Are Love Hearts Vegan?

Nobody loves bits of animals in their candy


3 Minutes Read

Love Hearts sweets in a bowl Love Hearts are having a moment for Valentine's Day - Media Credit: Alamy

Love Hearts, the popular retro sweet, are having a moment as Valentine’s Day draws near. These round tablets of sherbet feature romantic messages such as “I Love You” and “Be Mine.” But are Love Hearts vegan?

British sweet company Swizzels has been making Love Hearts since 1954 – meaning they’re 70 years old. The company now churns out 1.75 billion Love Hearts a year, 

Unfortunately, many popular sweets contain animal ingredients. Gelatin – made from boiling animal skins, bones, and tendons – is used as a stabilizer in sweets such as Haribo gummy bears and some jelly beans. Shellac, which is secreted by lac beetles who are ground up to extract it, may also be used to give candy its shiny coating.

Luckily, you won’t find any of these ingredients in Love Hearts: they are fully vegan sweets. Here’s everything you need to know about the iconic sweet before you shower them on your beloved this February 14.

What ingredients are in Love Hearts?

Love Hearts sweets
Alamy Stock Photo Love Hearts are totally vegan

Love Hearts can be sweet or sour, and come in several flavors. Their main ingredient is sugar, followed by acidity regulators, anti-caking agents, and flavorings and colors.

Among the acidity regulators are stearic acid and magnesium stearate – two ingredients which can sometimes be derived from animals. Stearic acid is a fatty acid that can come from animal fats or vegetable oils. Magnesium stearate is stearic acid combined with the mineral magnesium. In the case of Love Hearts, the stearic acid comes from plants.

The flavorings and colors in Love Hearts are all derived from plant sources including beetroot, chlorophyll, and paprika.

Changing messages

Swizzels uses a “top secret” process to stamp messages onto Love Hearts. The only information the company will divulge is that it requires several tonnes of pressure. 

Some of the 105 different messages found on Love Hearts have been around since their creation. Others have dated and no longer feature, such as “Fax Me” and “Page Me” in the 1980s. Love Hearts have also marked occasions such as Prince William’s 21st birthday. Personalized messages can also be requested.

Swizzels’ vegan range

Love Hearts are not the only vegan sweets that Swizzels makes. It’s classic Drumstick, Parma Violets, and Candy Lipsticks and Whistles are all vegan, as are many others.

And Swizzels is still adding more vegan sweets to its range. A recent addition is Puds, chew bars flavored like British desserts such as Sticky Toffee Pudding and Rhubarb Crumble.

“Vegetarians and vegans have had it hard for decades,” says the Swizzels website. “But … they now have a choice. Vegan sweets may be just a small part of a greater movement, but sometimes it’s the little things that can really make a difference.”

Sweet companies ditching animal products

While some sweets have always been made with a vegan recipe, others have transitioned away from using animal products.

In 2023, confectionary brand Fruit-tella launched vegan versions of its popular the Strawberry Mix, Duo Stix, and Berries & Cherries. In 2019, Marks & Spencer removed pork gelatin (also spelled “gelatine”) from it’s Percy Pig sweets.

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