Are M&M’s Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

September 12, 2023

The vegan journey often brings up questions regarding the products we consume daily, including our beloved candies.

Sometimes, the ingredient list on products can be misleading or hard to interpret, leaving consumers in doubt about their choices.

This article seeks to clarify the vegan and ethical status of M&M’s. If you’re a seasoned vegan or just beginning to explore plant-based living, this piece is crafted for you.

Are M&M’s Vegan?

No, M&M’s don’t qualify as vegan.

The primary reason is that M&M’s incorporate several ingredients sourced from animals, particularly milk components like milk solids, milk fat, and lactose.

The ingredient list doesn’t mention beeswax or carmine for classic M&M’s, but it’s essential to note that other M&M variants or sources might contain these non-vegan components.

Are M&M’s Cruelty-Free?

M&M’s might raise some ethical concerns.

Having ingredients derived from dairy indicates that the creation of M&M’s involves animal-derived products. Concerns about animal welfare practices in some sections of the dairy industry might trouble ethically conscious consumers.

Moreover, certain food colorings are synthesized through processes that may involve animal testing, which isn’t aligned with cruelty-free standards.

What Are M&M’s Made Of?

Here’s a rundown of the components found in M&M’s based on the provided ingredient list:

  • Milk chocolate components (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, skim milk, milkfat, lactose, soy lecithin, salt, artificial flavors)
  • Sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrin
  • Gum Acacia
  • Coloring (includes Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Blue 2 Lake, Red 40, Blue 1 Lake, Blue 1, Blue 2, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake)

Milk Chocolate Components

These are not vegan. This is because they contain dairy-derived ingredients such as skim milk, milkfat, and lactose. These ingredients come directly from cows and are therefore not plant based.


Sugar’s vegan status can be ambiguous. While sugar itself comes from plants (like sugar cane or sugar beet), the refining process in some places uses bone char, an animal product, to achieve its white color. Unless specified as vegan, organic, or bone char-free, it’s challenging to determine the exact nature of the sugar used.


Cornstarch is vegan. It’s derived from the endosperm of the corn kernel and does not contain any animal-derived components or require animal-based processes in its production.

Corn Syrup

Corn Syrup is vegan. It’s a sweet syrup made from cornstarch through an enzymatic process, and no animal products or by-products are involved in its creation.

However, it may not be cruelty-free because it comes from corn, and most corn is GMO. GMOs are tested on animals to ensure their safety for human consumption.


Dextrin is vegan. It’s a group of low-molecular-weight carbohydrates that result from the hydrolysis of starch, typically derived from plants like corn or potatoes.

Gum Acacia

Gum Acacia is vegan. Also known as gum arabic, it’s a natural gum made from the hardened sap of acacia trees. No animal products or by-products are used in its sourcing or production.

Food Coloring

The vegan status of food coloring can be uncertain. Some colors, like carmine, are made from insects, while others can be entirely synthetic. Without specifics on the types of food coloring used, it’s difficult to determine their vegan status.

Colorings like Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Blue 1, and Blue 2 are typically vegan as they are synthetically derived. However, it’s crucial to note that while they might not contain animal products, ethical concerns arise since most synthetic dyes are tested on animals.

M&M’s Varieties

Are Peanut M&M’s Vegan?

Peanut M&M’s are not vegan. They contain the same non-vegan ingredients as the original M&M’s, such as milk solids, milk fat, and lactose.

Are Almond M&M’s Vegan?

Almond M&M’s are not vegan. They also contain milk solids, milk fat, and lactose.

Are M&M’s Minis Vegan?

M&M’s Minis are not vegan. They contain the same non-vegan ingredients as the original M&M’s.

Are Crispy M&M’s Vegan?

Crispy M&M’s are not vegan. They contain milk solids, milk fat, and lactose.

Are Pretzel M&M’s Vegan?

Pretzel M&M’s are not vegan. They contain milk solids, milk fat, and lactose.

Vegan Alternatives to M&M’s

If you’re looking for vegan alternative brands to M&M’s, there are some options available:

Each of these alternatives is free from animal-derived ingredients and is a great choice for those following a vegan lifestyle.


Regrettably, M&M’s aren’t vegan friendly because of the inclusion of dairy elements and potential ethical concerns regarding some of their ingredients. However, the plant-based candy market is growing, ensuring vegans have ample delightful choices.

Embrace the exploration of vegan food, remain inquisitive, and always remember that each vegan selection you make pushes the world towards compassion and sustainability.