Vegan Halloween

For vegans, traditional Halloween activities can be confusing to navigate. There’s a lot to know, from trick or treating to food to cocktails.

Published: October 2019
Last Update: August 2022

Reading Time: 23 minutes

Halloween is America’s second-favorite holiday

What's not to love about Halloween? It's filled with candy, costumes, and festivities.

This guide has everything you need to plan, create, and enjoy the perfect vegan Halloween.

First, it covers frequently asked questions. Then you'll learn how to make food colorings at home, perfect for creating colorfully spooky treats. Next is the giant vegan candy shopping guide, followed by various vegan recipes to plan frightfully tasty foods.

Lastly, an entire section on vegan spirits (pun intended) so you can imbibe without worrying whether there are hidden animal ingredients in your glass.

Let's have some spooky vegan fun.

1. Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the most commonly asked questions about Halloween and veganism.

The top vegan questions about Halloween

It's a big topic, but a few questions arise more than others.

By far, this is the most-asked question about celebrating as a vegan.

There is no right answer. I posed the question on social media and received various responses from vegan parents.

Some avoid the non-vegan candy issue by not participating in trick or treating and instead engage in other activities like hayrides, corn mazes, or fall festivals.

Then there is the sort and swap approach; swapping out vegan candies for any non-vegan ones.

The donate approach is where non-vegan candies are collected and donated to non-profit organizations or other needy organizations.

Finally, check with local vegan groups to see if they organize a trick-or-treat (often called a trunk-or-treat) event.

If you can't find a vegan activity in your neighborhood, consider organizing one of your own!

Young or old, facing social situations can be challenging as a vegan. The best advice is always to plan so you're never caught off guard. 

It's always a good idea to check with the hosts of a party to know what food they'll serve. Offer to bring a vegan dish or side to share with the group. No one can resist a treat; bring some vegan ones to share. 

Check restaurant menus online to know what options are available to you. If it's a work function where you have less control, pack a snack so you won't go hungry.

For younger vegans, ask them to help make goodie bags filled with vegan candy and various Halloween-themed trinkets to pass out to party-goers. They'll be excited to help pick out the items, which will make it extra fun for them to pass them out at the party.

In the cases of sleepovers at a non-vegan friend's house, check with the parents about sending food with them for their meals. Send along enough for your child to share with their friend (like a frozen vegan pizza, perhaps), or pack something like a box of vegan mac and cheese. Pick foods that are premade or easy to make.

This question is great and more common than you might think. Generally, treat shopping for a costume like any other clothing.

Animal-based materials to avoid:

  • Leather or other exotic skin
  • Wool
  • Fur
  • Feathers

And because veganism is consistent anti-oppression, I’d also throw in avoiding costumes that are:

  • Racist
  • Ableist
  • Sexist
  • Classist

Other bad ideas include dressing up as someone who is LGBTQIA+ or trans or stealing someone else’s culture.

There are plenty of costumes out there without trampling on race, ability, gender, orientation, or the culture of a group of people.

A variety of bowls and jars with various homemade food dyes in them (red, green, yellow, blue, purple).

A selection of homemade food colors / Source

2. Homemade food coloring

Because artificial colors are everywhere.

How to make homemade food coloring

I am not a fan of artificial food colors.

These toxic chemicals masquerading as food are only possible through the wonder of chemistry and the oil drilling industry. Studies have shown various adverse health effects from ingesting them. And did you know that artificial food colors undergo animal testing to ensure their safety as a food additive?

It’s true.

Every time a holiday approaches, artificial colors go on sale. Magazines, blogs, and videos feature impossibly cute and creative treats made with various unnatural colors achieved through the magic of artificial colors.

There’s a better way; to make bright, vivid colors at home.

Look at those colors! Yellow, red, purple, green, blue, and even black. These colors are easy to make from everyday ingredients in your fridge or pantry.

Trust me; it’s not complicated or expensive.

Click here for the full step-by-step homemade food coloring tutorial.

Halloween pumpkin lantern on hand / head jack o lantern evil funny faces holiday decoration on halloween nature background.

Young person trick-or-treating / Source

3. Shopping guide

A gigantic list of vegan Halloween candy, chocolates, and treats for all the ghosts and goblins you meet.

What to look for at the store

Sadly, the giant bags of cheap Halloween candy sold contain animal products in one way or another. Sometimes the ingredients are obvious, like milk chocolate, for example. Other times the ingredients are less obvious, like confectioner’s glaze, which is made from beetle secretions.

And then there are the candies that are technically vegan but contain ingredients with ethical issues, more on that in a minute.

Before you head to the store, it’s a good idea to know which animal-derived ingredients to watch out for in treats.

Look for the following on labels:

  • Beeswax (from bees)
  • Carmine (from cochineal insects)
  • Confectioner’s Glaze or Pharmaceutical Glaze (from lac insects)
  • Gelatin (from animal bones and tendons)
  • Milk products like milk, milkfat, cream (from cows, goats, sheep)

But these ingredients aren’t the only things to consider.

Other ethical issues

It’s impossible to talk about chocolate and sweets without also mentioning the origins of their ingredients because they are not as cruelty-free as one might think.

Find out why by clicking open the link below.

While made of technically animal-free ingredients, artificial food colors and refined sugar have vegan problems. So does palm oil, and so does chocolate.

First, artificial food dyes are subject to animal testing.

Second, refined sugars can be processed using charred bone fragments from animals. Even bone char-free sugar has ethical issues. Thousands of Haitian laborers are indentured or enslaved on Dominican sugar plantations (often called "slaves in freedom") and living in terrible conditions to bring sugar to the United States.

Animals are losing their homes through deforestation for palm oil production.

Finally, a large amount of chocolate comes from child labor, slavery, and trafficking

Veganism is anti-oppression and intersectional.

Environmental racism, food deserts, poverty, and enslavement are all vegan issues.

Vegan ethics in real life

When looking at topics like these, it's important to remember the definition of veganism:

“Veganism denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals, and the environment.”

The key here is "as far as is possible and practical."

We live in an imperfect non-vegan world filled with people from all types of circumstances and privileges faced with ethical obstacles at every turn.

What is practical for one may not be possible for another.

In this way, veganism must be flexible.

Veganism and holiday candy

What does this have to do with Halloween candy?

Well, a lot.

Accessibility and expense are two of the most often cited reasons people stop being vegan.

Stores stock themselves with giant bags of cheap Halloween candy, most containing animal products. And then there are the technically vegan treats, but the chocolate isn't fair-trade, or the candy contains artificial colors, palm oil, or refined sugar.

Sure, there are plenty of great vegan candies made with natural colors and unrefined sugar also available, it's true. But many brands come in smaller packages and are expensive, especially if you pass them out to strangers.

Cost is certainly an issue, but so is accessibility. Unfortunately, many vegan brands are only available in natural or specialty markets or online instead of in mainstream or discount stores.

In this way, sometimes vegan candy isn't possible or practical.

Changing traditions

I'm fond of saying, "Don't give up traditions; change them."

Halloween is America's second-favorite holiday of the year. That's big because it means many people participate in holiday traditions like trick or treating for candy. Whether passing out candy at home or hitting the neighborhood with a bit of trick-or-treater, no one wants to be left out.

As vegans trying to help the most animals, we must ensure that veganism is accessible to people of all access and privilege.

Buying organic, artificial dye-free candy made with unrefined sugars and fair-trade vegan chocolate is best.

But if you can't, you can still choose the best option for your circumstances, whatever they may be.

Avoiding chocolate and buying technically vegan candy (that may contain artificial ingredients or refined sugar) is still better than buying non-vegan candy, for example.

Vegan Halloween candy

This shopping guide has four parts: Vegan Candy, Technically Vegan Candy, Chocolate, and Snacks & Other Treats.

Use the tabs to select the list you wish to see.

The vegan candy on this list is free from animal products and ingredients that contain artificial food colors, palm oil, or refined sugars. This candy was selected because it comes in larger multipacks, making it perfect for parties or passing out to trick-or-treaters.

You'll find these candies in some large box stores like Target and all-natural grocery stores or health food markets.

If you cannot find them locally, buying them online is another option. The Natural Candy Store is a one-stop shop for all vegan Halloween candy needs. There's no vegan candy this place doesn't carry.

Vegan Candy

Other vegan Halloween candy is available in single-serving or small individually-wrapped portions.

Look for the following brands:

Technically vegan candy is candy where ingredients are technically free from animal products but have other ethical issues to consider.

You'll find these candies in most grocery stores and drugstores, often in large multipacks. Generally speaking, these candies are some of the cheapest options for passing out candy to trick-or-treaters.

Note: The candy on this list is vegan but may contain artificial food colors, refined sugar, or palm oil.

Technically vegan candy

  • Airheads
  • Brach’s Orange Slices
  • Brach’s Root Beer Barrels
  • Brach’s Star Brites
  • Charms Blow Pops
  • Chick-o-Sticks
  • Cry Babies
  • Dots
  • Dum-Dums
  • Fireballs
  • Hubba Bubba bubblegum
  • Jolly Ranchers (lollipops and hard candy)
  • Jujubees
  • Jujyfruits
  • Laffy Taffy (some varieties)
  • Lemonheads
  • Mambas
  • Mary Janes (regular and peanut butter kisses)
  • Now and Later
  • Panda Licorice
  • Pez
  • Runts
  • Skittles
  • Smarties (U.S. Brand)
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Starbursts (vegan in the UK only. the US contains gelatin)
  • Super Bubble
  • Swedish Fish (some contain beeswax, check the label)
  • Sweet TartsTwizzlers
  • Vimto (Candy Floss, Candy Spray)
  • Zots

When it comes to chocolate, there are more issues to consider than whether or not it contains animal-based ingredients; there are ethical considerations too.

A large amount of chocolate comes from child labor, slavery, and trafficking; it's hard to know if the chocolate you're buying is involved.

Check for a fair-trade certification or notice on the label. If the package doesn't mention fair trade, check the Chocolate List from the Food Empowerment Project. It's a list of companies that make vegan products containing chocolate not sourced from areas where child labor and slavery are most pervasive.

Vegan chocolate & confections

You'll find these candies in some large box stores like Target and well-stocked grocery stores. They are also available for purchase online. These candies are available in small multipacks, making them the ideal choice for parties and trick-or-treaters.

The following chocolate treats are vegan (no animal-derived ingredients, as well as no artificial colors, refined sugar, or palm oil). Each chocolate is either labeled as fair-trade or recommended (or had a mixed rating) by the Food Empowerment Project:

  • Unreal
    Chocolate Almond Butter Cups
    Chocolate Crispy Quinoa Gems
    Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
    Chocolate Peanut Gems
More Vegan Chocolate

The following chocolate treats are vegan and available in bulk, but it's unknown where they source their chocolate from:

Even More Vegan Chocolate Options

The following brands offer vegan chocolate in single-serving portions or in multipacks that are not individually wrapped (fair-trade options noted):

Even though sugary treats are typical during Halloween, it doesn't mean they all have to be sweet. Instead of chocolate or candy, pass out snacks instead.

A few good options that come in snack pack sizes (and multipacks):

  • Potato Chips
  • Pretzels
  • Nuts
  • Fruit Leather
  • Cracker Jacks

Some companies offer unique Halloween assortments of their regular products.

Other affordable options for trick-or-treaters are fresh fruit like apples, oranges, or even bananas.

4. Vegan Halloween recipes

Get ready to get cooking. Here are vegan Halloween recipes for inspiration.

Savory recipes to try

  1. Halloween Pizza Soup
    Ve Eat Cook Bake
  1. Mummy Bites
    Veggies Don't Bite
  1. Mushroom Eyeballs
    Vegan Yack Attack
  1. Skull Pot Pie
    Healthy Slow Cooking
  1. Halloween Toast
    Eating by Elaine
  1. Breakfast Pepper Jacks
    Spabettie
  1. Coffin Musubi
    Vegan Dollhouse
  1. Jackfruit Gumbo
    Healthy Slow Cooking
  1. Spider Bagel Bites
    Plantbased on a Budget

Sweet recipes to try

  1. Bat Truffles
    Vegan Dollhouse
  1. Zombie Brain Cupcakes
    Bear Plate
  1. Mummy Cupcakes
    Vegan Huggs
  1. Quirky Pumpkins
    Wing it Vegan
  1. Spider Coffins
    Vegan Dollhouse
  1. Voodoo Dolls
    Love is in My Tummy
  1. Monster Cookies
    Short Girl Tall Order
  1. Caramel Apples
    Vegan Family Recipes
  1. Skull Crushers Candy
    Wallflower Kitchen

Savory recipes to try

Perfect for creepy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

Sweet recipes to try

Something sweet to satisfy every ghost and goblin.

Hot mulled apple cider with with cinnamon sticks, cloves and anise on wooden background. Traditional autumn, winter drinks and cocktails.

Apple cider / Source

5. Vegan wine & spirits

Find something delicious and spooky to drink.

Some beer and wine go through a clarifying process that uses animal products such as isinglass (fish bladders), egg whites, or gelatin. And because alcohol is commonly exempt from labeling requirements other food products have, these ingredients are rarely listed on the packaging.

Luckily, there’s an easy-to-use website for that. Without a doubt, Barnivore is the go-to website to check the vegan status of most beer and wines.

Thankfully, you can find vegan-friendly beer, wine, and liquor at almost any store.

Here are a few popular brands that are suitable for vegan imbibers.

Vegan beer

  • Blue Moon
  • Budweiser (except the Clamato Chelada)
  • Coors & Coors Light
  • Corona
  • Heineken
  • Miller Lite, High-Life & Genuine Draft
  • Pabst Blue Ribbon
  • Sam Adams Ale (except Cherry Wheat, Honey Porter, or Latitude 48)
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • Stella Artois
  • Yuengling

A lot of craft beers are also vegan. Just ask your bartender or check Barnivore before ordering.

Vegan wine

  • Frey Vineyards (all varieties)
  • Orleans Hill (all varieties)
  • Sutter Home (Riesling, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer, and Chenin Blanc)
  • Yellowtail (red wines only; not the white or the rosé)

It isn’t always apparent which wines are vegan or vegan-friendly by the label. Unless its vegan status is listed on the label, I strongly recommend checking Barnivore before purchasing.

Vegan spirits

Hard liquors like tequila, bourbon, whiskey, vodka, gin, and rum are vegan, as are nearly all distilled spirits except those with a cream base or honey.

Here are a few familiar brands:

  • Absolut Vodka
  • Grey Goose Vodka
  • Skyy Vodka
  • Appleton Estate Rum
  • Bacardi Rum
  • Malibu Rum
  • Tanqueray Gin
  • Beefeater Gin
  • Cazadores Tequila
  • Hornitos Tequila
  • Patron Tequila
  • Black Velvet Whiskey
  • Jim Beam Whiskey
  • Jameson Irish Whiskey

Frightfully fun cocktails

These vegan cocktails have a creepy, spooky theme.

Vegan Halloween Cocktails

  1. Pomegranate Swizzle
    Vegan in the Freezer
  1. Dark & Stormy
    Veganosity
  1. Severed Hand Punch
    The Edgy Veg
  1. Eye of the Storm
    Crowded Kitchen
A share image featuring a group of decorated pumpkins sitting in front of a white fireplace with the words, "Vegan Halloween Guide" written in black lettering over top.

Truth in advertising

I am committed to providing accurate information to the vegan community. Meticulously researched, the topic explored in this guide contains the information available at the time of publishing.

I don’t just say it; I source it too.

Please contact me if you find incorrect data.

Article sources

Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one’s food choices. Their research on which companies make products containing chocolate sourced from areas where the worst forms of child labor and slavery are the most prevalent is extensive.

Read more about their project (and see the master list of companies) by visiting their website, foodispower.org.

Photo credits

Article photos / Adobe Stock
Recipes photos via Recipe Creators and used with permission