Vegan Candy Guide: A Roadmap to the Best Ethical Sweets

From vegan chocolate to chewy taffy, here are the best vegan candy brands to sweeten up your day the plant-based way. From chocolate Easter bunnies to haunted Halloween gummies to Christmas stocking stuffers, with this guide, you can have your vegan candy and eat it too!
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A hand holding a vegan chocolate caramel.
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Everyone is born with an innate attraction to all things sweet, so it should come as no surprise that the love of candy transcends all ages and cultural boundaries.

As far back as 2000 BCE, ancient Egyptians were making treats from honey, nuts, and dried fruits like dates and figs. Not long after, dried sugarcane was used in India to create the world’s first granulated sweetener, and there’s been no end to confectionery innovation since then.

Now, candies come in all colors, shapes, sizes, and flavors imaginable, which is both good and bad news for discerning eaters. All too often, undesirable ingredients make it into the mix, including animal products. How can you avoid them while still satisfying your sweet tooth as a vegan? It’s easy when you know what to look for!

vegan candy guide with lollipops and other candies on a blue background

What Makes Some Candy Not Vegan?

Animal products have been historically used as cheaper shortcuts to make mass production possible. You may not recognize the names at first, and to make matters worse, it’s almost impossible to read all that fine print on such a tiny label. When in doubt, consult the brand’s website for a closer look. Keep an eye out for the following:

  • Milk, whey, butter, butterfat, or casein: Though this may seem obvious, dairy can show up in some surprising places. Beware that “lactose-free” doesn’t necessarily mean dairy-free, too.
  • Eggs, egg whites, or egg albumin: Often used to bind sugary substances together, egg derivatives can be found in sweets such as meringue.
  • Gelatin: Made from ground hooves and bones, this is what gives many old-fashioned gummies their chew and marshmallows their springy texture.
  • Beeswax: There are many other perfectly good food grade waxes that will prevent candies from sticking to one another, but this option is harvested from bees that really need it more than we do.
  • Honey: As a ploy to give sugary treats a health halo, honey is sometimes used as a supposedly more natural alternative to white sugar. It’s too bad it’s inherently cruel on a commercial scale, and definitely not vegan.
  • Confectioner’s glaze or shellac: This sounds so innocent, and it’s included for purely aesthetic reasons. This substance gives many candies a shiny outer shell, but unfortunately, it’s the product of bug secretions. (Ewww!)
  • Carmine or cochneal: Waiter, there’s a bug in my candy! That’s right, this red coloring comes from the natural pigments found in various insects.
  • Bone char: This is quite possibly the worst offender on this list because unlike the others, manufacturers don’t need to list this as an ingredient, so it’s very hard to know when it has or hasn’t been used. It’s part of the process used to bleach sugar bright white, using cattle bones. For more information, here’s our take on whether sugar is vegan.

Best Vegan Candy Options

Are you ready for a sweet revolution? Vegan candy brands are taking the world by storm with their delicious and ethical treats! Whether you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, or just looking for something new and exciting, these candy bars are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Gourmet, high-end ingredients, fancy flavors, and dedicated vegan brands are elevating the art of confectionary as we know it. These are truly special treats, some of which may need to be ordered online, but are worth the extra effort.

Vegan Candy Bars

Go Max Go – With Go Max Go’s vegan candy bars, you don’t have to miss out on the classic chocolate bar experience. They make vegan spins on the most popular classic candy bars like Snickers, Almond Joys, and 3 Musketeers.

Nine vegan candy bars by Go Max Go Foods laid out on a table.

Harken Bars – The new kid on the block, these reimagined chocolate candy bars are made from a beloved ingredient: dates! They’re better-for-you with no added sugar, but still carry that nostalgic candy bar taste and feel. They use fair trade chocolate, are woman founded, and are paving a much brighter and healthier future for the candy bar industry.

A woman holding up three Harken candy bars outdoors.

Gigantic – Gigantic’s vegan candy bars are so deliciously huge, they’re practically mythical! Made with all-natural ingredients and free from dairy, gluten, and soy, they’re perfect for ethical snackers who like their treats gigantic.

Holding out a plant-based chocolate covered candy bar from Gigantic.

Trupo Treats – Trupo Treats is a vegan candy company that makes chocolate dipped wafer candy bars, chocolate bars, vegan Crunch-style bars, and more. So go ahead, treat yourself to Trupo Treats and see why they’re making waves in the vegan candy world!

Package of chocolate wafers that are vegan and dairy free from Trupo Treats.

Misfits – Embrace your inner misfit with these vegan candy bars made from all-natural, plant-based ingredients. Perfect for candy lovers who want to try something different and fun without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Vego – Vego’s vegan chocolate bars are so big, they’re practically a meal! Made with fair-trade ingredients and available in flavors like Hazelnut, Almond Bliss, and Dark Nuts and Berries, they’re perfect for sharing (or not!).

Amy’s – These Dreamy bars uphold their name. The made with organic dark chocolate and boast a creamy nougat center. It’s rich, delicious, and completely vegan and kosher!!

Vegan Chocolate Candies

Don’t worry, there’s a ton of options for you ethical chocoholics, too! Check out our complete guide to vegan chocolate.

Vegan Gummies

These chewy and delightful treats come in an endless array of shapes, sizes, and flavors, with options ranging from classic fruit flavors to more daring and exciting varieties. Think juicy watermelon, tangy pineapple, or even zesty grapefruit. Plus, with brands like Katjes making rainbow gummies and Annie’s dropping kid-friendly minis, you can snack guilt-free without compromising on taste. And who says gummies are just for snacking? Add them to your next smoothie bowl, use them as toppings on your cupcakes, or even melt them down and turn them into a creative and colorful glaze.

To help you on your quest for the best vegan gummies out there, we’ve compiled a list of our top picks for the most delicious and ethical brands around. Get ready to satisfy your sweet tooth in the most fun and ethical way possible!

better bears x world of vegan gummy bears giveaway

Vegan Chewy Candies & Caramels

And so much more! The great news is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of smaller, local producers that are just getting started. Always seek out these sweet, inventive individuals and support small business!

Women's hand holding out two vegan caramels wrapped in wrappers from Cocomels in Valentine's Day setting.

Mainstream Candies That are “Accidentally” Vegan

When you want an accessible, affordable treat to share with everyone for holidays like Halloween or Easter, or just need to satisfy a craving while on the road, there are lots of great candies on the market that are perfectly suitable for vegans.

As always, formulas can change without notice, so make sure you check labels before you purchase.

Chewy Vegan Candies

  • Airheads
  • Fruit By the Foot and Fruit Roll-Ups
  • Mamba Fruit Chews
  • Mary Janes
  • Now and Later
  • Starbursts
  • Skittles
red original skittles package vegan gelatin free

Soft & Gummy Candies

  • Dots
  • Jolly Ranchers Lollipops and Hard Candy
  • Jujubes
  • Laffy Taffy
  • Panda Licorice
  • Red Vines
  • Smart Sweets (all flavors except fruit gummy bears)
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Swedish Fish
  • Twizzlers
sour patch kids vegan gummies

Vegan Hard Candies

  • Bottlecaps
  • Brach’s Cinnamon Hard Candy, Hi-C Fruit Slices, Hi-C Orange Slices, Beer Barrels, and Star Brites
  • Charm Lollipops
  • Chick-O-Sticks
  • Dum-Dums
  • Fireballs
  • Fun Dip
  • Gobstoppers
  • Lemonheads
  • Nerds
  • Pez
  • Pixy Stix
  • Ring Pops
  • Smarties (made in the US only)
  • Sweet Tarts
  • Zotz

Nutty Candies

  • Atkins Peanut Butter Bar
  • Chew-et’s Peanut Chews
  • Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews
  • Lance Peanut Bar
  • OCHO (peanut butter, coconut, and caramel chocolate candy bars)

Vegan Bubblegum

  • Big League Chew
  • Blow Pops
  • Cry Babies
  • Hubba Bubba Bubblegum
  • Super Bubble

Homemade Vegan Candy Recipes

If you prefer a DIY approach, you have even more options when it comes to vegan candy, both simple and complex. Here are some sweet ideas to get you started:

vegan snickers on a cooling rack with white parchment paper

The Ethics of Chocolate

While many people turn to vegan chocolate as an ethical alternative to traditional chocolate, it is important to remember that not all vegan chocolate is ethically sourced. In fact, the chocolate industry has a long history of exploitative labor practices, including child labor and slavery.

To ensure that the chocolate you purchase is ethically sourced, it’s essential to do your own research and look for certifications like Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, or UTZ. Additionally, the Food Empowerment Project’s chocolate list provides a helpful resource for evaluating the ethics of various chocolate brands. This comprehensive list takes into account factors like child labor, slavery, and environmental impact, and can be a useful tool for consumers who want to ensure their chocolate purchases are truly harmless. By using resources like the Food Empowerment Project’s chocolate list, consumers can make informed choices and support companies that prioritize ethical sourcing and labor practices.

More Vegan Candy Resources

Sjaaks Vegan Halloween Chocolates and Candy Skull
Vegan Halloween Candy from Sjaaks

May this vegan candy guide bring some sweetness to your life! If we missed any of your favorite vegetarian candies, feel free to mention them in the comments below.

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10 comments
  1. Airheads are not vegan. They contain gelatin. Sometimes fish, pork, or beef. Airheads candy said this on twitter

  2. You just made my life easier with this text! Thanks

  3. Barbara Yelton says:

    Are mounds vegan?

    • Unfortunately Mounds bars aren’t vegan, they contain milk fat and hydrolyzed milk protein. You can make veganized versions at home though!

  4. Fantastic candy guide! I use it all of the time, especially during the holidays. Thank you!

  5. Great resource! Very helpful. Thanks for this!

  6. Give me all the vegan candy, perfect for Halloween!

  7. Love the detail from your guides this was really useful!

  8. thanks for such a detailed list! i remember when i found out sour patch kids were accidentally vegan! great day haha! smart sweets and cocomels are my faves!

  9. It’s surprising how many animal products they can put in candy! I’m so glad there are more and more vegan candy options.

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