Oreos are vegan and you can put them in your kids' lunchboxes. Maybe.

Using the (not necessarily correct) rationale that anything vegan – not containing animal products – is healthy, parents for years have been sending their kids to school with Oreo biscuits.

Or…maybe that’s just me.

Yep, ever since I learned that Oreos do not have animal products listed on their ingredients, I have flaunted the definition/intent of vegan and packed my kid’s lunchbox with Oreos. I even once sent a packet of them to school when he was asked to “bring a plate” for a morning tea.

This is my go-to parenting hack, and whilst you’re probably judging me, you might also admit that it’s quite inspired. It’s also backed up by the internet – well, parts of the internet, anyway.

For example, the world’s most prominent animal rights organisation, PETA tweeted earlier this month on #NationalOreoDay, “It’s true, Oreos are vegan!”

PETA was excited, but it wasn’t news to some vegans, who tweeted that they discovered the fact years ago and had been using Oreos as an indulgence ever since. There were also some responses that wanted PETA to ‘cut the (animal) fat’ and understand that Oreos do not fit the definition of vegan food. It was a typical Twitter debate, but it didn’t give us a definitive answer to the crucial question:


Are Oreos vegan or not?

Well, it seems that the issue isn’t so chocolate and cream. It’s true that there are no animal by-products listed on a pack of the original Oreo biscuits. They do contain palm oil, which is problematic only if you care about endangered species and the future of the planet, but it’s not necessarily a vegan deal-breaker.

The issue becomes complicated thanks to the biscuit-maker themselves.

On their U.K. website, a Frequently Asked Question is, “Is Oreo suitable for Vegans?”

Their answer? “No, Oreo have milk as cross contact and therefore are not suitable for vegans.”

But, don’t lose hope yet.

Those words are merely a disclaimer, a “may contain traces” thing. All they mean is that during the manufacturing process, the ingredients of an oreo biscuit may come into contact with other products that contain milk.

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Oreo wants to make it clear that their biscuits are not a vegan product. Obviously, if it was, they would need to adhere to strict standards to market it as such.

But the fact remains that the ingredients don’t contain animal by-products. So make of that what you will.

I choose to interpret the whole situation grossly in my favour: Oreos are vegan, and as such, have every right to be in a child’s lunchbox as much as a carrot stick. And I have yet to be met with a note from school about it. So far, so good.

But if you’re a better mother than I am (and you most likely are), you may not want to risk it. Stick to your lovingly-made hidden-beetroot chocolate cake, like the better-mother-than-me mother that you are.

If you want to check out other potentially ‘healthy’ snacks you can serve, PETA has also released a list of foods they call “Accidentally Vegan“; foods suitable for vegan consumption that weren’t invented with vegans in mind.