Girl Scout Thin Mints Cookies are, by far, one of the most iconic cookies in America, and have been a favorite since they were first released in 1951.
Throughout the year, young ladies in the Girl Scouts set up stands selling boxes of cookies to raise money for their organization. Many grocery stores also stock Thin Mints cookies as well!
However, are Thin Mints Vegan?
Although Thin Mints used to contain dairy, they are now 100% vegan-friendly! In 2015, the Girl Scouts changed their recipe so that it was more inclusive for vegan and lactose-intolerant individuals.
The only problem that some vegans may find with these cookies is that they contain refined white sugar.
Finally, some good news! Many of the cookies I’ve reviewed are a no-go for vegans as they contain milk chocolate, dairy, gelatin, or other questionable ingredients. In today’s post, I’m going to give you a full breakdown of the Girl Scout’s famous Thin Mints cookies.
I’ll answer some of the most common questions about the cookies, explain all of the ingredients, and show you some of the other vegan-friendly varieties of Girl Scout Cookies!
Are Thin Mints Dairy-Free?
Yes! Today’s Girl Scouts Thin Mints are completely dairy-free. If you look at the ingredients list, you won’t find any traces of common dairy additives, such as:
- Milk solids
- Powdered milk
Additionally, Girl Scouts Cookies are manufactured in a clean, safe facility, so you’ll never have to worry about any cross-contamination.
This often happens at companies that manufacture multiple varieties of non-vegan cookies on the same machinery that they produce supposed “vegan-friendly” cookies on.
This is the same problem that vegans have with Oreos.
Although the Oreos themselves are relatively vegan-friendly, they’re manufactured on the same equipment as other dairy-containing foods. This, unfortunately, makes them non-vegan.
Are Thin Mints Plant-Based? A Look At The Ingredients
For the most part, Thin Mints are made from plant-based ingredients. The main ingredients are flour, sugar, oil, and cocoa, all of which come from plants.
There are a few non-natural additives, such as leavening, caramel color, artificial flavors, and soy lecithin. However, Thin Mints are generally considered a plant-based cookies.
Here’s the most recent ingredients list, obtained from the Girl Scouts Cookies website:
Now that you have a better understanding of the ingredients, I want to take a couple of minutes to break each one down, so you can read through all of the complicated-sounding dietary jargon!
1) Enriched Flour
Like most cookies on the market, all Girl Scouts cookies start off with enriched flour, which is then combined with water to create dough. This dough is used to make the sandwich cookies of each variety of Girl Scouts cookies.
Flour, itself, is 100% plant-based. It’s a simple baking powder that’s made from ground-up wheat, which is, of course, a plant. This plain all-purpose flour base is then enriched with added vitamins and minerals. This results in a slightly healthier dough that’s more nutritious than plain flour.
As I mentioned above, sugar is the only questionable ingredient that’s used in Thin Mints. While sugar is a plant-based sweetener, the refined white sugar used by most food companies goes through a process that isn’t exactly vegan.
To remove the natural brown coloring and malt flavor of raw unrefined sugar, the crystals are filtered through special charcoal that’s made from the bones of dead cows. This is referred to as animal bone char.
While none of the bone char actually makes it into the final product, the very fact that it’s used in the production of sugar is enough to turn many vegans away.
This is because ethical vegans (as opposed to dietary vegans) don’t believe in using any product that involved the slightest bit of animal cruelty.
Since sugar refineries purchase animal bone char directly from slaughterhouses, many consider it to be a non-vegan sweetener.
On the other hand, if you’re a pure dietary vegan who doesn’t mind consuming a bit of white sugar here and there, then it shouldn’t be a big issue for you.
3) Vegetable Oil
Almost all pastries and cookies are made with a bit of vegetable oil. It holds the dough mixture together and helps during the baking process. Specifically, Thin Mints contain palm oil, cottonseed oil, and soybean oil.
Like sugar, palm oil is another questionable ingredient used in food and baking. While palm oil is a plant-based oil, the industry is very destructive to our planet’s rainforests.
This is because it’s almost always obtained from South American or Indonesian companies that burn down thousands of acres of natural rainforest every year to make room for new crops.
Cocoa is the main ingredient used to make the delicious chocolate coating on all thin mints. Cocoa is 100% plant-based, vegan, and is actually quite healthy for you!
5) Caramel Color
To give the cookies their signature color, Girl Scouts Cookies use a bit of natural caramel coloring. This caramel coloring is vegan-friendly and doesn’t come from animals, though, so don’t worry about it.
Almost all cookies and crackers use a leavening agent like baking soda to prevent the cookie dough from rising. This is what keeps cookies flat and thin.
Hence the term “Thin” Mints. Baking soda is 100% organic and comes from a natural compound called sodium bicarbonate. So, no worries here!
7) Invert Sugar
Invert sugar is just a fancy way of saying “sugar syrup.” A little bit of this is added to the outer coating of the cookies to give them a sweeter, more sugary taste.
Cornstarch is a common food additive that’s used to add consistency and texture to foods. In Thin Mints, it’s used to help the chocolate coating bind to the cookies. It also helps keep the cookies moisture-free and prevents the cookies from sticking to each other too much.
A wee bit of vegan-friendly salt is added to the cookies to help balance out the sharpness of the sugar and inverted sugar.
10) Soy Lecithin
Soy lecithin is a naturally derived (although chemically altered) substance that’s used as a type of natural preservative. It’s not animal-derived, though, and is generally considered a vegan ingredient.
11) Natural & Artificial Flavors
To get that signature Thin Mints flavor, Girl Scouts Cookies use a secret blend of natural and artificial flavors. None of the flavors are animal or dairy-derived, though, so these aren’t of much concern.
12) Peppermint Oil
Lastly, Thin Mints contain a bit of real peppermint oil! If you’ve ever used peppermint essential oil, then you’ll remember that a little bit goes a LONG way. This is the “special sauce” that gives Thin Mints that sharp, impossible-to-forget peppermint taste.
When Did Thin Mints Go Vegan?
When Girl Scouts were first released in 1951 (back then they were called Chocolate Mints), dairy was one of the main ingredients. It was used to give the cookies a softer, creamier texture. That same recipe barely changed over sixty years.
Then, in 2015, the organization changed its longtime recipe to exclude dairy. Today, all Girl Scouts Thin Mints cookies are 100% vegan and dairy-free!
It’s good to see another popular company changing for the better and offering more inclusive options for their customers. I, for one, love Thin Mints and will be picking up a box for myself this weekend.
Which Girl Scout Cookies Are Vegan?
Here’s a quick list of the Girl Scouts Cookies that are 100% vegan-friendly:
- Thin Mints
- Peanut Butter Patties
The Verdict – Thin Mints Are Vegan-Friendly!
Thin Mints, along with several other flavors of Girl Scouts Cookies are vegan! Keep in mind that all Girl Scouts Cookies do contain refined white sugar, which ethical vegans try to avoid. However, I really appreciate the company removing dairy from their cookies as that is a truly evil industry.
For more great vegan-friendly cookies, be sure to read my latest post on the best vegan cookie brands next!