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Ask the

The team from Veganuary answer your questions about veganism 

Help! I’m newly vegan and am missing marshmallows… what are the best alternatives?

Marshmallows are the perfect sweet treats for hot chocolate, baking, s’mores — or eating straight out of the bag! But have you ever wondered how your favourite, fluffy delights get their stretchy texture?   It’s down to gelatine, a protein derived from the skin, ligaments and tendons of animals. If you read the labels of most marshmallows, you’ll see pork or beef gelatine listed in the ingredients — yuck! 

Many new vegans are surprised to learn that marshmallows aren’t vegan, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out! Gelatine can be recreated with animal-free ingredients like agar-agar and carrageenan — natural ingredients derived from seaweed. Look out for 100 per cent vegan marshmallow brands in your local supermarkets and independent health food stores, as well as The Vegan Kind’s online supermarket. 

Free From Fellows are super fluffy and delicious. Choose from Super Strawberry, Va-Va-Voom Vanilla and Magnificent Mini Pink and White flavours. Freedom Mallows have several yummy flavours, as well as chocolate-coated marshmallow bars! If you’re looking for giant, extra-puffy marshmallows, try Dandies. And if you want something a bit more indulgent, check out Mallow Puffs. Available in Vanilla Bean, Raspberry and Salted Caramel flavours, they’re also dunked in dark chocolate. Yum!

Are food colourings used in baking vegan?

When you first go vegan, reading labels can feel like a chore. All of a sudden, even the smallest everyday products feel like a minefield! If you’re a keen baker, eggs and dairy aren’t the only ingredients you need to avoid. Artificial food colourings can be something of a grey area, so here are some tips to help you navigate this. 

Many artificial food dyes contain E-numbers (E100-E199 is the category for food colours), all of which have been tested on animals at some point. Even though the product manufacturers may not have tested these ingredients on animals, routine animal testing is carried out on additives used in food and drink. So… where do vegans stand with food colourings? 

The most obvious E-number that is categorically non-vegan is E120 (cochineal or carmine), which is derived from beetles to create the red colour. However, most colourings can be obtained from either plant or animal sources. If the product is labelled as a natural food colouring, which many supermarket own-brand products are, it’s most likely to be vegan. If this isn’t specified on the packaging itself, check the brand or manufacturer website for further information.

Fortunately, supermarkets and brands are improving product labels because of the higher demand for vegan products. Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Co-Op clearly label their own-brand food colourings if they’re vegan. Go and get your bake on!

VeganLife

The lifestyle magazine written by vegans for vegans.