If you eat snacks and you’re vegan, or trying out ‘Veganuary’, or wanting to provide a vegan friend with snacks… this is a post for you. It’s a handy guide to ready-made snacks you can buy. Ideally we would all make our snacks from scratch (even more ideally, not eat snacks at all), but hey, we are busy hungry people.
A few notes before we start:
- Always check the ingredients on the packaging. The ingredients in the same kind of item can have vary between brands or the recipe could have changed. Sometimes the packaging will say the food is suitable for vegans. Sometimes it will say vegetarian, but it may also be vegan.
- ‘Free-from’ ranges in the shops aren’t necessarily suitable for vegans. They are aimed at people with specific dietary allergies or intolerances, such as gluten, dairy, eggs and nuts. Sometimes they turn out to be vegan, sometimes not. They can have an lot of ingredients with long chemical names.
- Some food made with vegan ingredients is made in factories where non-vegan ingredients are present. For example, the food may be produced on a line which handles products containing milk (and the packaging will say so, due to allergy requirements). It’s up to you to decide if you’re OK with that, or if you only go for food which is produced in a strictly vegan environment. If the latter, there will be a more limited range of ready-made food for you to choose from.
- Just because a food is vegan, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. As with any food, consider the sugar, salt and fat content and try your best to incorporate it into balanced diet with exercise.
- If you accidentally eat something which you subsequently discover is not vegan, don’t beat yourself up. This especially applies to food that other people give you, or that you have when eating out. A lot of people still don’t understand what vegan diets are and there are bound to be mistakes when you’re having to trust someone else to source and prepare the food.
- The following snacks are from my personal range of experience and refer to what’s available to me in the UK.
If you’re able to eat nuts, then they are a great source of energy, protein and minerals. You might want to check the ingredients of those that are roasted, flavoured and coated, or are part of a mix. Unfortunately most salted nuts are way too salty for me (I’ve learnt that the salt content needs to be under 1g per 100g for me to tolerate it). I tend to stick with raw almonds and occasionally walnuts. They go down better if I mix them with dried apricots.
Oatcakes are good for when you want something plain and you’re on the go. I like seeded ones because the seeds are interesting and of course the oats give energy. Crackers are also good, but you might need to eat more of them than oatcakes to feel satisfied. Obviously avoid the cheese flavoured ones, unless they’re from a vegan range. Ricecakes are another option, as is popcorn, in suitable flavours.
Biscuits come in so many varieties. Some of the commercial, cheaper ones tend to have vegan ingredients, such as bourbons, gingernuts, Oreos, Lotus, Hobnobs, Party Rings and shortcakes. This is because they use vegetable oils or fats, instead of butter. More luxurious biscuits aren’t usually vegan unless they’re from a special range. I tend to make biscuits myself though (see this cookie poem-recipe). Cakes are best made yourself (there are lots of recipes on the internet), as the rare ones you find in the shops tend to have dubious-sounding ingredients. More bready kinds of sweet things, such as teacakes and hot cross buns, are sometimes suitable.
I used to try different energy bars every month, but apart from being expensive, they’re usually too sweet and not as healthy as they pretend to be. If you try them, check the ingredients to make sure they’re vegan (as some of them have honey or milk chocolate or yogurt). Flapjacks are perhaps a better choice and are easy to make at home, using a vegan spread instead of butter. I’ve seen a lot of vegan flapjacks in the shops.
Crisps are quite often suitable for vegans but the same flavour can vary across brands, particularly salt and vinegar (some brands have milk, others don’t). There are more varieties of crisps (or other crunchy fried or baked things made of vegetables or pulses) than ever before. I’ve even seen vegan cheese flavour ones.
Chocolate is available in many vegan ranges. Good quality dark chocolate not from a special range is usually vegan. As always, check the packaging. Sweets can vary a lot, especially between different brands. Even those which don’t contain gelatine or milk may have shellac, beeswax or cochineal. I was quite impressed recently to discover that Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles and Jelly Tots are now suitable for vegans.
Toast is more of a meal than a snack, but if you consider it a snack, then the best thing to spread on it is peanut butter (go for ones without added oil, such as Meridian) or jam. If I’m having toast for lunch, I put slices of tofu on it (I buy blocks of Tofoo, slice them up, bake them in the oven, and keep them in the fridge) with chutney. A lot of people love avocado on toast, but I’m not one of them.
I’m not sure if cereal is a meal or a snack, but I do know that most simple cereals are suitable for vegans, unless there is honey in them. Generally the more complicated your cereal is, the more likely it is to have non-vegan ingredients in it. Carefully check the ingredients of muesli and granola. There are a range of vegan ‘milks’ you can have with your cereal. I tried almond, then soya, then oat. I’ve stuck with oat ever since as it tastes very mild.
Ice cream suitable for vegans can sometimes be found in its own special section in the supermarket, or it might be integrated with the other ice creams. It’s based on coconut, almond or soya. The range of flavours is limited, but you’re OK providing you like chocolate, salted caramel, peanut butter, vanilla or strawberry. There’s also the option of sorbet, which in my experience is always vegan.
I hope this guide was useful to you. Happy snacking!