Marshmallows aren’t just tasty, they’re a classic candy that’s used in s’mores, toasted on a campfire, or enjoyed sprinkled on some hot cocoa.
They may be well-loved, but if you’re vegan, you will want to know, are marshmallows vegan? The answer isn’t as simple as you might think! Some marshmallows aren’t suitable for a plant-based diet, but some are completely vegan-friendly.
This is great, as vegans can enjoy this traditional candy like everyone else. Despite this, they need to be very careful so they don’t eat the wrong type.
We’ll cover why some marshmallows aren’t suitable for vegans in this article. You’ll also find the names of some vegan marshmallow brands to look out for when you’re next at the grocery store.
What Are Marshmallows?
Lots of people know what marshmallows are, but not where they come from and how they’re made. Marshmallows are a French recipe and were first named pâte de guimauve.
Others believe that marshmallows first originated in 2000 BC in Egypt. However, if we’re considering how marshmallows look today, we do know that they were created in France during the 1800s.
Classic Marshmallow Recipe
Established marshmallow recipes used a thick substance taken from the marshmallow plant. Also known as Althaea officinalis, this plant was first found in Europe, but it can also be found in Asian and African locations.
The marshmallow plant comes from the Malvaceae family, along with cacao and cotton. The classic recipe mixes marshmallow juice with egg whites and sugar. Egg whites are used to circulate air through the mix. Today, the majority of mass-market marshmallows don’t use juice from the original plant.
Most recipes use both natural and artificial flavorings as an alternative to marshmallows. They also tend to use gelatine as a replacement for egg whites.
It doesn’t matter what marshmallow recipe is used, the majority of its form and calories come from sugar. Whether you’re vegan or not, marshmallows should only be eaten as an occasional treat. If you’re health-conscious or on a particular diet plan, you may want to avoid these entirely.
Nevertheless, we need to know if vegans can eat marshmallows or not. If they use gelatine or egg whites in their recipe, they’re not suitable for people on a plant-based diet.
Why Are Some Marshmallows Not Vegan?
As mentioned above, most marshmallows on the market will use gelatine or egg whites in their recipe. If you’re a vegan, check the label to look at the ingredients. If any of these are listed, you shouldn’t eat the product.
The good news is that marshmallow brands will clearly state the ingredients used on the label. This makes it easy for vegans to check the list and avoid eating anything unsuitable.
However, beware of eggs and substances sourced from eggs. You may notice an unusual ingredient, like albumen, being used. This is just a name for egg white protein, so keep an eye out for misleading labels.
If gelatine is used in a marshmallow recipe, it’s normally present in 2.5% of the marshmallow, helping to make the marshmallow elastic and rubbery. If a brand makes kosher and halal marshmallows, they’ll often use fish gelatine instead of pork.
This may make some marshmallows suitable for religious beliefs and pescetarians, but all types of gelatine are sourced from animals. This means that any marshmallows that use gelatine in their recipe are not vegan-friendly.
Egg whites aren’t often seen in cheap mass-market marshmallows. Higher-quality ones from patisseries or restaurants are more likely to use egg whites. These make marshmallows light and fluffy, but they still won’t be vegan.
Most restaurants label their dishes well to distinguish between vegan and non-vegan foods. If you do see marshmallows listed on a dessert and it is labeled as vegan, do check with the staff to make sure.
Vegans may also want to think about the sugar within marshmallows. Some sugar brands still use bone char to make their sugar appear whiter.
Bone char is made from ground-up cattle bones, which is obviously not vegan. Despite this, many sugar manufacturers don’t use bone char in their sugar, but you may want to make sure that your brand is vegan-friendly.
In most cases, marshmallows that don’t use eggs or gelatine in their recipe will be vegan. If marshmallow manufacturers have deliberately excluded these ingredients, they’re not likely to use non-vegan sugar.
However, if your marshmallow brand isn’t labeled as vegan, but still doesn’t use gelatine or egg whites, you might want to contact the manufacturer to be sure.
How Vegan Marshmallows Are Produced
Vegan marshmallows can be made with various ingredients in several ways. Vegan marshmallows will look just like non-vegan ones, relying on sugar to deliver most of the flavor. No matter what type of marshmallow you go for, sugar and flavorings are important parts of the candy.
Vegan marshmallows use plant-based ingredients instead of egg protein or gelatine. Gelling agents like agar or carob bean gum imitate a similar soft, bouncy texture. Other starches and proteins from plant-based sources are mixed in to create marshmallows.
Some vegan marshmallows are better than mass-market ones, as they use more natural flavorings and colors. These brands may also avoid GM, use recyclable packaging, and may be more ethical too. It can be hard to find these brands, but to make it a little easier, we’ve listed some below.
Plant-Based Marshmallow Brands
Vegan options are a lot better than they were in the past, you should find vegan marshmallows with a little research. Despite this, these products aren’t the easiest to find.
They’re mainly found in smaller, specialized stores, though you may have luck in larger grocery stores. Here are some well-known vegan marshmallow brands.
Yummallo carries a range of vegan-friendly treats. Their marshmallows aren’t just plant-based, they’re free from corn syrup, artificial flavorings, gluten, and fat. You can find them at Walmart.
This well-known US brand creates tasty vegan-friendly marshmallows. They use a mixture of plant-based ingredients, including soy protein, carrageenan, and tapioca starch. You can find these available online at Amazon.
Trader Joe’s started stocking vegan marshmallows after the demand for them rose. Their original, peppermint and mini marshmallows are all vegans! You can purchase these from several stores and online at Amazon.
Marshmallows may not have started as vegan, but as the demand is higher, lots of brands are creating plant-based marshmallows.
Lots of these vegan marshmallows taste just like the original recipe, so if you’re craving that classic marshmallow flavor, you’re in luck! Always check the label to make sure they’re free from eggs and gelatine.
If you’re unsure, contact the manufacturer to check, but if a brand doesn’t use these two ingredients, their marshmallows are likely to be vegan friendly.