Have you just started following a vegan diet and want to check if you can eat crisps before you grab a packet of ready salted? Or maybe you’re planning on going vegan and are wondering what the deal is with crisps, are they a no-go zone or are there some exceptions to the rule?
Are most crisps vegan? Can you eat crisps on a vegan diet? And is it ok for vegans to eat meat-flavoured crisps or not? Come to think of it, there are a fair few questions, all circulating around out there in relation to crisps and veganism, aren’t there?
We’ve taken these questions and answered some of them for you. Hopefully by the time you reach the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what’s what in relation to crisps and vegan living. So let’s get stuck straight in with the first question and start nipping those vegan-related crisps in the bud:
Are most crisps vegan?
Are most crisps vegan…..well, that’s actually not as straightforward a question to answer as it first sounds. This is because it depends on what type of crisp you’re talking about.
You see, some crisps are vegan and some aren’t. Most crisps do tick the vegan box because they’re made from potato, dehydrated potato or corn. This base ingredient is then typically mixed with sunflower, rapeseed or palm oil and then some flavourings are usually sprinkled on top.1
Sounds simple enough, right?
But…(yes, there’s a but) it’s the flavourings, that give crisps their unique flavour, that can sway whether crisps are vegan-friendly or are not. This is because some meat-flavoured crisps contain artificial flavours and some contain extracts of the real thing, as well as egg, milk and derivatives of these ingredients which, of course, are all animal products.
Can you eat crisps on a vegan diet?
You can eat certain crisps on a vegan diet. These are the crisps that don’t contain any meat extracts, egg, milk or other animal-related products.
However, there are some crisps that are known for being out and out vegan-friendly.
20 types of crisps that are vegan-friendly:
- Hippeas Chickpea Puffs – in all flavours.
- Tyrrells Furrows Sea Salted Crisps.
- Kettle Chips Salt & Balsamic Vinegar Crisps.
- Pringles Texas BBQ.
- Burts Lentil Waves Thai.
- Tesco Bacon Rashers Snacks.
- Tyrrells Mixed Root Vegetable Chips.
- Walkers Crisps Prawn Cocktail.
- Doritos Chilli Heatwave Tortilla Chips.
- Popchips Sea Salt & Black Pepper.
- Marmite Crisps.
- Walkers Oven Baked Crisps – all flavours apart from Sea Salt and Sticky Barbecue, which contain milk.
- Crinkles Simply Salted Crisps.
- Salt & Shake Crisps.
- Hint of Salt Natural Sea Salt Crisps.
- Walkers Max Crisps.
- Walkers Deli Crisps – Mediterranean Balsamic Vinegar, Roasted Garlic & Mediterranean Herbs and Anglesey Sea Salt flavours only.
- Walkers Sunbites – Sun Ripened Sweet Chilli and Lightly Sea Salted Flavours only.
- Walkers Sensations – Onion & Balsamic Vinegar and Lime & Coriander Chutney Poppadoms only.2,3
Can vegans eat meat-flavoured crisps?
So, there are lots of crisps that are meat-flavoured, but does that mean they’re actually meat-flavoured?
Well, some of them are made with synthetic and vegan-friendly flavourings that are made to taste like bacon or chicken, and some of them actually happen to contain elements of the real thing.4
What are the ingredients in crisps that vegans should stay away from?
We know we’ve sort of covered this off above, but we thought it’d be useful to list out the ingredients, so that you can see them altogether at a glance.
We also wanted to talk you through a few more ingredients, that can creep on to ingredients lists, that vegans need to watch out for too.
The ingredients in crisps that aren’t vegan-friendly
- Meat extracts – used for crisp flavours, such as roast beef, smoky bacon, ham and mustard
- Whey – which is a protein that comes from milk and, as we all know, milk and dairy products aren’t vegan
- Buttermilk and milk-based natural flavourings
- E numbers – mainly 120, 441, 542, 901, 904, 913, 966 and 1105; they come from animals5
Non-vegan crisp flavours to watch out for…
It’s not just meat-flavoured crisps that vegans have to be mindful of, cheese-based varieties can be just as much a no-go zone due to their dairy content.
But the flavour that surprises a lot of people is Walkers Worcester Sauce – which is neither vegan or vegetarian-friendly. Why? Because this particular range is made from anchovies (who would have thought it, hey?…)
How can I check if crisps are vegan-friendly or not?
As with all food, not just vegan food, you should be able to tell exactly what’s in crisps by checking out the ingredients list on the back of the packet.
The non-vegan ingredients, so your buttermilk, your egg, animal ingredients, and milk-derived natural flavourings etc, should be printed in bold print as part of UK allergy legislation, making them easier to see.
However, if you happen to be scrutinising a crisp packet and aren’t sure if the ingredients are 100% vegan, always double check with the manufacturer. It’s the most straightforward way to clarify anything that may be unclear and categorically answer any grey areas or questions you may have.
What are the best vegan alternative crisps?
They may be a mega popular snack – £957.7million was spent on crisps in the UK alone in 2018, but the thing about crisps is that they aren’t the healthiest thing to be munching away on.6
Yes, they provide us with energy, but they’re also packed full of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt, which means they don’t contribute towards having a healthy and balanced diet.7
Fortunately, the crisp market has diversified over the years, and different, healthier variations are now available for people to buy too. Choosing wholegrain varieties, smaller packets, light/reduced fat and baked options means people can still enjoy crisps with more plus sides and less down sides.
Alternatively, you could just make your own. Cut some vegetables (e.g. parsnips, carrots or beetroot) or potatoes in thin slices, spray them with a couple of sprays of oil and then sprinkle some herbs and spices over the top before popping them in the oven. (Scroll down for the full recipe).
But if you don’t fancy doing that and would much prefer to buy some, these vegan crisps have got a good rap for being the best and healthiest:
6 of the best vegan alternative crisps
- Flourish veggie crisps
Flourish happens to be one of PopCorners’ latest products. These plant-based protein crisps are vegan and kosher-friendly, aren’t fried, are non-GMO and gluten-free.
Oh, and they’re available in four different flavours – Harvest Kale, Greens & Beans, Toasted Cauliflower and Roasted Beets. Plus, they’re made from chickpea flour and real veggies and are baked rather than fried.
Nutritional value: 100 calories per 30 crisps and 4g of protein per serving (Kale flavour).
- Plant Snacks root chips
These grain-free crisps are made from the cassava root, which is full of minerals and sustainably grown and harvested in Brazil. They’re naturally grain, gluten, nut and allergy-free, are vegan-friendly and non-GMO.
They also come in six different flavours – Sea Salt, Beet with Vegan Goat’s Cheese, Vegan Cheddar, Salt and Vinegar, Super Seed Mix and Lime.
Nutritional value: 140 calories per 16 crisps, 7% dietary fibre, 0% cholesterol and 8% saturated fat (Beet with Vegan’s Cheese flavour).9
- Forager Project organic chips
All of Forager Project’s vegetable tortilla crisps are vegan, mainly due to the fact they’re made from cashew milk, plant-based yoghurt and brown rice and quinoa instead of corn. Not only are these crisps dairy, soy and gluten-free, they’ve been Vegan Certified.10
You can get them in four different flavours – Super Greens, Cheezy Greens, BBQ Chipotle Greens, Grain-free Greens and Cassava and Cashew.
Nutritional value: 140 calories per packet, 2g dietary fibre, 2% calcium, 6% iron and 1.5g saturated fat.
- Bare Pineapple Chips
As the name suggests, these crisps happen to made from….pineapple! They’re gluten and fat-free; contain no added oil, preservatives or sugar and are baked, not fried.
Nutritional value: 180 calories per packet, 14% dietary fibre, 2% calcium, 0% total fat, 4% iron and 6% potassium.11
- Brad’s Crunchy Kale Crisps
These crisps are uber healthy! Made from organic kale, sunflower seeds, carrot, onion, garlic and turmeric powder, they contain naturally-occurring vitamins, mineral and fibre.12
They’re baked, not fried and are processed at a low temperature to hold on to as many of the natural enzymes and natural essential nutrients.
Nutritional value: 90 calories, 7g of carbohydrate, and 2g of fibre per one ounce serving.13
- Beanfields Vegan Cracklins
If you’re looking for something that’s a little different to crisps, then you may want to give these crackling-type puffs a try. They’re gluten-free, non GMO and come in five lively flavours – Nacho, Cheddar Sour Cream, Himalayan Pink Salt, Jalapeno Lime, Spicy Queso, Himalayan Salt and Vinegar and Jalapeno Nacho.
Nutritional value: 130 calories per serving, 4g of protein, 3g of fibre, 5% saturated fat, 11% dietary fibre, 6% iron, 4% potassium and 2% calcium.14
How to make your own vegan-friendly crisps
Homemade vegetable crisps recipe15
- 500g parsnips
- 330g carrots
- 400g beetroot
- 1tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- 2 dried red chillies
- Preheat the oven to 150ºC/Gas Mark 2 to 3.
- Scrub the parsnip, carrots and beets. Using a mandolin or the thick slicer on a grater, slice each of the vegetables at an angle into long pieces. (Note: they really shrink in the oven).
- Place the vegetable slices in a single layer on baking trays – lay them out separately. Place the carrots and beetroots in the oven for about 2 hours; after 30 minutes add the parsnips. Remove when dry, crisp and cooked.
- Crush the salt, fennel seeds and chilli in a mortar (or a coffee grinder) and sprinkle over your crisps. Serve hot or cold.
Nutritional value: 72 calories per serving, 9g fat, 2g saturates, 9.6 sugars, 2.3g protein and 15g carbohydrates.
So there you have it, the lowdown on vegan crisps. You can either buy ‘every day’ crisps, making sure to check the ingredients list; buy crisps that have been specifically designed to be vegan-friendly, or have a go at making your own! Whichever route you choose, we hope we’ve answered all of your vegan crisp queries and that you’re feeling much clearer about the topic.
Fancy making your own vegan desserts as well as your own vegan crisps? Check out the recipes in this article, ‘Delicious vegan dessert recipes.’