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December 21, 2021 3 min read

(Oat)Milk’s favorite cookie. That yummy chocolate cookie sandwiching a sweet creamy filling. For many, Oreos bring on the nostalgia of childhood (or of last night) straight to the forefront.

Many vegans starting out are disheartened by all the old treats that they need to give up or find alternatives to while embarking on their vegan lifestyle. But our good friend the Oreo stayed true to us by being unintentionally vegan. The joy that comes to the eyes of many vegans when first discovering the contents on the ingredient list can only be matched to winning the lottery.

An Oreo cookie sits face up on a stack of others.

The Early Oreo

Oreos weren’t exactly created in a vacuum. There was an earlier predecessor to the ever-popular cookie; the Sunshine Biscuit Co. invented a similar chocolate cookie sandwich with a cream filling in 1908 called Hydrox. Strangely, Nabisco never claimed inspiration or credits the sunshine biscuit co in the development of their Oreo cookies.

Hydrox has been outshined by Oreo since its inception, and that continues to this day. Today Hydrox is owned by Leaf Brands, and they have alleged that Mondelez continues in bad sportsmanship by having their cookies intentionally stocked in more prominent places and blocking the display of Hydrox cookies in grocery stores. Thus, the great saga continues between the warring sandwich cookies.


Oreos in modern times do not contain any animal products on their ingredient list, and this recipe hasn’t changed much since its invention by Nabisco in 1912. Prior to the 1990s, though, lard was included in the recipe which is derived from animal fat as well as whey which is also derived from dairy. So those Oreo’s that you or your parents were eating back in the day did contain animal products.

But what about today?

Are they really vegan?

If you go to the Oreo website, you’ll see that they state that their cookies are not vegan. What gives? There aren’t any animal products in the ingredients; how’s it not vegan?

Well, it comes down to how you choose to live a vegan lifestyle. Some people are stricter than others and we all have to make decisions that are right for us and how we want to live our vegan lifestyles. What comes into Oreos non-vegan status has to do with the nature of production and sourcing of ingredients.

Oreos arranged in a pattern (closed, open, closed, etc.) on a blue background.

It’s All in the Manufacturing

Oreos are manufacture by Nabisco which is a division of Mondelez International. The company does produce food items that contain animal products. Because of this, due to the shared production facilities, the Oreos could come into contact with dairy from other production lines.

That being said, there are still no actual dairy or animal products of any kind in the Oreo recipe. So, this depends on how concerned you are about trace amounts of dairy that could potentially be in Oreos.

Not So Sweet Ingredients

The next ingredient that may raise concerns for some vegans is the use of processed sugar.

Sugar may contain bone char, which is a refining agent used to whiten sugar. Bone char is made from the bones of cattle. The issue of bone char comes up for many vegans who usually choose to forgo processed sugar due to the difficult nature of tracking the usage of bone char from sugar suppliers. Therefore, it’s hard to determine whether or not Oreo is getting sugar from suppliers that use bone char.

It is kind of hard to get the idea of bone char out of your head once you know. It might or might not make you think twice when choosing sweeteners. But ultimately, some people who live a vegan lifestyle are ok with eating sugar, especially due to the fact that it can be hit or miss if a particular supplier of sugar uses bone char.

If you cool with the chance it, right on, and enjoy that Oreo!

A close image of unbleached sugar crystals.

It’s Up to You

Now you know more about the iconic accidentally vegan-(ish) cookie. You learn something new everyday, right?

Go out and find yourself something sweet. Whether or not you determine that Oreos are the cookies for you is just that – up to you!

You can check out other articles on vegan eats here and here!


Sources From This Article:

Are Oreos Vegan? - The Vegan Review

The Truth About Grass Fed Beef Might Surprise You - Spoon University

Oreo's FAQ Page

Are Oreos Vegan? - Veggl

Are Animal Ingredients Included in White Sugar? - PETA

Are Oreos Vegan? - The Picky Eater Blog

The History of the Oreo Cookie - Thought Co

The Cookie War Between Oreo and Hydrox Is Getting Ugly - The Thrillist 

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