Vegan snacks are foods that are friendly for those following a vegan lifestyle. According to GlobalData, the number of U.S. consumers identifying as vegan increased by 600 percent between 2014 and 2017. Not to be confused with being a vegetarian, being vegan means adhering to a lifestyle that does not consume meat, dairy products, eggs, honey or any product derived from an animal (1).
Emerging research shows that eating a healthy, plant-based diet may be especially beneficial for those with obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, lipid disorders or cardiovascular disease (2).
Best Vegan Snacks
1. Dang toasted coconut chips
These crunchy chips are gluten-free and non-GMO and they have only three ingredients. For a heart-healthy, fiber boosting, vegan-friendly snack try these plain or add as a topping to your salads or desserts for a fun and natural crunch.
If you find yourself craving processed, salty crunchy snacks that are void of any nutritional value and tend to have long lists of ingredients, Dang toasted coconut chips offer a great alternative. For these reasons, it’s our #1 pick.
2. Nutiva Organic Hazelnut Spread
Nutiva Certified Organic, non-GMO, Vegan Hazelnut Spread is a delicious vegan snack option and a great alternative to other processed and sugar-filled hazelnut spreads. This spread is packed with sustainable sourced nutrients like flaxseed, chia seed, and coconut oil.
With 450mg of Omega-3, you’ll be getting a much-needed energy boost with every serving of Nutiva.
3. Hippeas Organic Chickpea Puffs
Chickpea Puffs are a USDA certified organic, non-GMO, gluten and nut-free snack food that comes in so many great flavors, you’ll pass on the potato chips for good!
What’s even better, each serving of Hippeas Chickpea Puffs boasts 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein so this vegan snack is just what you need for a nutrient-packed snack.
4. Skinny Pop
Unlike regular microwave popcorn, Skinny Pop has zero grams of trans fat, is free from preservatives and non-GMO.
This clean snack is also low-calorie and comes in several great flavors. The Skinny Pop White Cheddar flavor uses a dairy-free cheese flavor so it’s vegan too.
5. Louisville vegan jerky
Despite being vegan you’ll still get a good amount of protein in each serving but unlike regular jerky, Louisville’s is low in fat and sugars.
Not to mention free from long, hard to pronounce ingredients.
6. Terra Chips Original
In a variety of flavor options, Terra Chips use yuca, sweet potato, parsnip, taro root, batata and beet-dipped vegetables as a base in this sophisticated crunchy snack that’s got 0 mg of cholesterol and 0 mg of trans fat.
7. 365 Organic Banana Chips
With a hint of sweetness to satisfy any sweet tooth, these chips are also certified vegan, kosher and GMO-free.
These chips pack the perfect crunch which makes them a great addition to your morning granola or as a sweet treat after lunch.
8. Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks
Annie’s bunny fruit snacks are a delicious, naturally flavored fruit snack. Unlike other fruit snacks, Annie’s is free from preservatives, artificial flavors, and synthetic colors so you can feel great about giving them to your kids for a snack.
Choose from flavors like Summer Strawberry, Berry Patch, Sunny Citrus or Tropical Treat.
9. Veggie Straws
Gordon’s Veggie Straws in sea salt flavor are a nice vegan lunch addition. Since these chips are made with garden-grown potatoes and vegetables they’re more nutritious than regular potato chips. They even have 30% less fat than popular chip brands.
As an added bonus, Veggie Straws are cholesterol and gluten-free, non-GMO, kosher and made without artificial flavors and preservatives. Be sure to avoid the Cheese and Ranch flavors for a vegan snack.
10. Wickedly Prime Organic Roasted Seaweed
Seaweed is a great source of vitamins and minerals and can support your overall health, so we love seeing brands like Wickedly Prime bring this roasted seaweed snack to a broader audience.
For a great tasting, low-calorie vegan snack with all-natural flavors you can’t go wrong with Wickedly Prime Organic Roasted Seaweed.
How We Rank
One of the key considerations when choosing a vegan snack is the ingredient list. As vegan diet requirements stipulate that no animal products or by-products be used during the formulation process. Additionally, vegan diets do have various restrictions in terms of artificial flavorings, binders, stabilizers, and fillers.
With this in mind, we focused on products that not only adhered to these guidelines but also provided consumers with additional nutritional benefits. As vegans do have multiple dietary restrictions, products that provided additional iron, protein, vitamins or minerals were given higher preference than those that only focused on a few ingredients, like Dang Coconut Chips and Skinny Pop.
All-natural or non-GMO certified ingredients were also a key element of our ranking process. Vegan diets should consist of foods that are high in dietary nutritional value. As a result, products deemed to be organically certified or considered to be made from an all-natural formula were given preference over those with questionable or undefined ingredients, like Nutiva’s hazelnut spread, which ranked in the top 5.
Additionally, we also evaluated the manufacturing processes and guidelines found with each product. Products manufactured in FDA – certified locations were given much higher rankings and preferences. Being manufactured in an FDA -certified facility ensures a certain degree of integrity and bolsters the claims made by several snack food companies. This also helps to minimize any cross-contamination with non-vegan certified products.
Affordability was also a consideration used while choosing the best possible choices. One fairly common misconception is that vegan or healthy snacks cost significantly more than other snack options. While this may be true in some cases, there are many vegan snacks that can be easily found and are highly affordable. Products that were vastly more expensive than other high-quality choices were removed from our list. Our focus for this list was affordable, healthy, and high-quality vegan snacks, which is why you’ll find products like Hippeas ranked so highly.
Lastly, we chose to place a high emphasis on products that offered a wide array of choices for those looking for a vegan snack option. Vegan snacks spread across the spectrum of preference, so our rankings serve to reflect that. Though preference was given to products that filled our previously discussed criteria, there were additional points given to those with something different or innovative compared to standard snack products, like Louisville Vegan Jerky.
After all this, we determined the top 10 best vegan snacks on the market.
1. Vegan snacks are rich in nutrients. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds make up a larger proportion of a vegan diet than a typical Western diet. As such, vegans can reap the benefits of taking in a higher daily intake of certain beneficial nutrients found in these foods.
According to a British study comparing the nutrient intake of meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters, vegans had the highest intakes of fiber, vitamin B1, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E and magnesium (3).
In another study investigating the nutrient intake of overweight postmenopausal women assigned to a low-fat vegan diet, researchers noted a greater increase in carbohydrate, fiber, beta-carotene, and total vitamin A intakes.
The low-fat vegan group also increased thiamin, vitamin B6, magnesium intakes as well as folic acid, vitamin C, and potassium intakes (4).
While vegan snacks can provide many nutrients, experts warn that vegans can become deficient in calcium, iron and vitamin B12 — which are found in meat and dairy products.
Although vitamin B-12 is only found naturally in meat, vegans can ensure they are getting enough of this important vitamin through vitamin-fortified foods and supplements.
Iron, zinc, and calcium can be found in many vegan-friendly foods, such as lentils, chickpeas, seeds, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and tofu.
A well-planned vegan diet supplemented with vitamins and vitamin-fortified foods and snacks can help individuals avoid deficiencies.
2. Vegan snacks can help shed pounds. A cross-sectional study of more than 70,000 people published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2013 found that vegans had, on average, the lowest body mass index (BMI) of people with different dietary habits (ranging from non-vegetarian to vegan).
Everyone ate the same number of daily calories.
The results of a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that individuals consuming a low-fat plant-based diet for 18 weeks, lost 4.3 kg (9.4 lbs) compared to 0.08 kg (0.17 lbs) in the control group (5).
By skipping meat, cheese, and eggs and limiting oils, a significant amount of fat and calories are removed from the diet.
Vegan meals are often rich in fiber — a nutrient found in plant foods that adds bulk to the diet without adding extra calories.
It is important to remember that not all vegan foods are healthy. Overdoing it on starch (white bread and pasta) can definitely hinder weight loss and even cause weight gain.
Certain snacks can also be problematic. Steer clear of overdoing it on vegan granola bars and chips as these are still processed snacks. Pay attention to the ingredients, calories and sugar content.
Weight loss on a vegan diet results from the combination of avoiding unhealthy foods and replacing those options with healthier ones. This includes snacking on fiber-rich fruits (raspberries, pears, and apples with skin), nuts and seeds, whole grains and avocados (6).
3. Vegan snacks can help improve type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body metabolizes sugar (glucose) — an important source of fuel for the body.
According to the CDC, more than 30 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and 90 percent to 95 percent of them have type 2 diabetes (7).
Complications of type 2 diabetes include heart and blood vessel disease, nerve damage and kidney damage.
A meta-analysis of 11 clinical trials comparing plant-based diets with other types of diets, found that average (HbA1c) and fasting blood glucose levels fell more sharply in those who cut out or ate very few animal products.
In addition, data suggest that eating predominantly plant-based foods may have slowed the progressive nerve damage associated with diabetes.
What’s more, in six of the studies, those following a plant-based/vegan diet were able to cut down or discontinue the drugs they were taking for their diabetes (8).
4. Vegan snacks can help lower blood pressure. First-line therapies for all stages of high blood pressure include exercise and weight loss. However, results from one small cross-sectional study suggest that a plant-based diet is a more important intervention.
According to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, people who follow a vegetarian diet tend to have a lower blood pressure than their meat-eating counterparts (9).
In another study, researchers analyzed 39 studies including nearly 22,000 participants who followed different types of diets ranging from vegan to omnivorous (no dietary restrictions).
After analyzing the results of blood pressure studies, researchers found that those who followed a plant-based diet had significantly lower blood pressure than meat-eaters (10).
5. Vegan snacks can help lower cholesterol. Cholesterol is a wax-like substance produced by the liver that aids in building cell membranes and producing hormones. When blood cholesterol levels are too high, they can cause dangerous complications such as carotid artery disease, heart attack and stroke (11).
Studies have found that plant-based diets lower cholesterol levels more effectively than other diets (12).
In 2017, researchers reviewed 49 studies that compared plant-based diets with omnivorous diets (both plant and animal foods) to test their effects on cholesterol.
The results of their analysis found that plant-based diets are associated with decreased total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (13).
6. Vegan snacks can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. The combination of having lower total and LDL cholesterol, lower BMI and modestly lower blood pressure, helps to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease in vegans.
Vegans also have a higher consumption of whole grains, soy, and nuts (14, 15, 20), all of which provide significant cardioprotective effects.
7. Vegan snacks may help promote bone health. Calcium intake has long been linked to helping promote healthy bones and preventing brittle bones (osteoporosis). The main foods rich in calcium are dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt — foods vegans do not consume.
The good news is that researchers have found that bone health depends on more than just calcium intakes. Bone health is also influenced by nutrients such as vitamin D, vitamin K, potassium and magnesium and by foods such as soy and fruit and vegetables. Vegan diets do well in providing a number of those important substances.
Results from 2 large studies support an association between vitamin K intake (found in green leafy vegetables) and relative risk of hip fracture.
In one of the studies, middle-aged women consuming the most vitamin K had the lowest risk of hip fracture. The risk of hip fracture was decreased 45 percent for ≥1 serving/day of green leafy vegetables.
In the second study, elderly men and women who consumed the highest intake of vitamin K had a 65 percent decreased risk of hip fracture than those who ate less (14).
As long as the calcium and vitamin D intake of vegans is adequate, their bone health is probably not an issue because their diet contains an ample supply of other protective factors for bone health.
However, additional long-term studies are needed.
8. Vegan snacks can help prevent certain types of cancer. Researchers recently examined the association between dietary patterns (non-vegetarians, Lacto-vegetarians — eat a diet that includes vegetables as well as dairy products, Pesca — a vegetarian who also consumes fish and seafood, vegan and semi-vegetarian) and the overall cancer incidence among 69,120 participants.
Vegan diets showed statistically significant protection for overall cancer incidence in both genders combined and for female-specific cancers than other dietary patterns (15).
The protective benefits of eating a vegan diet is thought to be due to changes in the level of a cancer-promoting growth hormone in the body called IGF-1.
Animal protein intake increases the levels of IGF-1 in the body, but one study showed that within two weeks of switching to a plant-based diet, IGF-1 levels in the bloodstream dropped sufficiently to help slow the growth of cancer cells.
9. Vegan snacks may help improve symptoms of PMS. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a combination of symptoms (bloating, headaches and moodiness) that many women get about a week or two before their period.
Many women also experience painful periods, called dysmenorrhea. Symptoms include throbbing, cramping pain in the lower abdomen.
In a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, researchers placed 33 women suffering from painful periods on a plant-based diet for two cycles.
They experienced significant reductions in menstrual pain duration from four days down to three days and a significant reduction in pain intensity.
Women also experienced improvement of PMS symptoms such as bloating (16).
10. Vegan snacks can do wonders for the gut. Researchers have found that polyphenols, the micronutrients found in some plant-based foods, are useful for gut health, and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Many health issues, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and obesity, stem from inflammation. Having anti-inflammatory activity in the gut can help prevent the onset and development of certain diseases.
According to a study published in Nutrients, the vegan gut profile appears to be unique in several characteristics. It has a reduced abundance of disease-causing organisms and a greater abundance of protective species (17).
11. Vegan snacks can help rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. While there is no cure for RA, several studies show a connection between certain foods and the inflammation that characterizes this autoimmune condition.
It has been a long-standing belief among many medical experts that a diet that is low in saturated fats and added sugars, and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains offer inflammation-fighting benefits.
In a study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine in 2015, 600 participants followed a vegan diet for three weeks which significantly reduced C-reactive protein, a key marker for acute and chronic inflammation.
In another small study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2010, researchers noted that patients who followed a vegan diet for three and a half months experienced significant improvement in tender and swollen joints, pain, duration of morning stiffness and grip strength than the people in a control group who consumed an ordinary diet (18).
12. Vegan snacks may help increase energy levels. While there is not a lot of real science to show that people actually have more energy when they go vegan, many can attest to experiencing an increase in energy level almost immediately.
The energy boost is believed to be due in part to the removal of the processed meat that is found in many omnivorous diets. By eating more fruit, vegetables, and nuts, these foods help boost vitamin, mineral and fiber levels to help sustain consistent energy levels.
1. Shortage of vital nutrients. While a vegan diet can provide a boost in plenty of micronutrients the body needs, it can also cause a deficiency in other nutrients — iron, vitamin B-12, and zinc levels. That’s because by eliminating meats, seafood, and dairy products, vegans also eliminate these important nutrients.
The solution? Consuming vitamin-fortified foods and snacks and taking supplements to ensure a healthy, well-rounded diet.
2. Gas and bloating. In the early days of a vegan diet, symptoms such as gas and bloating can occur as the body adapts to the increase in fiber consumption. Beans, cauliflower, broccoli, peaches, and wheat products can all cause gas.
3. Hair loss. A recent report found that a severe lack of protein can lead to hair loss. That’s because meat contains iron, vitamin B, and zinc, which are all important for hair growth.
According to the American Hair Loss Council, when the body has low protein levels, one of the first things it does is to stop hair growth to conserve energy for more essential body functions. As a result, hair loss may occur.
However, vegans can get enough protein by eating soy, quinoa, whole wheat bread, broccoli, peanut butter, beans, kale, lentils, and almonds.
Those interested in becoming vegan should take it slow! Going vegan is a lifestyle change that not only takes getting used to, but it takes time to determine what will work best for each individual.
Ease into the vegan diet by slowly cutting out animal products, while incorporating more whole grains, beans, legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds. Rather than cutting out all animal products at once, remove one food or one food group at a time.
Before trying a vegan diet, individuals should talk with a dietitian or nutritionist to learn how to proceed and get personalized suggestions for a sustainable eating plan.
Where can you buy vegan snacks? Vegan snacks are widely available at major grocery store chains as well as online and health food stores. While pre-made vegan snacks are available, consider making your own snacks from scratch.
What are some good vegan protein snacks? Getting enough protein is an important aspect of a healthy, well-rounded vegan diet.
Some vegan snacks that provide great sources of protein include mixed nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, Brazil nuts and walnuts); celery sticks filled with almond butter or peanut butter (without added sugar or oils); oven-roasted chickpeas; homemade protein bars (made with protein-rich chia and hemp seeds, almond butter and protein powder); avocado chickpea lettuce wraps; chia pudding; hummus; and plant-based Greek yogurt.
Which popular snacks are vegan? While they may not all be the healthiest options, many of the snacks that line the shelves of grocery stores are vegan. Some of the most popular options include Doritos Spicy Sweet Chili Flavored Tortilla Chips, Fritos—The Original, SunChips—Original, Kettle Brand Potato Chips—Maple Bacon, Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars—Peanut Butter, Newman’s Own Organics Pretzel Nuggets and Stacy’s Pita Chips.
What are some great snacks to eat when you are raw vegan? Raw veganism is a subset of veganism. In addition to avoiding all foods of animal origin, raw vegans eat foods — such as vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains — that are raw or heated at temperatures below 104–118°F. Raw and minimally heated vegan foods are believed to be more nutritious than their cooked counterparts. Examples of raw vegan snacks include raw nuts and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, flax, etc.); natural nut butter; raw granola and yogurt; raw green smoothie (with orange juice or a green smoothie with pineapple); chia pudding; raw vegetables and guacamole; celery with almond butter; dehydrated fruit; and frozen grapes.
What chocolate snacks are vegan? Chocolate is made from cacao beans, which are grown on cacao trees. This means that chocolate is inherently a plant-based food. Vegan chocolate is any chocolate that is made without ingredients that come from animals. There are many vegan chocolate options available. To name a few: Whole Foods’ Organic Dark Chocolate and Dark Chocolate with Almonds; Lindt Dark Chocolate in 70, 80, 85, and 90 percent cacao varieties; Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups; Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup (drizzle it on vegan ice cream); and brownies made from Duncan Hines California Walnut Brownie Mix. There is also a fast-growing list of vegan chocolate manufacturers available online and in natural food stores.
What are some healthy vegan snacks? Vegans have plenty of options when it comes to healthy snacks. Some examples include: Eating fruits (bananas or apples with cashew, almond or peanut butter — without added sugar, oil or salt); guacamole with 100 percent whole-grain crackers; edamame; roasted chickpeas; rice cakes and avocado; hummus and vegetables; fruit and veggie smoothies (with added flax or chia seeds for a boost of crucial, heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids); and dried coconut and dark chocolate.
What are some snacks that you never knew were vegan? According to PETA.org, some may be surprised to learn that many popular snacks are vegan. Some from the growing list include Lay’s Barbecue Potato Chips, Ritz Whole Wheat Crackers, Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (Original); Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars—Peanut Butter, Newman’s Own Organics Pretzel Nuggets and Sour Patch Kids.
How do I know if a snack is vegan? If the food is completely unprocessed, any fruit, vegetable, nut, seed, bean or legume is vegan. When it comes to packaged foods the only way to know if it is vegan is to read the ingredient list. Learn how to read labels so you will know which snacks are safe to eat and which contain hidden animal ingredients. There are many by-products derived from animals which can cause some confusion, for example, whey powder and casein are derivatives of dairy. Doing an internet search can provide valuable information. You can also contact the manufacturer if you are unsure about certain ingredients. Even when you have found a product that is vegan, make it a habit to read labels prior to purchasing as companies frequently change their formulations.
Can I bring vegan snacks to a party with non-vegans? Yes, especially if you’re sticking with the brands we’ve recommended in our rankings because those vegan snacks are great tasting and have nutritional value than even non-vegans will enjoy. Many of these snacks are wonderful alternatives to traditional potato chips or corn chips that you can put out at a party with no complaints. Pair them with hummus or salsa and no one will know the difference.
Are vegan snacks good for my kids? Absolutely, while you should always keep your pediatrician involved in the conversation if your whole family is following a vegan diet, the snacks we’ve chosen are great for kids. Many of them come in convenient snack size bags so you can pop them in school lunches or have them in the pantry for a quick and easy snack after a long day of school. We could even argue that these snacks are healthier alternatives to some of the more common kids snacks, so offering them as an alternative at a soccer game is a great choice.
Aren’t vegan snacks more expensive? Not necessarily. As we’ve already mentioned, many popular snack foods are actually already vegan and they are sold at competitive prices in grocery stores everywhere. Some vegan snacks might actually be cheaper, as any combination of vegetables and dip, for example, since they require so little packaging and processing. If it seems like a snack that’s geared towards vegans is more expensive than what you would usually spend on snack food, consider the ingredients. If a snack food uses higher quality ingredients, that could result in a higher-priced snack. Additionally, some vegan snacks go the extra mile and use non-GMO, organic and or fair trade ingredients. Supporting farms and other businesses that guarantee these practices can also result in an added cost. All in all, sometimes it’s worth it to spend a little more and support socially conscious businesses but if you’re suspicious of the price, check into the company to see for yourself.
As the number of vegans continues to grow nationwide, many brands are offering alternatives to snacks made from animal products.Research shows that eating a plant-based diet can provide many health benefits. This includes preventing obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, lipid disorders, and cardiovascular disease.
Become familiar with ingredients so you know which snacks are safe to eat and which contain hidden animal ingredients. Ingredients such as whey powder and casein, for example, are milk derivatives; while gelatin is a gelling agent derived from bones, ligaments, and skin of farm animals.
Even when you have found a snack that is vegan, make it a habit to read labels prior to purchasing as companies frequently change their formulations. To ensure a healthy vegan diet, eat snacks in moderation and choose those that are free of added sugars, oils and salt.
For Healthtrends #1 Vegan Snack recommendation, click here.