Are Cheetos Vegan Or Vegetarian?

Cheetos are quite popular among food lovers as they provide a good savory food option to munch on. But an equally popular trend and movement is veganism.

So, the BIG question is whether Cheetos are actually “vegan” or are merely “vegetarian.” If you are new to veganism, you must be feeling rather confused about this. 

Even if we assume that you have never been a staunch lover of Cheetos, you may have wondered whether you can have a bite of this snack when the munchies hit. 

In this article, we finally put an end to all the confusion around the “vegan identity” of Cheetos, once and for all. 

The straight answer is that Cheetos cannot be considered vegetarian and are definitely not vegan. But is it that simple? Let’s discuss.

Vegan vs. Vegetarian Diet

Before we move on and resolve the Cheetos’ vegan origins (or not), we have to understand the difference between a vegetarian and vegan diet. 

Vegan diets are primarily focused on staying away from any ingredients derived from animal products. Mostly, vegans would prefer food that is plant-based or derived from plants (including fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains, and seeds).

Vegans cannot have eggs, fish, meat, honey, or any dairy product. However, there are always appropriate alternative products for vegans to replace these essential daily food items. 

While a vegetarian diet is very similar to a vegan diet, there are more added restrictions, including avoiding meat and fish. On the other hand, vegetarians can consume eggs and other dairy products. 

Are There Vegan Cheetos?

As a vegan, you may have  asked yourself “Are hot Cheetos vegan?” 

It’s bad news for vegans because there is yet to be a vegan option created by the Cheetos company. 

None of  Cheetos’ flavors appear to be vegan friendly. Most Cheetos have dairy products, including cheese and milk, among others. This makes them an active agent toward animal exploitation. 

However, just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of delicious snacks. Some alternative snacks offer the same crunchy goodness that fills you up just as well as the not-so-friendly Cheetos brand. 

Among these snacks are Rob’s Cheddar Puffs (vegan), which are cheese-flavored vegan-friendly snacks (with vegan cheese, yes!). All hail Rob for providing us the opportunity to devour some cheddary goodness without sacrificing the vegan philosophy and involving any animal products. 

Why Cheetos Aren’t Vegan

The reason is simple and involves animal enzymes that are used during the preparation of Cheetos. Dairy products aren’t the only issue. Companies use several animal enzymes as part of the process as well.

For vegans, the dairy content and animal components are enough to deter them completely, and vegetarians find this snack forbidden primarily due to the animal part. So, neither of the two groups can add Cheetos to the day’s meal plan. 

However, you may be curious to know whether there are exceptions to the rule or a strict code of conduct that vegans and vegetarians must follow. Unfortunately, there is no exemption unless you alter your lifestyle choices. 

It has to be said, though, that one of the good things about the Cheetos brand is that they actually make a statement explicitly confirming what they are and do not add false claims of being vegan friendly. 

So you won’t be duped and can instead focus on the cheesy alternatives in this article.

Are There Any Vegetarian Cheetos?

You may be aware that veganism and vegetarianism are essentially different philosophies. Although Cheetos is a no-go zone for vegans, there may be some versions of this product that are suitable for vegetarians. 

Bear in mind, there is no guarantee that some content of animal components could be lurking in these products as well – even though Cheetos claims to have only some products with animal enzymes (e.g. pork enzyme). 

Vegetarians enjoy some flavors of Cheetos but you should steer clear of Cheddar Jalapeno (having pork enzyme), Crunchy Cheese (having animal rennet), and Flamin Hot Cheese (with pork enzyme). 

You have to stay updated with the ingredients that the company uses for preparing the snack because the recipes may keep evolving. 

Vegetarian-Friendly Ingredients (Non-Vegan) 

Vegans, look away! 

Vegetarians can rejoice in the fact that there are some flavors of Cheetos that are suitable for their dietary choices. 

By perusing through ingredient lists very carefully, one can determine whether to add these bites to the pantry. 

If we take the example of just one of the non-vegetarian Cheetos flavors, Flamin’ Hot Crunchy Cheese, you would know that they aren’t vegetarian friendly at all simply by reading the ingredient list. 

This flavor of Cheetos has several dairy components and this is the primary reason these are not considered vegan friendly. The non-vegan ingredients include whey, cheddar cheese (milk, cheese), whey protein, milk ingredients, and buttermilk. 

What is interesting to note is that one particular Cheetos flavor (Flamin’ Hot Twisted) is called out as an accidental vegan option. 

Cheetos Alternatives

Some of the Cheetos alternatives include spicy sweet chili Doritos and toasted corn tortilla chips that are vegan friendly. Another good option is snacking on Fritos Corn Chips, Fritos Scoops, and Fritos BBQ because all of them are vegan-friendly suggestions. 

Cheetos are becoming nothing less than a phenomenon these days. With several global brands and a strong American identity, they are dominating the crunchy snack industry on a global scale. 

In foreign countries, you may find nut flavored ones or Honey Puffs in countries like South Korea. You can even find strawberry-flavored Cheetos in Japan. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can we consider Flamin’ Hot Cheetos as a  hot vegan option?

Definitely NOT. This is because they simply are violating the “no-dairy” code of conduct for veganism. 

Do Hot Cheetos have Dairy Components?

They do. This product has whey, cheese, and casein. For many Cheetos flavors, the company simply adds whey to create a more desirable texture.           

Final Thoughts    

When you decide to lead a healthier lifestyle, whether it be a resolve to become vegetarian or vegan, it’s important that you do your homework. There are these guilty pleasures that we all have that aren’t that obvious when it comes to what ingredients they use. 

This is why the information provided here will help you know more about what snacks you can and cannot eat, especially if you’re a die-hard Cheetos lover!

Brett White
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