Can You Eat Peeps If You're Vegan?

Nothing reminds you of upcoming festivities more vividly than pastel-colored Peeps. Fortune reports that the marshmallow treats can be found on store shelves and online for Easter, Halloween, Valentine's Day, and Christmas. They even come in a variety of flavors now, ranging from hot tamales to cotton candy to sour watermelon (via Peeps).

These sugary, fluffy, gooey, animal-shaped marshmallows make their way into many Easter baskets and satisfy fans' sweet teeth every year — 0.74 million people had 5 or more in 2020 (via Statista), but can vegans eat them? If you recently switched to a vegan diet, determining what you can and can't eat daily may be the new norm. While certain foods make this decision fairly easy to make, others, like Marshmallow Peeps products, don't.

As a packaged food, every box of Peeps includes nutrition facts and a short list of ingredients. This list consists of sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin, as well as less than 0.5% of potassium sorbate, natural flavors, blue #1, and carnauba wax. The chocolate-flavored Peeps may contain milk, so you'll want to avoid that flavor since milk is a no-no for vegans. What about those other ingredients, though? Are they all vegan-friendly? To answer that question, you'll need to analyze the list beyond the label.

Unpacking the ingredients

Let's start from the beginning of the Peeps ingredient list. A four-count package of marshmallow bunnies contains 30 grams of added sugar, but sugar is just a simple carbohydrate and contains no animal products (via The Sugar Association), so it's vegan-friendly. What about corn syrup? To put it simply, corn syrup is made from the natural sugars in corn (per Reader's Digest), as the name implies. Like granulated sugar, it contains no animal products.

Next on the ingredient list is gelatin. You'll find gelatin in cakes, ice cream, yogurt, gummy bears, and of course, in marshmallows. It's also found in certain shampoos and cosmetics, according to PETA. The protein is made by boiling different animal body parts such as bones, tendons, and cartilage.

And with that ingredient revelation comes your answer. Because Peeps contain animal by-products, they are not vegan-friendly. Luckily, Women's Health reports that there are plenty of other gelatin-free sweet snacks you can enjoy as a vegan. These include Twizzlers, Sour Patch Kids, Jolly Ranchers, Skittles, and Nerds.