Answer: It depends. Not all flavor varieties of Ruffles chips are vegan. But luckily, like in almost every food brand, some flavors are made with 100% plant-based ingredients. However, some contain animal derivatives, particularly those with additional flavors.
Ruffles are one of the popular brands of store-bought potato chips in the United States and most European countries. It is another delicious creation by Frito Lay, the food company that also brought Lay’s, Doritos, and Cheetos to the American market.
Every snack has distinct characteristics that make it irresistible to the mouth. As for Ruffles, it is the ruffled or crinkle-cut shape of each chip that makes it extra thick and crunchy. Ruffles are considered among the preferred potato chip brands by a nation of couch potatoes. No pun intended.
However, those following a special diet might want to double-check their bag of Ruffles to see if they are good for late-night snacking. The vegans, in particular, might think that Ruffles is completely plant-based because the chips are solely made from potatoes. Unfortunately, not all Ruffles products are vegan-approved.
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The primary ingredients are potatoes, vegetable oil, and salt. We can say in a nutshell that all of these three do not originate from animal remains. To be extra careful, we will analyze each ingredient and confirm its vegan status.
Potatoes are, without a doubt, plant-based. The part of the potato plant that we eat is the tuber, an enlarged structure in the plant’s rhizome mainly composed of starch. As a starchy root vegetable, it is considered an important energy-giving food.
So far, there are no concerns that growing potatoes in farmlands may potentially affect the animals that live nearby. If the cultivation of a certain plant species is proven to negatively impact the living situation of animals in their own natural habitat, then the vegan status of that particular plant can be questioned. Just take palm oil as an example.
According to the official product page of Ruffles, the oil used to prepare potato chips is vegetable oil. By the name itself, we are confident that it is a plant-derived oil. Specifically, this product uses three kinds of vegetable oil: sunflower, corn, and canola oil.
Fortunately, sunflower, corn, and canola oil are plant-derived products that are also cruelty-free. As explained earlier, there are food products that are seemingly vegan because of their origin, but the production stage poses a danger to the animals in an already existing ecosystem.
If you are a little nitpicky, you may do a little background check regarding the kind of sunflower, corn, and canola oil used to make the Ruffle chips. It can be argued that the refining process to keep the vegetable oil pure uses a filtering system with the animal bone matter.
The good news is that there are no confirmed reports that these vegetable oils undergo a refining process with animal-based reagents.
Table salt or sodium chloride is the last of the Ruffles chips’ trifecta of vegan-approved ingredients. We know that salt is a chemical compound in every food product to adjust its taste. Some of you may still not know where the table salt came from.
There are vitamins added to food products, such as vitamin D3, that can be found in animals. Therefore, some manufacturers use animal remains to extract these vitamins and put them in their products.
In the case of table salt, it is a mineral that can only be obtained from the earth. More specifically, the salt crystals refined to produce consumable table salt are situated underground. Therefore, table salt is not a plant-derived ingredient, but it is not animal-derived either.
What Makes Ruffles Non-Vegan?
The original plain salted variant of Ruffles chips is vegan-friendly. When special flavoring is added, we need to be more careful because that is when most animal-derived contents can sneak into many food products. This happens in our favorite potato chip brand most of the time.
Some potato chips can have dairy and honey when flavorings are added. We know that honey is a sweet substance harvested from beehives. While it is not made directly from animal remains, honey is produced because of the exploitation of bee colonies. It’s good that Ruffles do not have special varieties that use honey to add flavor.
Do Ruffles Have Dairy?
When it comes to dairy, some Ruffles chip variations contain flavors that come from milk ingredients. Dairy is most often preferred by potato chip manufacturers to create new flavors for their products because of the milk’s rich taste.
The good thing is that we can tell by reading the list of ingredients in a potato chip bag if there are any dairy contents inside. After all, reading the label before putting the product inside the cart is a habit that vegans have already grown accustomed to.
It is pretty much easy to screen out all the products containing dairy if we are extra careful in reading the list of ingredients.
Which Ruffles Flavors Are Vegan?
For your convenience, we have listed down the Ruffles potato chips flavors that are safe for vegan consumption:
- Ruffles Original
- Ruffles All Dressed
The above-mentioned are the only Ruffles chips flavors that do not contain dairy. They are sprinkled with plain salt.
Non-Vegan Ruffles Flavors
Another easy way to spot the Ruffles chip varieties that contain dairy is to identify the cheese and sour cream-flavored potato chips. Cheese and cream are well-known dairy products, and powdered flavors derived from these two are likely to contain the same milk contents that give these products their distinct flavor.
Ranch flavor is another giveaway because the original ranch dressing is made of butter and sour cream. The other Ruffles potato chips flavors included in this list are not related to cheese or cream, but they are also found to use dairy ingredients to enhance the savory taste of the chips.
We have also listed down the dairy-rich Ruffles potato chips variants that vegan consumers should avoid:
- Ruffles Sour Cream and Onion
- Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream
- Ruffles Queso Cheese
- Ruffles Lime and Jalapeno
- Ruffles Jalapeno Ranch
- Ruffles Flamin’ Hot
- Ruffles Double Crunch: Hot Wings
- Ruffles Double Crunch: Zesty Cheddar
Take note that there may be some flavored Ruffles chips that are not included in this list, especially those that are newly-released or special edition flavors exclusive in selected locations in North America and Europe. In that case, you can simply read the label of these special flavored chips to confirm if they are dairy-free or not.
What Frito Lay Chips Are Vegan?
Aside from Ruffles, Frito Lay has other popular potato chip brands that use the same flavors as Ruffles chips. Remember that texture is the primary trait that separates Ruffles from other Frito Lay potato chips. Two or more brands under the same company would only be expected to share the same flavor.
Here are some of the Frito Lay chips that are guaranteed to be vegan:
- Lay’s Original Baked
- Lay’s Classic Potato Chips
- Lay’s Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips
- Lay’s Limón Potato Chips
- Lay’s Poppables Sea Salt Potato Snacks
- Lay’s Stax Original Potato Crisps
- Lay’s Wavy Original Potato Chips
- Lay’s Wavy Sea Salt & Pepper Potato Chips
- Lay’s Wavy Reduced Fat Orignal Potato Chips
- Lay’s Wavy Lightly Salted Potato Chips
Many potato chip products from Frito Lay are mostly drenched in cheese and cream flavoring. Cheetos, for example, is impossible to have a vegan-friendly variant because of its mostly dairy-based flavor.
As always, it would help if you like to read up on the label of these potato chip variants to check if other new products pass as a vegan snack option. You just have to be wary of the dairy these flavored potato chips most likely contain. Otherwise, you may just opt for the original or plain salted variant.
You should not feel guilty while eating Ruffles potato chips as a vegan. We have already established that the base ingredients of this product are plant-based so you have nothing to worry about as far as your being vegan is concerned.
However, it is a different issue if you consider the health benefits you will get from consuming Ruffles. The amount of saturated fat, even from products that use vegetable oil for frying, is still quite significant, especially if you eat them regularly.
There is nothing wrong with opening a bag of potato chips every once in a while as you enjoy watching your favorite movies or TV series on your couch. Eating too much will cause unwanted setbacks, such as elevated blood pressure and impaired kidney function due to sodium build-up. Always eat your food in moderation.