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I did some window shopping the other night on Amazon and Junior Mints popped up as a suggested product. I love mint chocolate candy and my sweet tooth kicked in immediately. My favorite mint chocolate can only be found at a Christmas market once a year so I really wanted to find another brand that I could eat for the rest of year. Could Junior Mints fit my needs? Are Junior Mints Vegan?
Junior Mints are not vegan. They contain confectioner’s glaze, which is made from shellac (beetle juice). Junior Caramels and Junior Mint Deluxe contains milk and non RSPO certified palm oil making them non-vegan as well. There are many questionable ingredients such as sugar, invertase, polysorbate 60, mono- and diglycerides and natural flavors.
I made table below to show different types of Junior Mints and its vegan status.
|No, it contains confectioner’s glaze.
|Junior Mints Mini
|No, it contains confectioner’s glaze.
|No, it contains palm oil, milk, dry whole milk, whey and confectioner’s glaze.
|Junior Mints Deluxe
|No, it contains palm kernel oil and milk.
In this article I will analyze all the non-vegan and questionable ingredients that can be found in Junior Mints to show you that Junior Mints are in fact not vegan.
Next up I will list the Ingredient.
Junior Mints Ingredients
Below I’ve listed all ingredients that can be found in all Junior Mints flavors.
- Chocolate Processed with Alkali
- Cocoa Butter
- Soy Lecithin-An Emulsifier
- Vanillin-An Artificial Flavor
- Corn Syrup
- Confectioner’s Glaze
- Food Starch-Modified
- Peppermint Oil
- Invertase (An Enzyme)
- Palm Oil
- Dry Whole Milk
- Mono and Diglycerides
- Natural Flavors
- Invert Sugar Syrup
- Polysorbate 60
- Potassium Sorbate
- Citric Acid
As usual I have lighted the ingredients that we need to take a closer look at.
Here I have listed the non-vegan ingredients that are derived from animals, but also ingredients that are not vegan for other reasons.
Let’s dive into it!
This is a common ingredient in the candy industry.
It’s made from shellac.
In other words bug secretions.
When the female lac bug is done feeding on tree sap it, she releases a lac.
Since this ingredient comes from a bug it’s not vegan-friendly and should be avoided by vegans.
Milk & Whey
We have dry whole milk, milk and whey that comes from the animal kingdom.
To be more exact it’s from cow’s milk.
This ingredient is of course not vegan.
Here we go again.
You might have seen news about palm oil and it’s detrimental effect on the environment.
But I will try and explain why I put this ingredient under the non-vegan ingredients section.
It does not contain anything derived from animals, which is good.
However that does not mean that animals are not suffering in the production of palm oil.
So much deforestation is taking place to make room for new palm oil production farms.
Entire forests have disappeared leaving animals to die without a home.
Orangutans are one of the animals that is effected the most by this.
There are videos on Youtube where orangutans try and fight off an excavator to try and save their home.
It’s heartbreaking to see.
Why is palm oil so widely used?
Well it’s because it’s so cheap to produce with a high yield per square meter.
This is why I put palm oil under non-vegan ingredients.
However there is a way tho to make palm oil more vegan-friendly and that is RSPO.
It stands for Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
It’s a non-for-profit organisation, that help companies produce palm oil in a sustainable way to minimize its effect on the environment.
It also helps companies to buy palm oil from RSPO certified farms.
I did a quick member search for Tootsie Rolls Industries and I can’t find them.
This means that the palm oil in Tootsie Pops probably is not RSPO certified and is not vegan-friendly.
Could sugar not be vegan?
I will try and explain this as good as I can.
An easy to use sugar in the candy industry is cane sugar.
The natural colors of cane sugar is slighlty brown.
To make this sugar fit the candy production it is often refined.
When it’s refined it becomes bleached and this is the problem.
A common practice of bleaching cane sugar is to use bone char for dead cows.
This makes from ingredient questionable, because vegan wants to stay away from products that uses animals in the production or animal derived ingredients inside the actual product.
Now there is no evidence that any bone char is left in the sugar after the bleaching process.
If raw cane sugar is used, that means that the sugar is vegan-friendly.
But in Junior Mints it only says sugar so we can assume it’s refined cane sugar.
Some companies are using beet sugar and this is 100% vegan-friendly.
Invertase (An Enzyme)
This is an enzyme that is derived from yeast.
It’s mainly used in the candy industry to make candy liquid centers or chocolate covered candy.
Junior Mints are chocolate covered mints to this explains this ingredients.
If it’s derived from yeast, this ingredient is indeed vegan-friendly.
However it can be made from bees unfortunately and it’s no easy way to knowing the origin of this ingredient in Junior Mints.
Polysorbate 60 is an emulsifier that commonly used the food industry.
The problem with this ingredient is that it can be made from vegetable oils, but also animals.
There is no way to determine the source.
Unless you contact the company and ask, but in this case we know that Junior Mints are not vegan, so there is no point.
Mono- and Diglycerides
Mono- and Diglycerides are also emulsifiers.
It tends to help blend water and oil.
Very common in the food industry.
Mono- and Diglycerides share simular problem to Polysorbate 60.
It’s mainly made from plants, but it can be derived from animals as well.
Making this ingredient questionable.
Natural flavors don’t sound so bad right?
This umbrella term can hold many secrets.
Companies can but vegan or non-vegan flavors here without needing to specify exactly what flavor it is.
Mainly to protect their unique recipe for their product.
If you see natural flavors in a vegan product then it’s safe to consume for vegans.
Otherwise it could be a risk.
There is a funny story published at National Geographic.
Where they found that an unusual ingredient for vanilla ingredient can come from the animal kingdom.
Can you guess what it is?
It’s goo from the butt of a beaver!
Yes I’m not joking.
You can read the full story at National Geographic.
Soy Lecithin-An Emulsifier
Soy is a hot topic around the world right now.
Mainly because it’s causing deforestation of rain forest.
The meat industry needs soy beans to feed the animals.
It’s a terrible waste of a great source of protein that we animal can consume.
Not only that it is also a common GMO crop in the US.
This crop requires a great amount of herherbicide to yield good harvest.
The herbicide damages the surrounding ecosystems and slowely kills the landscape.
There are no evidence that GMO soy would be harmful to your health, but as a vegan it’s recommended to look for NON-GMO products in order to help our environment.
Tootsie Roll Industries clearly states that Junior Mints contain bioengineered ingredients.
It might not be a lot since it’s soy lecithin, but it would still impact the environment in a negative way.
Vegan Alternative To Junior Mints
It is often hard to find vegan alternatives, but I actually found something.
They taste delicious and will satifsy your mint chocolate needs.
If you need more tips about vegan candy you can check out our own Best Vegan Candy List.
Are Junior Mints Vegetarian?
Junior Mints Deluxe is vegetarian. Junior Mints, Junior Mints Mini and Junior Caramels could be considered vegetarian if you consume things like honey. They all contain confectioner’s glaze, which is made from shellac from female bugs in Southeast Asia.
Are Junior Mints Gluten-Free?
Junior Mints are gluten-free according to their website.
Are Junior Mints Dairy-Free?
When reading the ingredients, there are no dairy in Junior Mints and Junior Mints Mini. However at the bottom of the ingredient section they say that it might contain egg and milk.
Are Junior Mints Nut-Free?
Junior Mints are nut-free and peanut-free according to their website.
To sum things up.
No variations of Junior Mints are vegan.
Confectioner’s glaze is in almost every flavor and the one without has dairy in it.
Today is not the day vegans can eat these tasty chocolate covered mints.
Maybe if we are lucky they create a vegan variant in the future.
I hope you learned something from this article.