Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan?

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

If you didn’t know any better, you might think that vegan people simply don’t eat meat. While this is certainly a strong part of their diet, there is far more to it.

The vegan diet typically consists not just of avoiding meat but avoiding any product derived from animals, including products that aren’t always food-related. 

With that in mind, if you’re trying to stick to a vegan way of life, it’s important to understand and know what to look for when you’re headed to the grocery store.

Even your sweet tooth must be carefully considered as some candies and sweet treats contain ingredients that were derived from animals. 

On that note, are Sour Patch Kids vegan? Due to the lack of information on how the sugar and artificial colorings are processed for Sour Patch Kids, it’s safe to assume that they are probably not vegan. There are alternative vegan candies out there that work well in place of Sour Patch Kids, however.

In this guide, we will walk you through whether or not sour patch kids really are vegan and what might set them apart!

We will talk about the ingredients that are generally questionable in making these a vegan-friendly treat.

While there are no immediate animal ingredients, there are some controversial ingredients to be aware of. 

Keep reading to learn whether sour patch kids are vegan and more! 

A Brief Overview of Veganism

If you’re here, you probably are already familiar with what the vegan lifestyle consists of. But maybe you’re simply curious! We wanted to provide a brief overview of what vegan really is for those who may not know or understand. 

What you will find is that while PETA technically lists sour patch kids as a vegan-friendly product, there are a lot of unknowns which is why some people say they are possibly not vegan-friendly.

In the end, you will have to make the decision for yourself. 

The basic definition of vegan is a person who doesn’t consume food derived from animals and does not use animal byproducts.

Of course, there are varying levels of veganism and some who choose to be vegan are less strict than others on what they will or will not consume. 

Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan Or Not? 

At first glance, one might say that sour patch kids are vegan because they don’t contain gelatin or anything that immediately looks like it comes from animals. 

But what about the ingredients in sour patch kids that you really don’t know where they came from? In full review, sour patch kids most likely are not vegan.

There are still some unknown properties and we most likely will never get those answered because only the manufacturer would really be able to tell us. 

If you’re just looking at the ingredient list, you can easily look and assume they are vegan-friendly.

However, we also want to look at the reasons that others are saying they really may not be vegan-friendly and then you can make an informed decision from there. 

The Ingredients in Sour Patch Kids

Let’s start with the ingredient list! This is definitely the place where you are going to determine whether the ingredients are vegan-friendly or not. Or at least, one would assume. 

Here is a quick list of the primary ingredients found in most flavors of sour patch kids. 

  • Sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Modified corn starch
  • Citric acid
  • Tartaric acid
  • Natural flavors
  • Artificial flavors
  • Artificial colors, including yellow, red, and blue 

We don’t see gelatin in the ingredients, which is probably one of the things that most people looking for a vegan-friendly treat would look for. But there is more to be considered here. 

In this instance, the sugar, artificial flavors, and artificial colors could be controversial.

The problem is we don’t really know where these came from or derived from and so there is a chance that they were derived from animals in some way. 

So – how could these present an issue? It’s not necessarily that they specifically come from an animal but more that they are related to animal cruelty in many ways.

While PETA has claimed these are vegan-friendly, there is no reliable source of information that tells us where the ingredients truly come from. 


The problem with the sugar in Sour Patch Kids is that we really don’t know where it came from and there is not an easy way to trace it. 

Let’s consider what we know about sugar. Sugar can either be processed from sugar beets or sugar cane.

In the United States, and among various food companies these are used pretty equally so there is no norm here. You would never know the difference in the flavor. 

Both types of sugar are similar in both taste and texture so either one could be used in a recipe and people wouldn’t know the difference. However, there is a defining standard that might affect the vegan population. 

While the process for making sugar from sugar beets is simple with a diffuser and then some crystallization, the process for cane sugar is a bit different.

Cane sugar goes through a process that filters it and bleaches it with bone char and this is where the challenge comes in. 

Bone char is also sometimes referred to as natural carbon but the fact remains that it is made from the bones of cattle.

Bone char is primarily used for bleaching purposes, which is the case for sugar. Bone char is used here to help cane sugar turn pearly white. 

Bone char is typically made overseas from certain countries and is then traded. The process of making bone char involves heating the bones of the cattle to extremely high temperatures so that it is turned into carbon. 

While your sugar most likely will not contain actual fragments of bone char, the product is still used in the making of that particular type of sugar (cane sugar), which is where it can become a controversial ingredient.

You see, there isn’t bone char in the sugar but the sugar was made using an animal product. For some, this won’t be a problem. 

So how do you know? The problem is you don’t. You see, not all cane sugar uses bone char to refine it.

Some can sugar brands have moved to use granular carbon instead and this has no animal product in it whatsoever so it is safe cane sugar

The problem is with Sour Patch Kids is we have no idea and there are no clear answers as to what type of sugar they are using or where the sugar is sourced from. Even the manufacturers of Sour Patch Kids won’t divulge this information. 

If you’re on the fence or this is a potential concern for you, then Sour Patch Kids are not for you. 

And to be quite honest, that’s not all. Let’s look at the other controversial ingredients. 

Artificial Flavors and Colors

We’re going to group these together because the explanation of them and why they may not be vegan-friendly is really the same for both types of ingredients. 

Vegans often look specifically for gelatin because this is a known animal-based product. While there is no gelatin listed in Sour Patch Kids, there are other things to be aware of.

In addition, there are some who believe there could be a trace amount in the candy, even though it’s not listed. The reason for this is that there is no gel agent listed and we know this candy to be sticky and gooey in the center. 

However, it is also quite possible that the gooey center could come from the corn syrup and corn starch that are used as well so it’s quite possible there isn’t even a trace of gelatin. 

However, the ingredients clearly list both artificial flavors and colors here. We also want to point out that Sour Patch Kids may be produced differently in different countries.

For example, if you are in the United Kingdom you might be reading this thinking gelatin is on the label. In the UK, the ingredients list actually does contain gelatin so it’s clear these are not vegan-friendly in that market. 

If your ingredient list doesn’t mention gelatin, your next thing to consider are the artificial flavors and colors. Again, these are a major unknown.

The problem is it is a very generic label and we have absolutely no idea what these artificial additives are or where they came from

There are a lot of artificial colors that have been lab tested on animals. All of the artificial colors here on this list are known to be made from petroleum and petroleum is known to be tested on animals. 

In addition, many dyes are tested on animals by feeding them to animals to see if they pose some sort of health risk. Ultimately, those animals may suffer any number of side effects.

This particular category boils down to your own conscience and preferences. It is possible to consume artificial colors and flavors and still be vegan because the products are not actually derived from animals.

However, there are many vegan people who adamantly stay away from using or consuming items that were tested on animals and that is where this comes into play. 

This becomes a personal choice for you to make now that you have all of the facts. 

Vegan Alternatives to Sour Patch Kids

If you’re looking at these details and you’ve determined that Sour Patch Kids are not truly vegan-friendly, there is still hope!

Thankfully, there are products out there that can make a really great alternative and are completely vegan-friendly with no questions. 

We’ve dug up a few for you here in case you need a good option! 

1. Candy People Sour Viking

Check Current Price on Amazon

These sour Vikings make a really great alternative to Sour Patch Kids and they are both gluten-free and vegan-friendly!

They use natural fruit concentrates to flavor the gummies and you can get flavors like strawberry, pear, cherry, lemon, and orange. 

These are made with no artificial colors or flavors and no added HFCs.

They do contain sugar but the packaging is labeled as vegan-friendly which leads us to believe they use vegan-friendly sugar to create their candy. 

These are made with organic derivatives and also have no gelatin as well. You will find they have a variety of different options to choose from as well. 

2. Yum Earth Sour Beans

Check Current Price on Amazon

If you want something you can just pop in your mouth and still get that sour flavor, these organic sour beans are a great choice!

They have no dairy, no nuts, are gluten-free, and are certified organic through USDA standards

These sour beans are flavored using real fruit juice to bring you tart hints of things like peach, mango, apple, and pomegranate.

They are tasty, pucker-friendly, and reliably vegan as well. They don’t contain any artificial flavors and colors

The organic approval and label is reassuring as to the quality and appeal of the ingredients. These are also much better for you because of the use of natural flavors and organic ingredients. 

3. Smart Sweets Sour Watermelon Bites

Check Current Price on Amazon

Last, but certainly not least, are these flavorful sour watermelon bites.

With this candy, you’ll get a tart watermelon that has plant-based flavorings and does not use artificial colors or sweeteners

These are a low sugar treat and the sugar is plant-based so there is no concern of bone char having been used in the process.

This company takes a unique approach and they even provide an explanation for how they chose to flavor the candy. 

If you want something both healthy and flavorful that won’t contain sugar or artificial ingredients that could be against your vegan standards, this is a great option! 

Related Questions

We hope that you find this guide to be helpful in answering the question, “Are Sour Patch Kids vegan?”.

There is a lot to consider here and in the end, it really will boil down to your personal preferences and choice.

Our goal was to simply provide you with all of the facts and let you determine from there what you are or are not comfortable with. 

We invite you to take a look at the following question and answer section for some additional information that could be useful as well. 

Are Sour Patch Kids vegetarian? 

Whether or not Sour Patch Kids are vegetarian may depend on where you are located and how they are processed.

In countries like the United Kingdom, they contain gelatin and therefore will not be vegetarian. However, if they do not contain gelatin they would be vegetarian-friendly. 

Are Sour Patch Kids gluten-free? 

Sour Patch Kids are considered to be gluten-free. This is consistent across the board with all of their flavors and varieties. 

Are Sour Patch Kids kosher? 

While many would assume that Sour Patch Kids would be Kosher because of the lack of gelatin, they actually are not considered Kosher.

This is primarily related to the inclusion of artificial flavors and colors or even the natural flavors that can sometimes be derived from pork and other non-Kosher foods. 

Up Next: The 5 Best Brisket Substitutes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *