Fritos have been a staple in the American corn chip industry for many years, but are they vegan-friendly snacks?
In this article, we are going to be looking at the ingredients of the various flavors of Fritos to see if they can be considered appropriate for vegan consumption. Let’s get started.
What Are Fritos?
Fritos are a highly popular corn chip that was created in 1932 by Charles Elmer Doolin. In 1961, the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo began producing the corn chip.
Are Fritos Vegan?
Yes! Original Fritos are completely vegan, as the ingredients from which they are made are entirely plant-based.
This only goes for the Original, Scoops! and Lightly Salted flavors of Fritos though, as some of the other flavors- such as Chili Cheese and Honey BBQ- do feature some animal-derived ingredients.
Vegan-Friendly Frito Ingredients
Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients that make the Scoops!, lightly salted and original Fritos suitable for vegans.
Mainly composed of the mineral sodium, salt is a flavoring agent as well as a food preservative, being one of the most common seasonings in the world.
Chips are known for their delicious saltiness and whilst too much certainly isn’t healthy, it is an ingredient that doesn’t contain any animal-derived products.
Whereas most tortilla chips are created via the use of finely ground corn flour, Fritos instead use corn as the primary ingredient with cornmeal
Made up of course ground cornflour, cornmeal has a particular texture as well as more flavor.
Cornmeal is another ingredient that is entirely vegan, thanks to being a plant-based flour that is made from ground-up and dried kernels of corn.
The dough for Fritos is deep-fried in corn oil, which is another vegan-friendly kind of oil.
Corn oil also has a distinctive flavor that sets it apart from other cooking oils such as olive oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil.
Non-Vegan Fritos Flavors
There are only seven flavors of Fritos, with the three of them that we mentioned- Original, Lightly Salted, and Scoops!- being the only vegan-friendly ones.
The other four flavors are Honey BBQ, Flamin’ Hot, Scoops! Spicy Jalapeño and Chili Cheese. These flavors are not vegan-friendly.
Non-Vegan Fritos Ingredients
So, what ingredients are included in these non-vegan Frito flavors? Let’s take a closer look at some of the more common ones.
As the name suggests, honey is a key ingredient in the Honey BBQ flavor of Fritos! It is also used in Frito Twists.
Honey is a natural sweetener, but it is an animal product that is derived from bees, making it non-vegan-friendly.
A milk-based protein, sodium caseinate is often used to create smoother seasonings and textures within chips. It is included in the non-vegan flavors of Fritos.
The Chili Cheese flavor of Fritos includes “natural flavors” listed in the ingredients. This is likely derived from a meat product, as chili is traditionally made with red meat.
This is a common ingredient used to provide that sour spice in chips, and it can be found in both the Chili Cheese and the Spicy Jalapeño Fritos flavors.
This dairy product is often used as a flavor additive in chips, and it is a major player in the Chili Cheese Fritos flavor.
The Flamin Hot flavor of Fritos also includes cheese, with the Flamin’ Hot seasoning containing various kinds of dairy including milk, cheese cultures, and cheddar cheese.
Although sugar is often thought to be vegan, as it comes from sugar cane plants, it can be a non-vegan option due to some white processed sugars utilizing animal bone char in order to refine it.
This immediately makes certain sugars non-vegan friendly, but it can be difficult to know whether the sugar used in your Fritos has gone through the refining process with bone char.
The Honey BBQ Fritos include sugar, so if you are a strict vegan then you might want to avoid this flavor altogether as you can’t be sure whether there is animal bone char included.
It is safe to say that a fair amount of the Fritos flavors available are indeed vegan, though only around half of them are.
The Original Fritos along with the Scoop! Fritos varieties and the Lightly Salted Fritos are all vegan-friendly, but the other flavors all feature some kind of animal byproducts, as we mentioned above.
However, there is nothing stopping you from enjoying a delicious bag of Original, Light Salted, or Scoops! Fritos if you have a soft spot for corn chips but maintain a vegan diet!