Are Goldfish vegan?

Goldfish is one of the most popular cracker brands in the US. Having been introduced in 1962 by the Pepperidge Farm, which is a division of the Campbell Soup Company, fish-shaped cheese crackers have surely stood the test of time.

This is perhaps due to their enduring nature, not to mention, they are tasty, crunchy, and cute. The truth is snacking on Goldfish crackers is so satisfying and comforting. If you are wondering what else these crackers have to offer, join me as we explore the Goldfish crackers.

Are Goldfish vegan? Unfortunately, there are currently no vegan-friendly Goldfish Cracker flavours as they all contain at least one milk derivative. The worst part is none of the varieties of the snack offered by Pepperidge Farm is 100% plant-based, so vegans will have to look elsewhere. The good news is the market is filled with vegan-friendly snacks that you can indulge in.

Pepperidge Farm is often viewed as a high-end baked goods company, making awesome crackers and cookies. The Goldfish started as a single product of baked crackers but has since expanded to include a variety of flavours to suit different consumer tastes, colours, and even ingredients. Only the Goldfish crackers’ signature golden fish shape has remained the same and anyone who’s a fan will recognize the fish-shaped finger food and happily munch away.

Now and then we discover mind-blowing facts about everyday foods that we assumed we already knew everything about. So, prepare to learn something new about these little crackers you’ve probably been eating your whole life.

The Vegan Status of Goldfish Flavours

Goldfish crackers are, today, offered in a variety of flavours and we’ll look at what is contained in each one of them to show you why they cannot be part of your vegan diet:

Goldfish Original

The ingredients in this original flavour are enriched wheat flour, non-fat milk, sugar, vegetable oil, yeast, salt, monocalcium phosphate, paprika, baking soda, celery, onion powder, and spices. This is non-vegan due to the presence of non-fat milk, which is still regular milk but with no fat.

Goldfish Cheddar and Goldfish Baby Cheddar flavours

These contain all the ingredients in the original flavour except it uses cheddar cheese in place of non-fat milk. Additional ingredients include annatto and autolyzed yeast extract. Cheese is a milk derivative, making this flavour non-vegan.

Goldfish Colours

These flavours contain the usual cheddar ingredients but with a few more natural colours. The cheese, obviously, makes it non-vegan.

Goldfish Pretzel

Non-fat milk is used in this particular product to boost the nutritional value and for texture, but it makes it non-vegan as it’s derived from animals.

Goldfish Parmesan

The non-vegan ingredients in this Goldfish flavour are parmesan cheese and butter.

Goldfish Pizza

Pizza is always a red flag in the vegan world and the non-vegan ingredient here is cheddar cheese.

Goldfish Whole Grain

These flavours make use of the regular Goldfish ingredients plus whole wheat flour, which makes it more nutritious. It still contains cheddar cheese, which makes it non-vegan.

Goldfish Veggie Crackers

In an attempt to capitalise on the buzz around plant-based foods, Campbell recently launched a line of Goldfish Veggie Crackers that are available in two flavours: cheesy tomato and sweet carrot. In addition to wheat, salt, oil, and other regular ingredients found in Goldfish crackers, the vegetable versions include ingredients sourced from real carrots and tomatoes. The tomato flavour is baked with 100% cheddar cheese and coloured with tomato, annatto, and beet juice concentrate while the carrot flavour is coloured with carrot and paprika extract.

The new Goldfish Veggie crackers not only taste great but also deliver on nutritional value as they provide 1/3 serving of vegetables. As if that wasn’t enough, they are made with colours sourced from plants and don’t contain any artificial flavours or preservatives. The Goldfish Veggie Crackers serve as a great option for today’s consumers who are looking for a convenient, delicious, and nutritious snack. But as Goldfish expands their portfolio with plant-based offerings, it’s still unfortunate that they continue to include milk derivatives in these flavours as well. The sweet carrot flavour contains non-fat milk while the cheesy tomato flavour has cheddar cheese in it. Needless to say, they are both not suitable for a vegan diet.

Is There A Vegan Alternative?

Until Goldfish stops adding milk derivatives into their crackers, vegans have no choice but to look elsewhere for a similar product.

If you search online for vegan Goldfish alternatives, you’ll mostly find recipes for making your own at home, which I think is the best option as you know exactly what’s in your crackers and are able to make more healthier options. Store-bought vegan Goldfish alternatives are hard to come by. The best possible replacement, at least for those who loved the Goldfish Cheddar flavours, is the Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Flavoured Squares. These little squares pack a cheese-flavoured punch like no other but you’ll have to do without the fish shape though. They are made with the finest ingredients and are free from dairy, GMOs, and transfat.

While none of the ingredients used in making these crackers is derived from animals, there are two that a bit controversial in the vegan world. Palm oil, for starters, is derived from plants but its cultivation is connected to increased greenhouse emissions and climate change. The presence of palm oil in foods doesn’t render it non-vegan by most standards but this is something to keep in mind if you are vegan for environmental purposes.

The second questionable ingredient is lactic acid. Naturally occurring lactic acid is vegan but it can also be non-vegan if galactose is used in its production. That’s because this monosaccharide (simple sugars) can be found in animal products as well as certain veggies like sugar beets. Again, the inclusion of lactic acid doesn’t render a food non-vegan by most standards but if you are stricter vegan you may want to avoid this additive.

Are Goldfish Crackers Healthy?

These snacks are advertised as containing 0 grams of trans fat and no artificial preservatives. They are also fortified with calcium, iron, Vitamins B1 and B2, and folic acid, although all are synthetic sources. Up to this point, they seem better than the junkiest foods. The problem is they are empty calories and supply your body with little to no nutrition. Goldfish crackers are also quite light and airy and don’t provide the much-needed satiety. Other major concerns include:

They are made with GMO soybeans

‘Vegetable oils’ is listed as one of the ingredients in any Goldfish cracker. While this might seem like a healthy ingredient, it turns out soybean oil is derived from genetically modified organisms. GMOs have caused a lot of controversy in the past years and unfortunately, new research suggests that they are both toxic and allergenic. GMO soybeans, in particular, are potentially harmful to the liver and could cause toxaemia as well as fertility problems.

They contain MSG

Autolyzed yeast, which is another ingredient listed in Goldfish crackers, is a form of MSG (monosodium glutamate). Some people are more sensitive to MSG than others with side effects including headaches, sweating, nausea, and chest pain. Some even claim that it’s an excitotoxin that could potentially damage brain cells.

They contain high levels of sodium

Goldfish crackers contain about 250 mg of sodium per serving, which is high. High sodium intake has dire side effects, including HBP, kidney damage, cognitive degeneration, and heart problems.

Though these crackers are not the healthiest food choice, they are not harmful as long as they are taken in moderation.

What to Look For In Goldfish Cracker Alternatives

The first step to choosing the best alternatives is to find crackers that can fit in your vegan diet. This means dairy-free and without any animal-derived ingredient. You’ll also need to look for healthier products given Goldfish crackers are not the healthiest food choice. This means crackers that contain whole grain-based flour and not the enriched kind with synthetic vitamins and minerals. Also, avoid anything with MSG, artificial colour or flavour, added sugar, and GMO products.

It’s not easy to find a vegan cracker with all these qualities, which is why I recommend making yours at home. This will guarantee that every ingredient used is vegan-friendly and good for your body. There are many recipes online for vegan crackers. Happy creation!

Robert Van De Ville

Robert Van De Ville is a registered nutritionist, he earned his degree in nutrition from California State University. Now based in London UK. An author of the upcoming book, researcher and dedicated vegan activist.

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