Are Skittles vegan? Technically yes (but always read labels as ingredients can change without warning).
So what’s the problem?
While skittles don’t contain animal products (and some would argue this constitutes vegan), some of its other ingredients directly harm and encroach upon animal habitats around the world (which is not vegan).
There is also our health to consider. Skittles contain very high levels of sugar. They also contain Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil and a fair few different food colourings, all of which are directly linked to a number of our leading diseases (which I detail below).
So in a bit more detail, let’s delve into why I’m not a big fan of Skittles. Either as a vegan. Or as someone who values their health.
Skittles Nutrition Profile
A regular pack of Skittles contains 250 calories. It also contains 56 grams of carbohydrates (46 of which are sugars) and 2.5 grams of saturated fat (13% RDA). They also contain 20mg of sodium.
Basically they are just empty calories. No protein. No fibre. No vitamins. No nutrients. No nutrition.
The World Health Organisation recently provided an advisory that says that we should limit our intake of processed sugars to 6 teaspoons a day in an attempt to reduce obesity and its associated diseases. Just to put that into perspective, a bag of skittles contains approximately 11.5 teaspoons.
Skittles Ingredients Overview
Wrigley (owned by Mars Incorporated) produce Skittles and according to their website , Skittles Original contain the following ingredients:
INGREDIENTS: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, less than 2% of: Citric Acid, Tapioca Dextrin, Modified Corn Starch, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Colors (Red 40 Lake, Titanium Dioxide, Red 40, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Blue 2 Lake, Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake), Sodium Citrate, Carnauba Wax.
As you can see from the ingredients list, Skittles mainly consist of hydrogenated oil, sugar, corn syrup and a lot of food colourings.
Most organisations around the world, including the World Health Organisation recommend that as part of a healthy diet, the intake of refined sugars, corn syrup and hydrogenated oils should be limited because of the associated health impacts.
From the ingredients list you can see that Wrigley’s use a plethora of different food colourings. In Skittles Originals the following are used: Red 40, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Blue 2 Lake, Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake).
Why is this a problem? Well there is mounting evidence from leading scientists around the world, that these chemicals have a direct link to many of today’s leading diseases. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and even certain skin conditions such as eczema.
Food Colourings – Child Hyperactivity and ADHD
During the 1970’s, Dr Ben Fenigold (who was then Chief of Paediatrics in the U.S.), was discredited and ridiculed after he suggested that food colourings used in many common foods could have a disastrous impact on a child’s developing nervous system. He also suggested that this would then have a direct effect on a child’s mood, personality and behaviour.
Many scientists (mainly funded by the food industry) and large food and drinks manufacturers (such as Cocoa Cola) put pressure on the medical establishment to disregard Dr Fenigold’s findings. The medical community ruled in favour of the $200 billion dollar a year industry and it seemed like the argument had been settled. But the truth always has a way of coming out.
Just a few years ago, a leading publication in one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world reignited the argument. The double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed a direct link between food colourings and hyperactivity, ADHD and impulsivity in children who consumed certain food colours and chemicals. Since the study, there has been increased calls to ban or regulate artificial colourings in foods.
Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil
One of the other problematic ingredients in Skittles is palm oil. It is one of the leading causes of deforestation on the planet (although it is dwarfed by animal agriculture). It causes mass environmental destruction and displaces and kills many animals around the world. So while animal products are not contained in skittles, there is an indirect link to the harm and killing of different species around the world.