Are Starburst vegan? We cover everything and break down why the answer isn’t so clear-cut.
Many people transitioning to a vegan lifestyle tend to wonder whether their favorite childhood candies are vegan-friendly or not.
One of my old time favorites? Starburst! Those chewy fruit flavored soft taffys were always one of my go-to candies as a kid. Amirite?!
As it turns out Starburst is not only immensely popular in the US, but also in the UK as well as Canada and Australia.
In the following guide, we clarify whether Starburst are actually vegan-friendly as well as Starburst jelly beans and minis.
Without further ado, let’s get to the facts!
- 1 Starburst in the US vs. the UK
- 2 Do Starburst Have Gelatin In Them?
- 3 What about the UK? Are Starburst vegan in the UK?
- 4 Are Starburst Jelly Beans Vegan? What About Starburst Minis?
- 5 So How Do You Get Vegan Starburst?
- 6 Cruelty-Free Fruit Chew Alternatives
- 7 So Are Starburst Vegan? The Answer is Yes and No...
Starburst in the US vs. the UK
In order to understand whether or not Starbursts are vegan, we have to take a closer look at the ingredients.
Mind you, this is where a lot of the confusion surrounding the candy comes from, and the answer isn’t as straightforward as you would expect.
The big reason for this is that Starbursts in the US and Starbursts in the UK are two different products with their own separate set of ingredients.
Do Starburst Have Gelatin In Them?
Despite the fact that Starburst comes in different flavors and textures, all of the original chewy flavors contain the same base ingredient.
Unfortunately, as you can see in the ingredient list below, Starburst in the US are not vegan, or even vegetarian for that sake, because they contain gelatin.
US Starburst Ingredients:
- Corn syrup
- Hydrogenated palm kernel oil
- Fruit juice from concentrate
- Citric acid
- Food starch-modified
- Natural and artificial flavors
- Ascorbic acid
- Artificial Coloring (Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Blue 1)
As you might already know, gelatin is an ingredient made from leftover animal parts (hooves, horns, skin, and fat) that are boiled down to create a thickening agent. Yuck. Therefore, US Starburst aren’t vegan-friendly.
What about the UK? Are Starburst vegan in the UK?
To our surprise, we found that the ingredients of the candy are different in the UK and the US. And as you can see from the list below, Starburst in the UK are actually vegan.
UK Starburst Ingredients:
- Glucose Syrup
- Palm Fat
- Concentrated Fruit Juices 1.4%
- Acid Citric Acid
- Modified Starch
- Acid Malic Acid
- Ascorbic Acid
- Emulsifier Lecithin
But there is more to it than that
What else is the big difference between Starburst in the US vs. the UK? Artificial colors.
While Starburst don’t contain animal derived artificial colors, many of them, especially Red 40, are tested on animals like dogs, rats, and mice.
Animal testing is one of the cruelest industries in the world and includes all kinds of horrendous experiments. So the gelatin in the candy isn’t the only questionable ingredient for vegans.
On the other hand, Starburst in the UK do not contain any artificial colors or flavors.
As mentioned, the Original Fruit Chews are not vegan in the US but 100% vegan in the UK, which led us to wonder about the brand's other popular candies.
Are Starburst Jelly Beans Vegan? What About Starburst Minis?
It’s pretty safe to say that jelly beans are one of the most popular candies in the entire world, and out of all the Jelly Bean producers, Starburst is among the biggest.
To our dismay, we found out that Starburst jelly beans are not vegan.
What makes this especially annoying is that gelatin is not the offending culprit like it is with the Fruit Chews in the US.
Instead, Starburst jelly beans as well as Starburst minis both contain an ingredient called confectioner's glaze.
What’s wrong with confectioner's glaze you ask?
Shellac, also known as “beetle juice,” is an ingredient used by candy producers to add a shiny finish to their products. Sadly, shellac is literally made from bug secretions and is therefore not vegan.
So How Do You Get Vegan Starburst?
Unfortunately, this really means that there is no way to buy vegan Starburst Fruit Chews from stores in the United States. Unless you get creative, that is.
Right now, your best bet is to order the UK vegan version of the candy online.
In fact, you can order UK vegan Starburst directly from Amazon here.
Just remember that you still need to be careful.
The two versions come in slightly different packaging and the vegan version is clearly marked “Suitable for Vegetarians” which makes it easy to determine whether or not it’s vegan if you buy them in a store. Although, it obviously isn’t as easy if you try to order vegan Starburst online so we encourage you to be extra careful.
But why not opt for some of the healthier vegan-friendly Starburst alternatives on the US market to avoid the hassle altogether?
Cruelty-Free Fruit Chew Alternatives
You have several brands to choose from, and new vegan candies are launched at such an impressive rate that it's almost hard to keep up.
We have only tried a handful of options so far and really enjoyed the following three. All of them are 100% vegan and organic made from mostly natural ingredients.
Besides being completely vegan, Lovely Candy Co. Organic Fruit Chews are certified organic, gluten-free, made without high fructose corn syrup, non-GMO, and kosher.
These organic fruit chews come in strawberry, cherry, and lemon flavors.
Since these vegan fruit chews are made from USDA certified fruit from the US, they are packed with antioxidants and are far healthier than Starburst.
Better yet, thanks to the clean ingredients Spark Organic is naturally allergen-friendly and gluten-free.
Another healthy fruit chew option is Wholesome Organic Fruit Chews. Unlike Starburst, Wholesome Fruit Chews are made without gelatin and are 100% vegan. They are also organic, gluten and GMO-free, and made without the use of artificial dyes and colors.
Wholesome Fruit Chews come in natural cherry, lemon, orange, and strawberry flavors.
So Are Starburst Vegan? The Answer is Yes and No...
As mentioned above, the Original Starburst Fruit Chews are not vegan in the US since they contain gelatin. However, in the UK, they are free of gelatin making them vegan.
Some of the other candies including Starburst jelly beans and Starburst minis are also not vegan since they contain confectioner's glaze which is derived from insects.
All things considered, Starburst candies aren’t very vegan-friendly nor are they healthy in the slightest.
Besides the above mentioned alternatives, there is a ton of high quality vegan chocolate to choose from today to satisfy your sweet tooth.
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