Peeps are an Easter staple that you’ll find in almost every grocery store throughout the spring season.
These cute little chicks have captured the heart of almost every little child (including my younger self) at least once. Personally, I stopped eating them after I got sick for one year. Trying to eat ten Peeps in one go is never a smart idea…
However, are Peeps vegan?
Unfortunately, Peeps are NOT vegan. They’re essentially pure marshmallows, which are almost never vegan either. The main non-vegan ingredient in Peeps is gelatin, which is derived from cows.
Additionally, the puffed marshmallow candy also contains refined white sugar, which many vegans abstain from.
Although they may not be vegan-friendly, Peeps are still an iconic snack. So, needless to say, they’re not going away anytime soon.
In today’s post, I’m going to explain exactly why Peeps aren’t vegan and review the other ingredients used to make the candy, so you can better understand your ingredients labels!
Why Are Peeps Not Vegan?
I get it… Peeps look so innocent.
I mean, what’s not to love about a cute little chicklet staring up into your eyes?
Then again, are you really thinking about eating food that’s shaped like a baby chicken? These were the first thoughts that hit my brain when I ate my first Peep as a child.
Aside from the fact that eating Peeps is promoting eating baby chickens, Peeps themselves aren’t even slightly vegan. At least they’re open and honest about it, though.
The main reason that Peeps aren’t vegan is that they contain gelatin, which is derived from animal remains. Because Peeps contain gelatin, it also means that they’re not vegetarian-friendly either.
Last but not least, Peeps aren’t healthy in the least bit. They’re loaded with sugar and empty carbs and won’t do anything except make you sick on your stomach.
What Kind Of Gelatin Is In Peeps?
Gelatin can only be obtained from animals, so it’s never, ever vegan.
Most gelatin is derived from the bones of slaughtered cows. However, gelatin is also present in pork bones, which are used for gelatin as well.
Peeps primarily use beef-derived gelatin.
There’s almost no difference between beef and pork-derived gelatin. They’re both tasteless and highly processed, so it’s almost impossible to tell which is which.
However, some religions prohibit the consumption of pork or beef specifically, so it’s good to know which type of gelatin is used.
When most first-time vegans find out that gelatin isn’t vegan, they don’t know how to respond. Admittedly, gelatin looks innocent. After all, it’s the main ingredient in Jell-O, a food product that almost every kid eats.
So, you can imagine the surprise on strangers’ faces when I tell them that gelatin is really just pure powdered animal fat. I bet you’ll think twice before reaching for a Jell-O shot next time!
Do Peeps Have Dairy?
Although Peeps are known for having a rich, creamy consistency, Peeps do not contain any dairy products.
Instead, their creamy texture comes from the combination of gelatin and corn syrup.
What Are Peeps Made Of? Ingredients Listed
At this point, you’re probably well aware of the fact that Peeps aren’t vegan and contain a significant amount of animal-derived gelatin. That’s not the only thing that’s unhealthy about Peeps, though. They’re loaded with artificial ingredients that are anything but good for you.
Just take a look:
Now, I’ll take a couple of minutes to run through the list and explain the ingredients so you can see for yourself!
First up, we have sugar. While sugar may seem like an innocent, plant-based sweetener, it’s actually filtered through animal bone char. Sadly, this process turns what would otherwise be a natural plant-based sugar into a not-so-vegan sweetener.
Vegans generally try to consume coconut sugar or organic cane sugar instead.
2) Corn Syrup
Next, we have corn syrup. Corn syrup is 100% vegan and is all-natural. It’s not refined through any bone char, so you don’t have to worry about that. However, corn syrup isn’t very healthy for you, as it’s a concentrated form of sugar and empty carbs.
As I’ve expounded upon throughout this post, gelatin is not vegan. This popular food additive is found in everything from Pop-Tarts to gummy bears and is known for creating a “chewy” consistency. It’s also used as an emulsifier to help hold food products together.
4) Gum Arabic
Gum arabic is a natural tree gum that’s extracted from trees. It’s essentially just hardened tree sap. When added to food products, such as marshmallows or Peeps, it serves as a sticky additive that helps the food maintain its shape.
5) Artificial Flavors
All Peeps contain at least a little bit of artificial flavoring. While all artificial flavors are vegan (since they’re lab-made), this food is still non-vegan. So don’t get too excited.
It’s not really clear which flavors are used in Peeps, but I’d presume that they contain some type of vanilla flavoring, which most marshmallows do. The flavored Peeps may also contain artificial fruit flavoring.
6) Artificial Food Coloring
Traditionally, Peeps are yellow-colored. However, they’ve started releasing more and more “fun” colors, such as blue and pink. These artificial colors are all vegan-friendly. However, they’re not exactly healthy for you. In fact, some artificial food coloring has been linked to diseases like cancer!
7) Potassium Sorbate
Potassium sorbate is a common preservative that’s used in a number of different food products. This artificially-made chemical is vegan, though, so it’s not something to be too concerned about.
8) Carnauba Wax
Carnauba wax is a natural wax that’s obtained from palm trees. While it’s the same wax that’s used to protect cars, it’s also FDA approved for human consumption.
Although carnauba wax isn’t used inside the Peeps, it’s used to make the eyes of the Peeps. This is why the eyes have such a bright, life-like shine to them!
The Verdict – Are Peeps Vegan-Friendly?
Sadly, this Easter favorite is not vegan-friendly as Peeps contain both refined white sugar and beef-derived gelatin. This shouldn’t come as a huge shock, though, considering that Peeps are just pretty-looking marshmallows (which are almost never vegan).
That being said, if you’re looking for some great vegan-friendly marshmallows, I suggest visiting Trader Joe’s! Trader Joe’s is known for their delicious vegan snacks and also offers vegan marshmallows that are 100% gelatin-free.