Veggie straws… aka the so-called “healthy” cousins of traditional potato chips (or so we’re led to believe through marketing).
They’re crunchy, taste a bit like a more fried version of French fries, and are lightly salted or seasoned. While most people assume they’re automatically vegan, this isn’t always the case.
So, are veggie straws vegan?
Most veggie straws are vegan-friendly. However, some varieties are not. It all depends on the brand you’re looking at, and what type of seasonings and ingredients they use.
Some veggie straws are 100% plant-based, while others contain dairy by-products used in their seasoning mix or are cooked in non-sustainable palm oil.
Below, I’ll give you a bit more background on veggie straws and break down all of the ingredients in Garden Veggie Straws, which are one of the best-selling brands! After this, you’ll know exactly what to shop for.
Do Veggie Straws Have Milk In Them?
This is easily one of the most common questions I’ve been asked about various brands of veggie straws. If you’re new to the vegan diet, then it might seem like a bit of an odd question.
However, experienced vegans know that chips are notorious for containing unexpected milk and dairy by-products.
Most “plain” or “unflavored” veggie straws are dairy-free. However, watch out for the flavored veggie straws.
Some of them are cheese-flavored and contain obvious dairy products, while others contain dairy by-products like whey or casein, which are added to improve the texture and help the seasonings bind to the surface of the veggie straws.
The best way to tell for sure whether or not a certain brand of veggie chips has dairy or not is to take a good hard look at the ingredients list.
Dairy will rarely be one of the main ingredients (at the top of the list), but will usually be located towards the middle or end of the list, where the smaller, less used additives are listed.
Some of the most common dairy additives to look out for in veggie straws are:
- Milk powder
- Skim milk
- Sour cream
- Sodium caseinate
Do Garden Veggie Straws Have Dairy?
Garden Veggie Straws are probably the most popular brand of veggie straws. They were the first type of veggie straw that I remember eating as a child and they’ve been around for quite some time.
Long before the vegan movement took the world by storm, Garden Veggie Straws were a favorite among vegetarians and health-conscious eaters.
That being said, vegetarians have a very different diet from most vegans. While vegans abstain from all animal products, vegetarians allow themselves to consume milk, dairy, eggs, and honey.
So, just because a product is vegetarian doesn’t always mean that it’s vegan-friendly.
Thankfully, most of the unflavored or lightly-flavored varieties of Garden Veggie Straws are dairy-free!
The Sea Salt variety is my go-to choice for vegan veggie straws, and they’re completely vegan! They even use natural cane sugar instead of refined white sugar, which I really appreciate.
Are All Flavors of Garden Veggie Straws Vegan?
Unfortunately, not all flavors of Garden Veggie Straws are vegan. Here’s a quick list of the vegan and non-vegan varieties of Garden Veggie Straws so you can see for yourself:
|Garden Veggie Straws Vegan Flavors||Garden Veggie Straws Non-Vegan Flavors|
|Sea Salt||Zesty Ranch (contains buttermilk and sour cream)|
|Sweet Potato||Cheddar (contains whey, sour cream, and cheddar cheese)|
|Sweet Potato & Sea Salt|
While I love the original Sea Salt Garden Veggie Chips, I also really enjoy the Sweet Potato variety. If you’re a fan of sweet-and-salty chips, then I definitely recommend trying them out sometime!
Do Veggie Straws Have Eggs?
Eggs are most certainly not vegan, as the commercial egg industry is incredibly cruel to both mother hens and newborn chicks that are raised to produce eggs. Therefore, it’s an important ingredient to look out for.
Thankfully, most brands and varieties of veggie straws are egg-free. Egg isn’t a very common ingredient to find in chips and crunchy snacks.
The foods that I really have to look out for when it comes to eggs are usually bread products (such as waffles) and sweets (like pastries, cookies, and brownies).
Do Veggie Straws Actually Have Vegetables In Them?
You’d be surprised just how many varieties of “healthy” chips there are out there that don’t contain half of what you’d expect. When most people look at a bag of veggie straws, they automatically assume that each different color of veggie straw comes from a different vegetable.
While this is sometimes the case, most brands of veggie straws don’t contain that many veggies.
The most commonly used vegetable in veggie straws is potato, which is the base of most veggie straw brands. Additionally, spinach powder, tomato, or other vegetable colorings may be added to provide added flavor and color.
What Are Veggie Straws Made Of? Ingredients Revealed
At this point, you’re probably beginning to get curious about what veggie straws are actually made of. If so, then you’ve come to the right spot!
Below, I’ll be breaking down all of the key ingredients in the best-selling brand and variety of veggie chips on the market – Garden Veggie Straws (Sea Salt Variety).
Here’s the shortlist of the ingredients, obtained from the manufacturer’s website:
Now, let’s take a minute to go through them, so I can help you clear up any confusion.
1) Potato Starch
The number one ingredient is potato starch, which is a fine, processed, starchy powder that’s derived from potato flour. While potato starch is plant-based and vegan (it comes straight from potatoes), it’s not very healthy.
For one, potato starch is highly processed. This means that it goes through a lot of mechanical and chemical processes that remove most of the nutritious value from the potatoes. This, in turn, means that potato starch is pretty much just pure empty carbs.
2) Potato Flour
Like all-purpose wheat flour, potato flour is 100% vegan. It’s just a powdery baking additive that’s made by drying, mashing, and grinding potatoes into a type of “meal.” Potato flour is very similar to wheat flour but has a slightly different taste, texture, and consistency.
3) Vegetable Oil
Remember – veggie straws are chips. As most other types of chips, they’re deep-fried in vegetable oil. Thankfully, Garden Veggie Straws only use sustainably-sourced vegetable oils.
The label says that canola, safflower, and sunflower oil (or a combination thereof) are the primary cooking oils used in their recipe.
These are all vegan-friendly and plant-based.
Most forms of vegetable oil are vegan, with the exception of palm oil. Unlike the other varieties of vegetable oil, palm oil is unsustainable and contributes to massive amounts of rainforest deforestation. So, it’s an important ingredient to look out for!
4) Spinach Powder
Do you know the little green veggie straws? Well, they get their flavor (and color) from the green spinach powder used to make them. They share the same potato base as the other veggie straws, but the added spinach gives them a slightly different flavor.
Spinach powder, of course, is vegan and is just a dried and ground variety of spinach leaves. It doesn’t mention the concentration of spinach powder on the ingredients list, so it probably doesn’t add too much extra nutritional value. It sure makes them taste good, though!
5) Tomato Paste
Just like the green straws are flavored with spinach, the red straws are flavored with tomato paste. This is just a thick paste that’s made from boiled and mashed tomatoes and serves as the base for most pizza and pasta sauce. It’s 100% vegan, as it’s made from pure tomatoes.
A bit of salt is added to the veggie straw dough before the straws are fried. This not only adds a bit of flavor but also strengthens the dough itself, making the straws crispier and firmer.
7) Cane Sugar
You might not expect it, but the cane sugar really helps bring out some of the flavors in the tomato paste, potatoes, and spinach. Without it, the chips would honestly taste a bit bland.
Thankfully, cane sugar is 100% vegan!
Unlike white sugar (which isn’t vegan due to it being filtered through animal bone char), cane sugar is natural, vegan, and unprocessed.
8) Corn Starch
A bit of corn starch is sprinkled on the outside of each veggie straw before it’s fried. This helps them cook more evenly and gives them an ultra-crispy texture.
9) Potassium Chloride
Potassium chloride is an interesting food additive that serves a number of different purposes when used in food. It can be used as a preservative, flavor additive, or thickening agent.
In this case, I’m almost certain that it’s used as a preservative since there are no other preservatives in this snack.
Turmeric is an interesting (and incredibly healthy) herb that’s often used for its deep yellow color. It’s one of the most popular forms of natural food coloring and is often used in place of artificial coloring agents.
11) Beetroot Powder
Like turmeric, beetroot powder is known for its incredibly deep red color. This is used to color the tomato-flavored straws and make them look more vibrant.
12) Sea Salt
Last but not least, all of the veggie straws are seasoned with a bit of all-natural sea salt.
Are Veggie Straws Healthy?
If you just go based on the packaging, veggie straws certainly look very healthy… However, at the end of the day, they’re still chips.
Veggie straws are a bit healthier than most popular brands of chips. However, they still contain a lot of empty carbs (potato flour, starch, sugar), and are cooked with fatty vegetable oil that isn’t very nutrient-dense.
So, while they make for a great snack in moderation, it’s definitely not a good idea to go overboard with them!
The Verdict – Are Veggie Straws Vegan-Friendly?
Most veggie straws are vegan-friendly. As a general rule of thumb, the unflavored varieties are the safest. Just be sure to avoid any cheese-flavored veggie straws, as they almost always contain dairy!
If you’re looking for some other great-tasting vegan snacks, then be sure to check out my list of the best vegan chips brands next!