Most kids in America grow up eating Welch’s Fruit Snacks as a healthy yet sweet snack option. Along with other bagged snacks, fruit snacks were thrown in my lunch box on a daily basis.
These delicious snacks are often touted as a healthier alternative to sweets since they contain real fruit juice.
Are Welch’s Fruit Snacks vegan, though?
Although Welch’s Fruit Snacks are made with several all-natural ingredients, they are NOT vegan. The main reason is that they contain gelatin, an animal-derived powder from fat.
Additionally, they also contain refined white sugar, which many ethical vegans try to avoid since it’s filtered through bone char.
Today’s post is going to be all about fruit snacks! Below, I’ll outline all of the ingredients in Welch’s Fruit Snacks and explain exactly why they aren’t vegan-friendly.
Can Vegans Eat Fruit Snacks?
At first glance, fruit snacks seem innocent enough. Their very name implies that they’re fruit-based and, most likely, plant-based as well.
However, this isn’t usually the case.
Most mainstream brands of fruit snacks contain gelatin, which is non-vegan and is derived from animal fat.
Gelatin is a very common food additive that’s used in a variety of different candies, snacks, and breakfast foods, such as:
- Gummy bears
- Jell-O (which is almost pure gelatin)
- … and a whole lot more.
Gelatin was first discovered in 1682 by an early French food scientist. He discovered that he could extract the compound from animal bones by boiling them down into a thick stew.
It wasn’t until the late-1800s, though, that Peter Cooper created the world’s first edible gelatin. His idea went on to found Jell-O, a sweet treat made from powdered gelatin and flavoring.
All of that being said, though, gelatin is never vegan. Whenever you see any food product that contains gelatin, remember that the ingredient came directly from the remains of animals. As such, all vegans (both dietary and ethical vegans) avoid gelatin.
Another thing to consider is that fruit snacks actually aren’t that healthy for you, in the first place:
Are Fruit Snacks Dairy-Free?
Dairy additives are rampant in today’s commercial food. Whether you’re looking at breakfast cereal, candy, or even protein bars, you’ll find dairy-derived ingredients, such as:
- Nonfat milk
- Milk solids
- Sodium Caseinate
Milk powders like whey are often used in candy and snacks as they create a soft, smooth texture on the tip of your tongue that most consumers enjoy. Milk powder also helps spices and seasoning stick to the surface of food (which is why it’s used in Hot Cheetos).
Regardless of the brand, though, fruit snacks rarely ever contain any dairy.
To this day, I still have yet to see a single brand of fruit snacks that contain dairy by-products of any kind.
Can Vegans Eat Welch’s Fruit Snacks? A Look At The Ingredients
As I mentioned, Welch’s Fruit Snacks are, sadly, not vegan. The two main culprits are gelatin and refined white sugar. Gelatin is never vegan, while refined white sugar is only accepted by dietary vegans.
Here’s the shortlist of the ingredients, so you can see for yourself:
One of the most important things to learn how to do as a vegan is to learn how to read ingredients labels. When I first went vegan, I remember how hard it was to tell the difference between vegan and non-vegan products.
It took me several months of practice before I reached the point where I could easily tell if a certain food was or wasn’t vegan from the label.
As a result, I mostly just purchased foods that had the vegan symbol branded on the packaging. Unfortunately, many of these products tend to be more expensive.
Now, I can look at pretty much any food label and tell if it’s vegan or not within five seconds of reading through the ingredients.
So, whenever I write these types of posts, I always like to provide you guys with a full breakdown of the ingredients to help you understand some of the common food additives that are found in many foods.
So, here’s a quick breakdown of everything in Welch’s Fruit Snacks!
1) Fruit Puree
The main ingredient in Welch’s Fruit Snacks is fruit puree. While other brands are out here using pure artificial flavoring and corn syrup, I like the fact that Welch’s makes a point to use real fruit as the main ingredient in their fruit snacks.
Specifically, Welch’s Fruit Snacks are made with grape, orange, peach, strawberry, and raspberry puree. Unfortunately, these fruit snacks still contain non-vegan ingredients, so this doesn’t really matter all that much.
2) Corn Syrup
Next, Welch’s Fruit Snacks are made with corn syrup. Corn syrup is a plant-based sweetener that’s made by extracting sweet sugars from corn, which happens to be one of the sweetest vegetables in the world.
Corn syrup is 100% vegan and gives the fruit snacks a sweet, slightly syrupy texture once you start chewing them.
Refined sugar is the first problem ingredient used in Welch’s Fruit Snacks. Although sugar starts out as unrefined raw cane sugar (which is 100% vegan), the filtration process used to bleach the natural brown sugar into the pretty white crystals that most Americans expect is far from vegan.
To turn raw sugar into refined white sugar, the crystals must be filtered through high-carbon charcoal that’s made from animal bones. This process turns what would otherwise be a vegan sweetener into a non-vegan sweetener.
If you’re a typical dietary vegan who isn’t concerned with the ethics behind their food, then maybe you won’t mind this, as it’s not a direct animal product.
However, if you’re an ethical vegan who tries to avoid any and all animal cruelty, then you can’t ignore the fact that animals play a part in white sugar production.
4) Modified Corn Starch
Corn starch is often used in gummies and other candies. Not only does it keep the food moisture-free it also holds the product together and prevents the surface of the fruit snacks from sticking to each other.
Without corn starch, the fruit snacks would easily melt into each other, even at room temperature.
Gelatin is probably the least vegan ingredient used in Welch’s Fruit Snacks.
As I outlined above, gelatin comes straight from animal bones and leftover animal connective tissues that are boiled down and turned into powdered gelatin. It’s basically pure animal fat in the powdered form!
Unfortunately, gelatin is one of the main ingredients used in gummies and chewy candy-like fruit snacks. It’s the reason why fruit snacks have a chewy, gum-like texture instead of a hard candy texture.
6) Grape Juice Concentrate
If you didn’t know Welch’s is one of the biggest producers of high-quality grape juice in America. So, naturally, they use some of their concentrated Concord grape juice in their fruit snacks to give them a tart, juicy kick that sets them apart from the competition.
7) Citric Acid
Citric acid is a natural plant-derived acid that’s found in citrus and other fruits. However, more often, citric acid is synthesized in a lab. Either way, both plant-derived and lab-derived citric acid are vegan, so this isn’t an ingredient to worry about.
In the fruit snacks, it serves two purposes. Firstly, it helps give the fruit snacks a citrusy bite that makes them taste more like real fruit. Secondly, it works as a natural preservative, making the fruit snacks more acidic, which prevents bacteria from feeding on the sugars.
8) Lactic Acid
Although lactic acid may sound like a dairy product, it’s actually not. Sure, it can be found in dairy or meat. However, food-grade lactic acid is typically obtained from fermented fruits and vegetables.
Like citric acid, it serves as a natural, plant-based preservative that extends the shelf life of Welch’s Fruit Snacks.
9) Natural & Artificial Flavors
Most of the flavor in Welch’s Fruit Snacks comes from the fruit puree, pure grape juice, and corn syrup. However, the company also adds some natural and artificial flavors to the gummies to give them a more intense, desirable flavor.
10) Added Vitamins
Since Welch’s Fruit Snacks are primarily marketed toward children and parents, the company needed to find a way to make them slightly healthier. So, they decided to start adding vitamins to the gummies!
11) Sodium Citrate
Sodium citrate is another natural plant-based preservative that works similarly to lactic acid and citric acid. It’s vegan, though, so don’t worry!
12) Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is added to the gummies to give them a thicker consistency. It also acts as a natural emulsifier, holding the gummies together.
13) Carnauba Wax
The outside of each gummy is coated with a thin layer of carnauba wax, which keeps air and moisture from penetrating the surface of the fruit snacks. This is a natural plant-based oil obtained from palm trees.
16) Natural & Artificial Coloring
Lastly, each fruit snack is colored with natural and artificial colors, according to the flavor of each gummy.
The Verdict – Are Welch’s Fruit Snacks Vegan-Friendly?
Unfortunately, Welch’s Fruit Snacks are not vegan-friendly, as they contain gelatin and refined white sugar. You may be able to find some vegan-friendly organic fruit snacks online or at your local health food store, but the majority of all gummy candy is going to contain gelatin.
If you’re looking for a sweet, chewy, gelatin-free candy, though, I recommend AirHeads. The original AirHeads strips are generally regarded as vegan-safe. To learn more, check out my latest post on AirHeads next!