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Are Gushers Vegan? (8 Problematic Ingredients)

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: August 9, 2023

Switching to veganism is rewarding in so many ways, but it also comes with many life-altering responsibilities.

You can't assume that foods are vegan just because they contain fruit extract, which is precisely the case with candies like Fruit Gushers.

Sure, their taste is convincing, but are Gushers vegan?

I did thorough research and compiled all the details you need to know, so read on to find out more!

Quick Summary

  • Gushers are vegan because they are made from fruit juice and sugar, and also don't contain animal products.
  • Scientific studies reveal that Gushers don't contain gelatin as an ingredient.
  • Gushers are a popular fruit candy snack in the United States.
  • Some problematic ingredients in gushers are glycerine, carnauba wax, palm oil, modified corn starch, and natural flavoring.

Are Gushers Vegan?

Close up view of Gusher candies

Contrary to popular belief, Gushers are vegan! They don’t contain animal products, but unfortunately, the answer is more complicated.

Gushers contain some ingredients that many strict vegans are against.

There’s an ongoing debate over these ingredients, and I’ll fill you in on all the details a bit later.

First, let’s see a quick Fruit Gushers overview.

General Mills’ Fruit Gushers, most commonly known as just Gushers, are a super popular fruit candy snack in the US. They’re made from sugar and fruit juice, but there are other, smaller ingredients, as well.

When you bite into Gushers, juice gushes out, which was the inspiration for the name.

Do They Contain Gelatin?

Gushers don’t have gelatin. As we've seen from the ingredient list, there are no animal-based ingredients, and the snack is plant-based.

Gushers Ingredients

Close up shot of gushers with a white question mark

There are four different Fruit Gushers flavors.

All flavors are made with similar ingredients, but let’s see the detailed ingredient list for one of the most popular flavors - Strawberry.

Strawberry Gushers ingredients include pears from concentrate, sugar, dried corn syrup, corn syrup, modified corn starch, fructose, grape juice from concentrate.

Ingredients making up less than 2% of the product are partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, maltodextrin, cottonseed oil, carrageenan, citric acid, glycerin, monoglycerides, sodium citrate, malic acid, ascorbic acid, natural flavor, potassium citrate, agar-agar, Red 40, xanthan gum.

As you can see, there are no animal products.

Tropical, Super Sour, and Sweet and Fiery Gushers are made with the same ingredients as the Strawberry flavor, with the addition of palm oil, citric acid, red 40, yellow 5, and blue 1.

Even though General Mills' snack is vegan-friendly, vegans find a couple of ingredients questionable.

Note that citric acid is entirely vegan, despite the widespread opinion.

8 Problematic Ingredients

What makes Gushers non vegan

I compiled a list of ingredients that may be both vegan and non-vegan. Some of them are technically vegan, but their manufacturing or processing is related to animal cruelty.

In my opinion, any ingredient related to animal cruelty isn't vegan, but many vegans don't mind using them. I'll leave the facts so you can decide for yourself.

1. Glycerine

Glycerine can be made from plants or animals. Although today most manufacturers use plant-based glycerine, we can’t exclude the possibility of products containing animal-based glycerine.

General Mills doesn’t state whether the glycerine used for making this candy is vegan or not. When the manufacturer is ambiguous about their product's ingredient, it's better to be cautious and assume it's not vegan.

2. Carnauba Wax

Carnauba wax is obtained from palm plants, so people consider it to be OK. However, to plant palm trees, many forests are cleared. This directly impacts animal habitats and endangers them.

Orangutans are one of many animal species driven to the brink of extinction due to deforestation for capitalist gains.

Not to mention that cutting down healthy trees releases CO2 gases into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming and endangering the environment.

Not to mention the horrible working conditions workers on these farms have to endure.

3. Palm Oil

Like carnauba wax, palm oil is also derived from palm trees. Again, people aren’t even aware of how dangerous and unethical the production of palm oil is. Besides the reasons I already mentioned, there are even more issues with this ingredient.

It's a known fact that palm trees release peat into the soils where they're planted. Peat is responsible for releasing large amounts of greenhouse gas, methane, from the soil [1].

Along with deforestation, peat is massively contributing to the global warming crisis.

You see why this ingredient is unacceptable to many vegans — they hurt the Earth, animals, and people. We need to stop this, take action, and save the planet before it's too late.

“Palm oil is here to stay and we urgently need concerted action to make palm oil production more sustainable, ensuring that governments, producers and the supply chain honour their sustainability commitments.”

-  Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General

4. Modified Corn Starch

Modified corn starch contains enzymes, and the issue with enzymes is that we typically don't know how they're derived.

Some producers use enzymes obtained from bacterial cultures and they’re considered vegan [2]. However, the bacteria are fed animal products to produce the enzymes. Obtaining the same enzymes from animals is more affordable and feasible, which worries vegans.

5. Monoglycerides

Like glycerine, monoglycerides can be obtained from animals or plants. This may be a tiny ingredient, but it is being used in products is an issue for hard-core vegans.

If you're worried about this ingredient, but you're not sure which source the manufacturers use, you may want to stay away from the product.

6. Natural Flavoring

You would think that natural means vegan, but this isn’t always the case. Most natural flavors are vegan, but not all. Vegans need to know which flavors manufacturers have used for making the food.

More often than not, manufacturers obtain flavors from fish to make a fruity product juicier.

One of the most popular animal-derived flavors is castoreum. This is a liquid extracted from the anal secretions of the US and European beavers. It’s usually used to produce vanilla flavoring.

However, it’s also used to enhance raspberry and strawberry flavor in food. Who would eat something like this?

This doesn’t mean Strawberry Gushers have castoreum, but you may want to look into it.

7. Artificial Colors

Artificial colors are used in food and cosmetics, and this is a massive issue for vegans. Artificial colors are almost always tested on animals and are associated with multiple health issues and risks, so you may want to stay away from artificial colors.

8. Processed Sugar

Like the rest of this list, processed sugar is another topic of many debates. Many sugar factories process cane sugar with animal bone char to get to the final product — white sugar. This is the reason the majority of vegans avoid processed sugar.

Avoiding sugar altogether is somewhat an extreme decision, but you may want to think about it.

Are Gushers Vegan? The Final Verdict

Compared to other candies, Gushers are considerably vegan. Depending on how strict you are, they may not be.

According to The Vegan Varsity CEO Pete Martin, Gushers contain refined sugar and artificial coloring but as far as vegans are concerned, they can munch away guilt-free.

What do you think about this candy — is it vegan, in your opinion? Share your views in the comments!


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