So you heard the rumor that Oreos are vegan. Can it really be true? Are Oreos vegan? Which types of Oreos are vegan? Are Birthday Cake Oreo’s vegan? What about Halloween Oreos? Is there really no dairy? Is this all too good to be true? Take a breath, dear friend, we’ve got answers to all your burning vegan Oreo questions. Read on!
You’re cruising through the snack aisle when a sudden wave of nostalgia washes over you. The sight of those iconic Oreo cookie packages is enough to set sweet tooth cravings off like an alarm for anyone who grew up eating these treats. They’re America’s most popular cookie, after all, with sales outpacing all other brands by a mile.
Those two crisp wafer cookies sandwiching a layer of sweet crème in the middle balances out textures and flavors perfectly in every bite, drawing in both kids and adults at a glance. Instinctively, without even thinking, you begin to reach for the nearest bundle, but WAIT—Are Oreo cookies even vegan?
Let’s skip right to the chase:
The formula has changed very little over the years, despite incredible changes in global ingredient access, technology, and evolving taste preferences.
Since their invention in 1912, Oreo cookies have always been dairy-free and eggless, however, they did originally contain lard in the crème filling. Otherwise known as pig fat, this waxy substance was cheap and abundant, but terrible for both humans and animals.
Lard was swapped with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in the 1990’s transforming Oreos into a kosher and “accidental” vegan delight. However, this is still terrible for health, so it was finally upgraded to its current combination of canola and palm oil, making the cookies trans-fat-free.
The remaining essential ingredients are easy to analyze, featuring multiple sweeteners, flours, flavorings, and stabilizers to help preserve freshness. These are still highly processed treats, so they contain a fair number of chemical additives, there’s nothing to raise any red flags for those seeking a cruelty-free treat.
Let’s take a close look at the ingredients in classic Oreos:
The only really questionable ingredient on the list is sugar, which is controversial in the vegan sphere. At World of Vegan we consider sugar vegan, but read this to decide for yourself: Is Sugar Vegan?
The package also says “Contains: Wheat, Soy” which is usually a good indication that something is dairy free. If a product contains dairy, or may contain dairy due to cross contamination, a legal disclaimer is usually present on the package for allergen safety reasons.
Even if a product does say “may contain dairy” on the label, we still consider that product vegan if it doesn’t have animals products in the ingredient list.
Oreos were once a simple, consistent cookie, made with cocoa wafers and vanilla crème filling. But now there are as many unique Oreo flavors, varieties, and types as there are days of the year.
There are seasonal flavors, regional specialties that you’ll only find in certain countries, and the lineup you’ll find at the local grocery store is liable to change on any given day. However, rest assured that the core options are still free of animal products. That includes:
Wild flavor combinations, from root beer float Oreos, s’mores Oreos, birthday cake Oreos, Lady Gaga Oreos, carrot cake Oreos, and beyond are all “accidentally” vegan as well! Are mint Oreos vegan? Yup. Christmas Oreos? Yup. The list goes on and on.
Even the seemingly un-vegan flavors are vegan, like: chocolate marshmallow Oreos, caramel coconut Oreos, red velvet Oreos, brownie batter Oreos, cookie dough Oreos, cinnamon bun Oreos, and ice cream Oreos. Okay, now I’m really hungry.
The ONLY Oreo you need to avoid on a vegan diet is the seasonal White Fudge-Coated Oreos released for the winter holidays. That white coating does include whey and milk solids.
Also watch out for the other dipped Oreos and fudge covered Oreos in case they contain milk on the ingredient label.
We do recommend always taking a peek at the ingredient labels on specialty Oreos just in case they do release a new flavor with non-vegan ingredients, but for the most part, Oreos are a safe bet for vegans.
While you aren’t eating any animal products when you indulge in a bite of childhood nostalgia, strict ethical vegans may still want to pass by these cookies while shopping for a conscientious snack. Unfortunately, there are still many questionable practices involved in Oreo production.
It’s possible to source sustainable palm oil, but it’s clear that Mondelez International, producers of Oreo cookies and parent company of Nabisco and Cadbury, don’t go that extra mile. Conventional harvesting practices for palm oil are very destructive to the natural habitats of many animals, and particularly orangutans. Up to a dozen orangutans are killed everyday due to palm oil production, adding up to over 50,000 deaths in the past 20 years alone.
The bitter truth about sugar is that many manufacturers process it through bone char to achieve a perfectly white, refined appearance. As you might have guessed, this comes from the bones of many types of animals, and never needs to be disclosed on ingredient labels.
Oreos source sugar from many different suppliers, which can change without notice, and cannot guarantee that those producers will handle their processing in a more ethical way.
Products that contain milk are made in the same factories as Oreos and there is a possibility they could leave minuscule traces of dairy on subsequent batches. If you’re highly allergic to dairy, you should steer clear of this potential hazard. This is where the “May Contain Dairy” labels come into play.
Cookies are desserts, not health food, but there are still many alternative options on the market for Oreo lovers who want a slightly more natural option. They have all the great taste with fewer additives, organic ingredients, and more sustainable practices. If you’d like a sweet treat that you can feel better about eating, there are plenty of higher-quality chocolate sandwich cookies to try.
Newman’s Own makes five varieties of Newman-O’s crispy sandwich cookies made with organic flour and sugar: Chocolate Creme, Hint-O-Mint, Vanilla, Peanut Butter, and Original. It’s going to be hard to choose which one to try first because they’re all vegan-friendly and easy to find at most grocery chains.
Trader Joe’s now has a few varieties of their Joe-Joe’s sandwich cookies but the only vegan one is their Gluten-Free Chocolate Vanilla Creme made with rice flour, tapioca starch, and oat flour. Their Chocolate & Peanut Butter Joe-Joe’s contain nonfat dry milk and whey powder as do their seasonal Pumpkin Spiced Joe-Joe’s.
These classic creme cookies bring back all the nostalgia but without any high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils. Sweetened with cane sugar and brown rice syrup, they have just the right amount of sweetness that make them a perfect Oreo alternative.
This Whole Foods Market brand does not disappoint with their Chocolate Sandwich Cremes. Same great taste but made with cane sugar and canola oil, a more sustainable and ethically source oil than palm oil.
Annie’s previously offered their version with the Grabbits Chocolate Sandwich Cookies. Unfortunately, it does not appear they make these anymore as they have been removed from their site and are not in stock at stores. In case they come back into production, these were a great option that could be found at most grocery chains.
You won’t miss the gluten with these chocolate vanilla creme cookies. These use rice flour, cassava flour and potato flour to recreate this classic cookie into a completely gluten-free option that’s also suitable for vegans! Bonus: They offer a vegan vanilla creme cookie and super stuffed version as well!
Are Oreos Gluten-Free? Most are not, but Oreo did come out with a line of Gluten-Free Oreos! The gluten-free Oreos are certified gluten-free by GFCO and are made in a GFCO certified facility. Great news for celiac vegans everywhere! Regular Oreo cookies contain flour (wheat) and are not gluten-free.
Are Gluten-Free Oreos Vegan? Yes! The gluten-free line of Oreos are also suitable for vegans.
If you’re looking for gluten-free Oreos, you can also check out Glutino’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies.
If you can’t get enough of these iconic cookies, you can always use them as an ingredient in even more elaborate desserts to amplify your Oreo experience!
We also have the BEST vegan Oreo ice cream cake recipe in The Friendly Vegan Cookbook.
For the best possible ingredients and flavor, sometimes you need to take matters into your own hands. When you bake up Oreo cookies from scratch, you get exactly what you want with the added satisfaction that you did it yourself! It’s easy to make sandwich cookies at home, and you have plenty of different recipes to choose from.
Ultimately, it’s a personal decision whether you want to support these corporations that don’t have the best practices in place for ingredient sourcing, fair trade, and equitable workplaces. There are many ethically questionable things behind the Oreo label, but at least, animal products are not one of them. For a treat, or when limited choices leave you with few alternatives, Oreos are a fine “accidentally vegan” choice.
If you were wondering, “Can vegans eat Oreos?” we hope this guide helped you out. This article was written with support from Hannah Kaminsky and edited by Rachel Lessenden. Thoughts are our own, and we have no affiliation with the Oreo brand.
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Such a great and informative article about Oreos. Yay to all things accidentally vegan!