Saying that a food item is vegan simply means it has no animal ingredients. Looking at the ingredient list provided on your basic Twizzlers packaging, there are no ingredients that are obvious animal products. However, to make sure an item is vegan friendly, we need to dig a bit into some ingredients to find out where they come from.
Mono and diglycerides can be sourced from animal fat or vegetable oils. Twizzlers check out, though, as all fat comes from vegetable sources.
Artificial colors and flavors can sometimes come from animal sources; however, Twizzlers does not use any animal sources for any of their coloring including caramel, blue, and red coloring (some red dyes contain carmine, which comes from bugs). Certain artificial flavors have been known to come from some gross places like anal glands of beavers. However, Twizzlers strawberry flavor and other flavoring have been said to only come from non-animal sources.
Twizzlers pull and peel variety contains glycerin, which can be sourced from animal or vegetable fat. Hershey, the parent company for Twizzlers, has stated in the past that the glycerin they use is plant based, as it is made from vegetable oils.
The final, and two most debated ingredients in Twizzlers are sugar and palm oil. Sugar cane is a plant, making it a vegan ingredient. Some vegans do choose to avoid all refined sugars, because of how sugar is made. To turn sugar cane into crystals, there is a high chance it has been filtered through bone char to make it white. This is a very common practice, and most food products on shelves do contain refined sugars. Breads, accidentally vegan baked goods, crackers, cereals, etc. all usually contain refined sugar. No animal bone enters the final product, making the final product, white sugar, vegan, but due to the way sugar is sometimes made, many vegans choose to only eat raw cane sugar. Unless a company is specific about the type of sugar they use (which can be very expensive), there is no way to know if the sugar in your food is bone char sugar (most companies don’t keep track), but it must be said that it is just not possible, as we live in a far from vegan world, to avoid everything that comes into contact with animals. Even car tires contain animal products and commercial vegetables are fertilized with animal poop. Vegan is defined by the Vegan Society (who created the term vegan) as avoiding animal products “wherever practical or possible.” Some people just can’t avoid questionable products because they can’t afford or can’t find other options. Making people feel bad because they are not able to avoid things like possible bone char sugar or palm oil makes people not even want to try being vegan.
Palm oil comes from a plant. It is made from the fruit oil of palm trees. Palm oil farming has been known to be bad for the environment, as well as hurt animals like orangutans, but that does not make it a non-vegan ingredient. Simply put, it does not come from an animal, so it is a vegan ingredient. Many vegans choose to avoid it or only buy palm oil from responsible companies; however, please know many products threaten animals and the environment (bananas, quinoa, cell phone batteries, electric car batteries, etc.) and are also still vegan because the definition of a vegan food is simply that it contains no animal ingredients. Sadly, avoiding palm oil does not stop commercial farming’s negative affect on the environment or animals because this happens on all kinds of farms, not just palm trees.
Not eating refined sugars and palm oil is a choice only you can make for yourself, but both ingredients are vegan since they are sourced from plants not animals.
So, are Twizzlers vegan?
The final answer to the question, “Are Twizzlers Vegan,” is, yes, all Twizzlers varieties are technically vegan, as all ingredients in Twizzlers are plant based/have no animal sources.
We reached out to the manufacturer (Hershey), to ask them the same question “Are Twizzlers Vegan?”. They had a pretty diplomatic response, but sums up all the above:
“While the ingredients used in TWIZZLERS are not directly sourced from animals, our products do not carry a vegan claim or certification. Since no claim or certification is used, we do not have agreements in place with our ingredients suppliers to guarantee that ingredient manufacturing is free of animal-derived substances”