Answer: It depends.
Have you finally found the vegan inside you? And now looking for vegan-friendly snack options? Perhaps you are struggling to determine which of your favorite snacks may be vegan-friendly.
Fig Newtons, a cookie filled with fig paste, is a popular snack in the US. If Fig Newtons are your all-time favorites, then keep reading!
There is, however, no direct answer to the question of whether Fig Newtons are vegan-friendly. Yes, most vegans do consider them to be suitable for consumption. However, others have certain issues with them.
If you are the new vegan, confused about which way to go, do not worry. This article will break down all the ingredients in Fig Newtons and measure their vegan-friendliness! You can then choose whether you consider this popular snack to be vegan or not. We will also try to hook you up with some good alternatives to fig newtons, so stick till the end.
The Ingredients: How Vegan Are They?
When talking about Fig Newtons, we are explicitly talking about the brand Nabisco. They have trademarked this particular name and shape of this fig paste-filled cookie. Nabisco Fig Newtons have earlier been heavily considered non-vegan because of some of their ingredients, like whey. However, Nabisco has changed its recipe, declaring that its Fig Newtons no longer contain dairy products. Perhaps this is an attempt to cater to vegan consumers.
However, the vegan community remains divided on the vegan friendliness of the other ingredients in Fig Newtons.
The principal ingredients of a fig newton include figs, sugar, palm oil, canola oil, whole wheat, flour, natural and artificial colors, and other preservatives, to name a few.
Let us discuss in detail the most controversial ingredients on the list.
It’s a no-brainer that you cannot make Fig Newtons without figs. There is considerable controversy regarding whether the fig fruit itself is vegan or not.
Figs are pollinated by a species of wasps that stay trapped within the fruit after pollination. Protein dissolving enzymes inside the fruit break down the insects, but their remains stay within the fruit. All figs, therefore, contain dead wasps to some extent.
According to some vegans, since figs contain insect remains, they are not suitable for consumption. However, others argue that pollination is a natural process and not a human initiative. Pollination is necessary for fruit and the wasp and helps maintain ecological balance. Therefore, the controversy about figs is an endless, never-ending cycle.
Some figs farmed by modern technologies may be wasp-free. However, it is impossible to know the type of figs in Fig Newtons. If you wish to have Fig Newtons as a vegan, you should decide whether you consider figs vegan.
Ever experienced a sugar rush after eating too many Fig Newtons? You must have because Fig Newtons contain an insane amount of sugar in them. Processed sugar is again an issue of debate among vegans. In many sugar mills across America, brown cane sugar is processed using bone char to produce white sugar.
Now, you may be wondering what this bone char is. Factories produce bone char by burning animal bones at a high temperature. The process of procuring these animal bones is not cruelty-free. Therefore many vegans don’t consume processed sugar.
However, not all sugar mills use bone char. Some use granular activated charcoal to refine the cane sugar. Some sugar mills extract sugar from coconut or beet instead of sugar cane.
If you refrain from having processed sugar for the above reasons, Fig Newtons may not be for you. However, many vegans consume processed sugar. For them, Fig Newtons are a great snack option to consider.
Palm oil is most definitely vegan in the traditional sense. The source of palm oil is palm trees, and they do not contain any animal products. However, some vegans are against palm oil consumption for ethical and environmental reasons.
Palm tree cultivation often results in large-scale deforestation of tropical rainforests. It is only recently that the massive environmental impact of commercial palm cultivation has come to light. Deforestation undoubtedly adds to the concern of global warming. Palm tree plantations displace the human and animal inhabitants of the forest. It also forces bonded laborers to work long hours at a very low wage.
Therefore most vegans consider it an ethical responsibility not to consume palm oil products. Since the ingredient list of Fig Newtons features palm oil, many vegans decide to stay away from it.
Artificial Flavors And Food Dyes
You might notice the ingredient list of Fig Newtons states that they contain additional artificial flavors. The company does not reveal what exactly goes into the fig newtons as artificial flavors.
There is no way to know whether these flavors are plant or animal-based. As a result, many vegans avoid any product with unknown artificial flavors.
Fig Newtons also contain food dyes or colors. Vegan food colors are readily available in the market. Vegan food colors are used for preparing fig newtons. However, all food dyes are tested on laboratory animals. Therefore even vegan food dyes cannot be labeled “cruelty-free.”
It is something many vegans are unaware of. It would help if you kept this in mind before opting for Fig Newtons.
Popular Misconceptions About Fig Newtons
So far, we have discussed the main ingredients in Fig Newtons. Now let’s debunk some myths about these snacks. People believe that there are certain non-vegan ingredients present in Fig Newtons. Here is the list:
Whey: Whey is the watery remains of milk left behind when making curd. As we discussed earlier, Nabisco Fig Newtons contain whey. However, the company has altered the recipe to a dairy-free one. Fig Newtons no longer contain whey.
Gelatin: Gelatin is a popular ingredient for making jellies and gel-like pastes. Therefore many wonder whether Fig Newtons contain gelatin.
Gelatin is a strictly non-vegan product; boiling cattle and pig bones and skins in water gives us gelatin. You will feel good to know that Fig Newtons do not contain gelatin at all. The familiar texture of gelatin in Fig Newtons results from the fibers in fig.
Egg albumin: Egg albumin is used in many cookies and snacks to give them a chewy texture. Therefore many suspect that Fig Newtons also contain this ingredient. However, this is a myth. Nabisco Fig Newtons do not have any egg albumin. The texture, as we discussed earlier, is because of the fig fruit itself.
Are There Any Alternatives To Fig Newtons?
From the above discussion, it is clear that there are no outright non-vegan ingredients in Fig Newtons. However, certain ingredients do have some issues that one might look into. It depends on the individual to decide what is suitable for them according to their food preferences.
Many vegans are comfortable eating figs but are concerned about the other ingredients in Fig Newtons. If you belong to this group, we have some options for you.
Figs are highly nutritious and have many health benefits. You don’t have to give up eating figs simply because you can’t have Fig Newtons. Dried figs are an excellent alternative. Pair them with vegan yogurt, and you get a delicious combo of an evening snack.
Fig Energy Bars
Breakfast or energy bars are widely popular across the US. You can easily find one that has fig as its main ingredient. Just be sure to check whether the other ingredients are vegan-friendly.
Fig energy bars can be a very close alternative to Fig Newtons. They give you the taste of figs while eliminating the unhealthy amount of sugar you find in fig newtons.
DIY Fig Paste Snacks
This last option may be challenging to manage, but it is worth it. You can find tons of recipes on the internet on how to make fig paste properly. You can use the paste as a cookie filling and enjoy the goodness of Fig Newtons!
The best part about making your cookie is that you get to be in control! Your homemade fig paste snack will be more vegan-friendly than any store-bought ones.
The status of Fig Newtons as a vegan product has always been a matter of debate. If you consider having Fig Newtons as a new vegan, you should investigate the controversies first. We have already discussed why some Fig Newtons ingredients are not considered vegan-friendly.
We hope this article will allow all vegans to decide about choosing Fig Newtons. Snacking choices may be limited for vegans, but it isn’t scarce if you know where to look.
There are 101 alternatives to snack on, and we have mentioned a few. You can never run out of options if you do your thorough research. Happy snacking!