Are Skittles Vegan? What You Need To Know About The Sweets

Are Skittles suitable for those on vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based diets?


3 Minutes Read

A close up shot of packets of vegan sweets, made by candy brand Skittles Everything you need to know about eating Skittles on a vegan diet - Media Credit: rvlsoft / Alamy Stock Photo

The first few months of veganism is often a learning curve, as there are a number of foods that many people have no idea aren’t free from animal products. Candy is a key example. It can be difficult to know if popular sweets like Skittles are suitable for those on a plant-based diet. As such, it’s important to do your research before continuing to eat your old favorites.

While sweets would at first seem an innocuous and innocent treat, they often contain an ingredient called gelatin, which is made from the bones of animals like pigs and cows. 

Many candies most of us grew up eating contain gelatin, including Haribo, Jelly Babies, and marshmallows. But can the same be said for Skittles? Here’s everything you need to know…

A selection of vegan sweets, made by candy brand Skittles
rvlsoft / Alamy Stock Photo Skittles are a popular fruit-flavored sweet available to buy in many countries in the world

Are Skittles vegan or vegetarian?

Skittles are multicolored button-shaped fruit-flavored sweets that were first sold in 1974. They are created by Mars, Inc, and marketed by the Wrigley Company, one of its divisions. 

Unlike many similar sweets, Skittles do not contain gelatin. The major candy brand removed it from the ingredients over a decade ago. There may be some confusion among some Skittles fans, though, as they are only labeled as suitable for vegetarians, not vegans, in some countries. 

Plant-based Skittles fans will be relieved to know, however, that they do not contain any animal-derived ingredients. Therefore, Skittles are vegan. 

Past non-vegan ingredients in Skittles

But this hasn’t always been the case. As mentioned previously, the addition of gelatin in their ingredients list made them unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans before 2010. Until 2015, they also contained an ingredient called Carmine (also known as E120), a red food coloring made from insects. If you are planning to eat an older packet of Skittles, therefore, you should ensure to check the ingredients first. 

It’s also important to note that some special editions of Skittles have contained animal ingredients in the past. An example is the Once in a Blue Moon, released in 2015, which was reportedly unsuitable for vegans. You should therefore always ensure to check the packet of any unfamiliar Skittles before eating.

Three packs of vegan sweets, made by candy brand Skittles
Adobe Stock Skittles haven’t always been suitable for vegans

Do Skittles contain palm oil? Is it vegan?

One of the ingredients in Skittles is palm kernel oil. Palm oil isn’t directly derived from animals, but some vegans still choose to avoid it. 

This is because it’s been linked to destruction of rainforests, causing environmental destruction, habitat loss, and contributing to the climate crisis. 

Palm oil is also known to contribute to species extinction. A 2018 report from the IUCN found that the product was a major threat to 193 species identified as critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable. 

In particular, orangutans are known to have been heavily impacted by deforestation caused by the ingredient. All three species of the animal are now critically endangered, and palm oil is partly to blame. 

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