Halloween is that notoriously sweet time of year when children—and adults—have an excuse to eat all the candy they want. No wonder many health experts frown upon the sugar-intensive holiday. Equally scary? Some store-bought sweets are neither vegan nor vegetarian. Still, Halloween doesn’t have to be all spooks and no edible fun. Here’s how to buy worthy veg treats.
Is It Vegetarian? Chewy bears and sour worms are probably the last place you’d expect to find non-veg ingredients, right? But many gummies are made with gelatin. “It gives them their distinctive chewy bite but is often sourced from animal bones, skin, or cartilage,” says Vanessa Hughes, owner of A Real Treat Candy Boutique in Los Angeles. Hughes suggests seeking out chewy candies made with veg alternatives such as tapioca syrup, agar agar, or fruit pectin. Also watch out for red candies containing cochineal or carmine, a coloring agent gleaned from ground-up bugs, warns Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition.
Is It Vegan? Read labels carefully: “Dairy can work its way into items via its derivatives such as milk solids, casein, or whey,” says Hever. Even dark chocolate isn’t necessarily dairy-free, she adds. Not to worry. A number of candy classics—including Skittles, Jolly Ranchers, Sour Patch Kids, and Smarties—can help keep your Halloween vegan-friendly.