Are Jelly Beans Vegan?

With their enticing colors and variety of flavors, jelly beans have become a popular treat among kids and adults all over the world. But are they vegan?

Let’s delve into the ingredients and manufacturing process to see if jelly beans can be incorporated into your plant-based lifestyle!

Are Jelly Beans Vegan?

Short answer: Unfortunately, most jelly bean products are not vegan. Many jelly bean treats contain animal-derived ingredients like shellac or beeswax, making them unsuitable for those following a strict plant-based diet.

Detailed Answer

Typically, a jelly bean’s primary ingredients include sugar, corn syrup, and modified food starch. At first glance, these components might seem plant-based. However, the problem lies in the shiny coating you see on these sugary treats.

This glossy layer often contains shellac, a substance obtained from the secretion of female lac bugs. It’s used to give jelly beans their attractive shine.

In addition to shellac, some manufacturers also use beeswax for the same purpose. Both of these ingredients are animal-derived and thus not vegan.

Moreover, certain jelly bean brands use gelatin – a product obtained from boiling animal bones, skin, and connective tissues. Gelatin is used to provide the chewy texture that many people love about jelly beans.

In addition to these ingredients, some jelly beans may also contain artificial colorings that have been tested on animals.

Even though the colorings themselves are synthetically produced, the unethical process of animal testing makes them non-vegan.

It’s best to look for jelly bean products specifically labeled as ‘vegan’ or go for one of many plant-based alternatives.

Key Takeaways

  • Most jelly beans are not vegan-friendly due to the use of animal-derived ingredients like shellac, beeswax, and gelatin.
  • Some artificial colorings may have been tested on animals, further disqualifying certain jelly bean brands from being vegan.

What Are Jelly Beans?

Jelly beans are bite-sized candies made by combining sugar, flavorings, and other ingredients. The mixture is heated and then cooled to create a chewy, gel-like consistency. The candies are typically coated in a thin shell, giving them their signature texture.


Corn SyrupTexture and sweetnessYes
Carnauba WaxGlazeYes
GelatinThickener (non-vegan)No
BeeswaxGlaze (non-vegan)No
ShellacGlaze (non-vegan)No

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Are Jelly Beans Healthy?

Jelly beans are not considered a healthy food due to their high sugar content. They should be enjoyed in moderation as an occasional treat rather than a daily snack.

However, many people find joy in indulging in these colorful candies on special occasions.

Alternatives for Jelly Beans

If you’re looking for vegan-friendly alternatives to traditional jelly beans, there are several options available:

  • Organic Jelly Beans: Some brands offer organic jelly beans that are completely vegan. They use plant-based ingredients for the shiny glaze, such as carnauba wax or pectin, instead of beeswax or shellac.
  • Jelly Fruits: These are similar to jelly beans but are usually made with fruit juice and pectin, with no animal-derived ingredients involved.
  • Homemade Jelly Candies: If you’re feeling adventurous, why not make your own jelly candies at home? You can control the ingredients and ensure they are 100% vegan.

Examples of Dishes or Recipes Using Jelly Beans

While most jelly bean treats aren’t fully vegan, they can nevertheless be a fun addition to various dishes and recipes. Here are a few examples:

  • Jelly Bean Bark: Melt dark chocolate and spread it on a lined baking sheet. Sprinkle jelly beans over the chocolate and let it cool until solid. Break into pieces and enjoy!
  • Easter Cupcakes: Decorate cupcakes with pastel-colored frosting, then top them off with a few jelly beans for a festive touch.
  • Trail Mix: Create a custom trail mix by combining dried fruits, nuts, and jelly beans. It’s a sweet and salty snack option for on-the-go enjoyment.

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Can vegans eat all jelly beans?

Vegans can enjoy jelly beans that are specifically labeled as vegan or contain only plant-based ingredients. It’s essential to read the ingredient list or contact the manufacturer for clarification.

Can I find vegan jelly beans in regular grocery stores?

Yes, many grocery stores carry vegan jelly bean options. Look for brands that specifically indicate they are vegan, or check the ingredient list for a lack of animal-derived ingredients.

Can I make my own vegan jelly beans at home?

Yes, there are recipes available online for homemade vegan jelly beans. By using plant-based ingredients and natural food coloring, you can create your own vegan-friendly version of this beloved candy.


Most jelly bean products are not vegan-friendly due to incorporating animal-derived ingredients such as shellac, beeswax, and, in some cases, gelatin or food colorings.

It’s best to seek out jelly beans explicitly labeled as vegan or opt for plant-based substitutes.

While jelly beans can add a fun twist to various dishes, they should be consumed in moderation due to their high sugar content.

Jelly beans can be added to a number of recipes, such as Jelly Bean Bark, Easter Cupcakes, or a custom trail mix.

However, for those following a strict vegan diet, it might be a good idea to explore alternatives such as organic jelly beans, jelly fruits, or even homemade jelly candies.

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