11 reasons why Airheads are not vegan

Don’t we all love soft, fruity flavored candy bars melting in our mouths? The tongue craves what it craves whether you are vegan or not. One of the most popular candy brands is Airheads and they are a household name, that’s why you probably clicked this article to find out, Are airheads vegan?

Below is the google trend snippet that shows how much airheads candy gained popularity:

google trends airheads candy | veganscult.com

Are Airheads vegan?

Airheads are not vegan. Their ingredients list contains a lot of non-vegan products such as beeswax, shellac, carmine, and gelatin. There are also broader environmental concerns regarding much of the ingredients, for instance, the use of artificial colors and palm oil.

However, before we discuss these ingredients. We will start off with an overview of what Airheads are and explain why some of the ingredients are non-vegan so that we can present a fair argument.

Are you ready?

What are airheads?

Airheads are a product of a Dutch and Italian confectionery company known as the Perfetti Van Melle Group. They are an easy-to-chew candy bar with a toffee texture and they come in multiple fruity flavors. in fruit flavors. 

Some of the flavors include Watermelon, Cherry, Grape, Orange, Green Apple, Blue Raspberry, Strawberry, White Mystery, Pink Lemonade, Strawberry-Watermelon, Citrus Rush, Fruit Punch, Pink Lemonade-Orange, and Blue Raspberry-Cherry.

They have exclusive promotional versions which include Maple, Special Edition Burnt Rubber, Double Mystery, Special Edition White Mystery, and Water Smooth Bubble Gum.

Being the third-largest confectioner in the world, it’s important to look into their widespread products ingredients.

AirHeads Ingredients: why some of them are non-vegan?

In this section, we will present the common ingredients across the various candies in order to expand on why Airheads are not vegan explaining the ingredients.

Standard Ingredients: Food Starch – Modified (Corn), Artificial Flavors, Sugar, Artificial Colors, Citric Acid.

  • Airhead Xtremes: Corn High Syrup, Potassium Syrup, Citrate, (Potato), Malic Flour, Corn, Wheat Salt Starch, Glycerin, Food Modified Acid, Fructose Soybean Hydrogenated Oil
  • Airhead Xtreme Bites: Corn Syrup, Palm Oil, Potassium Citrate, Malic Acid, Corn Starch, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Food Starch, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Wheat Starch, Modified (Potato), Salt, Carmine.
  • Airheads Softfilled Bites: Glycerin, Coconut Oil, Sorbitol Syrup, Salt, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Lactic Acid, Gelatin, Malic Acid, Dextrose, Food Starch – Modified (Potato), Fumaric Acid, Corn Starch, Glucose Syrup, Trisodium Citrate.
  • Airheads Xtreme Sourfuls: Food Starch – Modified (Potato), Coconut Oil, Sorbitol Syrup, Trisodium Citrate, Corn Starch, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Glycerol, Gelatin, Malic Acid, Dextrose, Salt, Sodium Malates, Lactic Acid, Fumaric Acid, Wheat Starch.
  • Airheads Bites: Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Sorbitol, Glycerin, Rice Starch, Carnauba Wax, Beeswax, Shellac, Gellan Gum, Glucose Syrup, Sucrose Esters Of Fatty Acids, Hydrogenated Coconut Oil.

The company officially claims that glycerin comes from vegetable oils. Here is what we think about glycerin.

Non-Vegan Ingredients in airheads Candies (The 11 reasons)


Gelatin is derived from the collagen of animal body parts, which means it is not vegan. The most common sources are pigs, cattle, poultry, and fish. These animals are primarily sacrificed for food and gelatine is a by-product of the remained.

They undergo horrendous treatment throughout their lifetime in live-stock farms. Another factor is that there is vast deforestation for feed crops of these animals because to produce a single kilogram of an animal food source, tonnes of vegetation to feed it throughout its life-cycle has to go.

This extends the damage to other small animals that shelter in these cleared woodlands and further imbalances the ecosystem. 


Beeswax being produced by bees is obviously another non-vegan ingredient. Beeswax extraction involves beekeepers taking away that source from the bees and destabilizing their natural way of life.

There are large implications of that in terms of biodiversity because bees are responsible for the pollination of plants that other animals survive on. Bee diseases are also prone to spreading due to the mixed breeding of different bee populations.

So since beeswax production involves humans destabilizing insects that are minding their own “bees-ness” it goes on record as one of the reasons we maintain that Airheads are not vegan.

But there is more.


Shellac, which is often used as food glaze, is a derivative of the female lac beetle. It gives most candies a shiny hard appearance.

There has been a larger debate that it is scrapped from tree leaves without hurting the animal. However, that reasoning does not hold credence because the secretion of the resin acts as a protective layer for their larvae.

Additionally during this scrapping, what most people don’t talk about is that the females are sometimes hurt or killed in the process whether it is intentional or not. Humans only leave some branches intact to allow the remaining ones to reproduce.

Shellac is not vegan yet it is one of the ingredients.

5.Palm Oil

Palm oil is not considered vegan because of the level of environmental destruction during its farming. However, Perfetti Van Melle being a member of RSPO means that they use vegan-friendly palm oil.

6.Artificial Colors

The artificial colors used in airheads are not vegan, namely Blue 1 (Brilliant Blue), Yellow 5 (Tartrazine), Yellow 6 (Sunset yellow), and Red 40 (Allura Red) which have come under fire for animal testing practices on them for eligibility. 

They are all often tested on lab animals such as rats, rabbits, cows, and mice. Not only are the animals fed large amounts of these substances. 

The animals may sometimes be intentionally killed so that the effects of different preparations of these products are observed by food scientists.

It is thus clear that these ingredients use in candy and other foods are not vegan.

When in reality it’s neither vegetarian nor vegan.

7.Carmine (Food color)

Carmine is a derivative of female cochineal insects. It is evidently not vegan. The real reason these insects are sacrificed is for non-vegan foods which do not contain the fruits they purport to have to look like they do, based on color associations.

This aesthetic component poses a threat to hordes of cochineal insects. To produce a kilogram of carmine, 100,000 of the insects have to be crushed. This has a profound impact on the ecosystems and biodiversity as well.

The coloring in Airheads is thus not vegan.

8.Coconut Oil

Whilst coconuts are from plant sources there is a large debate on whether they can be considered vegan. This is because they are not sustainable. For instance, a kilogram of refined cooking oil has requires around 4490 liters of water to be used up.

Damage to the environment is moderate however, they can promote monoculture and restrict biodiversity which ultimately affects ecosystems and other animals and forms of life indirectly.


Refined sugar is not considered vegan because of the use of bone char to give it its color. A lot of animals are harmed to obtain this bone char and these are the same animals that live under undesirable conditions in big livestock farms which are controversial for poor treatment of animals.

Bone char is derived from slaughtered cattle and the bones sold to players in the sugar industry. 


Even though it is not an animal-derived product, it is sadly tested on animals. It is thus a none vegan synthetic sweetener. It has reportedly been tested on over 12,000 animals.

Animal tests violate the rights of animals and some animals are killed in the process for the effects of the products to be observed.


There are chances that the dextrose used may be from refined cane sugar. We have already discussed the implications of cane sugar in a previous heading. However, note that in recent times there has been vegan-friendly dextrose as well.

Final Words

Airheads are ultimately not vegan given the detailed background of certain controversial ingredients cited in the article. They evidently still use food dyes that are animal tested, artificial colors, gelatin, and dextrose.

Strict vegans are likely not to condone the use of soybean oil, sugars, and corn syrups because there is a fair chance of them being derived from GMOs. For us to create a sustainable future for the planet, we want to promote vegan products and lobby for companies to use vegan-friendly ingredients.

Corporations are incentivized by what the marketplace demands and to make progress we must spread this information to new eyes who had no idea. If you feel that this is an informative piece please feel free to click the share button.

There are also other articles to catch up with on the website. Feel free to read them.

Leave a Comment