Pepperidge Farms Goldfish is enriched wheat flour. Wheat flour, by itself, is 100% vegan and is a simple plant-based powder that’s made by grinding dried wheat into a fine powder. 

The flour is then enriched with added minerals. These minerals are healthy essential and trace minerals that help bodily functions and make Goldfish a healthier snack. 

2) Vegetable Oil

Vegetable Oil

Next up, we have vegetable oil, which is mixed into the dough and serves as fat that helps hold the crackers together. Once the Goldfish are cooked, the fat protects the outer layer of dough and prevents them from burning when exposed to extreme temperatures. 

The vegetable oils used by Goldfish include:

  • Canola oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Sunflower oil

All of these are vegan-friendly cooking oils, as they’re sustainably sourced from natural ingredients. Unfortunately, none of these vegan ingredients can redeem Goldfish, as the food still contains dairy. 

3) Salt


Goldfish have a crisp texture and are lightly salted for flavor. Salt is commonly used in baking, as it helps refine the flavor of wheat and dough, giving it a more well-rounded flavor. Salt is always vegan, as it never comes from animals. 

4) Nonfat Milk

Nonfat Milk

Here, we have the first non-vegan ingredient in Goldfish. Nonfat milk is used to provide texture to the crackers and helps give them a cheesy flavor.

While the original Goldfish aren’t seasoned with cheddar seasoning, the milk (along with the other spices) gives the original Goldfish a slightly cheesy flavor. 

5) Yeast

Is Yeast Vegan

Yeast is always used in bread, crackers, and most baked goods. These small, single-cell organisms feed on the sugars and carbs in the wheat dough, turning the sugar into gas, which helps the dough rise. This is why Goldfish are hollow on the inside!

Even though yeast is an organism, it’s single-celled and doesn’t have a central nervous system. This makes it more similar to plants than animals and is why yeast is generally considered vegan. 

In fact, nutritional yeast (which is deactivated yeast) is one of the most popular vegan seasonings. It’s often used to give vegan food a savory, cheese-like flavor and is a common substitute for parmesan cheese in vegan dishes. 

6) Sugar


Sugar is another questionable ingredient that many vegans choose not to consume. Although it starts off as a pure plant-based sweetener, the raw cane sugar is then filtered through animal bone char, which strips it of color and its natural malty flavor. 

For this reason, ethical vegans avoid refined white sugar, as it supports the meat industry (even if it’s in a small way). Instead, ethical vegans look for products that contain raw unrefined cane sugar. 

7) Baking Soda

Baking Soda

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) acts as a leavening agent and is an important ingredient in all crackers and forms of flatbread. Basically, it prevents the surface of the cracker from rising like traditional bread. Instead, it forces the cracker to remain thin, hard, and crispy. 

9) Monocalcium Phosphate

Monocalcium phosphate is a naturally-derived compound that works alongside baking soda to provide texture and volume in baked snacks, cookies, and more.

It’s regarded as a safe food additive and is only used in small amounts. It’s also 100% vegan, so don’t worry about it if you see it used in other foods. 

10) Spices (Paprika, Celery Powder, Onion Powder)

Spices (Paprika, Celery Powder, Onion Powder)

Without added spices, Goldfish would taste pretty bland. Pepperidge Farms uses a proprietary blend of celery powder, paprika, and onion powder to give the original Goldfish that cheddar-like flavor that everybody knows and loves (except vegans, of course). 

Are Pretzel Goldfish Vegan? 

At first glance, you might expect Pretzel Goldfish to be vegan. Pretzels typically don’t contain any dairy and are generally regarded as vegan-friendly. However, for some reason, Pepperidge Farms uses a small amount of nonfat milk in its Pretzel Goldfish. 

This means that Pretzel Goldfish are NOT vegan. 

Are Flavor Blasted Goldfish Vegan? 

Of all of the varieties of Goldfish, the Flavor Blasted Goldfish are easily the least vegan. Not only do the crackers contain nonfat milk but they’re seasoned with cheesy seasonings, which make them all the more non-vegan. 

Are Goldfish Grahams Vegan? 

Goldfish Grahams are the sweet-flavored smiling fish that are a favorite dessert among kids and adults alike. There’s only one problem – most of the Goldfish Grahams contain dairy, gelatin, and refined white sugar. 

Are Goldfish Colors Vegan? 

Although they may look different than their golden cheese-colored counterparts, Goldfish Colors are NOT vegan, as they contain the same nonfat milk ingredient that the original Goldfish have. 

The Verdict – Goldfish Are NOT Vegan-Friendly 

Goldfish Are NOT Vegan-Friendly 

No matter which flavor you’re looking at, there aren’t any vegan-friendly Goldfish. They all contain milk, sugar, or cheesy seasonings. This means that they’re not suitable for a vegan diet. 

However, there are lots of great vegan-friendly snacks that can satisfy your cravings for a crunchy, salty, flavorful bite. Keep on reading to find out my favorite vegan chips next

Photo of author
Author Bio
Im Emma and I’m the creator of Vegan Calm. When I became a vegan seven years ago, I mainly did it for health and ethical reasons. To my surprise, it had another amazing benefit; I became a much calmer and peaceful person. This change inspired me to create Vegan Calm. Whether you’ve been a vegan for a long time or just want to learn more, this website will have something for you!

Check Out These Posts:

Are Glazed Donuts Vegan
Are Mission Flour Tortillas Vegan
Are Fruit Snacks Vegan