But, then we grew up and turned vegan, realizing our responsibility towards the planet we live on and animals that co-inhabit it with us. Of the many questions that this huge lifestyle decision brings up, an important one for true M&M aficionados is – Are M&M’s vegan?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn’t what you have been wishing for – M&M’s are not vegan!
Let’s dig a little deeper to figure out what it is that makes our favorite chocolate candies unsuitable for vegans and if there is any vegan-friendly M&M flavor available anywhere in the world.
What Makes M&M’s Non-Vegan?
Milk is the biggest culprit here!
Veganism requires abstaining from dairy. People who’re committed to this philosophy avoid milk and milk-products in all forms. And sadly, milk is one of the key ingredients in M&M’s.
What about the Dark Chocolate Ones? Are Dark Chocolate M&M’s Vegan?
While the name of Milk Chocolate M&M’s says it all, the dark chocolate variety can confuse many. Not only the title, but also the description given on M&M’s US website for M&M’s Dark Chocolate can make many think that it is suitable for vegans. Here’s what the official product description says:
The term ‘real dark chocolate’ may cause some confusion as chocolate itself is vegan-friendly. However, as wise
people say, you should always check food labels to ensure if the products you’re considering buying/consuming to make sure they do not contain anything that conflicts with the vegan philosophy. men
And when I did that (with fingers crossed), all my hopes came crashing down. Take a look yourself at what I found.
It turned out that M&M’s Dark Chocolate also contain milk (are you kidding me? Isn’t real dark chocolate supposed to be dairy-free?). So, if you have been wondering (and wishing) if you can eat dark chocolate M&M’s as a vegan, the answer is No. M&M’s Dark Chocolate are not vegan either!
Is Milk the Only Non-Vegan Ingredient in M&M’s?
Like all other questions that we have addressed so far regarding M&Ms and their suitability for vegans, the answer to this one is also no. There are multiple non-vegan (controversial) ingredients found in M&M’s. Some are present in all the varieties – food colors and flavors – while others are only found in specific M&M’s flavors, like palm oil (what are you even talking about?)
Let’s briefly discuss these non-vegan ingredients found in M&M’s to help you develop a better understanding of why these chocolate candies are not suitable for committed vegans.
· Food Colors
M&M’s get their tempting bright colors from artificial food colors, like Red 40, Yellow 6, and Blue 2. These colors do not contain any animal ingredient or by-product. However, they’re not cruelty-free. Artificial colors are tested on animals; the practice clashes with vegan philosophy.
It’s a controversial issue even among vegans, to be honest. But, as they say, to each their own, you’re to decide for yourself whether you want to avoid products containing artificial colors or not. Many people don’t because they argue that avoiding artificial colors won’t make any impact on animal testing. Also, it’s hard to avoid them (they’re used almost everywhere).
Many M&M’s flavors contain both natural and artificial flavors while others only use artificial ones.
As we had briefly discussed in our article on Doritos, these terms are generic and vague; they don’t tell you about the sources of flavors. It’s common for people to presume that the word ‘natural’ refers to vegan-friendly. It doesn’t!
Any flavor that’s derived from a natural source is called a natural flavor and that natural source could be non-vegan.
· Palm Oil
Wondering what on earth makes palm oil unsuitable for vegans? The damage manufacturing of palm oil causes to the planet and indirectly to animals!
As noted in this blog post by Biome, massive areas of rainforests are cleared each day in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, where palm trees are in abundance, to keep up with the industrial demands of palm oil.
And as we all know, deforestation harms our planet in more ways than one. It contributes to global warming and destroys the natural habitat for a variety of animal species. As highlighted in the Biome’s post, destruction of rainforests (for palm oil) has also been significantly affecting certain animal populations in those countries.
Dana Levy, the owner of a UK-based online vegan store aptly sums up the controversial status of palm oil in the vegan world. Here’s what she said while talking to the Guardian:
Many ardent vegans avoid palm oil due to these reasons.
In addition to these visible ingredients, M&M”s may also contain some animal-derived ingredients. I don’t say this – M&M’s UK said it in a tweet that went viral in 2019.
What M&M’s Flavors Contain Palm Oil?
Some of the popular M&M’s flavors that contain palm oil are Peanut, Peanut Butter, and Caramel.
Vegan M&M’s – Do They Exist?
As an M&M lover, I hate to say this, but I have to say it out aloud for all the vegans out there that there is no such thing as vegan M&M’s; they don’t exist!
None of the M&M flavors found all over the world are suitable for vegan consumption.
Having said that, you can certainly find some vegan alternatives to M&Ms and you’ll be delighted to hear that many of them actually taste good.
Vegan Alternatives to M&M’s
Following are some of the popular vegan alternatives to M&M’s:
- Choco No No’s by No Whey Foods
- Peppermint No No’s by No Whey Foods
- Little Secrets Dark Chocolate Pieces
- Little Secrets Sea Salted Peanut Dark Chocolate Pieces
- Little Secrets Sea Salted Almond Dark Chocolate Pieces
- Little Secrets Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Pieces
- Little Secrets Toasted Coconut Dark Chocolate Pieces
- Unreal’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Gems
- Unreal’s Dark Chocolate Crispy Quinoa Gems
- Chocomels Chocolate Sea Salt
While all these vegan alternatives of M&M’s have got good reviews, Unreal’s chocolate peanut ones seem to be most people’s favorite. Check out this review by Lori, a vegan, to get a better idea about what they’re like.
Are M&M’s Vegetarian?
Yes, M&M’s are generally considered suitable for vegetarians as they do not contain any meat or meat products, which vegetarians avoid. However, some vegetarians prefer to avoid the M&M’s that contain natural flavors as their source is unidentified and hence, can potentially be an animal source.
Want to learn about the vegan status of other candies? I have done a detailed post on another everyone’s favorite candy – Tootsie Rolls. Are Tootsie Rolls Vegan? Read to find out!