Ah, M&M’s… the only candy that “melts in your mouth, not in your hand.” Seriously, what is with these round candy treats that make them so irresistibly good?
We loved munching on these when we were children, but now that we’ve switched to veganism, it’s imperative that we take a hard look at what we eat. So, are M&M’s vegan?
M&M’s: Vegan Or Not?
We hate to break it to you, but M&M’s are not vegan.
We know. We’re sad about that too.
Let’s dive deeper into what makes this yummy chocolate snack not fit for the vegan diet. And, since M&M’s have many different variations -- perhaps some of these are vegan friendly, so let’s see!
Why Are They Not Vegan?
M&M’s contain plenty of dairy ingredients , therefore making these candies not vegan.
Veganism is about living in a more compassionate world and reducing animal suffering. This means abstaining from all animal-derived ingredients -- including dairy milk.
Popular Varieties of M&M’s
Ingredients: Milk Chocolate (Sugar, Chocolate, Skim Milk, Cocoa Butter, Lactose, Milkfat, Soy Lecithin, Salt, Artificial And Natural Flavors), Sugar, Cornstarch, Less Than 1% – Corn Syrup, Dextrin, Coloring (Includes Blue 2 Lake, Blue 1 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Yellow 6 Lake, Red 40, Red 40 Lake, Blue 1, Yellow 5 Lake, Blue 2), Carnauba Wax, Gum Acacia
The Original M&M’s are not vegan as they contain plenty of milk-derived ingredients.
Aside from that, these also have Artificial and Natural flavors, which is considered an umbrella term for flavors that can come from questionable sources. Plenty of artificial food dyes are also present in the ingredient list.
Finally, there is no way of knowing what type of sugar is used in this candy.
Ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, skim milk, milkfat, lactose, peanuts, soy lecithin, salt, artificial and natural flavors), sugar, peanut butter (partially defatted peanuts, palm oil), hydrogenated palm kernel oil, cornstarch, dextrose, less than 1% – corn syrup, natural flavor, salt, dextrin, coloring (includes blue 1 lake, red 40, yellow 6, yellow 5, blue 1, red 40 lake, yellow 6 lake, yellow 5 lake, blue 2 lake, blue 2), carnauba wax, propyl gallate to maintain freshness, gum acacia
Just like the Original M&M’s, plenty of milk-based ingredients are also present in the Peanut variant, definitely making them non-vegan.
Dark Chocolate M&M’s
Ingredients: Semisweet Chocolate (Chocolate, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Skim Milk, Milk fat, Lactose, Soy Lecithin, Artificial Flavors, Salt), Sugar, Cornstarch, Less than 2% – Dextrin, Corn Syrup, Coloring (Includes Blue 1 Lake, Yellow 6, Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Blue 2, Red 40, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake), Gum Acacia
Real dark chocolate pieces are made from nothing else but cacao and cocoa butter. This, however, is not the case with M&M’s Dark Chocolate, which means that this variant is also not vegan.
The chocolate used in this M&M’s variant still contains plenty of milk ingredients, which is not considered vegan.
Peanut Butter M&M’s
Ingredients: Milk chocolate (cocoa butter, sugar, chocolate, skim milk, milk fat, lactose, peanuts, soy lecithin, salt, artificial flavors), peanut butter (partially defatted peanuts), sugar, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, less than 2% of cornstarch, natural flavor, salt, corn syrup, dextrin, coloring (includes red 40 lake, blue 1, yellow 5 lake, yellow 5, blue 2, yellow 6 lake, blue 1, red 40, blue 2), propyl gallate to maintain freshness. May contain almonds
Peanut Butter M&M’s were our personal favorites before we turned vegan -- there’s just something about the contrast of sweet and salty that gets our motors running. Alas, these are also not vegan, which is unfortunate.
Ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar, chocolate, skim milk, cocoa butter, lactose, milk fat, soy lecithin, PGPR, salt, artificial flavors), sugar, crisp rice (rice flour, sugar, barley malt, salt, dextrose, mixed tocopherols), less than 2% – cornstarch, corn syrup, dextrin, coloring (includes blue 1 lake, yellow 6, red 40, yellow 5, blue 1, yellow 6 lake, red 40 lake, yellow 5 lake, blue 2 lake, blue 2), gum acacia. Allergy information: contains milk and soy. It may also contain peanuts and wheat.
Like the other packets, the Crispy M&M’s are also not vegan as they contain the same base ingredients as other variants. These have the added ingredient of crispy rice for a crispier bite.
Aside From Milk, What Are M&M’s Non-Vegan Ingredients?
The hard candy shell in M&M’s gets its bright colors from artificial food coloring.
Artificial colors are made from manufactured ingredients, but food colors must go through a round of animal testing before they are deemed safe for human consumption. Vegans only support cruelty-free products.
This ingredient comes from the palm fruit growing in palm trees, so in all technicalities, it is vegan friendly as no animal-derived ingredient gets integrated into the final product.
However, massive palm oil plantations are the number one culprit to deforestation and the loss of wildlife habitat worldwide, which, in turn, have made some of our animals go extinct. We consider this reason enough why palm oil isn’t vegan-friendly.
Refined sugar goes through a round of bone char filtering to achieve its white color, and bone char is made from the charred bone particles of cattle. Although these particles don’t necessarily end up in the sugar itself, you can see why we consider this non-vegan.
“Natural and Artificial Flavors” can be anything from artificial to natural flavors from fruits, vegetables, fish, and even meat.
Vegan M&M’s Alternatives
But just because you’re venturing into the vegan world doesn’t mean you should avoid all M&M’s candy! Here are some vegan options that taste just as good, if not better!
The UNREAL Dark Chocolate Peanut Gems is a great vegan alternative to Peanut M&M’s! These sweet treats mimic the same mouthfeel and texture as though you were eating Peanut M&M’s but are made with fair trade dark chocolate, sea salt, roasted peanuts, peanut oil, and other non-GMO ingredients.
The UNREAL Dark Chocolate and Crispy Quinoa Gems are also a great vegan alternative to the Crispy M&M’s. Just like the Peanut Gems, this variant integrates the same vegan-approved chocolate and other ingredients.
UNREAL uses beet juice and spirulina extract (no animal-tested coloring here!) for the gorgeous jewel colors of each candy.
When people think of vegan alternatives to chocolate, people automatically think of Little Secrets. Little Secrets has been at it for years, reinventing classic treats and making them certified vegan. They carry M&Ms vegan copies called Little Secrets Dark Chocolate Pieces and the Little Secrets Toasted Coconut Dark Chocolate Pieces.
No Whey Foods Choco No No’s mimic the Original M&M’s, without using any non-vegan ingredients. It’s dairy-free and peanut-free, with vegan-approved food coloring!
No Whey Foods makes excellent Peppermint No No’s -- even for someone who doesn’t like mint chocolate! These cool morsels are completely dairy-free.
No, M&M’s are not vegetarian. In a Tweet posted by the official M&M’s UK account (@mmsuk), the company has released a disclaimer that they “use additives that come from animal products and traces of these can be found in the sweets. These aren’t listed because they’re only present in small amounts.”
No. Unfortunately, M&M’s Dark Chocolate is not vegan. The dark chocolate pieces used in this variant contain plenty of milk products.
Do Vegan M&Ms Exist?
Sadly, there are no vegan M&Ms, as all variants have milk-derived ingredients. However, it’s unfair to deprive yourself if this chocolate candy is your most favorite treat!
There are plenty of vegan-friendly M&M’s alternatives out there in the market, and we can confidently attest to the fact that these vegan alternatives do not disappoint.