Let’s face it: Vegan diets get a bad rap. A diet void of all animal products—yep, milk and cheese, too—conjures images of antediluvian grains and eating a single carrot à la Bugs Bunny.
Plus, no snacks or junk food, because surely there are animal products in just about everything, right? Wrong! Vegans love a good snack sesh as much as the next person, and luckily, there are plenty of popular snacks that are completely plant-based.
We’ve gathered the best of the best vegan snacks, from Oreos to Lays to Twizzlers. While we can’t say these snacks are the most nutritional foods you could eat, they taste delicious and are vegan*. So… life’s all about give and take, right?
*Vegan for the most part. (We'll explain later.)
Yes, you read that right—McCormick’s imitation bacon pieces are just that: imitation bacon. A quick look at the ingredients list shows that all of that bacony flavor comes from flavored, colored, textured soy crumbles.
So go ahead, sprinkle some “bacon” on your next salad, a bowl of creamy potato soup, or a fully loaded baked potato. No sweet piggies were harmed in the process of making these bits.
Take it all the way back to the schoolyard days when a mouthwatering strip of Fruit by the Foot was the highlight of a 30-minute lunch period.
While there are artificial dyes and sugar that can be questionable for stricter vegans, you can enjoy all three feet of fruity, tart flavor knowing that no direct animal byproduct was used to make this novelty snack.
Salty food lovers rejoice; there are plenty of easily accessible, vegan-friendly chip options. One particularly popular brand that also happens to be plant-based is Lays, but be wary: only certain flavors are considered vegan.
Sticking with a cacao percentage of 70% or more is your best bet, as anything sweeter (i.e., milk chocolate) will likely contain dairy products.
Preferred Pop-Tart flavors are often defended with the same veracity as one would defend their own namesake, so if unfrosted pop-tarts sound like heresy to you, keep on scrolling.
However, if you’re willing to try a Pop-Tart of the unfrosted variety, you’ll be pleased to know that unfrosted brown sugar cinnamon, blueberry, and strawberry pop-tarts are all completely vegan. (And just as good as frosted, no matter what the naysayers think.)
Gummy-like candies are often non-vegan due to the inclusion of gelatin. Twizzlers don’t contain gelatin, making them a worthy contender of PETA’s list of vegan-approved candies. Still, they contain other questionable ingredients like palm oil and artificial dyes, so it’s up to you whether you include these in your vegan snack arsenal.
Believe it or not, Pillsbury Crescent Rolls' buttery flavor isn’t made from butter at all—Pillsbury uses hydrogenated palm oil instead due to its longer shelf life. And while not all of Pillsbury’s recommended crescent roll recipes are vegan-friendly, they’re a great jumping board for thinking of new, plant-based delicacies.
Translation: chocolate almond (or soy or oat or coconut) milk, chocolate-covered fruit, and chocolate-drizzled sundaes made with plant-based ice cream are all feasible vegan snacks. Uh, don’t mind if we do.
Okay, we would be remiss if we spent this whole time talking about junk food. If you’re looking for a quick vegan snack with a bit more to offer in the nutrition department, consider Clif bars.
They’re packed with protein, stick to your belly for a long-lasting “full” feeling, and most of their traditional flavors are completely plant-based.
Alright, back to the good stuff. A common misconception about vegan diets is that there are no baked goods allowed. However, Duncan Hines makes a wide range of boxed cake mixes and frostings that are 100% plant-based.
Ah, Ritz crackers, the buttery, blank canvases of the snack world. All the traditional flavors of Ritz—original, roasted vegetable, whole wheat, and everything—are 100% plant-based, meaning you can enjoy a wide variety of savory vegan snacks by pairing your Ritz crackers with homemade hummus, balsamic bruschetta, or avocado spread.
By "For The Most Part," We Meant...
Not all vegan diets are equal, and what could be considered completely kosher by one vegan could be considered animal-based by another. This is in part due to the use of bone char in mass-produced sugar, environmentally-damaging palm oil, and other artificial ingredients.
For many people, especially those starting their plant-based journeys, it can be overwhelming and frustrating to draw the line at these harder-to-see ingredients. As long as it doesn’t explicitly contain meat or dairy, that’s enough for many budding and mature herbivores.
With that in mind, we can’t decide your vegan journey for you. Approach these snacks as you would any other facet of your diet. If there’s an ingredient that doesn’t sit well with you, don’t eat it! The Vegetarian Resource Group and PETA are excellent online resources to track specific products' manufacturing processes and sustainability practices.