If you’re following a vegan diet, you might be wondering if you can eat popcorn. And the answer is that you can eat certain types, but not all!
Whether you’re a seasoned vegan or new to the lifestyle, it’s good to know what foods are okay for you to eat, especially if you thought they weren’t before doing your research.
As more and more food brands are becoming vegan-friendly, we’ve created this guide so you can understand everything you need to know about popcorn, and which brand is vegan. Read on to find out more!
Is Popcorn Vegan?
Contrary to popular belief, not all popcorn has a butter coating. Is popcorn vegan then? Well, it is sometimes!
However, you should constantly be on the lookout for additional ingredients because they often contain animal byproducts.
In short, popcorn in its natural form, meaning popped corn kernels with no flavoring, is completely vegan.
What Makes Some Popcorn Not Vegan?
In its purest form, popcorn is simply corn.
All you need to do to make popcorn is heat the corn kernels. When they are heated for a while, the pressure inside the kernel increases until it abruptly bursts and expands. Popcorn is therefore naturally plant-based unless more additives are included.
Popcorn is often not vegan since butter butter is added to it, which, of course, is a dairy product.
Because it’s so common for popcorn to be served in this manner, it’s easy to forget that butter is optional.
Additionally, butter is not necessary to make popcorn taste excellent. If you’ve ever used plant-based butter, you are aware of how simple it is to replicate the taste of butter without using animal products.
Usually, all you need to do to make anything taste buttery is to add something high in fat, like oil. Some oils taste more like butter than others, and vegan popcorn brands seem to prefer sunflower oil.
However, butter isn’t the only non-vegan ingredient. There are several types of non-vegan popcorn out there, some of which are rather clear.
Avoid popcorn flavors like cheddar and bacon-flavored that include the names of animal products in them.
How To Tell If Popcorn Is Vegan
Popcorn is often available in three basic varieties: microwave popcorn, pre-popped popcorn, and movie popcorn.
Finding out if every ingredient in a product is vegan is necessary to determine whether a brand is vegan, albeit the process may differ slightly for each.
Microwave Popcorn And Pre-Popped Popcorn
You can determine if a brand of these two types of popcorn is plant-based by reading the ingredients list.
The shorter the list of ingredients, the better. A product derived from animals is more likely to be included the more ingredients specified.
Checking to see if the product mentions any allergies is a smart place to start. Because many popcorn varieties contain dairy ingredients, a notice that the product contains dairy is frequently printed on the packaging.
Normally, it will state something along the lines of “warning: includes milk.” You may be certain that a brand of popcorn is not vegan if there is a warning for any non-vegan allergies, such as milk or eggs.
However, a product’s lack of a warning label does not automatically mean that it is plant-based.
Many non-vegan ingredients, such as honey and meat flavorings, do not need to be mentioned with a caution. For this reason, even if there is no allergen warning, always examine the contents list twice.
It might be challenging to read through these ingredient lists, especially if you are not familiar with the complex non-vegan substances. For instance, you might glance right past disodium inosinate, a common flavoring component that is typically made from fish.
We created two lists of substances that are frequently present in microwave popcorn and popped popcorn brands to make things simpler.
One list contains substances that are suitable for vegans, and the other is a list of ingredients to avoid.
Common Popcorn Ingredients That Are Vegan-Friendly
- Sunflower oil
- Palm oil
- Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
- Tocopherols (vitamin E)
Common Popcorn Ingredient That Are Non-Vegan
- Milk powder
- Meat flavors (such as bacon)
- Natural flavors (often not plant-based)
- Sodium caseinate
Vegan Microwave Popcorn
Here is a list of all the brands of microwave popcorn that have vegan options, as well as the varieties that are not vegan.
- Vegan – Pop Secret Kettle Corn
- Non-Vegan – Pop Secret Homestyle, Pop Secret Movie Theater Butter, Pop Secret Butter and Extra Butter, Pop Secret Light Butter
- Vegan – Kettle Korn, SmartPop! Kettle Korn, Naturals Simply Salted, Naturals Light Simply Salted
- Non-Vegan – All “butter” types, Movie Theater Butter, Tender White, Homestyle, Melt On Caramel, Cheddar Cheese, SmartPop! Butter, Naturals Light Classic Butter & Sea Salt
- Vegan – Kettle Corn
- Non-Vegan – All “butter” types, Buttery Kettle Corn, 100 Calorie Kettle Corn Mini Bats
- Vegan – Simply Popped Sea Salt
- Non-Vegan – Blast O Butter, Simply Popped Butter, Butter and Xtra Butter, Crispy ‘n White, Blazin Blast O, Blazin Cheez, KettleMania, Malow Magic, The Big Cheez, Healthy Pop Butter, Healthy Crispy ‘n White, Healthy Pop Kettle Corn
Boom Chicka Pop
- Vegan – Sea Salt, Lightly Sweet Kettle Corn
- Non-Vegan – Real Butter
- Vegan – Sea Salt Popcorn, Tender White Popcorn
- Non-Vegan – Butter, Movie Theater Butter, Organic Butter
- Vegan – Sea Salt Microwave Popcorn, Butter Microwave Popcorn
Vegan Pre-Popped Popcorn
Here is a list of all the brands of pre-popped popcorn that have vegan options, as well as the varieties that are not vegan.
Boom Chicka Pop
- Vegan – Sea Salt Popcorn, Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn, Light Kettle Corn, Salted Caramel Popcorn, Chile Lime Flavored Popcorn, Air Popped Sea Salt Popcorn
- Non-Vegan – White Cheddar Popcorn, Real Butter Popcorn, Cheddar Cheese Popcorn, Caramel & Cheddar Popcorn Mix, Buttery Caramel Popcorn, Dark Chocolate Frizzled Sea Salt Kettle Corn, Milk Chocolaty Peanut Butter Flavored Kettle Corn, Cinnamon Roll Drizzled Flavored Kettle Corn
- Vegan – SMART50 Sea Salt Popcorn
- Non-Vegan – White Cheddar Popcorn, Flamin’ Hot White Cheddar Flavored Popcorn, Caramel & Cheddar Mix Flavored Popcorn, Movie Theater Butter Flavored Popcorn, Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn Flavored Popcorn, Hot Buffalo Flavored Popcorn, Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Popcorn, SMART50 White Cheddar Popcorn
- Vegan – Original, White Cheddar, Sea Salt & Pepper, Sweet and Salty Kettle, Twist of Lime
- Non-Vegan – Aged White Cheddar, Real Butter
- Vegan – Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Flavored Popcorn, Vegan Aged White Cheddar Flavors Puffs
In comparison to store-bought brands, it can be more challenging to determine whether theater popcorn is vegan. The contents of a bag of popcorn cannot simply be read by turning it over.
It’s better to get in touch with the theater in advance to find out if the popcorn there is vegan. Waiting until you arrive is not recommended because frequently the staff members won’t know the answer.
Additionally, some people mistakenly claim that their butter-topped popcorn is vegan since they are unsure of what vegan actually means (they might believe it to be the same as vegetarian).
If you’re looking for a specific theater, see if it offers vegan popcorn by checking through the list below.
Because AMC pops their popcorn in coconut oil, it is completely vegan! You can check AMC’s website for any more allergen information.
Without adding butter, Cinemark popcorn is vegan. You can check nutritional information on Cinemark’s website.
Unfortunately, Regal’s popcorn often isn’t vegan, however ingredients vary from location to location, so it’s always best to check with your local movie theater rather than rely on their website’s allergen guide.
Hopefully this guide has shown you that there’s more vegan popcorn out there than you first thought! Of course, butter is great with popcorn, but with so many vegan alternatives, you won’t even be able to taste the difference from the real stuff.
Give one of these brands a try next time you visit the movie theater, or have your own movie night at home. Just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this American favorite!