Ah, the Oreo. That iconic sandwich cookie we all know and love: creamy, sugary goodness, perfectly slathered between two crispy chocolate wafers. This favorite snack has been around for over 100 years, eaten in 9 out of 10 households as of the year 2000 – chances are you were in one of them and look back at Oreos with a fond nostalgia.
The beauty of the Oreo is that this beloved cookie can be enjoyed any which way. Some like to twist it apart and lick off the creme filling first; some bite right into it for that chocolatey crunch; others dunk each one in a cold glass of milk…it is “Milk’s Favorite Cookie”, after all.
But ironically, “Milk’s Favorite Cookie” has also become the vegan’s favorite cookie, ever since the company removed lard from their original recipe back in 1997 and word got out that this delicious treat is actually (surprisingly) dairy-free. Since then, rumblings have overtaken the vegan community and the internet at large about Oreos being vegan – and whether they really are or not.
It’s a topic that’s caused much debate, understandably, because it’s a question with a complicated answer. But there is an answer. Here’s the short version: yes, Oreos are vegan based on the absence of any animal products – but they’re not guaranteed allergen-free from dairy based on the way they’re produced. Now let’s dive into the long version…
Oreo’s official stance on the matter
The good news? When it comes to their actual ingredients, the classic Oreos we know today are indeed vegan! Oreos do not contain dairy and are not made with any other animal byproducts, so these cookies are both vegetarian and vegan-friendly – which Oreo (UK) officially attests to in the FAQ section of their website.
But there’s also some bad news. In that same statement, while Oreo maintains that many of their products are suitable for vegans, they also admit to possible cross-contaminants of milk. What does that mean, exactly? Basically that the cookies are produced in the same facility as milk products, so either the cookies themselves or the equipment that’s used to make them has potential cross-contact with milk. Essentially, Oreo cannot officially guarantee the absence of all allergens or trace amounts of milk.
Oreo directs to Vegan Society to verify any vegan-certified products, and the organization does list several varieties of Oreos as officially “Vegan Trademarked”. That means the Vegan Society has deemed them free from animal ingredients, so vegans can safely consume them and brands can safely claim them as vegan. Just keep in mind that this is all coming from Oreo UK (Oreo US has been quiet on the matter), but since neither ingredient list contains dairy, it’s probably reasonable to assume the case is the same in the US.
If a vegan product has cross-contact with milk, is it still vegan?
This is where the decision ultimately comes down to the individual: do Oreos meet your standards when it comes to a vegan diet? If you’re a vegan for specific dietary or allergy reasons and dairy is harmful to your health, you may want to steer clear of Oreos to be on the safe side. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan for moral or personal reasons, you may find it tricky to decide whether you should enjoy this snack or not.
PETA has an official statement regarding foods that may contain trace amounts of animal products. In so many words, the organization essentially says not to get hung up on every potentially questionable ingredient or tiny amount of byproduct on the label. PETA says that “the goal of sticking to a vegetarian or vegan diet is to help animals and reduce suffering,” and it’s just about making more humane choices overall.
So since Oreos are indeed free of any animal byproducts, and by PETA’s official advice are permissible as a vegan choice, this sandwich cookie could certainly be one of your favorite vegan-friendly snacks. In the end, it’s up to you and what you’re comfortable with.
So what is that Oreo “creme filling” actually made of?
A cookie with a white, creamy filling screams dairy products like milk, cream, and butter, so it’s surprising that Oreos are a dairy-free creation. What ingredients are found in this delicious sandwich cookie, and what is that creme filling actually made of?
It turns out what makes up the white, creamy Oreo filling are the following ingredients:
- Palm and/or canola oil
- High fructose corn syrup
- Soy lecithin
- Vanillin (an artificial flavor)
All of these ingredients are par for the course when it comes to processed baked goods like packaged cookies, along with the rest of the ingredients listed that make up the cookie wafers themselves:
- Unbleached enriched flour
- Leavening (baking soda and/or calcium phosphate)
So there’s no actual cream or dairy in that “cream” center we know so well, which is why you’ll notice it’s called “creme filling” on Oreo’s packaging.
Not all Oreos are created equal (or vegan)
Oreo is constantly coming out with new products and renditions of their classic cookie – from Golden Oreos to Oreo Thins to fun and festive flavors like Birthday Cake and Java Chip. While the original Oreos and many of their flavors are considered vegan, the brand also has recipes that include dairy or milk, like Fudge Covered Oreos and Oreo Cakesters.
So if you’re all in on Oreos being vegan-friendly, it’s important to be aware of exactly which types and flavors are technically vegan, and which ones contain dairy products.
Here’s a complete list of all current Oreo varieties that are safe to consume on a vegan diet.
|Vegan Oreo Category||Vegan Oreo Varieties|
|OREO Classics||Double Stuf|
Golden Double Stuf
|OREO Gluten Free||Gluten Free |
Gluten Free Double Stuf
Gluten Free Mint
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
|OREO Limited Edition||The Most Oreo Cookies-N-Creme|
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Oreos became a vegan product when Nabisco changed its recipe in 1997 to replace lard (aka pig fat) with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. As of 1998, Oreos have been made without the use of dairy or any other animal byproducts.
Oreo’s “creme filling” does not actually contain cream; it is made of the following ingredients: sugar, palm and/or canola oil, high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, and vanillin (which an artificial flavor).
All of Oreo’s classic varieties and flavors are technically vegan, but not all of their product types are vegan. Products that contain milk are Fudge Covered Oreos, Oreo Cakesters, and Oreo Treats that are all made up of a frozen dairy dessert.