If you’re starting your journey as a vegan, it might feel like the list of allowed foods gets shorter every day. However, going out is especially tricky. You may find yourself asking questions like, can vegans eat popcorn? How is a batch of popcorn made? What are the best vegan popcorn toppings?
Getting the answers to these questions is essential if you want to make sure you aren’t unconsciously consuming animal products. After all, that would defeat the entire purpose of finding vegan-friendly snacks, wouldn’t it?
So before you reach for your next bowl of popcorn, here are some things you should know.
Popcorn – What It Is
Popcorn comes from maize, aka dried corn kernels. The kernels are exposed to medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes to produce a batch of fluffy, popped kernels. Popcorn kernels are usually cooked in oil (or with an air popper) and seasoned with butter.
Because it’s such a great snack, vegan and non-vegan popcorn brands are usually sold everywhere, from grocery stores to movie theaters to fairs and festivals.
Be it oil or air-popped popcorn, once the kernels have been popped, various artificial or natural flavors like spices, sugar, or salt can be added to zest it up.
The Nutrient Considerations of Traditional Popcorn
Quarts of popcorn typically carry about 12% to 15% of high-quality plant protein and 50% carbohydrates. However, these beloved snacks can contain up to 100 calories per cup. One serving of this tasty snack equals about two cups of popcorn kernels.
Because of these nutritional facts, we recommend people on a diet steer clear of popcorn or eat just one serving of naked popcorn at a time on movie night if they must partake.
Alternatively, you can get a vegan popcorn recipe and make your popcorn in batches. This is also one of the most effective ways of ensuring that you’re in complete control of how much salt and sugar you consume when eating the snack.
It also bears mentioning that popcorn has a high fiber content. Because of this, you’ll likely feel fuller and more satisfied after eating a bowl of popcorn. As a result, research suggests that you may be able to use this snack to control your cravings for other junk foods more easily.
Can Vegans Eat Popcorn?
So now you know what popcorn is and how it’s made. But the question remains – can vegans eat popcorn?
Yes, they can!
However, these food items can be used as vegan-friendly snacks only if you consume them in their purest form. So you’re safe, provided the ingredients list of your popcorn is restricted to just corn, and you choose popcorn toppings that are free of animal products.
Traditional popcorn is entirely vegan and won’t cause you to stray from the vegan diet path. However, this isn’t the case with many other types of popcorn, especially many already-popped, store-bought popcorn products.
Why Are Many Commercial Brands of Popcorn Non-Vegan?
While plain, unseasoned popcorn is vegan-friendly, the same can’t always be said of the toppings.
Many popcorn brands often feature animal products in the ingredients of the toppings used in their products. These can range from dairy products to animal fats and other artificial flavors.
You can’t afford to assume that any popcorn pack you get off the shelf is vegan-friendly. So unless you’re buying from a well-known vegan popcorn brand, make sure you take the time to look through the list of ingredients to know what you’re eating.
And, even when you select vegan options that you’ve eaten for years, it never hurts to glance at the ingredient lists every once in a while. It isn’t unheard of for manufacturers to change their original recipe due to a shortage in supply or other reasons.
Eating Buttery Popcorn – What to Note
Most people think of fluffy, buttery movie treats when talking about traditional popcorn. But, in truth, butter is usually the first item on the list of ingredients used by most popcorn makers.
While adding butter to popcorn can be tasty, it isn’t a prerequisite for making good popcorn.
Consuming large amounts of buttery topping can predispose you to heart disease, and obesity and even increase your LDL cholesterol levels.
However, there is a way to substitute non-vegan butter without sacrificing the taste of your snack. Consider using any one of the various artificial butter flavors out there instead!
Healthy Oils That Give a Buttery Flavor
Some ingredients that’ll give you an almost exact buttery topping taste without the use of animal products include:
- Sesame oil,
- Sunflower oil,
- Olive oil,
- Coconut oil,
- Canola oil, and
- Flaxseed oil – to name a few!
Of all these options, the two oils that will offer you the closest substitute to butter are sunflower oil and coconut oil.
How to Identify Popcorn With Non-Vegan Ingredients
There’s no 100% sure way of immediately distinguishing vegan popcorn from non-vegan popcorn.
However, one of the best ways to detect animal-free foods is to check the ingredient list. For example, if you see a popcorn product with more than one primary ingredient, you aren’t dealing with purely vegan food.
Apart from ingredient lists, you can also check the allergen section of the product. Using this label, you should be able to determine whether or not your popcorn snack is vegan-friendly.
Can vegans eat popcorn?
Yes, they can!
But you shouldn’t just pick the first popcorn brand you see. If you want to be sure your popcorn is vegan safe, it’s best to stick to popular vegan popcorn brands, plain popcorn, or whip up your batch.
Looking for a great alternative to popcorn? Then check out these excellent snacks!