Flash Point: Oreos Aren’t Vegan
“Good news for people who love bad news..“
Oreos aren’t vegan. This keeps coming up, but the fact remains they aren’t vegan. There are a number of moving parts to the matter, but here’s a letter from Mondelez who manufactures Oreos:
Thank you for reaching out! The information you have heard is correct.
None of our products are certified vegetarian or vegan even though some products may fit those categories. Certain ingredients, like glycerin, may be sourced from plants or animals.
Currently OREO products in the US and Canada are not suitable for a Vegan diet due to some of our sugar suppliers using the bone char method.
If enzymes are present in our products, they will be listed on the ingredient line as enzymes.
These are sourced from animals. Unfortunately, we are unable to research what animal source they come from as this is considered proprietary information.
We understand that knowing what ingredients are in the food products you eat directly affect how you practice your religion/dietary lifestyle, and OREO does all that it can to assist its consumers in making educated food decisions.
As you can imagine our products change frequently and maintaining a list of products for specific dietary practices would be virtually impossible.
We ask that our consumers take the time to check the ingredient statement on the package prior to purchasing a product.
NaomiLetter emailed to me on March 7th, 2022, inspired by this Reddit thread.
OREO Customer Service
Ref: Case #S-13241373
The above letter applies to US and Canada, so the sugar may be a moot point in other countries where bone char isn’t used. (See here for an easy guide on vegan sugar if unfamiliar.)
But in addition to the sugar, there’s uncertainty about the glycerin and enzymes, which may also be animal ingredients.
And there are two other ingredients of concern:
- Palm oil – palm oil is infamous for how bad it is for animals and their spaces. We vegans should be doing what we can to avoid consuming any (and it’s in a surprising number of items!)
- Cocoa – cocoa farms also have a bad wrap, including human and child slave labour, and Oreo/Mondelez have been implicated as well. (When buying chocolate, be sure to look for Fair Trade labels, and Organic is preferred as well.) Also – see the UPDATE below for a video from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
Given all that, I hope we can agree that Oreos simply aren’t vegan.
There are alternative sandwich cream cookies from other brands that offset most of these pitfalls, with more ethical or even organic ingredients. A simple guideline that I keep in mind when shopping: if I’ve seen a commercial for it, I probably want to avoid it.
And at the end of the day no one will be worse off for not eating an Oreo, but maybe others will be better off if you choose not to.
UPDATE: November 16th, 2023
To emphasize the human slavery involved in chocolate, Mondelez was highlighted as a company with child labour in this piece by John Oliver on Last Week Tonight, it’s worth a watch: