Are Jelly Beans Vegan?

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Jelly beans – those fun and colorful little sweets, loved by kids and adults! Jelly beans are popular around the world and many people enjoy the juicy range of flavors available.

If you’re following a vegan diet, it can be difficult to figure out what you are and are not able to eat, and many sweets have hidden animal products. It is all too easy to get caught off guard by things like gelatin!

So, are jelly beans vegan? Not all brands of jelly beans are vegan, but some are. Vegans should avoid jelly beans that contain ingredients such as gelatin, shellac, beeswax, and confectioners glaze. One popular brand of vegan-friendly jelly beans includes YumEarth Organic Sour Bean.

Let’s take a deeper look into the world of jelly beans and investigate what these delectable little fruity sweets are actually made of. We’ll also find out which jelly beans are OK to eat if you are following a vegan diet.

What Are Jelly Beans?

Jelly beans are small sugary bean-shaped candies, with a soft shell and thick gel-like interior.

Unlike most other types of modern-day sweets, jelly beans have been around for over one hundred years – possibly dating right back to the American Civil War in the 1800s!

So, it looks like jelly beans are here to stay, and these popular sweets are much loved for good reason. They are soft, easy to chew, and absolutely bursting with flavor.

Speaking of flavor, jelly beans come in a huge range of flavors, from the familiar fruit options right through to spiced, licorice, and even novelty ranges.

It is estimated that jelly beans are now made in over 100 different flavors!

What Ingredients Are Used To Make Jelly Beans?

Jelly beans have a long history, and they were first created as they were easy to make and stored well. The basic recipe for the original jelly beans was just sugar and corn syrup, thickened with cornstarch.

This was the ideal base to add in different flavors and colors to create these colorful, tasty little beans.

The modern-day ingredient list for jelly beans really hasn’t changed much, although there have been some tweaks by manufacturers to intensify the flavor and create the perfect consistency.

One of the biggest candy manufacturers, Jelly Belly, states that their jelly beans are made with sugar, corn syrup, modified cornstarch, and confectioner’s glaze and that they use natural flavorings wherever possible.

Are Jelly Beans Vegan?

Vegans do not eat anything animal-based, such as meat, eggs, butter, and other dairy products. The main ingredients in jelly beans are vegan-friendly; however, it is the added extras that need closer scrutiny!

Many colors and flavors are come from animal derivatives and are not suitable for vegans to eat.

With over 100 jelly bean flavors available it would take us forever to analyze them all, but we have tracked down some of the most common offenders for you!

Here are some of the ‘hidden’ ingredients, derived from animals, which may be found in some brands of jelly beans.

Confectioners Glaze or Shellac

The crisp outer shell of some brands of jelly beans is created by using a confectioners glaze, also known as Shellac.

This is a very controversial ingredient as it is created from the secretions of female beetles, which then die as a result of this process.


This ingredient should immediately ring alarm bells if you are vegan! Gelatin, a common ingredient in many smooth fruit-flavored candies, is derived from animal byproducts such as skin, bones, and cartilage.


Beeswax is commonly used in the production of jelly beans. As beeswax is derived from bees, many vegans will not eat it.

Colors, Flavors, and Preservatives.

Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to identify what added extras have gone into jelly beans!

If the manufacturer has used natural colors or flavors then these will not be listed individually in the ingredients list, but they can be derived from plants or animals.

Food coloring is often considered non-vegan because it is tested on animals; however, many people believe that if the coloring itself doesn’t contain any animal or insect products, then they are vegan.

Luckily, if products contain animal-based flavorings, those must be specified on the packaging by law.

Artificial additives will be listed individually, so we will be checking for any of these which are derived from animals.

When it comes to colors, flavors, and preservatives, manufacturers do not state which ingredients make up each individual flavor of a jelly bean.

So even if just one type of jelly bean contains a non-vegan ingredient, we have to avoid the whole lot!


Sugar is a controversial topic in the vegan world these days. Refined sugars are often processed using bone char, which helps give the cane sugar product its pure white color.

Even though refined sugar does not contain any bone char, many vegans believe that regular granulated sugar cannot be considered vegan as animal products are used to process it.

Not every type of sugar is processed in this way, and some sugars are perfectly acceptable for vegans to eat. Vegan-friendly sugars will be labeled as organic, unrefined, natural, or raw.

Palm Oil

Although palm oil itself is not derived from animals, the way it is obtained is not considered environmentally friendly and does have devastating impacts on animals.

This means that many vegans also try to avoid foods containing palm oil.

Which Brands Of Jelly Bean Are Vegan?

There are very few brands of jelly bean which are truly vegan because most of them contain hidden animal derivatives.

In fact, we searched high and low, and we managed to find just one brand of jelly bean suitable for vegans! So let’s give our sole contender a big round of applause for making it onto the list!

YumEarth Organic Sour Bean

If you want to be 100% confident that your jelly beans are vegan, this is the brand to go for. After some considerable searching, we’ve found that YumEarth Organic Sour Beans are the only jelly beans that are listed as suitable for vegans.

These little beans come in a bag containing four different flavors – Pomegranate Pucker, Perfectly Peach, Awesome Apple, and Mango Tango. These flavors are all sharp and tart, so don’t expect a sweet sugary hit straight away!

YumEarth Organic Sour Beans are free from palm oil and contain only natural plant-derived colorings and flavorings.

The best thing about YumEarth Organic Sour Bean is that, as well as being suitable for vegans, they are also organic.

This means you can be reassured that the sugar will be processed without the use of animal products, making this a truly vegan option.

Which Brands Of Jelly Bean Are Not Vegan?

Sadly, the vast majority of brands of jelly beans are not vegan! Here are some of the most popular jelly bean varieties, along with the reason why they are not vegan:

  • Surf Sweets Organic Jelly Beans contain confectioner’s glaze
  • Haribo Jelly Beans contain beeswax
  • Starburst Jelly Beans contain both confectioner’s glaze and beeswax
  • Wholesome Sweets Organic Jelly Beans contain confectioner’s glaze
  • Brach’s Jelly Beans contain both confectioner’s glaze and beeswax
  • Laffy Taffy’s Jelly Beans contain beeswax
  • Kirkland’s Signature Gourmet Jelly Beans contain both beeswax and confectioner’s glaze
  • Life Saver’s Jelly Beans contain both confectioner’s glaze and beeswax

It is clear to see that if you are following a vegan diet you need to be very suspicious of jelly beans! Some jelly beans may be vegan, but the vast majority are not.

The ingredient which is derived from animals is often hidden deep within the ingredient list, so it is best to stick with certified vegan options wherever possible.

What Are The Best Vegan Candies?

Seeing as there is only one type of vegan jelly bean currently on the market, we thought we’d see what other options are available for you! Luckily there are plenty of other vegan candies out there, and here is our pick of the best:

  • Wholesome Fruity Bears – cute little fruit-filled bears, full of sugary loveliness!
  • Lovely Candy Co. Organic Chewy Candies – individually wrapped fruity candies, with an amazing flavor free from any artificial ingredients.
  • OCHO’s Organic Coconut Minis – gorgeous little dark chocolate bites, hiding a delicious coconut center.
  • Candy People’s Sour Vikings – these little sour candies don’t just taste amazing, they are fat-free as well!

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over whether or not jelly beans are vegan, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the topic!

Are jelly beans vegetarian?

Similar to vegans, vegetarians do not eat any meat.

The main difference between the two is that a vegan will not eat anything that comes from an animal, but vegetarians will still normally consume dairy products, eggs, or anything that comes indirectly from an animal.

Vegetarians should avoid any jelly beans which have gelatin on the ingredients list, as this is derived from the skin, bone, and cartilage of animals.

Gelatin is used much less commonly these days, and many popular brands of jelly beans such as Jelly Bellys are suitable for vegetarians. 

Are jelly beans dairy-free?

The good news is that jelly beans are completely dairy-free! They do not contain any dairy-based products and are perfectly fine for people following a dairy-free diet.

Are jelly beans gluten-free?

Yes, jelly beans are gluten-free – yippee!

One of the largest jelly bean manufacturers, Jelly Belly’s, states on their website that their jelly beans are gluten-free.

This means that jelly beans are safe for people with gluten intolerances or celiac disease.

Are jelly beans kosher?

According to OU Kosher Certification, both The Jelly Bean Factory and Jelly Belly’s jelly beans are kosher certified. Try saying that fast three times over – what a jellified tongue twister!!

Are jelly beans keto-friendly?

Keto diets are hugely popular these days, with many people cutting down carbs or even omitting them from their diets altogether. Like all diets, it can be complicated to find out which foods are OK for you to eat.

So, if you’re wondering if jelly beans are keto-friendly, the answer is maybe!

Normal jelly beans are absolutely not keto-friendly, as they are packed full of sugar.

However, there are some low-sugar jelly beans available, such as Jelly Belly’s low sugar range. These are much lower in carbs than the full-sugar varieties.

But the real problem with jelly beans if you are looking for a keto-friendly sweet is not the carb content, but the ingredient list. One of the main ingredients is maltitol – basically, sugar!

As anyone following a keto-friendly diet will know, hidden sugars are the enemy! They will send your blood sugar and insulin levels on a rollercoaster, making it hard to maintain ketosis.

So, theoretically, you could indulge in a few low-sugar jelly beans if you are on a keto-friendly diet. But if you fancy a treat then many other low-carb foods are less likely to mess with your blood sugar levels!

Oh, and a word of warning – the packet states to only eat a small number of low-sugar jelly beans at a time, and there is good reason for this! Eating an excessive amount will cause digestive upsets and stomach cramps.

Are jelly beans paleo-friendly?

People who follow the paleo diet aim to avoid processed foods and eat only whole foods.

Unfortunately, like most sweets, jelly beans are highly processed! This means that jelly beans are not paleo-friendly.

If you are following a paleo diet and want a little treat, then it would be better to have a paleo-friendly snack such as a fruit and nut snack bar.

Are jelly beans bad for you?

If you absolutely adore jelly beans, then stop reading right now – otherwise you are in for a huge disappointment!

Although it should not come as a big surprise, jelly beans really are pretty bad for you. This is because they contain a high amount of sugar and high-sugar syrups. That amazing fruity sweetness has to come from somewhere!

Depending on the brand, jelly beans can also contain a high amount of artificial colors, flavors, and alternatives.

If you are looking for a healthy candy, then jelly beans are not the one for you! However, don’t dismiss these little sugary treats altogether.

By eating a more natural, organic jelly bean made with natural colors and flavors, you can rest assured that this is the healthier version of your favorite snack.

Just don’t eat them all at once!

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