Converting to a vegan lifestyle requires dedication, commitment, and a strong will power, particularly if you have a sweet tooth. Most (good) confectionary products are either non-vegan or contain controversial ingredients that leaves many vegans in a quandary. Jelly beans are one of them!
Are Jelly Beans Vegan?
Not all are! Read on to find out why.
Why not? Do Jelly Beans Have Gelatin?
Contrary to what many people expect, most commercially available jelly beans do not contain gelatin.
Wondering what then makes most jelly beans varieties classify as non-vegan?
The most common culprits in these crunchy, chewy candies are confectioner’s glaze and beeswax. Some jelly beans, however, contain carnauba wax instead of beeswax.
In addition to these ingredients that are generally considered unsuitable for vegan lifestyle, jelly beans also contain a few controversial ingredients. These include sugar, flavorings, and colors. [Refer to my article Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan to learn why these ingredients are considered controversial in the vegan world]
What’s Wrong with Confectioner’s Glaze?
Confectioner’s glaze is the food-grade version of Shellac, which is the hardened secretions of female lac bug originally produced by the bug to protect her eggs that are about to hatch. It is also commonly called beetle juice.
The name confectioner’s glaze may be misleading (as it sounds like something made of confectioner’s sugar). But, it is essentially a bug-product and hence, non-vegan.
In case you didn’t already know, confectioner’s glaze give jelly beans their hard outer coating.
What about Beeswax? Is Beeswax Vegan?
Beeswax is generally classified as a non-vegan ingredient. However, some people argue that beeswax isn’t an animal product; it is an animal-made product. Also, harvesting it doesn’t involve killing honeybees. Hence, you can consume them while following a vegan lifestyle.
The counter-narrative to this argument is that harvesting beeswax disrupts bees’ habitat. Beeswax is also the primary building block of honeycomb cells. For those who do not know, honeycomb serves as the storage space for pollen and honey as well as the nest for bees’ larvae. Extraction of beeswax destroys the living and storage space of bees.
Lastly, the likelihood of bees getting killed and/or harmed during the harvesting of beeswax cannot be overruled.
Since adhering to the philosophy of veganism requires avoiding contribution to both animal cruelty and exploitation, in any way, a large number of vegans consider beeswax as a non-vegan ingredient.
Is Carnauba Wax Vegan?
Carnauba wax is a plant-based ingredient and hence, vegan-friendly. But (yes, another but), there’s a small debate among some vegan circles, comprised of most ardent vegans, that it is better to avoid carnauba wax because its extraction may harm the trees, which then creates a negative impact on the environment.
Carnauba wax comes from one specific tree – Copernicia prunifera (commonly called Carnauba palm) – found in the forests of northeastern Brazil. Any damage to these trees will disrupt the natural ecosystem. The issue is similar to that of palm oil. [Read my article Are M&M’s Vegan for a detailed discussion on the debate over palm oil]
On the other hand, many vegans argue that delving so deep into everything will make life very difficult for them; it’s practically impossible to avoid everything that in some way harm animals or the environment (this is why some vegans find it okay to consume honey, beeswax, coloring, and sugar). Furthermore, there are many harvesters that follow ethical practices to get carnauba wax from the trees.
How to Know Which Jelly Beans Are Vegan and Which Are Not?
If you have been a vegan for any length of time, you would know the drill. However, if you’re a new convert and still learning about veganism, let me tell you that the only foolproof way to confirm the vegan status of any product is to examine its ingredients list.
Let’s scrutinize the ingredients list of some popular jelly beans brands to figure out if they’re fit for us vegans or not.
For the sake of keeping things simple, I am going to avoid discussing the usual controversial ingredients – color, sugar, and flavorings – found in jelly beans. They are present in all varieties of jelly beans, so if you avoid them, you have to give up on jelly bean altogether.
Are Jelly Belly Beans Vegan?
Jelly Belly beans come in around 80 different flavors (okay…79 to be exact), which means we cannot review Jelly Belly ingredients of all flavors.
Fortunately, the company itself has provided us the answer…
Sorry, Jelly Belly fans…you cannot eat these delicious fruity-flavored jelly beans.
Are Starburst Jelly Beans Vegan?
Here’s what Starburst jelly beans are made of:
Even though Starburst jelly beans do not contain beeswax, they have confectioner’s glaze, which makes them unsuitable for vegans.
Are Jolly Rancher Jelly Beans Vegan?
Jolly Rancher’s jelly beans are generally classified as vegan as they do not contain the primary non-vegan ingredients found in most jelly beans; confectioner’s sugar and beeswax. They do, however, contain the controversial ingredients i.e. sugar, flavors, and colors.
Having said that, when I was doing my research, I found some surprising information regarding Jolly Rancher candies. Read my article Are Jolly Ranchers Vegan for a detailed breakdown of these candies!
Are Skittles Vegan?
Skittles is probably the second most popular brand of jelly beans, after Jelly Belly (no one can beat their massive variety of flavors), which is no more an option for you. So, if you have been wondering if you can eat Skittles, there’s a good news (for some of you).
Those who do not mind the controversial vegan ingredients can eat Skittles. None of the Skittles varieties now contain gelatin (they removed it in 2010) or any other animal-derived ingredient.
Are Jelly Beans Vegetarian?
Yes! All varieties of jelly beans are classified as vegetarian; even the ones that contain confectioner’s glaze and beeswax.
Vegetarians only avoid animal products. Since these two ingredients do not contain any meat, insect flesh, or gelatin, they fit the criteria of vegetarian diet.
Are Jelly Beans Halal?
Not all jelly beans are halal. But, there are some halal jelly beans available. You can check out the list of some halal jelly beans options here.
Are There Any Jelly Beans That Do Not Contain Controversial Ingredients?
As much as we wish for it, sadly, there is no jelly beans variety that is free of controversial vegan ingredients i.e. sugar, colors, and flavorings.
If you’re a devoted vegan who do not (or at least try to not) consume controversial ingredients, you have two options – give up on jelly beans completely or make your own with vegan colors and flavors. Here’s a vegan jelly beans recipe for you, if you feel like going for the second option (it’s one big task though):
So, Are Jelly Beans Vegan-Friendly?
The answer depends on your definition and commitment to vegan lifestyle. If you avoid controversial ingredients, the answer is No. However, if you do not mind consuming them (at least once in a while), you have a few vegan jelly beans options. These include jelly beans from Jelly Rancher, Skittles, Warheads, YummyEarth, VeganSweets, and Wonka Nerds Bumpy Jelly Beans.
Want to learn about other candies? Read my article Is Starburst Vegan to find out if those yummy fruity chews are vegan or not!