Are wheat thins vegan?

Are Wheat Thins Vegan

One of the fun parts of going vegan is discovering how many of your favorite foods are “accidentally” vegan. Nobody sat down and decided that they’d follow a vegan recipe — it’s just serendipitous. Some foods, including many of your favorite snacks, are simply free from animal products because they were never required. It’s great to be able to reach for a familiar brand, knowing that you only need to glance at the ingredients to see that it’s a healthy and ethically supportable choice. These accidental vegan threats are more common than you’d think and include many popular foods.

Are Wheat Thins vegan? Yes, they are. Original Wheat Thins are 100 percent vegan and contain only plant-based ingredients. Be careful when buying flavored Wheat Thins, however, as some flavors do contain ingredients of animal origin. The company that makes wheat Thins uses animal ingredients in other products.

Maybe you’re new to the vegan lifestyle, or perhaps you’re an experienced vegan who is interested in adding a new item to the weekly grocery shop. Either way, if you’ve arrived on this page, you probably have a lot of questions about vegan foods and snack products.

  • What’s in Wheat Thins?
  • Are Wheat Thins vegan?
  • Which flavors of Wheat Thins are vegan?
  • What about similar snacks made by other companies?
  • Do any vegan companies produce a version of Wheat Thins?

Whatever you want to know, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to find out more about Wheat Thins and other vegan snacks.

Are Wheat Thins vegan?

Original Wheat Thins, you’ll be glad to hear, are completely vegan in terms of ingredients. So are the reduced fat, multigrain and large varieties, as well as Touch of Salt Wheat Thins. They’re made from wheat flour, plus oil, water and a few other ingredients of vegetable origin. According to information provided by the manufacturer, the exact ingredients are “Whole grain wheat flour, canola oil, sugar, cornstarch, malt syrup (from corn and barley), salt, refiner’s syrup, leavening (calcium phosphate and baking soda)”. Note that it is possible for ingredients to vary between countries.

Things get a bit more complicated, though, when you look at other flavors of Wheat Thins. Ranch Dressing Wheat Thins, for instance, are made with buttermilk — clearly not a vegan product. Other flavors don’t mention animal ingredients specifically but do refer to “natural flavors”. This catch-all term can mean flavoring compounds derived from vegetable sources but can also refer to flavors produced using animal ingredients. Since the packages don’t specify whether or not the natural flavoring is vegan, we have to err on the side of caution and assume it isn’t. Contacting the manufacturer is a good way to find out for sure — this also puts vegan consumers on the radar, encouraging a move away from animal ingredients.

Another important question, if you’re a vegan for ethical reasons, is whether Nabisco, the company that makes Wheat Thins has a good track record on animal rights. The answer here is a little murky. Nabisco is owned by Kraft Heinz, a large international conglomerate that produces lots of different foods. Many of these products contain meat, eggs, dairy and other animal ingredients, or are made with substances that have been tested on animals.

Although Kraft Heinz has a policy of avoiding animal testing where possible, the fact that they manufacture and sell food and other products in a number of different countries means that they have to comply with those countries’ laws on food testing. They are also not responsible for testing carried out by other organizations on ingredients that they go on to use. This means that some of the ingredients and products that are sold under the Nabisco name have been tested on animals. For this reason, if you’re an ethical vegan rather than focusing more on the health benefits of the lifestyle, you might want to avoid their products — including Wheat Thins.

As an alternative, you could look for similar snack foods produced by companies that are fully vegan (using no animal ingredients or animal-tested ingredients in any of their products). There are several companies that are fully vegan and produce tasty snack crackers that make a good substitute for Wheat Thins. You can also find similar thin crackers that are produced with a more environmentally friendly bent — something else that’s important to many vegans.

Are Wheat Thins healthy?

As a vegan, you’re probably a fairly health-conscious person. Although they’re not perfect health food by any means, Wheat Thins are a pretty good choice if you’re looking for an easy vegan snack food. Original Wheat Thins are made with whole-grain flour in most countries where they’re sold, delivering a useful dose of dietary fiber. They’re baked rather than fried, making them lower in fat than greasy crisps or other fried snack foods. Wheat Thins have a higher satiation index than many popular snack foods due to their high fiber content; they fill you up more so you’re less likely to overeat.

Wheat Thins also contain some valuable vitamins and minerals. In particular, they have some B vitamins and iron — useful additions to a vegan diet, since you will no longer be getting them from meat or animal products and will need to include alternative sources in your diet.

On the downside, Wheat Thins are rather heavily processed food. They contain a lot of additives — none of them particularly bad in terms of their health impact but perhaps not what you want in your healthy vegan diet. Crackers are often consumed with other processed foods, such as spreads or dips. You might want to pay extra attention to the foods you consume alongside your snacks, choosing healthier options such as fresh salsa instead of heavily processed, fat-laden vegan pâtés.

If you’re looking to reduce your salt or fat intake, Original Wheat Thins may not be your best option. There is a fat-reduced version of the snack (Reduced Fat Wheat Thins) which has 30 percent less fat than the original variety. There’s also a low-sodium variety called Hint of Salt. Both these varieties are vegan.

If you need gluten-free food, then, unfortunately, Wheat Thins are not appropriate. They’re made from wheat flour, which is naturally high in gluten. Instead, try an alternative such as Rice Thins (making sure the brand you buy is vegan too, of course). There are lots of tasty gluten-free vegan snacks on the market nowadays, as more people go vegan and also choose to omit gluten from their diets.

Can you make your own Wheat Thins?

You can also make your own wheat crackers at home. There are plenty of recipes that yield crackers very similar in taste and texture to Wheat Thins. They’re very simple to make and don’t take a lot of kitchen know-how. Making your own crackers might be a better option for health-conscious vegans, as you have more control over the ingredients. For example, you can omit the salt and saturated fats found in Nabisco Wheat Thins and include your own healthy flavorings. Making your own crackers lets you avoid gluten and other ingredients that might be allergenic.

Another advantage of making your own snacks at home is that you get to be pickier over the provenance of your ingredients. For example, instead of accepting whatever flour the manufacturer has selected you can use locally produced pesticide-free flour. You can also use other ethically sourced staples in your recipe. Going vegan is already a greener option — this way, you can reduce your environmental impact even further.

Homemade thin crackers can be made using wheat flour, as in the case of the original, or with gluten-free flours such as rice or maize flour. There are plenty of recipes out there. Most call for flour, oil or margarine, paprika, and salt. You might also want to include other flavorings in your crackers, such as vanilla or nutritional yeast.

Are other snacks vegan?

A surprising number of similar snacks are also vegan. Care must be taken if you choose a variety that has a different flavor to the original, as this might include animal ingredients. That said, there are some iconic names in the roll-call of vegan snacks.

One surprising item that you can put on your shopping list is Ritz Crackers. A little lighter and flakier than Wheat Thins, these familiar round crackers are completely vegan — at least, the original version is. Avoid Cheese Ritz and other flavors with added animal ingredients.

Potato crisps (or chips, for those outside the UK) are usually vegan. Most crisps these days are cooked in vegetable oil and many flavors omit animal ingredients. You’ll need to check the ingredients before you buy and keep your eyes peeled for unwanted additives like beef fat or cheese powder. That said, if you choose plain salted crisps or flavors like Salt and Vinegar, you can usually be assured of a vegan treat. Surprisingly, some “meat” flavored crisps are actually vegan — the flavor comes from yeast extract and similar vegetable ingredients. Crisps aren’t the healthiest option, of course, but for a vegan, in a hurry, they’re a useful snack.

Rice cakes come in all shapes and sizes, from the familiar puffed-rice rounds to thin and crispy crackers. Most of these are vegan too. As with other snacks, be careful when buying flavored versions. Cheese flavored rice cakes in particular generally use cheese powder, and you may find that flavors like caramel or chocolate use milk derivatives. Some savory rice crackers may use animal fat too. With all that said, there are plenty of delicious rice snacks on the shelves that are completely vegan — and gluten-free, too.

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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