Jelly Bellys: vegetarian, but not vegan


I’m a fan of Jelly Belly jellybeans, especially the popcorn and toasted marshmallow flavors. One thing that’s concerned me, though is that a lot of jellybeans are made with gelatin, which is clearly not vegetarian. I had heard that Jelly Belly brand was safe, and didn’t see any gelatin listed on their label, but I decided to e-mail them just in case, to make sure.

The response, from Mr. Jelly Belly, was positive: there are no animal or animal-derived products (including gelatin) in Jelly Belly jellybeans, but vegans may want to avoid them because they are coated in a mixture that contains beeswax, to give the beans their glossiness.

That’s the final word for you.

53 Responses to “Jelly Bellys: vegetarian, but not vegan”

  1. Katherine

    Mr. Jelly Belly is awesome. I sent him an email once about their sugar free jelly beans (for my mom, who has type II diabetes) and I got the most informative, friendly response I’ve ever gotten from a company.

  2. David

    I think the cheesecake flavor has dairy. Other than that they are AOK.

  3. elvira

    I love Jelly Belly Jelly beans, and am glad there is no gelatin in it. However, the ingredients list cream and nonfat milk. Are those two ingredients not considered animal-derived?

  4. Tom Boutell

    I guessed the number of jellybeans and won
    the jar — you know how the game goes.

    They were purchased from a bulk candy bin somewhere.

    I see comments above that “many” jelly beans contain gelatin, but now that I’ve got them I thought I’d try to find some hard evidence before giving them a bad rap. Can anyone confirm that “most” standard-issue jelly beans are not vegetarian?

  5. Ryan

    It’s been a while since I wrote this entry, but I was going by info similar to what I found here:

    “Jellybeans must contain a gelatinizing agent, such as starch, gelatin, pectin or gum arabic to provide the chewy texture.”

  6. Happy Mom Happy Child

    We are so happy to have found this site and the news on Jelly Belly candy! She is so happy as a lacto-ove veggie kid I (mom) try to make sure she has as normal a child hood and find veggie friendly candy. We love these beans and have been eating them all week. Wow oh wow are we ever happy! I didn’t see anything on lable re: gelatin and decided to just double check.

  7. jelly bellys :D

    hi, does any1 no if jelly bellys contain cochineal -? [crushed beetles] ? please confirm! thanks

  8. Moh'd Tahow

    well I am Muslim An gelatin is not OK
    I got this big box of jully been made from Jelly Belly I read the constain no gelatin I search in the net. I fine this site. and now I am starting eating the bean :) thank you

  9. kate

    If you take a look on the Jelly Belly web site in the FAQ section, there is a statement that says Jelly bellies DO NOT contain animal derived ingredients. This is absolute rubbish and I am quite dissapointed that this may confuse people. Milk is an animal derived ingredient (it is derived from a cows nipple duh!) and it is in basically all of the milk or “buttered” flavoured beans. The red colouring that you see on some of the beans is cochineal from burnt and powdered cochineal beetles and if you consider yourself to be a vegetarian than these are not ok for you- unless you are one of those fake vegetarians because you think its cool. If you are vegetarian for ethical reasons than get real and go vegan!

  10. jane

    Hi, has anybody looked at the UK site of Jelly Belly recently? they are saying that there is company similar to jelly belly producing none vegetarian beans however stating they are. Does anybody know what company it is?thanks

  11. Cheryl I think it is these. I got these from debenhams after seeing them in the coffee shop with a vegetarian sign. I didn’t eat them because i was not totally happy that they were. I looked online and found they contain animal colours. I emailed the company and all they did was email me back saying they are vegetarian… EVEN when i could see for myself by looking up the ingredients online.

  12. Megan

    Well, I don’t think any of the beans contain gelatin. However the source of some of the flavours and sources of colours concern me. I called the number on the back of the packaging but was told that I had to email a specific department to find out more about ingredients. Common sense ought to prevail in this case: go with your gut. If you see a red jelly bean, it’s probably from cochineal (crushed female beetles) and the buttered flavour beans are from milk. Assume that unless you confirm otherwise. And abide by it. That’s the surest way to go about this.

  13. Kat

    They contain beeswax. No gelatin.

  14. Deanna

    First of all, Jelly Belly beans are Kosher. Kosher products do NOT contain cochineal (derived from a Scale insect NOT a beetle). As far as I can tell, the dairy content in the creamy/butter flavored beans and the beeswax are the only things that should concern vegans.

  15. Becci

    …I thought I’d seen shellac on the ingredients list for Jelly Belly. I’ll have to check again.

  16. Aurora Feizul

    You like the popcorn ones? eeewwww!!!!

  17. Paul

    I never knew about cochineal. I knew as a new veggie I must avoid gelatin, but now I know another product. Does anyone know of where I can get a good list of other common products that I should avoid?

  18. emmy bee

    i heard they contain shellac. Shellac is made from insects and shellac also contains denatured alchohol. What does the company say of this?

  19. Nikki

    To whomever said about searching the ingredients online and discovering that they were not vegetarian: They may be as some products can come from either vegetarian or meat-based sources (rennet being an example of this). A right pain in the arse when looking for vegetarian products that come from the US or from UK companies that don’t state whether they are vegetarian or not! (Though most UK companies do these days)

    Shellac is simialr to honey, in that it is a product of an insect, not a product of killing an insect.

    And really, do we really need the vegan preaching kate? Surely you should be happy that people make the choice to become vegetarian for they are doing much more for the environment just by giving up meat! If you want to get real then give up all processed foods, all commodities that are made at the detriment of our environment and then preach.

  20. Nikki

    Oh, and those in the UK:

    The ingredients list on the website. The only animal derived products are beeswax and shellac, nothing else. check for yourselves :)

    DISCLAIMER: I am int he UK and this is the information found of the UK website. I’ve had a cursorary glance at the ingredients and cannot find anything unsuitable for vegetarians in them.

  21. James

    Shellac ISN’T vegetarian!

  22. veganpanda

    So many hypocrites here… how the hell do you think you can get beeswax without enslaving bees?! They clip the bees wings so they can’t fly off, yet vegetarians think slavery is ok! Btw, cows DON’T give their milk, it’s stolen from them… wake up!

  23. Lazurii

    Veganpanda, I don’t think enslaving bees is right, either, but try to get your info right. They cannot physically clip wings on bees. They don’t fly away because that’s where their queen is.

  24. Saffron

    Oh my. I have been a vegetarian for 3 and a half years now [im fourteen] and i am not a ‘fake vegetarian’ as i only eat foods with the ‘suitable for vegetarians’ label on them & i have been searching all over the net to see if Jelly Belly’s are vegetarian. I have read all of the comments on the topic at the top of this page and see much controversy therfore will someone please tell me…is it veggie or not?!
    & veganpanda, some people have free range milk which is obviously not slavery.
    So yes, please give me an answer, i know they dont have gelatin but the cochineal? Ahhhh!

  25. ryan

    some people have free range milk which is obviously not slavery

    You might want to do a little research on that, Saffron. Where do you think the calves go? What do you think happens to the cows when they are no longer “productive”?

  26. Pesco-kid

    I love Jelly Bellies, they are so yummy and i just now gave up meat (except seafood), which is hard but im doing it.

  27. Abe

    @ryan, cows that are no longer productive probably become a very tasty burger; perhaps a beautiful leather handbag.

  28. Krista

    Abe, flesh cows in America do not have their skins used for leather, the kill cows in India for most of America’s leather.

  29. Caoi

    Very interesting topic :]

    Hopefully this will sort the vegetarian issue. It explains that Shellac is vegetarian but not Vegan.

  30. Laura

    There is slavery free ways of dairy.
    I live on a farm, and I only drink milk that is from our farm. We have three cows, not a field of them. But they live on four acres. After their calves are no longer drinking, that is when we take the milk. Do you guys still see this as wrong?

  31. ryan

    How do the cows get pregnant?

    What happens to the calves?

    What happens to the cows when they can no longer give milk?

    How long do the cows on your farm live?

  32. Michele

    thats awesome iv only started to become vegetarian its nice to see that one of my favorite treats is free of animal remains. Luckily I dont like any other jelly beans other then Jelly Belly jelly beans.

  33. Wuh

    How could you possibly like popcorn?!

  34. Martha

    It´s easy, Just dont eat the red ones!!!!!!

  35. Martha

    Clip wings of bees?

  36. short one

    Are they gluten free? I haven’t been ab;e to find a list…

  37. Chris

    Well after reading all the comments on here all I have to say is….there sure are a lot of people who really need to do a lot more and I mean a lot more research.
    I have been vegan for 2 years (vegetarian for 4 years prior to vegan) and when I read or hear things like veganpanda wrote…what was that again…oh ya “Clip the wings of Bees” come on seriously…gave me a good laugh though.
    So going forward if you are going to open your mouth and say something make sure your facts are actually true, otherwise you only embarrass yourself.

    Other than that…to all the vegetarians and vegan who would like to enjoy Jelly Beans I hope you find out they are something you can enjoy.


  38. lauren

    I have been a vegetarian for 7 years for ethical reasons and I never knew that I could buy these until one of my friends offered me one and assured me they were gelatin free. I personally think that being vegan is a step too far, and its just plain unhealthy. A few of my friends and my mum have tried it and they all ended up very ill and malnourished. There are many ways that you can drink milk, eat eggs and cheese without it negatively affecting the animals, and as these are so far one of the only gummy sweet manufacturers that do not use gelatin (that I know of), I would assume that they care about the welfare of the animals and where their products come from. So I say go for it, they’re yummy and the yummy things a vegetarian can eat are limited :)

  39. ryan

    Lauren – If you’re a vegetarian for ethical reasons, you clearly need to work toward being vegan. It’s the only logical step because there really is no ethical ground for continuing to consume dairy or eggs if you’ve stopped eating meat for ethical reasons.

    Also, you’re completely off-base in terms of vegan being “too far.” It’s absolutely not unhealthy if you pay attention to what you eat (just like any diet, omnivorous or otherwise). I’ve been vegan for seven years and am by far the healthiest I’ve been in my entire life.

    There are many ways that you can drink milk, eat eggs and cheese without it negatively affecting the animals

    Sorry, but that’s just not true. Dairy cows live to only be a few years old, instead of the 20-25 years they can live naturally. When they’re “spent,” no longer able to give milk, they become hamburger. They don’t retire to happy farms somewhere.

    Also, in order to give milk, they need to have babies. They’re forcibly impregnated, their babies taken away at a few days old, and the babies are either killed shortly after as veal or cycled back into the dairy system. Milk is arguably more cruel than meat.

    Egg production is the same way. All hens are killed when they can no longer lay enough eggs. In addition, at hatcheries, unwanted male baby chicks are ground alive or suffocated in trash bags.

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but if you’re doing this for ethical reasons, you need to know that vegetarian is good, but it’s not far enough.

    One last thing…

    I would assume that they care about the welfare of the animals and where their products come from

    If someone is using another sentient being against their will in order to make money, any claims of “animal welfare” are likely just paying lip service so that they can sound like they care. To them, animals are replaceable cogs in the machine (and eventually that machine is a very literal one).

  40. nimai

    On the issue of the dairy industry, there is a company around the north London area of the UK which produces ‘ahimsa milk’. The cows are kept after their productive milking ‘life’ is finished and grazed and cared for until the natural end of their life. The calves are also kept in the same way, not sold off to unknown destinations for veal, meat processors of pet food factories. Yes you do have to calve the cows to keep milk flowing but the cows, when in season or ‘bulling’ as it is called, do not naturally refuse the attention of the bull. This is part of the natural order tof the animal kingdom.
    Of course the milk is around five times the price of regular milk but that is a small price to pay for the satisfaction of knowing that your glass of milk has not caused death and suffering to cows.
    I think this is a reasonable alternative to veganism as there is no suffering for the animals, in fact the only thing that suffers is the pocket.
    I think that it is also possible to find small local egg producers who can give guarantees as to this level of welfare of their chickens. Although I have to say that I personally don’t eat eggs for the reason that they are a potential life (I don’t think the ‘unfertilized egg’ argument stands up) whereas milk is a life sustaining substance, not a life producing one.
    I would just like to sumarize by saying that although I can agree with the laudable principles of vegans, it should be understood that not everyone who is a vegetarian is necessarily involved with the cruelty of the dairy and egg industries and further more if more people were to seek out and encourage these ‘ahimsa’ varieties, then I feel it would do more to rectify the hearts and minds of those still producing in these cruel and outmoded ways. The sad fact of business is that it will only take a certain direction if it is clearly a profitable route, so therefore my plea is to help these ahimsa companies thrive and to be seen to be thriving and hope that others will see that compassion and good profits can indeed go hand in hand

  41. Josh

    Most Jelly beans don’t actually have gelatin in them, actually. A lot are glazed in “Confectioner’s Glaze” otherwise known as “Pharmaceutical Glaze” which is usually not vegan (though I have heard there is vegan pharm glaze and it has a (V)). If they are pectin jelly beans though, you should be all good. Also to milk-from-my-own-farm guy. I don’t not drink milk because of animal rights, I don’t because I don’t believe our body needs a fluid another animal produces for its young.

  42. Ana

    It’s funny reading people’s comments claiming jelly beans contain cochineal. They claimed to used Red 40 – Red 40 lake (both known as Allura Red) for their red colored beans which ISN’T the same as cochineal/carmine (crushed insects). Unlike this one, Red 40 is not derived from any insect. It used to be made from coal tar but is currently made from petroleum.
    I’m a vegan and just recently discovered this little piece of information.

  43. Trish

    The E904 in all jelly beans is shellac, a resin like substance secreted from the same bug that cochineal comes from. They scrape the resin off the trees but it sometimes contains bugs or bits of bugs which are removed during the production process. I have been vegetarian for 30yrs and have never wanted to eat bugs yet!

  44. MaZza

    Firstly, E904 is Excretion of shellac ( kinda like faeces) which is collected after the shellac bug releases it. If you choose to eat bug faeces, it does NOT mean you are not vegan. The bug has no bowel control, its going to drop it anyway. Not all
    reds are cochineal (carmine). Allura red AC (red 40) is an azo dye, a synthetic. Not animal derived and not yet banned in Australia, or the USA, it is approved by the FDA, but it can cause hyperactivity in kids though, when consumed in excess, which is why its banned in some countries.

  45. Sam

    WOW! I am shocked that anyone would attack people trying not to eat animal products. Becoming a vegetarian is not easy for everyone, and I think we should welcome and embrace anyone trying to make the switch. When did this become some elitist club that only accepted the perfect people? And when did Vegan become the superior group? I don’t recall voting for that! Every person that cuts back on their consumption or becomes more knowledgeable about animal products and animal welfare is a step in the right direction. Threatening them or telling them they aren’t doing enough will just scare them off. How many people that have had red paint dumped on their fur coats have actually stopped wearing fur? Yeah, not many. They just look at animal rights supporters as whack jobs and flaunt their fur even more. Trying to shock people with horror stories and awful photos has an impact, but not always positive. Sometimes people would rather tune out than be exposed to that stuff. I refuse to support any group that sends me that stuff. You are preaching to the choir and I just won’t open the offensive mail. I believe knowledge is power, but there are other ways to teach than showing graphic imagery and belittling a beginner’s efforts. And I pity the insecure person that made the comment about vegetarians getting real and becoming vegan. You poor thing, you have no clue about anything beyond your little mind, and I am a little embarrassed to be lumped in with you. You are obviously not a pleasant person. If you really wanted to do some good, encourage every little step people are willing to take towards a better life for all animals. Don’t be a total snot. All you do is reinforce the image that we are all nuts and not worth listening to regarding this cause. Shame on you.

    As to the Jelly Belly discussion, thank you so much for the info.

    Full disclosure: More than a dozen years ago I decided to stop eating animal products. I am fortunate enough to have a genius on hand who buys my food, cooks it, and makes sure my family is always “clear of critters”. I don’t have to do the research, it just magically happens. I wish it were that way for everyone trying to make the switch, because it can be so delicious! And he claims it is easy, but I doubt I could do it half as well. I applaud all who make the effort.

  46. Tom

    Ryan, you wrote here a long time ago, but I found your comment so arrogant I wanted to respond. How do you justify telling strangers what is or isn’t enough for them to do? You may live according to your own philosophy of ethics, but this kind of holier-than-thou proselytizing is just the kind of thing that gives vegans a bad name. Once again an arrogant animal rights activist feels he has everything figured out and doesn’t appear at all concerned about just how nasty he comes off to the people whose behavior he finds objectionable. If you’re truly concerned about the world and universal karma, a kindlier bedside manner and a sense of humility might serve everyone better. I have been a vegetarian for over 30 years and would bet my lifetime footprint on the animal world is so much smaller than yours or many other young vegans. No one can be 100% consistent at anything in this life; all we can do is try to limit the damage we do here. And many of us have come up with our own guidelines that serve us and world quite admirably. People are individuals, with individual needs and abilities; one philosophy does not serve all.

  47. ryan

    Tom — I’m sorry you found my comment arrogant.

    Everyone makes their own decisions about what is enough for them, but I stand by my challenge to ethical vegetarians to strive toward veganism. If someone is vegetarian “for the animals,” they should look at why they continue to consume dairy and eggs with the direct death and suffering connected to both. We’re not talking abstractions here, we’re talking true and real pain, suffering, and death.

    We may not be able to be 100% consistent, but we should strive to be. There was a great line in “Peaceable Kingdom” that’s worth paraphrasing – draw your line in the sand, but be ready to erase it and push it a little further back as you learn more and are ready to change.

  48. yuni

    To ryan: all animals die whether humans do or do not kill them.
    Eggs and milk can be consume. Even if u don consume, the world won’t change just because of u. Just accept the fact. Its also part of nature. That is why there are carnivore, omnivorous and herbivores. Its part of food chain.
    Lions/tigers/dogs/cats do eat animals too.
    Proteins are vital to human.

  49. ryan

    Yuni —

    1. Yes, they do. But breed animals specifically to be killed. And they’re killed way, WAY before their natural lifespan is up.

    2. Sorry, wrong and lazy reasoning.

    3. Lions, tigers, etc. don’t have the choice that humans do. We can choose not to eat meat, we don’t physically need it.

    4. True. Good thing you can get all the protein you need from plant-based foods!

    Thanks for playing “recycled omnivore talking points”!

  50. Spencer

    I love Jelly Bellys but I believe the Huffington Post is correct in saying the Licorice flavour is the worst!

  51. Karen

    I’m vegetarian moving closer and closer to Vegan although not 100% yet. I don’t drink milk, I limit my eggs (horrified by the treatment), and am trying out different Vegan cheese. I am the only vegetarian in my family – immediate or extended.

    To Ryan, I have to say that while I get on my soapbox (and my Twitter feed reflects that), I try and convince people to consider other options and to realize there are MANY reasons to be vegetarian or vegan in additional to animal cruelty. I try to help them to see that there is no difference between their pet dog, the dogs killed in the Yulin Meat festival, and the cute pig that will die for them to have a BLT. THEY have to make that choice based upon things that resonate with them or it will never stick! I agree that every step that saves an animal from cruelty and death is a good one. Help people to feel better about their efforts rather than bad about their failures or they will give up even trying.

    Soapbox finished.

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