Are Jelly Beans Vegan?

Are Jelly Beans Vegan?

Jelly beans are small, colorful pieces of candy that are loved all over the globe! Both adults and children enjoy searching through the different flavors and shades in every box.

However, if you’re a vegan, it can be hard working out what foods you can and can’t eat. Candy is a perfect example, as several seemingly innocent sweets can contain hidden animal byproducts, like gelatin.  This may make you wonder, are jelly beans vegan-friendly? Some jelly bean brands are, but a lot of them aren’t. 

We’ll cover more about whether jelly beans are vegan in this post, including jelly bean ingredients that vegans should be cautious of. 

More About Jelly Beans

Jelly beans are sweet candies that resemble small beans. These are made in fun colors and have a pleasant soft interior. 

The history of jelly beans goes back several years, even as far back as the 1800 American Civil War! Despite their age, jelly beans are still loved today. Each piece is chewy, soft, and packed with tasty flavors.

You can choose from classic fruit options to unique flavors, like maple syrup or licorice. There are more than 100 different flavors available, which gives jelly bean fans a huge selection to pick from. 

Ingredients In Jelly Beans

Jelly beans have a history that lasts many decades. They were first made as they had a long shelf life and were easy to produce. The original recipe just involved three ingredients; a mix of corn syrup, sugar, and cornstarch. This recipe acted as a base which could then have different colors and flavors added to it.

The ingredients used to make jelly beans today are relatively similar, except manufacturers have made a few changes to improve the candies’ taste and texture.

Are Jelly Beans Suitable For Vegans?

Are Jelly Beans Suitable For Vegans?

The primary ingredients used to make jelly beans are suitable for vegans, but the additional extras should be viewed with caution.

A lot of flavorings and colors are derived from animal matter, so they won’t be suitable for a vegan diet.  Jelly beans are available in over a hundred varieties, so we can’t go through each of their ingredient lists in this post.

However, we have listed the most frequently used ingredients and whether they are vegan-friendly below.  Here are the hidden substances that are sourced from animal matter that you may find in jelly beans. 

Shellac / Confectioner’s Glaze

The snappy, outer exterior of jelly beans is often made with Shellac, which is also called confectioners glaze. This substance is made from the excretions of female beetles. These insects then die after obtaining the ingredient.


Gelatin is often used to create smooth, chewy candies. It’s sourced from animal matter, like cartilage, skin, and bones.


Beeswax is also used to produce jelly beans. Beeswax is a substance that is sourced using bee labor, so a lot of vegans choose to avoid consuming it.

Preservatives, Flavors, And Colors

It can be hard to work out what extra ingredients have been added to jelly beans. If you notice the terms ‘natural flavors’ or ‘natural colors’ in the list of ingredients, take caution, as these may be derived from animals.

Food colorings are usually unsuitable for vegans as they are often tested on animals. Despite this, several individuals believe coloring is plant-based friendly if it doesn’t consist of insect or animal matter.

Fortunately, if an item uses animal-based flavors in its recipe, this legally needs to be designated on the packaging. 

Artificial ingredients need to be stated individually, so you can check to see if any of these are sourced from animals. 

However, in the case of preservatives, flavors, and colors, companies won’t specify if these ingredients are used in each separate jelly bean flavor. This means that if only one kind of jelly bean uses non-vegan substances, vegans will need to avoid all of them. 


Refined sugars may be processed with bone char, a substance used to whiten sugar. Some brands of refined sugar may not be processed with bone char, but several vegans believe that regular sugar isn’t vegan, as it is processed using animal products.

It’s important to note that this isn’t the case for all sugar brands. Sugars that are suitable for vegans should have an unrefined, raw, natural, or organic label. 

Palm Oil

Palm oil isn’t sourced from animals, but the methods used to acquire it aren’t eco-friendly, so they can have destructive effects on animals.  This is why a lot of vegans avoid foods that are made with palm oil. 


Unfortunately, there are limited jelly bean brands that are suitable for vegans, as a lot of them are made with animal byproducts. 

It’s hard to believe that these little pieces of candy are made by exploiting animals. Ingredients like beeswax, gelatin, and Shellac can easily go unnoticed.  Fortunately, there are vegan jelly bean brands that you can enjoy, like Jolly Rancher, YumEarth, and Warheads. 

If you’re unsure about whether an item is or isn’t vegan, look at the ingredient list and try to spot any common offenders. You can also contact the manufacturer for more information if necessary. 

Brandon White
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