Are Marshmallows Vegan?

Sitting around a campfire, roasting marshmallows, and crafting a perfectly gooey s’more is a staple activity of the modern camping trip. Before you start roaming the woods for the perfect roasting stick, you stop and ask yourself are marshmallows vegan?

The answer: No, traditional marshmallows are not vegan. They are made with gelatin, the substance that gives marshmallows their fluffy, squishy texture. The problem with gelatin is that it is derived from a combination of skin, bone, and the connective tissues of cattle, chickens, and pigs. Yikes! This means marshmallows are not even an option for vegetarians. 

What are Marshmallows Made of? 

Originally used by ancient Egyptians way back in 2000 BC, the name marshmallow comes from the mallow plant (Althaea Officinalis) an herb native to Northern Africa. The root pulp was boiled with honey and used as a remedy for soothing sore throats and healing wounds. 
The marshmallow became an indulgent treat when it made its way to the confectionaires of France in the mid-1800s. The sap of the Mallow root would be whipped up with copious amounts of sugar and egg whites until it turned into a sweet, sponge-like delight. 
The marshmallows we know today are made of various combinations of sugar, water, and gelatin that are combined into a squishy, airy consistency and molded into the traditional cylindrical shape. 

What are Vegan Marshmallows Made of? 

Vegan marshmallows are made more or less with the same ingredients as regular marshmallows, but instead of gelatin, they are made with a substance called agar agar or carrageenan. Both are derived from red algae or red seaweed. These are used commonly across the food industry as a vegan thickening agent. 

Which Marshmallow Brands Are Vegan?

Always be sure to check the ingredients on the back of the packaging to make sure there is no gelatin before roasting up a campfire marshmallow. Here is a cheat sheet I made so you can quickly identify which marshmallow brands are vegan and which are not!

BrandAre They Vegan?
Trader JoesYes
Everyday EssentialsNo
Ananda FoodsYes

Do Vegan Marshmallows Taste Good?

Okay, so we can still enjoy scrumptious s’mores after spending a long day in the great outdoors, but do vegan marshmallows taste just as good as the OG version? I’ve personally used the Trader Joe’s marshmallows and I can tell you that they really don’t taste any different than the non-vegan marshmallows I enjoyed as a kid. I’ve even made vegan rice crispy treats with them and the consistency seemed identical. 

However, if you find out that you don’t like how they taste you can always try to make your own artisan marshmallows! This recipe from The Hidden Veggies looks incredible. They use aquafaba (chickpea brine) to create the whipped fluffiness and agar agar as a gelatin substitute. 

Are Vegan Marshmallows Healthy?

Now that we know what is actually in these squishy clouds of sugar, next we have to ask ourselves are these things healthy? Of course they are not healthy per se, but that doesn’t mean you can’t smash a few s’mores down guilt-free after a long day outdoors! If you’re truly interested in knowing, here are the nutritional facts found on the Trader Joe’s brand marshmallows

You are now armed with all of the information you need to pick up a bag of marshmallows for your next vegan adventure. I would love to know your favorite brand of vegan marshmallows and how you like to use them. Do you like to make s’mores over the campfire or do you have a favorite marshmallow recipe? Let me know in the comments below!

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