Are Veggie Straws Vegan? (Some Are, Some Aren’t)


Are Veggie Straws Vegan?

Vegetable chips aka veggie chips are crisps or chips made with vegetables.1,2 Any number of root vegetables or leafy vegetables may be used, but “vegetable chip” and “veggie chip” usually refers to snacks made from plant materials other than potato.

Garden Veggie Straws are a popular variety of vegetable chips made by Sensible Portions and synonymous with the term veggie sticks though other brands exist.

Are Veggie Straws Vegan? Yes, standard (sea salt) Veggie Straws are vegan. As the name implies, they are made with vegetable-derived ingredients. And, of the few additives used, none are of animal origin.3 However, some flavors contain milk products, which we’ll cover in this article.

Ingredients for Sensible Portions Veggie Straws include:3

  • Potato starch
  • Potato flour
  • Corn starch
  • Tomato paste
  • Spinach powder
  • Salt
  • Potassium chloride
  • Sugar
  • Beetroot powder (for color)
  • Turmeric
  • Canola oil, and/or safflower oil, and/or sunflower oil
  • Sea salt

Why Veggie Straws Are Considered Vegan

Veggie Straws Use Vegetable Starch

Starch aka amylum is a polysaccharide or polymeric carbohydrate—a fancy term for a complex carb. They’re complex chains consisting of a large number of glucose units linked by special bonds.

This type of carbohydrate is made by most green plants to serve as a form of energy to be stored for later use.

It’s the most common carbohydrate in the human diet and makes up the bulk of vegan staple foods like wheat, maize/corn, cassava, tapioca, and rice.4

Contrast that with glycogen, which is the storage form of carbohydrates made by animals. Glycogen is a complex carbohydrate—though it’s rarely referred to as such, because it’s not used as an ingredient, at least, to my knowledge.

Anyway, glycogen is a carbohydrate molecule that’s used by our muscles for energy.

The two terms are sometimes confused as they’re both polysaccharides used for energy storage.

This is an important distinction because it will put your mind at ease when you see any form of starch on food labels—i.e. you’ll know it’s vegan by definition.

Specifically, Sensible Portions Veggie Straws use starch from the following sources:3

  • Potato starch
  • Potato flour
  • Corn starch
  • Spinach powder

Veggie Straws Don’t Use Palm Oil

Not that the use of palm oil would render the product non-vegan by most standards. But, it’s always nice to know when a product doesn’t contain the stuff, due to its controversial status in the vegan community.

A lot of “accidentally vegan” foods—i.e. highly processed snack foods that happen to be vegan—make use of the controversial palm oil.

This oil is a favorite for use in snack foods, as it’s a rare source of saturated fat in the plant kingdom, which makes it great for increasing shelf life. Saturated fat is much more stable and less prone to oxidation compared to other oils.

It’s controversial due to its connection to rainforest destruction in various parts of the world like Indonesia.

It has a number of devastating effects on the enviornment.5,6

Specific environmental concerns regarding palm oil include:

  • Habitat loss due to deforestation, which threatens already critically endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger and the orangutan.7-10
  • Increased levels of greenhouse gas emissions.6,11-13 Cultivation of palm oil necessitates the clearing of vast areas of land which contributes to rising greenhouse-gas emissions.

Again, not all vegans avoid the ingredient, but the less we consume of the stuff, the better.

Potassium Chloride Is Vegan

Potassium chloride aka potassium salt is a common salt substitute that’s widely used as a medication to treat and prevent hypokalemia (low blood potassium).

It’s also a fairly common ingredient in food products, and is present in Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Straws. Because it’s so common, vegans often encounter the additive on food labels and want to know if it’s vegan.

You can rest assured that it is, in fact, 100% vegan-friendly. It’s thrown into various food products for labeling purposes—i.e. to claim lower levels of sodium. It tastes just like sodium chloride (table salt), but doesn’t have the negative effect on blood pressure, so it’s great for this purpose.

Veggie Straws Use Vegan-Friendly Colorants

Coloring agents are often a bit controversial. For one, many tend to be tested on animals (for carcinogenicity, etc.). For another, some tend to be derived directly from non-vegan sources.

For example, Red 4 or carmine is a popular food colorant derived from beetles.14

However, Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Straws use natural plant-based food colorings—namely turmeric, beetroot powder, and tomato paste.

What About Generic Veggie Sticks?

You’ll be glad to know that generic veggie sticks tend to be vegan a well.

For example, Gluck All Natural Veggie Sticks include:15

  • Potato flour
  • Expeller pressed safflower oil
  • Rice flour
  • Tomato powder
  • Spinach powder
  • Salt
  • Beet powder

Possible Exception: Flavored Veggie Straws

The above applies to non-flavored veggie straws and sticks. There are, however, several flavors on the market these days and the same rules apply to them as would to potato chips.

For example, Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Straws Zesty Ranch Vegetable and Potato Snacks include:16

  • Buttermilk
  • Coconut oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Natural flavors
  • Yeast extract
  • Onion powder
  • Dextrose
  • Sour cream (cream, non-fat milk, culture, cultured non-fat milk, citric acid)
  • Cream (non-fat milk, cream, lactic acid, culture)
  • Spices (including celery seed)
  • Paprika
  • Vinegar
  • Malic acid
  • Sodium caseinate

Just be aware of any additional flavorings, and scan for milk and milk derivatives specifically.

That pretty much wraps it up. Veggie straws and other vegetable chips are just plant-based carbs (starches) that are dehydrated, dried, baked, or deep-fried with a few extra ingredients added for taste, color, and preservation.

Thanks for reading.

You may also want to check out the following articles:

References

  1. “Best Vegetable Chips – Veggie Chips”. Consumer Reports. December 20, 2012. https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/02/eat-your-vegetable-chips/index.htm
  2. “Even Your Mother Will Approve Of Vegetable Chips”. Russo, Susan (May 15, 2012). NPR. https://www.npr.org/2012/05/15/152748537/even-your-mother-will-approve-of-vegetable-chips
  3. Garden Veggie Straws. https://www.sensibleportions.com/products/spssgveggiestraws
  4. Starch. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starch
  5. Clay, Jason (2004). World Agriculture and the Environment. p. 219. ISBN 978-1-55963-370-3.
  6. “Palm oil: Cooking the Climate”. Greenpeace. 8 November 2007. Archived from the original on 10 April 2010.
  7. “The bird communities of oil palm and rubber plantations in Thailand” (PDF). The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 October 2016.
  8. “Palm oil threatening endangered species” (PDF). Center for Science in the Public Interest. May 2005. Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 September 2012.
  9. Shears, Richard (30 March 2012). “Hundreds of orangutans killed in north Indonesian forest fires deliberately started by palm oil firms”. Daily Mail. London. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013.
  10. “Camera catches bulldozer destroying Sumatra tiger forest”. World Wildlife Fund. 12 October 2010. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013.
  11. Foster, Joanna M. (1 May 2012). “A Grim Portrait of Palm Oil Emissions”. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013.
  12. Yui, Sahoko; Yeh, Sonia (1 December 2013). “Land use change emissions from oil palm expansion in Pará, Brazil depend on proper policy enforcement on deforested lands”. Environmental Research Letters. 8 (4): 044031. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/4/044031. ISSN 1748-9326.
  13. “Researchers warn against high emissions from oil palm expansion in Brazil”. phys.org. 13 November 2013.
  14. Bug-Based Food Dye Should Be Exterminated, Says CSPI. https://cspinet.org/news/bug-based-food-dye-should-be-exterminated-says-cspi-20060501
  15. Gluck All Natural Veggie Sticks. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Gluck-All-Natural-Veggie-Sticks-1-Oz/122081287
  16. Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Straws Zesty Ranch Vegetable and Potato Snacks, 16 Oz. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Sensible-Portions-Garden-Veggie-Straws-Zesty-Ranch-Vegetable-and-Potato-Snacks-16-Oz/44115946

Drew Davis

Hi! I'm Drew and this is the place where I nerd out about vegan and plant-based diets. I have a BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Alabama and have taken dozens of classes in areas like organic and biochemistry, food science, medical nutrition therapy, nutritional genomics, and vegetarian diets. I'm still learning every day, and on this blog, I'll be sharing everything I discover about vegan diets as I go.

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