Figuring out if candy can be classified as vegan or not can be tough. There are quite a few debates out there about what exactly defines a food as “vegan.” Plus there are so many weird ingredients in candy! We’ll be doing our best today to examine if Nerds candies are vegan.
Are Nerds vegan? Nerds can be vegan, but it depends on the flavor. Red and pink Nerds are colored with carmine, which is made from crushed insects. Vegans don’t eat animal products, and insects are animals, so red and pink Nerds aren’t vegan. However, other flavors, such as grape Nerds, are vegan.
Is Nerds Rope vegan? Nerds Rope is not generally considered vegan. Nerds Rope contains gelatin to hold it together, which is made from animals. Nerds Rope also may contain carmine, a red coloring made from crushed insects. For these reasons, most vegans would not eat Nerds Rope.
Let’s take a deeper look into why Nerds may or may not be vegan, and what exactly makes up the vegan lifestyle overall. We’ll also be taking a look at the various debates that are currently going on revolving around the vegan diet, especially as it relates to candy.
Why Red and Pink Nerds Aren’t Vegan
As I mentioned, most Nerd packages are not vegan. This is because most Nerds packages contain red and pink Nerds. However, you are able to make Nerds vegan if you can cut out the red/pink flavors.
The red/pink Nerds have carmine, which is extracted from cochineal beetles. Some people find this not only disgusting but sneaky, as it can show up on labels in many forms. These include:
- Red 4
- Crimson lake
These practices are done to reduce costs for large companies wherever and whenever they can, even if it is resorting to crushing beetles for the color of their shells – which some of us find just plain nasty.
With that being said, carmine also does not show up in every Nerd, just the ones with a red tone. So keep that in mind as we move forward.
Which Flavors of Nerds Are Vegan?
We’ve found that carmine is in the red colors of Nerds. So what you’ll need to do is find the packages that feature just a single flavor or comes in a pack that excludes the reds.
I recommend getting the grape flavor, as this is common to find and contains no ingredients that are non-vegan. Also, grape Nerds are delicious!
However, Nerds rope cannot be found in vegan form, no matter where you go looking.
Not only does Nerds Rope contain carmine, but they also have gelatin, which is also not vegan. We’ll be taking a more in-depth look into gelatin, and why it isn’t vegan.
Why Isn’t the Gelatin in Nerds Rope Considered Vegan?
Gelatin is made from animal bones/skin/hooves, stuff like that. This obviously rules it out for falling into the vegan category. Also, many artificial dyes are also put into gelatin as well, which makes it double trouble for us vegans if it contains certain ingredients for the dye.
As mentioned beforehand, though, only Nerd ropes contain gelatin, so regular Nerds are safe from gelatin.
If you want to make homemade Nerds Rope, there are some recipes out there that can make a vegan version of gelatin. With that, you can then use grape Nerds to put on it, making a homemade Nerds rope if you are really craving a vegan version of this great candy.
Should Vegans Eat Candy?
There are always hot discussions as to whether or not vegans should indulge in candy. For, while the candy might be free of vegan ingredients, is it a healthy vegan lifestyle choice? It’s really a personal choice.
Not every person who chooses a vegan diet thinks the same way. We all have the opportunity to choose the foods we think are appropriate for ourselves. So, if you choose to avoid any and all candy, for lack of healthful ingredients, that’s up to you.
If you want to enjoy some candy that has vegan ingredients, then treat yourself to it! If you are worried about what candies are and aren’t vegan, here’s my full article that helps you determine which foods are vegan by looking at the packages.
Also, you can go the extra mile and get organic, vegan candy that is made from simple ingredients. There are many choices online for vegan candy. You can also hit up your favorite local health food store or Whole Foods Market.
How to Tell if Candy Is Vegan
Reading labels is crucial if you are vegan for the long-term. But what ingredients are you looking for?
For one, anything having to do with animals or any animal products is a no-go. Some vegans are more strict about this than others, however. Some vegans don’t worry about the minor ingredients like honey and
Depending on how you feel about it, you might also decide to steer clear of ingredients that were tested on animals.
Here are some ingredients to watch out for:
- Confectioner’s glaze (another beetle product—yuck)
- Any type of milk byproduct
What Candies Are Vegan?
Besides select Nerds, there is quite a bit of regular candy out there that is, indeed, vegan.
If you have a chocolate craving, look in the direction of dark chocolate, as many of those candies tend to be vegan. But sometimes dark chocolate does contain milk ingredients, such as nonfat milk. So check the ingredients.
Remember that some red candies are off of the list due to carmine coloring.
As I mentioned before, a great place to start is organic candies, as these tend to be more vegan-friendly than most commercial candies that are out there on the market.
Organic and Vegan Candy Options
If you’re vegan for health reasons, then you may choose not to eat candy with tons of additives to them, even if they are technically vegan.
Sure, every once in awhile is fine, but if you are a candy lover, you’ll need to start seeking out healthier alternatives. This is where vegan candy comes into play. With vegan candy, you can eat candy that you love, without the hassle of feeling guilty afterward.
A quick Google search will show quite a few different options for vegan and organic candy, which I love to explore from time to time, to see any new additions that have been added that I can give a try. Check it out yourself – you may be surprised by all of the options!
Organic Candy Brands to Look For
If you are wondering what brands to look out for, there are plenty. Some of these include:
Of course, I still recommend taking a look at the ingredient list to ensure that the individual candy is indeed vegan. But starting out with organic candy will certainly give you an advantage in your search.
Is the Sugar in Candy Vegan?
One of the most disputed ingredients in the vegan community is sugar. This is due to a couple of reasons.
For one, bone-charring processes are usually included in the making of refined sugar. Animal bone is used to make the sugar white and pure. Some vegans have an issue with this, while others see it as being too picky.
It’s hard to find issue with either argument, so this is just going to come down to personal choice.
Another issue is the fact that sugar simply isn’t that healthy, at least when it comes in a large amount as it often does in candy. So if you’re vegan for health reasons, it might be kind of counterproductive to eat a bunch of high-sugar vegan candies!
Is Sugar-Free Candy Vegan?
Many people who want to avoid sugar, whether they are vegan or not, will turn towards sugar-free candy as their alternative. Although this can be a great idea, there are some things to watch out for, as well, as there is with anything you eat.
The biggest thing people watch out for in sugar-free candy is the artificial sweeteners that these things come packed with. Some artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, have been linked to major side-effects such as depression.
However, despite these side effects, sugar-free candy can be a great way to cut down on your sugar intake or bypass most of it altogether. Still, to know if it’s vegan, you need to check the label to see if it has any animal products.
Tips for Going Vegan
The vegan lifestyle can be one that takes some time to get used to. There are, of course, some great tips out there that can help with adjusting to your new lifestyle.
Slow & Steady
One of the best tips that I found for myself when I was making the transition was taking the process slowly. Although I did go cold turkey on most things, I obviously made quite a few mistakes along the way.
The key here is to not beat yourself up too much over mistakes, as they are simply bound to happen.
If you are too hard on yourself for minor slip-ups here and there, you can really tarnish your happiness, and it can make the whole process of becoming vegan feel more like a job rather than a passion.
Read my post about how to deal with vegan slip-ups here.
How Far to Take Your Veganism?
For many, being vegan means not associating yourself with anything that harms animals in any way, shape, or form. This means not wearing leather or fur, not using certain types of makeup products, not purchasing from various stores, and so on.
For an example of how far you can take your veganism, look at my blog post about the Liberation Pledge. It includes refusing to eat at tables where meat is being consumed!
And when it comes to candies like Nerds, there are a lot of little ingredients that the more strict vegans will object to, such as carmine, gelatin, and even the sugar (because of it being refined with bone char).
But there is a debate about whether it’s actually counterproductive to take your veganism so far. I covered this in my blog post about the “Paris Exception” to veganism and in my post about having non-vegan cheat days.
So, many vegans would actually argue that it’s better to just be flexible about these minor animal byproduct ingredients. Those vegans would have no problem with eating Nerds or Nerds Rope.
These kinds of debates create some tension in the vegan community. As pursuing a vegan lifestyle becomes more popular, these debates are just likely to grow in size as well.
Why Is the Vegan Debate So Heated?
With a lifestyle as broad as being vegan, there are bound to be many arguments amongst the community. And, choosing to be vegan usually comes from ideas we feel strongly about, so that alone is a good reason for conversation and debate to take place.
The important thing is to understand that different vegans are driven by different things. So it’s okay if your choices don’t align with what some other vegans preach. They may have different values and beliefs from you.
When it comes down to it, all vegans are looking to make a positive impact. We share this. Our differences shouldn’t overshadow that.
Be Vegan in a Way You Believe In
At the end of the day, your beliefs and what you value matter. No matter if you are on one side or the other in these debates, you should know that you can’t have a wrong answer with what you believe is morally right or wrong.
Being vegan certainly isn’t a new thing, but it is becoming more mainstream than ever before, which is fantastic. However, with many of these debates, it can be quite intimidating.
If you are not yet vegan and are looking into becoming part of the lifestyle, you should just do it your way. Look at your reasonings for becoming vegan, and if you want to try it, do it!
Just always keep in mind that people will always have different ideas and opinions on what it means to be vegan. In the case of Nerds candies, either you’ll find a fellow vegan to share them with, or you’ll have them all to yourself. It’s not so hard!
Vegans, Nerds, and Other Candies
If you are a vegan and need your Nerds fix, I recommend picking out the grape-only Nerds packages, as they are vegan, delicious, and aren’t hard to find.
Also, there are plenty of vegan alternatives out there as well in the candy world. I recommend searching online first, as you’ll typically find a much larger selection there as opposed to in various stores.
While being a vegan may not allow for a candy free-for-all, there certainly are plenty of options out there!
Two More Recommendations for Your Vegan Journey
1. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in 13 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).
2. This is the best vegan starter kit I know of. It’s a bundle of 9 beautiful e-books that help you transition to a healthy plant-based diet—the right way. The advice is spot-on, and it has print-outs and checklists that make it easy to implement. Read my full review of Nutriciously here.