Is Licorice Vegan? Twizzlers, Red Vines, And More Evaluated

When you make the choice to adopt a vegan, plant-based diet, there are lots of foods that you need to give up in order to adhere to your new diet. 

Many of the things that we have to give up are our favorite sweet treats that are made with animal products or byproducts. 

Is Licorice Vegan? Twizzlers, Red Vines, And More Evaluated

While the world of vegan substitute foods is growing at an impressive rate, there are still some vegan versions of classic treats that just aren’t up to par. 

One such food is licorice. If you like licorice you probably enjoy the texture of the candy as much as the flavor. 

While there are some special vegan alternatives to licorice, they just aren’t quite the same.  In this article, we will look at whether licorice or some licorice products are accidentally vegan.

What Is Licorice?

Licorice is actually the common name for a plant known as Glycyrrhiza glabra.  This is a flowering plant that produces stunning white and purple flowers.  However, it is the root of the plant that we are interested in.

An aromatic, sweet flavoring can be extracted from the root of the plant. It is this extract that can be turned into delicious licorice candy. 

Licorice can have lots of healing properties including reducing acid reflux, improving skin, and treating peptic ulcers.  However, it is most popular for its distinct and sweet flavor.

Licorice root in its natural, unprocessed form is completely vegan because it is a plant.  However, to make licorice candy from it, other products need to be added meaning that some licorice candies may not be vegan. 

What Are Red Vines?

Red Vines are a red candy that are often referred to as red licorice.  However, they actually do not contain any licorice at all. Instead, they are actually corn-syrup-based candy that is colored and flavored with completely artificial ingredients and no plant extract. 

What Are Red Vines Made Of?

As we have already alluded to, Red Vines are not made of licorice or any other type of plant extract.  Despite this, they are still commonly referred to as red licorice so it can be easy to wonder what they are actually made of. 

Red Vines are primarily made from corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup. They also contain wheat flour and citric acid to help stabilize and regulate the candy.  There are also many artificial colors and flavorings. 

The main coloring that is used is Red 40.  This is a coloring that is derived from petroleum. They also contain caramel coloring to help deepen the red slightly. Molasses, Anise flavor, and artificial flavors are also used to create the unique flavor of this candy.  

Are Red Vines Vegan?

The short answer to this question is that yes, Red Vines are vegan.  This is mainly due to the fact that they don’t contain any gelatin.  It is gelatin which means that a lot of jello-like candies aren’t vegan. Thankfully, Red Vines are made with corn syrup instead.  

Some people think that because of some of the artificial ingredients these candies aren’t vegan. 

However, a little bit of research shows that they are suitable for vegans. The Red 40 food coloring that is used is derived from petroleum and therefore is vegan, however, it often gets confused with Red 4 which isn’t vegan. 

The caramel coloring can also be confusing because caramel candies are not vegan as they are made with lactose sugar. However, caramel coloring is made with a different sugar that doesn’t come from an animal.  

What Are Twizzlers?

Twizzlers are a very similar candy to Red Vines and are so called because of the twizzled shape that they are formed in. 

Twizzlers actually have an extensive history that stretches all the way back to 1845 which suggests that they have always been a popular candy choice. Another similarity between Twizzlers and Red Vines is that Twizzlers don’t contain any licorice either. 

Although it should be pointed out that they used to up until a few decades ago.  

What Are Twizzlers Made Of?

We have already established that Twizzlers no longer contain any licorice, however, to establish whether or not Twizzlers are vegan, we need to look at the other ingredients too. 

As with Red Vines, the main ingredients in Twizzlers are corn syrup, corn starch, and wheat flour. These make the basic structure of the candy.  To give the candy its bright color and its distinctive flavor, colorings and flavorings need to be added.  

Sugar, salt, Red 40, citric acid, and other artificial flavorings are added to make the candy look and taste good. Twizzlers also contain palm oil which is one of the more controversial vegan ingredients on the list which we will go into below.  

Is Licorice Vegan? Twizzlers, Red Vines, And More Evaluated

Are Twizzlers Vegan?

Again, the short answer to this question is, yes they are.  However, Twizzlers come with one very important caveat when it comes to deciding whether or not you want to eat them as someone with a vegan diet.  

The palm oil that is used in Twizzlers is extremely controversial. While it is technically suitable for a vegan diet because it doesn’t come from an animal or any animal byproducts, there is another important factor. 

The way that palm oil is obtained has long been a controversial subject among vegans and non-vegans. The habitat of many animals, mainly orangutans, is horrifically destroyed in order to make this oil.

Not only that but the habitat is often destroyed while the animals are still living there and therefore they are exposed to a significant risk of harm and trauma.  

For some vegans, especially ethical vegans, and even non-vegans, this ingredient immediately means that a food item is off-limits.  This is a personal choice for you to make as palm oil is technically vegan.  

As we mentioned above, the coloring of Red 40 is also vegan, despite the fact that it often gets confused with its non-vegan alternative. 

Are Licorice Torpedoes Vegan?

If you are looking for vegan licorice treats that actually contain licorice or licorice extract, licorice torpedoes can be a great option.  It is important to point out that not all brands of licorice torpedoes are vegan, a lot are just suitable for vegetarians. 

However, some popular brands such as Panda are made with vegan ingredients. 

Licorice torpedoes by Panda contain actual licorice extract as one of the main ingredients alongside aniseed flavoring to create an even stronger flavor. The thickening agent, gum arabic and the glazing agent carnauba wax are both entirely vegan. 

Best of all, licorice torpedoes don’t contain any palm oil which makes it a much easier decision whether to purchase them or not.  

Are Licorice Pinwheels Vegan?

If you want the ultimate licorice indulgence that respects the limitations of your vegan plant-based diet, licorice pinwheels could be the treat that you have been looking for. 

The black licorice pinwheels are not only 100% suitable for vegans, but they also contain actual licorice which actually makes a refreshing change compared to a lot of products that claim to be licorice.  

The flavorings and colorings that are used are all vegan-friendly and even the glucose syrup used to form the wheels and add some sweetness to the candy is suitable for vegans.  

The red version of licorice pinwheels are often strawberry flavored but with a hint of licorice too.  However, these also do not contain any actual licorice.  Rather the flavor is likely to come from aniseed oil. 

Despite the fact that red licorice pinwheels don’t contain any actual licorice, they are still vegan candy that has a licorice or aniseed taste to them. 

If you cannot find any black licorice pinwheels or don’t want to purchase torpedoes or vines, these make a suitable, delicious alternative.  

Final Thoughts

There are many products on the market that claim to be vegan-friendly licorice candy.  However, for the most part, these seem to be candy that is suitable for vegans but doesn’t contain any licorice. 

While this may be to do with consumer trends and licorice flavor being unpopular, or the fact that the FDA says that too much licorice can be bad for your heart, it can be inconvenient if you want real licorice. 

Thankfully, there are still some products available that both contain licorice and are suitable for vegans.

Eve Mason
Latest posts by Eve Mason (see all)