Are Oreos vegan? The debate that’s anything but black and white

Read Time:   |  19th October 2021

Dip them in plant-based milk or split them in half – Oreos are one of the world’s most-loved snacks, but are they vegan?

There’s no greater feeling than the moment of joy when you realise one of your favourite snacks is accidentally vegan.

Not having to give up regular supermarket buys or find alternative versions of your classic teatime treats makes transitioning to a vegan diet even easier.

As a vegan biscuit-fiend myself, I hoard and scoff my way through packets of accidentally vegan treats with a cup of tea.

But are all Oreos certified vegan? And if they are, can they be enjoyed as part of an ethical vegan diet?

Are Oreos vegan?

Yes! In short, the vast majority of Oreos available to purchase in the UK are accidentally vegan and do not contain any animal ingredients (not even milk!).

These include: Classic Oreos, Golden Oreos, Double Stuff, and Chocolate Cream Oreos.

The only Oreos which are not suitable for vegans are the Peanut Butter flavoured biscuits which contain milk.

If you’re buying Oreos in another country you’ll want to check the ingredients list, as other countries may have different manufacturing procedures.

Photo credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Photo credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Why does Oreo say Oreos are vegetarian but not vegan?

Unlike the cookies themselves, the debate on whether Oreos are vegan is anything but black and white.

Despite many Oreos being free from animal products, the biscuits are only listed as vegetarian on the official Oreo website.

According to the Oreo website: “No, OREO have milk as cross contact and therefore they are not suitable for vegans.”

This means that whilst the majority of cookies might be accidentally plant-based, the manufacturers do not have the procedures in place to be able to confidently claim that their products are vegan.

This is due to the possibility of milk cross-contamination arising from dairy products that are used within the factory.

Therefore, the manufacturers have to advise that traces of dairy may be found in Oreos.

However, this is more of a legal requirement to ensure those allergic to milk are fully informed before choosing to buy an Oreo.

Due to cross-contamination issues, some vegans will choose to avoid eating products such as Oreos which may contain trace amounts of dairy.

However, many vegan products also feature a ‘may contain’ label, due to factory conditions so it is down to personal choice for many vegans whether they choose to eat products carrying this warning.

Vegan charity Viva! says: “They [accidentally-vegan products] make it much easier to not only find vegan snacks and treats, but to enjoy them with family and friends.

“So, although it is your choice whether to eat products with ‘may contain’ warnings, we would encourage new and transitioning vegans not to be too hard on themselves, as it is unlikely that the product is non-vegan.”

Oreo ingredients

Below are the current ingredients for the Original Oreo as available in the UK in 2021.

Please note that manufacturers may change the recipe of their products so make sure you double-check the label before purchasing.

  • Wheat Flour
  • Sugar
  • Vegetable Oil (Palm)
  • Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder 4.6%
  • Wheat Starch
  • Glucose-Fructose Syrup
  • Salt
  • Raising Agents (Potassium Hydrogen Carbonate, Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate, Ammonium Hydrogen Carbonate)
  • Emulsifiers (Soya Lecithin, Sunflower Lecithin)
  • Flavouring (Vanillin)

Related articles:

Are Oreos gluten-free?

At the time of writing, Gluten-Free Oreos are unfortunately not available to buy in the UK. However, Gluten-Free Oreos do exist and are available to buy in the USA.

These biscuits are made using oat flour rather than wheat flour, and are also accidentally vegan.

Hopefully, these free-from treats will find their way into our supermarket shelves very soon!

Does the fact they contain palm oil still mean that Oreos are vegan?

Palm oil is always a complex subject when it comes to deciding whether or not to buy a product. In fact, it’s a topic that often divides vegans in their buying habits.

Whilst Oreos do contain palm oil, it is stated on the manufacturer’s website that the palm oil used is sourced responsibly and ensures procedures are in place to minimise deforestation.

Despite this, some vegans choose to boycott products that contain palm oil due to the environmental impact of palm plantations.

However, palm oil in itself is completely vegan, as the oil is derived from palm plants. Furthermore, its production does not need to involve the abuse or misuse of animals.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether Oreos are a part of your regular vegan snacking schedule.

Vegan Oreo alternatives

If you’ve decided that the issues surrounding classic Oreos are something you wish to avoid in your diet, you might be wondering what vegan Oreo alternatives are there?

Thankfully a number of vegan companies have created their own vegan Oreo alternatives so you can snack with a clear conscience.

Vegan Bakery’s Cookies ‘N Cream

Vegan Bakery's Cookies 'N Cream

Vegan biscuit manufacture Vegan Bakery’s Cookies ‘N Cream biscuits are both vegan and gluten-free. What’s more, they’re certified by The Vegan Society so you can rest assured they’re entirely free from animal products.

You can buy Vegan Bakery Cookies ‘N Cream from online vegan supermarkets, including GreenBay and TheVeganKind

GATO Cookie ‘n’ Cream Chocolate Vanilla

GATO Cookie 'n' Cream Chocolate Vanilla

GATO’S crunchy chocolate cookies sandwiched together with smooth vanilla cream are another tasty vegan alternative to Oreo’s.

Moreover, they’re vegan, gluten-free and high fibre and 30%+ less sugar than similar cookies. They’re both nutritious and delicious and perfect for those looking for their Oreo fix.

GATO’S Cookies ‘n Cream biscuits are available on the high street at Boots and Holland & Barrett

How to make vegan Oreo cookies

If you love vegan baking, why not trying making your own vegan chocolate sandwich cookies at home.

There are lots of recipes for vegan Oreos from healthy versions to giant cookies. If you’re looking for an easy vegan Oreo recipe, we love this simple recipe below.

If you love vegan biscuits, try these vegan cookie recipes!

Written by

Charlotte Willis

Charlotte Willis

Charlotte Willis is an author, editor and content creator, whose interests and work promote sustainable living, in every sense of the word. Charlotte is a marketer for ethical brands, author of Vegan: Do It! A young person’s guide to living a vegan lifestyle, a regular contributor to sustainability and plant-based publications, and is studying clinical psychology with the view to revolutionising women's holistic, natural and mental healthcare.

www.instagram.com/charlottesophiewrites/

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