Are Gushers Vegan-Friendly? The Popular Candy Might Be "Accidentally Vegan"

Between variety packs and flavor mix packs, Gushers offers several different flavors for those who enjoy the candy.

Jamie Bichelman - Author
By

Apr. 8 2024, Published 3:38 p.m. ET

As a follower of a vegan diet, I find that the ubiquity of plant-based fan-favorite candies means that those with sweet tooth candies have many options to satisfy their cravings. Still, you may be wondering if many of the classic candies we grew up with, like Gushers, are vegan-friendly—and how healthy they are long-term.

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Grab your Halloween treat bucket, or that bowl of sweets you hide from yourself in the pantry, and keep reading below as we explore the ingredients within a package of Gushers to assess whether they're vegan-friendly.

A mother and daughter pick out sweets from a grocery store candy aisle.
Source: iStock
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Are gushers vegan?

On the surface, yes, Gushers appear vegan, with some caveats depending on your comfort level. As you peruse the candy aisle of your local supermarket, you can feel confident in taking home a package of Gushers, knowing that the ingredients feature no animal products, according to Everything Vegan.

It would probably be best to label Gushers as "accidentally vegan," which means, according to PETA, that a product wasn't specifically made with vegans in mind. Still, the ingredient list just so happens to be devoid of animal-based ingredients. (Anecdotally, you might have heard that the most commonly mentioned "accidentally vegan" snack is Oreos, which means they are unexpectedly acceptable for vegans to consume.)

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However, Gushers contain sugar, an ingredient located near the top of the list for each of the Gushers' varieties of flavors. Because the sugar isn't labeled as organic, this is where things become murky for vegans.

As PETA explains, the charred remains of animal bones are utilized by manufacturers to process non-organic sugar. Therefore, it's a safe assumption that the sugar in Gushers was produced using animal bones.

The sugar conundrum aside, there may be additional ingredients that some vegans consider red flags. Let's explore them and assess whether or not Gushers have a place in your candy haul.

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A woman wearing a pink shirt reads the ingredient label of a yellow package of candy in a grocery store.
Source: iStock

Here are Gushers nutrition facts and ingredients that you should be aware of.

Gushers are gelatin-free, which adds a tally to the pro-vegan column. The candy is nevertheless non-nutritious and rife with questionable ingredients.

While the Betty Crocker-made candy divulges the ingredients on its website, it's difficult for those with allergies to ascertain whether the snack is safe to consume. For example, the Gushers website does not mention the list of potential allergens to which any of the candy flavors may have been exposed during production.

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Additionally, the Tropical and Strawberry flavors, the Super Sour Berry pouch, and Flavor Mixers pouch all contain monoglycerides and natural flavors, which may present red flags to some vegans.

According to Living Vegan, monoglycerides and diglycerides are common food additives that may be sourced from animal fat. Without knowledge of Gushers' production processes and ingredient sourcing, we cannot say that the monoglycerides in the candy varieties are animal-free.

As public health nutritionist and long-time vegan Tracye McQuirter writes on By Any Greens Necessary, "natural flavors" is a cryptic ingredient label that allows companies to conceal their products' proprietary formulas.

"The concern here is that the natural flavors could be animal-derived or plant-derived. Unless the product explicitly states that it's vegan, we have no way of knowing if the natural flavors are vegan, unless you check the company's website or contact the company directly," McQuirter writes.

Finally, Gushers contain artificial food dyes like Red 40 and Yellow 6, which have been linked to potential health concerns.

Therefore, if you're a vegan concerned only with making ethical purchases within reason, you could do worse than a one-time purchase of Gushers on a road trip. However, if the uncertainty of the sources for some ingredients, combined with the potential health hazards for other ingredients, concerns you, it's best to avoid Gushers altogether.

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