Starburst is a very popular taffy-like candy that many enjoy due to its softness and fruity flavor. They can make a great treat, regardless of the fact that they are not healthy… at all. So… are they vegan?
Well, in the UK they are. However, in the US, they contain a product known as Gelatin.
What Is Gelatin?
Gelatin is an animal agriculture byproduct that comes off the bones of animals. It’s the coagulated substance that you might find on a thanksgiving turkey after you have left it in the fridge overnight. For some reason, people have decided to take this bone goo, and use it in candy.
It is used kind of as a binder. It makes gummi worms, well… gummy. It also gives Starburst that specific enjoyable texture. Thankfully, Pectin exists. Pectin is kind of like gelatin, but it comes from plants instead of animals.
What About Palm Oil?
Palm oil is a product of contention among vegans. While it is vegan (it contains no animal products) it causes the destruction of rainforests in order to harvest. This destruction can be harmful to animals and is an unsustainable oil. However, the problem comes from the fact that palm oil is used in almost everything, including vegan butter.
Palm oil is also used often in things like ramen, Oreos, and many other otherwise vegan products. This has made it hard for many vegans to avoid the substance. So whether or not palm oil is vegan depends on how strict of a vegan you are. If you want to focus on eliminating palm oil from your diet due to environmental destruction and harm to animals, then it is not vegan. However, if you are more of a complacent vegan, and focus mainly on just eliminating animal products, then it is.
Is Refined Sugar Vegan?
This is a pretty simple question for me, but harder for some vegans. A fair amount of sugar is processed using bone char. Bone char is literally the charred bones of animals. However, it is almost impossible to know if the sugar used is processed in that method or not.
Since everything from candy to pasta sauce contains added sugar, the only way you can truly avoid processed sugar is to either be very vigilant in what you buy, which can be entirely stressful. Or you can only eat whole fruits and vegetables for the rest of your life, which is OK for many, but not for most. I like pasta and veggie burgers too much for that!
- Starburst Minis seem to be gelatin-free, but I believe they still contain palm oil
- Airheads and Now & Laters are both palm oil free as well as vegan if you need a good alternative