Answer: It depends.
Beaver Nuggets is a snack made by Buc-ee’s, a company that manages gas stations and convenience stores in different locations in the United States. It’s arguably the most successful snack item among their long list of food products.
But if you’re familiar with Buc-ee’s, you’d know that most of their snacks are non-vegan, so are Beaver Nuggets vegan, or are they the same as other Buc-ee’s snacks?
According to its ingredients list, Beaver Nuggets have many vegan ingredients. However, there is a handful of potentially non-vegan components, though we cannot say for sure due to the lack of data. But it seems Buc-ee’s intends to keep Beaver Nuggets as their most “vegan” product since they use animal-free alternatives on otherwise non-vegan ingredients, like sugar. In short, Beaver Nuggets may or may not be vegan, but there’s a higher chance it is.
Considering how the name of the snack is a combination of animal and non-vegan food, it can be surprising to know that it’s potentially vegan. So, in this guide, we’ll look at the ingredients of Beaver Nuggets to investigate further.
Ingredients Of Beaver Nuggets
Before anything else, it’s worth noting that Beaver Nuggets is most likely not the snack you’re thinking of. It’s a sweet corn puff shaped like a nugget, not an actual nugget. So far, we’ve found that the product contains the following ingredients:
- Artificial butter flavor
- Beta carotene
- Brown sugar
- Corn meal
- Corn syrup
- Margarine (palm oil, palm kernel oil, salt, soybean oil, water)
- Sodium benzoate
- Soy lecithin
- Vegetable oil (canola and/or corn oil)
- Vitamin A Palmitate
It can be a lot to take in, so for the next section, we’ll take a look at a brief overview of each of these ingredients and see if they’re vegan or not.
Do Beaver Nuggets Contain Non-Vegan Ingredients?
Artificial Butter Flavor — POTENTIALLY NON-VEGAN
The artificial butter flavor is supposed to be a vegan-friendly alternative to butter. It contains no animal products as it’s mostly made of the following components:
- Acetyl propionyl
This particular ingredient is the main cause of concern for Beaver Nuggets. If you aren’t aware, it has long been established that artificial butter flavor is generally not vegan. It’s not because its ingredients come from animals. In fact, it’s the opposite.
As per the FDA, companies cannot derive artificial flavors from natural substances, meaning they shouldn’t come from animals. The main issue lies in the fact that companies are known to use an animal to test the safety of artificial butter flavor. This is why many vegans avoid products that contain artificial butter flavoring. If you’d like to learn more about the topic, you can take a look at our take on this subject.
In addition, though acetoin and acetyl propionyl are completely vegan, diacetyl most likely comes from animals as it’s naturally occurring in lactic acid bacteria.
If you aren’t aware, lactic acid bacteria constitutes a specific bacterial group found in nature, particularly in dairy, meat, and the gastrointestinal tracts of humans and animals. On the bright side, the bacteria are also found in vegetable origins, but due to the lack of data, we cannot confirm what kind of diacetyl Beaver Nuggets are used.
To summarize, artificial butter flavor may involve animal testing and potentially contains a non-vegan component, diacetyl. However, those are just assumptions, so it’s not fair to write off the product as non-vegan with just this much info.
Beta Carotene — VEGAN
Beta carotene is often used as a food coloring in caramel-flavored snacks, including Beaver Nuggets. This ingredient is also used as a coloring for margarine, yet another ingredient of Beaver Nuggets. Unlike the previous ingredient, beta carotene is completely vegan as it comes from plants like carrots, spinach, and sweet potato.
However, beta carotene can also be found on dairy products, meat, eggs, and fish oils, so it might be questionable to some vegans since the same is true with diacetyl.
Fortunately, non-vegan beta carotene is primarily used for its nutrients, particularly vitamin A. Manufacturers do not use it to create food coloring, meaning the beta carotene in Beaver Nuggets and other snacks will always use vegan sources.
Brown Sugar — POTENTIALLY NON-VEGAN
Brown sugar has an obvious contribution to food—it makes the food sweeter. It’s also common knowledge that its main source is sweet plants like corn, sugar cane, and sugar beets. When you extract the sugar from these sources, you get refined sugar, but that’s not what Beaver Nuggets has. What it has is brown sugar, which has a different manufacturing process, albeit the same primary source.
Brown sugar is made by combining refined sugar and molasses syrup. Molasses doesn’t come from animals, but its production process involves animal cruelty.
To be more precise, to manufacture molasses syrup, the facility uses bone char, which comes from animals. Therefore, molasses is generally considered non-vegan by the vegan community. Interestingly, certain companies are now able to make molasses without bone char, so there’s a possibility that brown sugar can be vegan.
Corn Meal — VEGAN
Corn meal gives snacks their crunchy or smooth texture, depending on how finely ground it is. In the case of Beaver Nuggets, they most likely use coarsely ground corn meals to achieve a crunchy texture. The ingredient is completely vegan, and unlike beta carotene, it doesn’t have any non-vegan sources. Corn meal mostly comes from dried and ground field corn. Interestingly, it’s also gluten-free.
Corn Syrup — VEGAN
Corn syrup is the main reason cream puffs are often large despite being mostly hollow inside. This ingredient is used to add volume to food and enhance its flavor. It’s completely vegan as it comes from corn, and though that corn might be genetically-modified, no genetic modification on corn can make it non-vegan.
Mono- and Di-glycerides — VEGAN
Mono-glycerides and di-glycerides are additives used to emulsify or help combine water and oil. These ingredients are also used to extend shelf life. They’re technically not ingredients of Beaver Nuggets, as they’re more like additives. However, if they’re not vegan, the product also wouldn’t be vegan. Fortunately, they are, as they come from the oils of plants like sunflower, canola, cottonseed, and coconut.
However, like beta carotene, mono- and di-glycerides can also come from animal fats. The good news is, as far as data goes, Beaver Nuggets use vegan sources.
Margarine — VEGAN
Margarine is one of the oils used to bake something. It was originally sourced from animal fats, though that’s not the case today. It’s now the vegan-friendly version of butter; hence, it should generally be vegan. It comes from oils from vegetables like sunflower, soy, safflower, and corn.
Salt — VEGAN
Salt is perhaps the most vegan ingredient on this list. It has never had a history of being extracted from animals, as it comes from sodium chloride mineral halite and seawater. There are also no animal derivatives of salt. It acts as the preservative in Beaver Nuggets and other snacks. It also enhances the flavor of baked goods.
Sodium Benzoate — VEGAN
Sodium benzoate has the same purpose as salt, it preserves the food by preventing its spoilage from harmful molds, yeast, and bacteria. It’s common in food products, including Beaver Nuggets. It’s produced by synthetically combining benzoic acid with sodium hydroxide, hence the name. Both of these components don’t come from animals. Therefore, sodium benzoate, their byproduct, should be vegan.
Soy Lecithin — VEGAN
Soy lecithin is used as an emulsifier, similar to mono- and di-glycerides. It also has antioxidant properties, so manufacturers use it to preserve the flavor of foods.
Though there are controversies concerning its health issues, soy lecithin is completely vegan as it comes from raw soybeans by extracting the oil with a chemical solvent. Neither the oil byproduct nor the solvent comes from animals.
Vitamin A Palmitate — POTENTIALLY NON-VEGAN
Vitamin A palmitate is added to foods mostly to give them nutritional value. But as you may already know, any form of vitamin A mostly comes from animal products, like cheese, eggs, and livers. Therefore, it’s generally not vegan, though it’s worth noting that there are now vegan compound sources. Alas, we have yet to confirm whether what Beaver Nuggets use comes from animal sources or not. We should also mention that there’s a chance Beaver Nuggets no longer contains vitamin A.
Ultimately, it depends on what you want to believe. It only has three potentially non-vegan components. But then again, that’s typically enough to turn a product from vegan to non-vegan. The problem is it’s not yet confirmed whether the artificial butter flavor, sugar, and vitamin A they use are indeed non-vegan.
For all you know, the company they source those specific ingredients from might not be engaging in animal testing or is getting them from a plant-based source.
Either way, we can at least say that Beaver Nuggets is one of the most “vegan” snack products of Buc-ee’s. We say one because there’s another potentially vegan snack in their wide array of snack products.
What Other Vegan Products Do Beaver Nuggets Have?
Buc-ee’s also offers different snacks that feature pecans—a tree nut known for its crunchy texture. The company’s pecan products are potentially vegan because, unlike Beaver Nuggets, they contain several ingredients, namely pecans, sugar, margarine, salt, and soy lecithin. The only cause of concern here is the sugar, though we cannot confirm whether they use organic sugar or brown sugar.
Regardless, if you want an alternative to Beaver Nuggets, pecans would be your best option, though you should steer away from some of its flavors, like honey-glazed.
If you grew up loving Beaver Nuggets, it’s understandable why you’d want to hope that it’s vegan. Thankfully, there is a chance that it might be vegan, but there’s also a slight chance it’s not due to its three questionable ingredients. Unfortunately, the company itself isn’t very transparent with where they’re sourcing their ingredients, so at the moment, it’s impossible to confirm whether Beaver Nuggets truly is vegan.