Lifesavers have been around since 1912, making them one of the oldest hard candies in the country.
When I was little my grandma used to always carry a small bag of these candies in her purse, and she’d give them to me whenever I was being good. The company makes mint-flavored, fruit-flavored, and gummy varieties of classic rings.
The real question you’re here for, though, is, “Are Lifesavers vegan?”
It depends on the variety of Lifesavers you’re looking at. The fruit-flavored hard candy is dietarily vegan and the only questionable ingredient is the refined white sugar used to make it.
However, both the mint and gummy Lifesavers are non-vegan as they contain animal byproducts like stearic acid and gelatin.
In today’s post, I’m going to be answering all of your questions about Lifesavers. I’ll explain which flavors are vegan (and why), give you a brief rundown of the ingredients, and explain any questionable ingredients that you may not be so sure about.
It’s time to take a trip to candy town!
Can Vegans Eat Lifesavers?
Just looking at the candy itself, Lifesavers seems pretty vegan-friendly. Unlike most candy, they don’t appear to have dairy, milk chocolate, or other obvious animal by-products.
However, if you learn nothing else from reading my blog, remember this – When it comes to processed food, nothing is ever as simple as it seems.
All varieties of Lifesavers have at least one questionable ingredient that may cause you to doubt your choice. Refined white sugar, stearic acid, and gelatin are the main culprits that you’ll need to watch out for.
Currently, the only Lifesavers that can be considered somewhat vegan are the fruit-flavored hard candies. The other varieties have direct animal by-products, which makes them a no-go for all vegans.
Do Lifesavers Contain Gelatin?
Gelatin is one of the most common food additives in the world and is commonly used in foods, such as:
- AirHeads (some varieties)
- Gummy Bears
- Jell-O (it’s the main ingredient)
- … and a lot more
While gelatin may seem like an innocent ingredient, it’s actually made from pure animal parts. It’s basically a powdery substance that’s extracted from the boiled-down remains of animals, such as bones, ligaments, fatty tissues, and other body parts that butchers can’t sell.
The main purpose of gelatin is to give food (or candy) a thick, chewy, gel-like consistency. It’s why gummy bears are so chewy!
Most Lifesavers varieties do NOT contain gelatin. However, the Lifesavers gummies do contain gelatin, which makes them non-vegan.
What Ingredients Are In Lifesavers Hard Candy?
Out of the three different types of Lifesavers, the only ones that are remotely vegan are the Lifesavers’ hard candies. Unlike the mints and gummies, the hard candy doesn’t contain any meat-derived products. Here’s the shortlist, so you can see it for yourself:
Now, let me give you a quick rundown of the ingredients, so you really know what’s in your food!
Sugar is the main ingredient used in Lifesavers’ hard candies. It’s also the only questionable additive that some vegans aren’t okay with. Most people tend to think of sugar as a plant-based sweetener. Since it comes from the sugarcane plant, it must be vegan, right?
Unfortunately, the truth is a little bit stickier.
Raw, unprocessed cane sugar should have a light brown shade and a syrupy, malty flavor. Unfortunately, most of the world has gotten used to refined white sugar that’s had all of its color and natural flavoring stripped from it.
Don’t ask me why people and food companies prefer white sugar, but suffice to know that it’s cheaper and more accessible.
To turn raw sugar into white sugar, the sugar crystals must first be filtered through animal bone char – a type of high-carbon “charcoal” that’s made from fire-baked animal remains. Sadly, this process supports the meat industry (even if it’s just in a small way).
For this reason, ethical vegans try to avoid white sugar, opting for pure cane sugar instead.
If you’re a simple dietary vegan, then sugar shouldn’t be a problem for you, as it’s not a direct animal ingredient.
2) Corn Syrup
Most hard candies contain corn syrup, as it hardens up nicely and leaves the candy with a shiny glaze on the outside, and makes the candy more visually appealing. Thankfully, corn syrup is a plant-based sweetener that’s extracted from corn, so there are no problems here.
3) High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Next up, Lifesavers hard candies also contain high-fructose corn syrup. This ultra-concentrated sweetener is added to a number of candies and sweet drinks, as it’s low-cost and very potent.
Although the sweetener often gets a bad rep for being “unhealthy,” most sugar is unhealthy, so that’s nothing new.
That being said, high-fructose corn syrup is 100% vegan and is a plant-based sweetener, so it’s a vegan-safe sweetener!
4) Citric Acid
Citric acid is a natural acid that’s found in citrus plants like limes, lemons, and oranges. That being said, most of the citric acid on the market is synthetically created in a lab. Both forms of citric acid are vegan-friendly, though.
Citric acid plays two roles in Lifesavers. First and foremost, it adds a more citrusy, fruity flavor to the candy.
Secondly, it acts as a natural preservative that changes the pH level of the candy and makes it impossible for bacteria to grow on the surface.
5) Natural & Artificial Flavors
Lifesavers’ hard candies use a variety of natural and artificial flavors. All of them are either plant-based fruit sweeteners or are synthetically created in a lab, which makes these flavorings 100% vegan.
6) Artificial Colors
Lifesavers use artificial colors, such as red 40, yellow 5, and blue 1 to color-code all of the different Lifesavers flavors accordingly. These are all synthetic food dyes, which are vegan-friendly and don’t come from animals.
Are Mint Lifesavers Vegan?
Unfortunately, Mint Lifesavers (officially Wint-O-Green Lifesavers) are NOT vegan. To show you why take a quick look at the ingredients list:
Obviously, sugar is a questionable ingredient (as we discussed above). However, the main reason why Wint-O-Green Lifesavers aren’t vegan is that they contain stearic acid. This natural acid is obtained from boiled animal broth and is somewhat similar to gelatin.
While stearic acid can come from plants, Wrigley (the company behind Lifesavers) has admitted to using pork and beef-derived stearic acid.
Are Lifesavers Gummies Vegan?
Like the Wint-O-Green Lifesavers, Lifesavers Gummies are also non-vegan.
This is because they contain gelatin, which is a direct animal by-product. Take a look at the ingredients list:
Unfortunately, gelatin is one of the main ingredients used in all flavors of Lifesavers gummies, including:
- Fruit gummies
- Sour gummies
- Wildberry gummies
- Collisions gummies
Non-Vegan vs. Vegan Lifesavers Flavors Listed
To help make things a little bit easier for you, here’s a quick table outlining the non-vegan and vegan flavors of Lifesavers:
|Vegan Lifesavers||Non-Vegan Lifesavers|
|Lifesavers Hard Candy||Lifesavers Wint-O-Green|
|Lifesavers Gummies (Fruit-flavored, sour gummies, wild berry, and collisions)|
The Verdict – Which Lifesavers Are Vegan?
If you’re okay with consuming white sugar, then the Lifesavers hard candies are generally regarded as vegan-friendly. However, the other varieties of Lifesavers are non-vegan, as they contain several animal by-products, such as gelatin and stearic acid.
If you’re looking for another sweet, slightly tart treat, then I suggest checking out AirHeads! While they do contain white sugar, the original AirHeads are gelatin-free and don’t contain any other animal by-products. Keep on reading to see my full breakdown of the ingredients!