Yes, M&M’s can generally be considered vegetarian, but certain ingredients raise suspicion and it can depend on the country where the candies are produced.
For me, searching for an ideal snack suitable for vegetarians isn’t always easy. Popular candy, like M&M’s, can be especially deceptive.
If you’re as curious as me, let’s see what ingredients M&M’s are made of and answer the question: are these beloved sweets vegetarian?
Are M&M’s vegetarian?
M&M’s are generally OK for vegetarians.
The primary ingredients in M&M’s made in the United States are chocolate, sugar and cornstarch. These ingredients are all vegetarian-friendly.
However, M&M’s in the United Kingdom use carmine, a red food coloring made from crushed insects. Vegans and vegetarians should avoid this component.
Checking the ingredients list might help you find M&M’s that are suitable for vegetarians by ensuring that none of the animal-derived ingredients are included.
M&M’s have been around since 1941, when Forrest Mars Sr. and Bruce Murrie first developed them. The two men wanted to create a candy that was easy to transport and wouldn’t melt in hot weather.
The original M&Ms were made with a hard outer shell of chocolate surrounding a creamy center. This design allowed the candy to be easily transported without melting or becoming too soft.
M&M’s have quickly become a popular snack around the world. You can now buy them in various flavors: peanut, peanut butter, fudge brownie, caramel, crunchy cookie, dark mint chocolate, almond, pretzel and dark chocolate.
What are M&M’s made of?
For most M&M’s varieties, chocolate, sugar, and cornstarch are the key ingredients.
To prevent the sweets from sticking together, cornstarch is used.
M&M’s may also include emulsifiers, preservatives, and other artificial colors and flavors.
For example, Milk Chocolate M&M’s are made of:
- milk chocolate (sugar, chocolate, skim milk, cocoa butter, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, salt, natural flavor)
And less than 2% of:
- corn syrup
- colors (includes blue 2 lake, blue 1 lake, yellow 5, yellow 6, yellow 6 lake, red 40, red 40 lake, blue 1, yellow 5 lake, blue 2)
- carnauba wax
- gum acacia.
Peanut M&M’s use the same basic ingredients with the addition of peanuts and palm oil while Peanut Butter M&M’s also use hydrogenated palm kernel oil.
Are M&Ms healthy to eat?
M&M’s should not be eaten often due to their high sugar and calorie content. Overconsumption might result in undesired weight gain and other health issues.
Most M&M’s products use peanuts, milk, wheat, or soy, which some people may be allergic to.
So it’s best to examine the list of ingredients before buying M&M’s. Make sure occasional treats like these are suitable for your diet!
Healthier alternatives to M&M’s
When craving something sweet, it’s sometimes better to opt for some healthier alternatives to M&M’s like:
- Fresh fruit. Apples, bananas, oranges, kiwis, grapes etc. are excellent sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is a good source of antioxidants. It’s also a great option for those who want something rich in flavor.
- Popcorn. This whole grain makes a deliciously sweet and healthy snack packed with fiber.
- Nuts and seeds. For example, peanuts, walnuts, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds. Another great option is to make a chia seed pudding – a tasty sweet treat full of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and protein.
- Dried fruit. Dried raisins, cranberries, dates and apricots are a great option for those who want a sweet and chewy snack that is also healthy. They are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
When I’m in the mood for something sweet like M&Ms, I often make a batch of fruit roll-ups. They’re a much healthier alternative!
Yes, M&M’s website currently lists 14 different varieties. My favorite candy out of all flavors is Peanut Butter M&M’s.
Yes, the colors used in M&Ms are vegan. They come from natural sources such as fruits and vegetables rather than animal products like carmine or cochineal extract which can be found in some food products.
However, the ingredient list of M&M’s produced in the UK includes carmine.
If you find animal-based food colorings unacceptable, you should always check the labels or contact the manufacturer for more details.
Some M&M’s varieties are gluten-free but others may contain wheat. For example, Mint Dark Chocolate M&M’s, Crunchy Cookie, Peanut Mix, Pretzel and Crispy M&M’s aren’t safe for a gluten-free diet.
No, M&M’s aren’t vegan because they contain dairy products like lactose and skim milk. If you’re looking for vegan options, it’s best to skip chocolate candy with milk-based ingredients.
The production process of M&M’s may involve animal testing, but this information is not publicly disclosed by the manufacturer.
Yes, M&M’s contain dairy products – skim milk and lactose, which are both derived from milk.
Yes, it is possible to make something that resembles M&M’s with some chocolate, cocoa powder, sugar, corn syrup, food coloring. You can also use your favorite ingredients like nuts or dried fruits.
BOTTOM LINE: M&M’s are generally considered vegetarian-friendly. However, M&Ms made in the UK include carmine, a red food coloring obtained from crushed insects. Due to their high sugar and calorie content, M&Ms should be eaten sparingly. Better options include fresh fruit, dark chocolate, popcorn, nuts and seeds, and dried fruit.
I’ve also made a research whether Doritos are vegetarian and Gushers are vegan friendly. Why not to check out? 🙂
If you’re looking for more ingredient ideas, check out my lists of best substitute for bell pepper and best olive alternative options.