Before this blog existed, QuestSeans was a Youtube channel. That was before I realized I'm more of a writer than an onscreen personality. That's not to say I'll never make more videos, but right now the blog is a bigger focus. When I first made the channel, the idea was to get questions from viewers, and I’m proud to say, I’ve finally got enough questions to start answering them.
If you have an interesting or absurd question you want taken seriously, submit it here and it might make it into an upcoming blog post!
So let's go with strict definitions: A vegan is someone who does not use or consume animal products. Whereas a vegetarian is someone who doesn’t eat the flesh of an animal, a vegan goes a step further and doesn’t eat anything that comes from an animal, like milk, eggs, broth, etc. and stricter vegans might even avoid using leather, fur, and other animal products that we don’t eat.
Some do it for health reasons, some do it because they love animals, some do it for ethical or environmental reasons. And others do it because it gives them mystical mind powers.
I don’t personally have that kind of self-control, but hats off if you do and you’re cool about it.
But uh-oh! What about animal crackers?
Of course, being shaped like an animal isn’t going to preclude vegans from eating it. That’s like saying a cauliflower is off limits because it looks like a sheep.
A lot of different companies make animal crackers but when you think animal crackers you think of Barnum’s Animals made by Nabisco.
Let’s go through the ingredients list one by one and see if we find any animal products.
So far, so good.
Niacin (Vitamin B3)
Maybe. Niacin CAN be extracted from milk, organs and eggs. Usually, it’s made from synthetic processes, so the Vegetarian resource group considers it to be “typically vegan”. Next,
Literally made from actual iron ore, so it’s good.
Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1)
Same boat as Niacin, it can be made from animals, but it’s more often synthetic.
You’d think it’s safe, being a plant product, but sometimes sugar cane is refined with bone char, the charred and granulated bones of animals!
Apparently, Nabisco and its parent company Mondelez International have said that they have many different sugar suppliers and some use bone char and some don’t, and it’s impossible to verify which batch used sugar from a particular supplier. So one box could have trace amounts of animal parts in it, and another could be totally bone-free.
So let's assume for a second that you have one of the bone-free boxes. The rest of the ingredients (Soybean oil, yellow corn flour, dextrose, fructose, calcium carbonate, baking soda, soy lecithin, salt, and natural and artificial flavors) are all reliably vegan-friendly. It might get a little hairy when it comes to "natural flavors" because that can sometimes mean animal products, however, most vegan authorities I've looked into assert that this isn't the case with Barnum's Animals Crackers.
Now, there are people out there that may take things a step further. To them, even eating an animal-shaped cookie is a symbolically violent act that the rest of us don't even notice. They may suggest you avoid the very appearance of evil because, as Dr. Corey Wrenn puts it,
I'm all for trying to make the world a better place, and being kind to animals. We as a society do eat way too much meat, and I'm a part of that problem. But at a certain point, I think it's a bit ridiculous to judge an action by what it symbolically represents to you personally. At no point does it enter into a kids brain while eating animal crackers (consciously or unconsciously) that they are performing an act of human dominance over lesser beings. All they think is, "Mmm, this cracker is sweet and my little kid brain is going bonkers for that! Oh hey, it's also shaped like an elephant! I like elephants." These are the same human beings who beg their parents to buy macaroni because it's been grotesquely sculpted into a gross homunculus of Spongebob Squarepants.
"Hello, darkness, my old friend..."
Short answer: Animal crackers are vegan-friendly unless you object to the possibility of trace amounts of bone char in your sugar, or are Amelia Bedelia-type who recently discovered veganism.
Did I make you hungry? If you want to snag some animal crackers and support this blog, buy some animal crackers below!