When I first entered the realm of vegetarianism as a naive teen, I continued eating jelly lollies for a fair while, blissfully unaware that they contained ground up animal bones, ligaments and tendons. Mmm, good ol’ gelatine…
Once enlightened, I think I literally gagged and then proceeded to rage about how ridiculous it was that a sweet would contain such atrocities!
Now in my oh-so-much-wiser mid-twenties, I have become much more sensible in my ‘protests’ and I actively seek out gelatine-free alternatives to satisfy my (gummy) sweet tooth. Here are some of my favourite finds (a few are UK-based but most are available world-wide):
Haribo Funny Mix
Want to join the happy world of Haribo? You can! The Funny Mix is full of hilarious yummy gelatine-free goodness. Slightly stickier and chewier than the original sweets, these tasty treats received such high praise by my non-vego friend as “way better than the normal ones”.
The Giant Strawbs and a few others in the Haribo range are also vegetarian but the Funny Mix seems to be stocked by more places. And it comes in bigger bags…
Veggie Percy Pigs
Percy is so cute, I just want to eat him up… And now I can! Released by M&S just over a year ago, Veggie Percy is a delicious little fruit-flavoured friend. His green ear lets you know he’s vegetarian-friendly (just in case any non-veggies sneak in…).
I know not everyone loves licorice but for those who don’t, firstly… you’re wrong. And secondly, Panda make other flavours of ‘licorice’ including raspberry, cherry and blueberry so even if you’re not a fan of aniseed, you can still enjoy some Panda goodies. Panda use all natural colours and flavours and contain no preservatives. Most of the Panda range is vegan but the Licorice Mix does and the Liquorice Creams may contain milk powder. I have tried the orginal, blueberry and liquorice creams – so, so good!
By the way, it’s not me who can’t decide whether it’s spelt ‘licorice’ or ‘liquorice’, it’s Panda; I just wrote the product names as they appear on the packaging!
Jelly Beans – Any Brand
Despite the fact that they have the word ‘jelly’ in their name, jelly beans are gloriously gelatine free. Hooray! I prefer the good old fashioned kind to Jelly Belly beans, which are over-rated in my opinion. However, I was pretty excited recently when I got to try their Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans (in case you live under a rock, they’re the jelly beans Harry Potter and friends enjoy). Unsure whether the back of the packet was just ‘joking’ when it listed the flavours earthworm, vomit and rotten egg, I had to try them… it wasn’t a joke. You’ve been warned.
Turkish Delight – Any Brand
I went to Turkey last year and this stuff blew my mind. I may have eaten Turkish Delight on occasion over the years but the cheap stuff that you buy anywhere else just doesn’t compare. And that horrible chocolate-covered Fry’s Turkish Delight bar Cadbury makes (comes in the pink wrapper in Favourites) is not anything like real Turkish Delight!
If you are partial to the chewy, sugar-dusted little cubes, don’t worry – although they make look suspiciously gelatinous (great word), the ‘gel’ is just made from sugar and starch.
Biona Organic Sweets
I just stumbled across this brand when Googling for this post, so I can’t comment on taste but I am excited! They make a range of jelly lolly favourites that are all vegan! This includes Cola Bottles, Mini Fruit Bears (I have searched for veggie-friendly gummi bears for so long!), Pineapple Chews, Sour Snakes, and Tutti Frutti Gums. I need to get my hands on some of these. They are stocked by health food stores around the UK and Europe and there are also stockists in Australia and Singapore.
Before you go and indulge in tonnes of sweets, just a tip: You may think hard candies are pretty safe. But watch out – even if sweets are gelatine-free, it doesn’t automatically make them vegetarian.
Make sure to check there is no cochineal (aka Carmine, Crimson Lake, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470 and E120) listed in the ingredients. Cochineal is a dye extracted from female cochineal insects and is used for red, orange and purple colouring in many sweets (and other foodstuffs including yoghurt, juice, jam, soft drink etc.). Cochineal extract is basically made by crushing up dead insects… Yum.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to ‘test’ some more bone-free, bug-free sweets. And if I don’t post for a few days, I may have fallen into a sugar-induced coma…