In many cases, foods might appear vegan to the naked eye, but if you know what to look for, you’ll often find they aren’t as vegan-friendly as they appear at first glance.
There are certain trigger foods and ingredients to look out for and you really need to understand how these can play a role in whether a food is vegan or not.
Funyuns are one such food. While you might be thinking that they’re safe, as they’re simply a chip product meant to mimic onions, there is some question as to whether or not Funyuns are really vegan-friendly.
Are Funyuns vegan? Funyuns are not considered vegan. Both the original and flaming hot versions include dairy ingredients such as buttermilk powder, cheddar cheese, and nonfat milk.
In this guide, we will walk you through the reasons why Funyuns aren’t vegan and answer a few other relevant questions. We’ve got some great alternatives for you to consider trying instead!
Are Funyuns Vegan? A Complete Explanation
Funyuns are a really great snack food. They have a subtle onion flavor and people that don’t even like onions tend to really like Funyuns anyway.
For many years, they had just their traditional onion flavor, but now they have two different flavor options:
- Original Onion flavored
- Flamin’ Hot flavored
Both of these are deliciously salty and flavorful. Their ingredients do vary a little bit, but unfortunately, neither of them falls into the vegan category.
What To Look Out For
If you’re not a vegan yourself, in order to help you understand why Funyuns are not considered vegan, let’s take a quick look at what a vegan lifestyle entails.
While some people choose to just follow a vegan diet, it is actually a complete lifestyle. The basis around being a vegan is that they do not consume or use any animal products or byproducts.
This includes things like meat but it also includes other types of products that are derived from animal sources or cause harm to animals at any point during the production process.
That includes dairy products, some hair and makeup products that are tested on animals, and things like gelatin and sable hair that are animal byproducts. Even white sugar can be a problematic ingredient, as it is often bleached using animal bone char.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at Funyun’s ingredients.
Original Funyun Flavor
The original Funyun flavor is perhaps the most popular and it has been around for quite some time. The ingredients have primarily stayed the same over the years and they have never been a vegan-friendly product.
There can be some misunderstandings about this particular fact, but if you understand the ingredients and how they play a role, it makes a difference.
Ingredients in original Funyuns:
- Enriched cornmeal
- Vegetable oil
- Buttermilk powder
- Onion powder
- Monosodium glutamate
- Hydrolyzed corn protein
- Garlic powder
- Natural flavors
- Gum Arabic
There are two things here that are particularly of concern for vegan diets. One is pretty obvious and will be the blatant factor that makes Funyuns non-vegan, while the other is not always as noticeable and some vegan followers are not as picky about it.
Buttermilk powder is a milk ingredient here and milk ingredients are a product sourced from an animal. This will automatically make original Funyuns non-vegan. You can rule them out immediately with this one ingredient.
The other questionable ingredient in Funyuns is sugar. This is because sugar can be sourced or processed in more than one way. Since we don’t know how Funyuns sources their sugar, it is impossible for us to know whether the sugar is an acceptable ingredient.
There is one type of sugar that is processed and bleached using bone char.
There is just one form of white sugar that falls into this category, but it is pretty ubiquitous, and unless you can pinpoint the source of the sugar, it’s impossible to know whether the sugar used here is acceptable or not.
Again, for some who follow a vegan lifestyle a little less strictly, this may not be of concern to you, but the buttermilk will be.
Flamin’ Hot Funyun Flavor
The original Funyun flavor is officially off the table, but what about their Flamin’ Hot flavor? These are spicy and fun. They take that onion flavor and add some heat that leaves you wanting more.
Ingredients in Flamin’ Hot Funyuns:
- Enriched cornmeal
- Corn and/or soybean oil
- Corn starch
- Corn flour
- Monosodium Glutamate
- Autolyzed yeast extract
- Sunflower oil
- Cheddar cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes)
- Hydrolyzed corn gluten
- Artificial color
- Citric acid
- Onion powder
- Corn syrup solids
- Garlic powder
- Natural and artificial flavor
- Nonfat milk
- Sodium diacetate
The Flamin’ Hot Funyuns actually fail the test for being vegan-friendly on multiple counts and are easy to rule out as well.
In this bag, you see buttermilk, lactose, whey, cheddar cheese, and nonfat milk. All of these are not vegan-friendly, as they are dairy products. These also have sugar in them and the same concept for sugar remains here as explained above.
Vegan-Friendly Alternatives To Funyuns
If you want something that is similar to Funyuns, here are a few vegan-friendly alternatives you can try out instead!
1. Wise Onion Rings
Wise Onion Rings make a great alternative. They don’t have any type of dairy or milk products and they are gluten-free as well.
These do have sugar, and we can’t track whether they use bone char to bleach their sugar, so this may be something to consider before you buy.
2. Munchos Flamin’ Hot Potato Crisps
These are not found on Amazon but you can most likely find them in a grocery store near you or on the Kroger website. These are a Flamin’ Hot variety that you can use as a substitute for Funyuns if you want that flavor and the extra spice. These are PETA-approved and the ingredients list is acceptable.
These do again contain sugar, so that may be something to be aware of. They also contain some artificial coloring, which can sometimes be another trigger.
However, since they are PETA-approved, we assume they have done their research for these ingredients.
3. Trader Joe’s Baked Onion Rings
These onion-flavored snacks are another great alternative. Again, you probably won’t find them on Amazon but you can order them from Trader Joe’s or visit the store if you have one nearby.
A lot of people say these taste the most similar to Funyuns in comparison and they really have better ingredients than most of the options out there.
These do contain some cane sugar but there are no artificial flavors or colors and the ingredients list is overall pretty short. It’s an acceptable alternative, with the possible exception of sugar.
We hope that this guide to understanding whether or not Funyuns are a vegan food is a good resource for you. They don’t qualify as vegan-friendly but there are a few alternative options out there. You might even be able to create your own version of Funyuns at home and control your own ingredients if you like.
We invite you to review our question and answer section below for some additional details that might be helpful to you.
Are Funyuns Vegetarian?
Funyuns do not have anything in the ingredient list that appears to be outside of the traditional vegetarian diet. While there are several different types of vegetarianism, these are considered vegetarian-friendly options.
Are Funyuns Dairy-Free?
Funyuns are most definitely not dairy-free. You can quickly pinpoint these items in the ingredient list. Both types of Funyuns contain buttermilk, but the Flamin’ Hot flavor also contains cheddar cheese, lactose, and nonfat milk as well.
In addition, there is even a line in the ingredient list at the end that says “contains milk ingredients.”
Are Funyuns Gluten-Free?
Technically speaking, Funyuns are considered to be a gluten-free product. The ingredients list does not contain gluten of any kind.
These are processed in a plant that manufactures other products that do contain gluten, if this is a concern for you. However, these are not made with any gluten in them for either flavor.
Are Funyuns Kosher?
Funyuns are made by Frito Lay and Frito Lay has a number of products that are completely certified Kosher.
You can easily find a list but since they are certified as Kosher. You can also find the K in a triangle on the Kosher products. Funyuns are certified Kosher and marked with this symbol as well so you can definitely rely on them when you need a Kosher snack.
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