If you were a 90s kid like myself, then chances are that you grew up eating Uncrustables. These pre-made PB&J sandwiches can be found at almost every grocery store and are often sold at school lunch facilities as well.
They’re pretty much a dream come true for anybody who loves a PB&J sandwich but hates dealing with bread crust.
However, are Uncrustables vegan?
Dietarily speaking, some flavors of Uncrustables are vegan, as they don’t contain any immediate animal products. The meat-and-cheese Uncrustables, as well as the honey-flavored Uncrustables, are off-limits for all vegans.
However, dietary vegans can safely consume the traditional strawberry and grape jelly Uncrustables.
That being said, even the original PB&J Uncrustables all contain refined white sugar, which many ethical vegans try to avoid. They’re one of those foods that you just have to think carefully about and decide whether it’s right for you.
But, that’s why you’re here, right?
In today’s post, I’ll give you a full breakdown of all of the ingredients used to make PB&J Uncrustables, show you which flavors are dietarily vegan, and explain why most ethical vegans don’t eat Uncrustables (while dietary vegans do).
Are you ready to hyper-analyze a seemingly simple PB&J sandwich? If so, then continue reading…
Are All Uncrustables Vegan?
Although the company started out making simple PB&J sandwiches (without the crust, of course), the brand has since grown to include a number of different sandwiches. The current lineup of Uncrustables sandwiches includes:
- Peanut Butter & Grape Jelly Sandwich (also available with reduced sugar)
- Peanut Butter & Strawberry Jelly Sandwich (also available with reduced sugar)
- Chocolate-Flavored Hazelnut Spread Sandwich
- Peanut Butter & Honey Spread Sandwich
- Uncured Ham & Cheddar Cheese Roll-Ups
- Turkey & Colby Jack Cheese Roll-Ups
As you can tell, the last two are clearly non-vegan, as they contain both meat and cheese, which are immediate animal products. However, the following flavors are also non-vegan:
- Chocolate-Flavored Hazelnut Spread (contains milk)
- Peanut Butter & Honey Spread Sandwich (contains honey, a non-vegan ingredient)
Just looking at the front of the package, you’d think that both of these flavors are vegan-friendly. This is why it’s so important to learn about the ingredients that are in your food and get used to reading the ingredients label of every food that you consume.
Regarding the Chocolate-Flavored Hazelnut Spread and the Peanut Butter & Honey Spread sandwiches, both of these contain subtle ingredients that you may not even realize.
For instance, chocolate, in its natural form, doesn’t usually contain milk. Unless you read the label, you’d never know that Smuckers uses milk chocolate to make their hazelnut spread.
As far as the Peanut Butter & Honey Spread Uncrustables go, many vegans aren’t aware that honey is non-vegan. I didn’t even think anything of honey until I’d been a vegan for well over a year!
Sadly, honey isn’t just given willingly to beekeepers. Bees make honey for a specific purpose – to feed their young and get them through the cold winter months when there’s no nectar or flowers around.
By stealing honey from bee colonies, beekeepers consign young larvae to premature deaths and mess with the fragile ecosystem that honey bees maintain. This is why most vegans regard honey as a food product that’s obtained through the exploitation of animals, and therefore not vegan.
Last but not least, both varieties of the Peanut Butter & Jelly Uncrustables are non-vegan, as far as ethical vegans are concerned. This is because both varieties contain refined sugar, which is filtered through animal bone char.
Dietary vegans are mostly concerned with not consuming immediate animal products, while ethical vegans refuse to consume anything that’s made with the slightest trace of animal involvement.
Can Vegans Eat PB&J?
For the most part, PB&J sandwiches are vegan-friendly. They’re simple sandwiches made from peanut butter, fruit-based jelly, and bread. That being said, all three of these ingredients can be non-vegan. Here’s why:
- Peanut butter can contain refined sugar, palm oil, or honey (all of which are non-vegan).
- Jelly can contain gelatin or refined white sugar (which isn’t vegan).
- Bread can contain dairy, milk, eggs, or animal-derived vitamin D3.
This is why it’s so important to read your labels. Whenever I’m purchasing peanut butter, jelly, or bread, I always make an effort to buy organic, vegan-friendly options that don’t contain any questionable ingredients or additives.
Is Smucker’s Jelly Vegan?
Uncrustables are made by Smuckers, which happens to be one of the most popular brands of jelly in America. Smucker’s Jelly is made from a few different ingredients, including:
- Strawberries (or grapes)
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Corn syrup
- Fruit pectin
- Citric acid
While most of the ingredients are vegan-friendly, Smuckers Jelly still contains refined white sugar, which is non-vegan as far as ethical vegans are concerned.
So, in short, Smuckers Jelly is dietarily vegan but is not ethically vegan.
Are PB&J Uncrustables Vegan? A Look At The Ingredients
If you’re a simple dietary vegan who just wants to avoid consuming pure animal products, then the PB&J Uncrustables can be considered vegan. However, if you’re opposed to consuming sugar, then the PB&J Uncrustables might be an issue for you.
Here’s a quick look at the ingredients, obtained directly from the Uncrustables website:
Now, to help you understand all of the jargon and chemicals, here’s a brief rundown of all of the ingredients, so you can see what you’re looking at.
First, let’s start with the bread since that makes up the majority of the sandwich…
1) Enriched Unbleached Flour
The first ingredient is enriched unbleached flour, which is 100% vegan. It’s just dried wheat that’s ground into a fine powder that’s used for baking. Additionally, the flour is enriched with some B vitamins and natural minerals that make it more healthy.
The water is mixed with the enriched flour to make the dough, which is cooked and baked into bread. As always, water is 100% vegan.
3) Unbleached Whole Wheat Flour
After the dough is made, it’s rolled in a bit of unbleached whole wheat flour. This prevents the dough from getting too sticky and falling apart. Like the enriched flour used for the dough, this unbleached whole wheat flour is vegan.
Unlike whole-wheat bread, the type of bread used in Uncrustables is sweet, since the food is primarily marketed toward sugar-addicted kids.
Unfortunately, this is the main non-vegan ingredient in the food, as refined white sugar is bleached and stripped of its color through a non-vegan filtration process that involves animal bone charcoal.
Yeast is 100% vegan and is a key ingredient used to bake bread. It’s a natural single-cell organism that feeds on sugar and releases gasses that help the bread to rise.
6) Soybean Oil
Soybean oil is the main fat that holds the dough together. Thankfully, soybean oil is both sustainable and vegan-friendly.
Most bread contains a bit of salt, which helps balance out the flavor of the dough. Don’t worry, though, salt is vegan!
8) Dough Conditioners
Artificial chemical-derived dough conditioners are compounds that are added to the dough to improve the texture and consistency. While these aren’t exactly natural or healthy, they are vegan-friendly.
The Peanut Butter
Next, we have peanut butter…
Peanuts are an all-natural nut. They’re plant-based, healthy, and always vegan.
Here we have that pesky sugar problem again. This is added to make the peanut butter less salty and sweeter.
Molasses is made by re-adding syrup into a white sugar base. Unfortunately, this means that most molasses is non-vegan.
The only type of vegan-friendly molasses on the market is “blackstrap molasses” or “organic molasses,” both of which are made from unrefined cane sugar.
12) Vegetable Oil
A bit of vegetable oil is used to make the peanut butter less viscous. This vegetable oil is vegan, though.
13) Mono & Diglycerides
These vegan-friendly chemicals are emulsifiers, which help the peanut butter remain homogenous and prevent the ingredients from separating.
All peanut butter contains a bit of salt for flavor.
Last but not least, we have the jelly…
You really can’t escape sugar in Uncrustables, can you?
16) Grape Juice
Grape juice is 100% plant-based and is vegan friendly, so no worries there!
Pectin is a plant-based, vegan-friendly alternative to gelatin. It helps the jelly stick together and keeps the ingredients homogenous.
18) Citric Acid
Citric acid is natural and plant-based. It serves as a natural preservative and gives the jelly a more citrusy flavor.
19) Potassium Sorbate
Potassium sorbate is a vegan-friendly chemical preservative.
What Flavors Of Uncrustable Are Vegan?
So, now that you understand a little bit more about what Uncrustables are made of and the debate between ethical and dietary vegans, here’s a quick table outlining the dietarily vegan-friendly Uncrustables flavors:
|Vegan-Friendly Uncrustables||Non-Vegan Uncrustables|
|Peanut Butter & Strawberry Jelly Sandwich||Chocolate-Flavored Hazelnut Spread Sandwich|
|Peanut Butter & Grape Jelly Sandwich||Peanut Butter & Honey Spread Sandwich|
|Peanut Butter & Strawberry Jelly Sandwich (Low-Sugar)||Uncured Pepperoni Roll-Ups|
|Peanut Butter & Grape Jelly Sandwich (Low-Sugar)||Uncured Ham & Cheddar Cheese Roll-Ups|
|Turkey & Colby Jack Cheese Roll-Ups|
Keep in mind that all Uncrustables are non-vegan as far as ethical vegans are concerned. Even the Uncrustables flavors that don’t contain meat, cheese, milk, or honey still contain refined sugar.
The Verdict – Are Uncrustables Vegan-Friendly?
While most Uncrustables aren’t vegan, the PB&J Uncrustables, at least, are dietarily vegan. At the end of the day, though, I’d say you’re better off making your own homemade PB&J sandwiches using vegan-friendly bread, peanut butter, and jelly.
To see some of my favorite vegan bread, check out my list of the best vegan bread brands next!