Are Lemonheads Vegan? Can Vegans Eat Lemonheads?

  • By: Daniel B.
  • Date: January 5, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Answer: No.

No

If you’re looking to enjoy a handful of Lemonheads but aren’t sure if they’re vegan, this article is for you. Lemonheads are round candies with lemon flavor that consist of a solid candy core, soft tangy shell, and sweet coating.

Lemonheads are not an ideal option for vegans because they contain non-vegan ingredients including the food glaze derived from female lac bugs. These lemon-flavored balls are cold-panned processed which means they are formed using layers of flavoring and sugar to achieve the round shape. The standard size of Lemonheads candy is 1 centimeter, although there are bigger versions also available.

Knowing that Lemonheads are not vegan can be tricky so you need to carefully read the list of ingredients before buying a few packs of these yummy candies.

Lemonheads Ingredients

The best way to figure out if a product is vegan or not is to check the list of ingredients so you can judge for yourself. Generally, foods that are not solely made with plant-based products are not suitable for vegetarians. To help you understand why Lemonheads are not vegan, below is a list of ingredients used in making these round yellow sour candies:

  • Sugar
  • Modified food starch
  • Artificial flavors
  • Shellac or food glaze
  • Citric acid
  • Corn syrup
  • Concentrate lemon juice

Controversial Ingredients Vegans Should Avoid

Candy products usually contain refined sugar, artificial flavors, and food coloring. These common ingredients pose some health risks including food hypersensitivity, allergic reactions, asthmatic symptoms, and abdominal pain. Sugar is addictive and can make you feel hungry all the time. Other negative effects of food additives are weight gain, bladder cancer, and brain tumor.

Confectioner’s Glaze

While there are some plant-based ingredients in Lemonheads, there’s also one specific ingredient that is not good for vegans. The confectioner’s glaze, also known as shellac, is often used by candy manufacturers to create a shiny coating for their sweets. This ingredient is a secretion released by female lac bugs after they eat the tree sap.

Glaze derived from lac bug secretion is a versatile product that can be used in making apples and other foods shiny and smooth. In addition, you can also use it in polishing fingernails, varnishing wood, and spraying coat pills. Since shellac is extracted from lac bugs, any food that contain this ingredient is not vegan.

During the shellac processing, bugs may accidentally get mixed with ethanol while purifying the secretions to get rid of cocoons and other potential impurities. For this reason, Lemonheads and other confectioneries that contain shellac or female lac bug secretions are not considered vegan.

Refined Sugar

Generally, sugar is made from beets and sugarcane. While they have the same texture and taste, cane sugar and beet sugar are processed differently. Beets are extracted through a diffuser machine and combined with a non-animal additive in order to form them into crystals. On the other hand, sugarcane stalks are crushed to extract the juice from the pulp and then filtered using bone char.

Refined sugar uses charred animal bones to remove impurities. This decolorizing filter is commonly used in the US. When it comes to healthier alternatives, you can opt for organic sugar since it doesn’t contain any refining agents. Unfortunately, Lemonheads contain refined sugar.

Artificial Flavors

In terms of artificial flavors, they are tested on animals and made in laboratories so they are not really cruelty-free. Animal testing is a controversial subject to discuss since many people believe that it’s necessary to protect consumers from collateral effects and potential diseases. However, technological innovations promise that animal testing will become a thing of the past once new cruelty-free practices are introduced.

If you really want to avoid refined sugar, artificial flavors, and food coloring, it’s important to consider products that are made with natural or plant-based ingredients. There are plenty of natural alternatives that you can buy instead of these additive-containing products available in the market.

Artificial Colorants

Another important thing is to not confuse natural food colorants with artificial coloring. For instance, Red 4 and Red 40 are two different colorants in terms of how they are derived. Red 4, also known as carmine, is made from beetles so they are not vegan-friendly. On the other hand, Red 40 or Allura red is petroleum-based and can also be made from strawberries so it’s good for vegans.

The same thing goes with Yellow 5 or tartrazine and Yellow 6 or sunset yellow. Both colorants are considered vegans because they are from petroleum or synthetically produced. While some people don’t consider these food colorants as vegan-friendly because they still involve animal testing, vegan communities say that non-animal derived colorants are safe to consume.

Other Varieties To Choose From

Lemonheads refer to the original flavor which is lemon candy with a sour shell and sweet coating. There are other fruit-flavored candies that this brand offers including Appleheads and Grapeheads. These round candies contain almost similar ingredients to Lemonheads except for the flavoring and colorants.

For instance, the Appleheads contain apple juice concentrate, Yellow 5, and Blue 1 food colorants. The Grapeheads have a mixture of Blue 1, Blue 2, and Red 40 artificial coloring. Unlike other chewy candies, Lemonheads, don’t contain non-vegan ingredients such as egg whites and gelatin to create an elastic texture.

Instead, the chewy version uses gum Arabic and other food additives to achieve the chewy quality of the candy. Gum Arabic is an additive that works as a thickening agent, stabilizer, and emulsifier in soft candies and other products including icing, fillings, and gum. However, it can also be used in making soda pop to mix flavorings and sweeteners while preventing sugar from forming into crystals.

Chewy Lemonheads also contain lactic acid which can be vegan if there’s no galactose present. This organic acid is derived from milk, muscle, and blood so lactic acid can be non-vegan when they are acquired from animals. Typically, this acid is produced either by chemical synthesis or by fermenting bacteria with simple sugar.

The bacteria in the acid convert sucrose, glucose, and galactose into lactic acid. To make sure it’s completely vegan, there should be no galactose used and if there is, it should be derived from beets and other vegetables. Lactic acid doesn’t necessarily mean that chewy Lemonheads are not vegan. It’s just worth mentioning if you are extra careful when eating candies that may contain animal-based ingredients.

Lemonhead Vegan-Friendly Alternatives

It may not be good for vegans to eat Lemonheads, but don’t worry because there are many other alternatives you can choose from. Check out the following vegan-friendly options to ensure you are not consuming animal products in your lemon candies:

Lemonhead Twists

If you’re considering some alternatives to your favorite non-vegan lemon-flavored candy, you can safely choose Lemonhead Twists. This candy product may not resemble Lemonheads Original in terms of texture or appearance, but it’s really delicious and guilt-free to eat. The ingredients include natural flavors, lactic acid, sugar, corn syrup, cornstarch, tartaric acid, sodium lactate, and artificial coloring.

YumEarth Lemon Organic Hard Candies

This candy brand is known to create vegan-friendly alternatives to classic favorites including Lemonheads. They remove the controversial ingredients typically used in most candies to provide a healthier option. For instance, it uses organic sugar and other natural ingredients in order to ensure no animal products are present.

Claeys Lemon Drops

While these lemon drops are nothing like Lemonheads, they have the same addictive flavor. The ingredients used in making these lemon-flavored candies include natural lemon flavor, citric acid, corn syrup, and sugar. The food colorant used to achieve a nice yellow color is Yellow 5.

Lovely Organic Hard Candies

This brand also focuses on providing high-quality vegan alternatives so people who eat only plant-based foods can safely enjoy these yummy candies. There are different fruit flavors to choose from, but their ingredients are almost the same such as organic sugar, grape color extracts, vegetable juice color extracts, natural flavors, citric acid, and organic brown rice syrup.

Wrapping It Up

To sum it all up, Lemonheads aren’t vegan because they contain shellac or confectioner’s glaze secreted by female lac bugs that are common in Thailand. In addition, these lemon-flavored candies are made with controversial ingredients that don’t meet the vegan community’s guidelines.

The non-vegan ingredients are not just solely animal derivatives, but they are also manufactured through a process that involves animals. However, you can always opt for some vegan alternatives that taste just like Lemonheads. You can safely go with Lovely Organic or YumEarth to find 100% vegan-friendly candy products.

If you’re determined to avoid non-vegan hard candies, it’s important to always check the ingredients of a product before putting it in your mouth. Avoiding refined sugar and artificial flavors and colorants can reduce the risk of food sensitivity and allergies. So, which vegan alternative mentioned above are you choosing to replace your favorite Lemonheads candies?