They’re either pillowy soft or hard as a rock, and no, we’re not talking about pretzels here. Easter Sunday is rapidly approaching, which means that deeply polarizing season snack is on everyone’s minds: Peeps. But before you play the role of Easter Bunny and pass out baskets full of goodies to friends and family, you should ask yourself if any of them have dietary restrictions. Wait, are Peeps vegan?
While we won’t go into it now, you’re going to have to get special goodies if you really want to pack a basket full of treats for a vegan you know. Most chocolate bunnies and eggs are made out of milk chocolate, meaning they’ll get left in the Easter grass uneaten if your friend has these dietary restrictions.
But, are Peeps vegan?
As much as we connect marshmallows and sugar mentally, there’s another key ingredient we often forget, but it means a lot for people who identify as vegan and vegetarian. We’re talking, of course, about gelatin. There are vegan-friendly brands that make these bouncy treats without gelatin, but Peeps aren’t one of them.
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Original Marshmallow Peeps ingredients:
Sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, contains less than 0.5% of the following ingredients: Yellow #5 (tartrazine), potassium sorbate (a preservative), natural flavors, carnauba wax.
Sorry, it doesn’t matter if you go with the classic chick shape or the bunnies, they all pack this same ingredient.
What is gelatin anyway and why can’t vegans eat it?
Unlike some vegetarians who eat eggs and drink milk but don’t touch actual meat, vegans don’t consume any animal products. That includes honey, eggs and dairy products like cream and yogurt. The problem is, products you wouldn’t expect occasionally include an ingredient derived from an animal in some way, like the old Guinness recipe (the beer used to contain fish bladder) to red food coloring — which is made from bugs, by the way.
Gelatin — which is made by boiling animal parts like bones, ligaments, tendons and skin — gives several sweet-tooth favorites their signature texture, like Peeps and many brands of gummy bears.
So, are Peeps vegetarian?
While there are many different forms of vegetarianism, most require that people who adhere to this way of eating don’t consume anything that involves an animal dying. That’s why dairy and eggs, which can be taken from animals without killing them, are OK to come people, while ribs and chicken wings are not. By that definition, no, Peeps are not vegetarian friendly either.
Vegan alternatives to Peeps
If you’re looking for perfectly dyed and cut alternatives to Peeps, you might have to make them yourself. But there are several brands that make vegan-friendly marshmallows that, while they don’t take on festive shapes, will be appreciated by your friends anyway.
Several brands, like Dandies, are available on Amazon — and there’s still enough time (at the time of publication) to get two-day shipping on any vegan-safe sweets you need before the Easter bunny comes to town. Need to pick something up from the store? Head to Whole Foods, which might carry some of these brands, or your local Trader Joe’s, which makes their in-house brand of bouncy marshmallows without gelatin.
But what about Peeps Oreos?
In case you weren't aware of this accidental miracle, Oreos are generally vegan-friendly. (Now that's good luck!) But what about the limited edition Peeps Oreos that are returning for the 2018 Easter season? Just like the question are Peeps vegan, the answer to this means you're going to want to leave these limited edition sweets on store shelves even if you can set aside the disastrous consequences some poeple suffered from eating Peeps Oreos last year (cough, pink poop, cough). Peeps Oreos, unlike the regular kind, contain confectioner's glaze. Though it sounds like it's probably made out of water and confectioner's sugar, confection's glaze is actually make from an ingredient called sticklac, which is made from insects.