What Vegans Should Know About Swedish Fish

If you're new to veganism, you're probably learning all sorts of information about sneaky ways that animal products creep into foods we love (marshmallows — made with gelatin — can be a particularly devastating discovery), including different snack foods and candies. We can't speak for everyone, but reading labels can get tiring, especially on things that you didn't know you needed to check for (like veggie burgers that contain milk or eggs).

It can get exhausting, especially once you realize how frequently things like gelatin, collagen, whey, casein, and honey are listed as ingredients in some foods that you would most likely consider a vegan-safe food. There's a surprising list of things that aren't vegan. If you've recently began the vegan lifestyle, or even if you're someone who has been avoiding animal products for years and find yourself continuously surprised by items that aren't actually vegan, you'll want to double-check certain packages of Swedish Fish.

Some packages of Swedish Fish aren't vegan

It may seem confusing that not all Swedish Fish are made with the same ingredients, but sadly, that's the case here. (We're not sure why this is.) If you're buying a normal bag or box of Swedish Fish, you'll see that the ingredients listed are "Sugar, Invert Sugar, Corn Syrup, Modified Corn Starch, Citric Acid, White Mineral Oil, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Red 40, Carnauba Wax" (via Food Service). These ingredients are all totally vegan and okay to eat.

However, the peg bags — the bags with holes in the top usually sold in gas stations and vending machines — contain an ingredient that isn't vegan-friendly. The ingredients listed for the peg bag Swedish fish are "Sugar, Invert Sugar, Corn Syrup, Modified Corn Starch, Citric Acid, Palm Kernel Oil, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Carnauba Wax, Red 40, Beeswax" (via VegKnowledge) — and beeswax makes this variety non-vegan. So if you're committed to a vegan lifestyle, but still have a bit of a sweet tooth, double-check the label before you buy a bag of Swedish Fish.