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Most Pop-Tarts are definitely not vegan, and some are potentially vegan (but probably not). Because of some uncertainty about some ingredients, it’s not just a simple yes or no answer.
Continue reading for an explanation of which ingredients are questionable and which Pop-Tarts flavors you may feel comfortable eating as a vegan.
Non-vegan ingredients in Pop-Tarts
Look out for these non-vegan ingredients in Pop-Tarts:
- Gelatin – made from boiling animal bones, tendons, or ligaments.
- Confectioner’s glaze – this contains shellac, which comes from secretions from insects.
- Whey – derived from cow’s milk.
- Egg Whites
All frosted Pop-Tarts contain gelatin, and some of them also contain milk, egg whites, or confectioner’s glaze. These are the most obvious non-vegan ingredients in Pop-Tarts that most people will be able to recognize.
So all frosted Pop-Tarts are definitely not vegan.
Pop-Tarts Crisps do not seem to contain gelatin, however they do contain milk and some other questionable ingredients that are likely not vegan.
The smaller Pop-Tarts Bites all contain gelatin, as well as some other potentially non-vegan ingredients.
This means that all Pop-Tarts Crisps and Pop-Tarts Bites are definitely not vegan.
Questionably vegan Pop-Tarts flavors
Some vegans may be ok with eating unfrosted Pop-Tarts because they don’t contain the obviously non-vegan ingredients listed above. But there are still potentially non-vegan ingredients in unfrosted Pop-Tarts.
Also note that Kellogg’s makes Pop-Tarts and they have stated that they cannot guarantee that any product is vegan unless it is labeled as “vegan,” which no Pop-Tarts are.
Currently, these are the only flavors that do not contain gelatin and/or milk ingredients:
- Unfrosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon
- Unfrosted Strawberry
- Unfrosted Blueberry
But does that mean that these unfrosted Pop-Tarts are vegan? Unfortunately that cannot be confirmed, but it looks like they aren’t truly vegan.
Potentially non-vegan ingredients in unfrosted Pop-Tarts
Riboflavin – Riboflavin is vitamin B2, which may be sourced from plants or animals. So the riboflavin in Pop-Tarts may be vegan, but it may also not be vegan.
TBHQ, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate- It seems as though these ingredients are not derived from animals, however they are tested on animals. That may or may not be an issue for you. To completely avoid ingredients that are tested on animals, you would need to avoid many packaged foods.
Sugar – Cane sugar is sometimes filtered with bone char made from cattle bones. To find out if the sugar used in a product is vegan, you need to ask the company. When I asked Kellogg’s if the sugar in Pop-Tarts is vegan, here was their response:
“Our specifications do not detail how the sugar is to be processed or refined. Thus we cannot answer this question as different suppliers may process their sugar by different methods. If our product is labeled "Vegan" or "Vegetarian", then bone char is not used to process the cane sugar. If it's not labeled "Vegan" or "Vegetarian", then we don't know for sure.”
Caramel color – This can potentially be made with non-vegan sugar. When I contacted Kellogg’s, they were unable to tell me if the caramel color used in Pop-Tarts is vegan or not.
Artificial colors – The artificial colors used in Pop-Tarts are not derived from animals, but they are periodically tested on animals. As with other ingredients tested on animals, this may not be an issue for some vegans. Avoiding artificial colors would mean avoiding many processed foods.
Natural flavors – Natural flavors can be derived from plants or animals, and this is usually not listed on product packaging. Here is what Kellogg’s said about the natural flavors used in Pop-Tarts:
“I don’t have a list of specific ingredients to share with you because the flavor recipe is unique and owned by our suppliers.”
Here is a breakdown of which questionable ingredients can be found in each flavor of unfrosted Pop-Tarts:
Unfrosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon
Contains riboflavin, TBHQ, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate, sugar.
Contains riboflavin, TBHQ, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate, caramel color, red 40, yellow 6.
Contains riboflavin, TBHQ, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate, natural flavors, caramel color, red 40, blue 1, blue 2.
Because of the many potentially non-vegan ingredients in unfrosted Pop-Tarts and the fact that Kellogg’s cannot confirm that any Pop-Tarts are truly vegan, I would conclude that there are no vegan Pop-Tart flavors.
Some vegans will consider the unfrosted Pop-Tarts okay to eat, and that is totally your choice. I have just gathered the information so you can make an informed decision.
Vegan Pop-Tarts alternatives
If you are missing Pop-Tarts, check out Bobo’s toaster pastries. They are all vegan and gluten-free, and come in the following flavors:
- Strawberry Jam
- Cinnamon Brown Sugar
- Apple Pie
If you want to make your own vegan toaster pastries, check out these recipes:
- Vegan Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Pop-Tarts
- Vegan Berry Pop-Tarts
- Vegan Gluten-Free Strawberry Pop-Tarts