Starting a plant-based or vegan diet can be challenging, especially when you discover that many of your favorite desserts can no longer be eaten because they contain animal products or animal by-products.
Pop tarts are a nostalgic, childhood treat for many, and something even adults like to indulge in occasionally.
So, if you are a vegan, does this mean you can no longer eat pop tarts? We will discuss all in this article, so read on for more!
Are Pop Tarts Vegan?
Some pop tarts are vegan, some pop tarts are not. Most pop tarts cannot be eaten if you are following a vegan diet, because they contain gelatin, whey, or egg whites.
Here is a breakdown of all pop tart flavors and why they are not vegan:
- Gone Nutty Peanut Butter: contains milk
- Chocolate chip cookie dough: contains gelatin, milk, and egg whites
- Hot fudge sundae: contains gelatin
- Brown sugar cinnamon: contain gelatin
- Strawberry milkshake: contains gelatin and cream
- Blueberry: contains gelatin
- Cinnamon roll: contains gelatin
- Chocolate chip: contains gelatin, milk, whey, and egg whites
- S’mores: Contains gelatin, milk, whey, and egg whites
- Vanilla milkshake: contains gelatin and whey
- Cherry: contains gelatin
- Strawberry: contains gelatin
- Chocolate fudge: contains gelatin, whey, and egg whites
However, there are some pop tarts that have vegan variants.
These are brown sugar cinnamon, unfrosted blueberry, and unfrosted strawberry pop-tarts that do not contain any ingredients like gelatin or whey, so if you are vegan you can eat them without any issues.
So, most vegans will be fine eating these variants of pop tarts. However, there are other ingredients in these pop tarts that prove to be controversial, and stricter vegans may not want to eat them.
What Are The Controversial Ingredients In Pop Tarts?
As mentioned, there are some ingredients in pop-tarts that are technically vegan but are linked to the suffering of animals and as such, many vegans may still want to avoid them.
These ingredients are:
- Natural flavors
- Added colors
- Palm oil
All three of these are linked closely to the suffering of animals and do not have a good reputation with vegans.
Let’s check out each of these controversial ingredients in closer detail.
The Unfrosted blueberry pop tart is the only one that contains natural flavors. While most natural flavors are vegan some are not.
Natural flavors are flavors that come from fruit, spices, fruit juice, vegetables, edible yeast (Check out Is Yeast Vegan?), vegetable juice, bud, leaf, root, herb, bark, or other similar materials from plants, as well as poultry, seafood, meat, dairy, eggs, or fermentation products.
The functioning of this food is not nutritional, but flavoring.
However, there technically should not be an issue with the natural flavorings in a vegan unfrosted blueberry pop tart since it is more likely to come from blueberries from an actual blueberry bush.
Certain vegan pop tarts have the artificial colors blue 1, blue 2, and red 40. Artificial colors are actually a by-product of animals because they are tested on animals. Some vegans are okay with this and can eat pop tarts without issues, but many are not.
Testing on animals is bad because it causes suffering and sometimes even death, to animals who cannot consent to the tests.
Now it is not required that artificial flavors meet the necessary safety standards through periodic testing. So, this means that more often than not, the artificial colors in pop tarts have not been tested through animals. However, there were tests undertaken from 2017-2018.
So, some vegans may be okay with eating pop tarts due to the irregularity of animal testing, but some may not want to take that risk.
Palm oil may be plant-based, but its production comes with many social, environmental, and ethical issues.
There is a lot of deforestation that happens for palm oil plantations which destroys habitats and therefore, threaten many species that live in the area, including the Sumatran tiger, the Sumatran rhino, the orangutan, and Bornean Pygmy elephant, and the Sumatran elephant.
Palm oil production can also be very unsustainable, which contributes to global warming.
Rainforests are drained in order to establish palm oil plantations, and then the peat-filled soil will release methane in large amounts. Methane is a greenhouse gas, which can have devastating consequences for the environment.
Additionally, in a report from the International Labor Rights Forum, there were many violations of human rights evident at 3 palm oil plantations in Indonesia.
Are There Vegan Alternatives To Pop Tarts?
Yes, there are vegan alternatives to pop tarts! While there is not a lot, there is a product called Bobo’s Toast’R Pastry which is suitable for vegans to eat!
This product comes in a variety of flavors, including chocolate almond butter, blueberry lemon poppyseed, chocolate peanut butter (Find out Is Peanut Butter Vegan?), and strawberry jam, all of which are vegan.
Pop tarts contain many animal products, like egg whites, gelatin, milk, and whey, which make them unsuitable for vegans. However, there are three vegan varieties of pop tarts, unfrosted strawberry, brown sugar cinnamon, and unfrosted blueberry.
These three pop tart flavors do not contain any animal products or by-products, making them suitable for vegans to eat. Just be sure to double-check the packaging to make sure you are purchasing the right pop tart!
However, while these pop tart flavors are indeed vegan they do contain three ingredients that pose ethical issues. The unfrosted blueberry pop tart contains natural flavorings, many of which come from animals.
However, it is likely that here, natural flavorings refer to blueberries from a real blueberry bush.
On top of that, these vegan pop tart varieties contain palm oil and added colors. Added colors are tested on animals which contribute to animal suffering and makes them unsuitable for vegans.
Although, it is important to note that this may not be a regular occurrence for pop tarts.
And, palm oil plantations pose many ethical, environmental, and social issues, such as the deforestation and endangerment of many animals, which means some vegans may not want to eat foods that contain it, like pop tarts.