With Meatless Week, Thrillist is taking a break from its meaty tendencies to indulge in all things vegetarian and vegan. We'll prod the philosophical quandaries of our dietary choices, ask for a reassessment of what it means to live meat-free, and much more -- all without a single salad in sight.
Elevate Your Snack Game With These Bacon Gouda Tater Tots
For all the taunting memes and eye-rolling lists out there, you'd think that vegans and non-vegans share zero food interests. But they do -- especially if they're walking down the junk-food aisle. The 17 very familiar and very delicious snacks below weren't created specifically for vegans, but happen to be dairy-, egg-, and animal-free anyway, so everybody wins.
This extremely chewy snack with incredibly tongue-staining capabilities is made from approximately five different forms of sugar. That's good news for vegans, since sugar contains no animal products. It's also good news for dentists.
That these intensely red granules -- which add a bacon-y smokiness to anything they're sprinkled on, and which sadly aren't Bac-Os (RIP) -- don't contain animal by-products is a marvel of food science. For best results, apply directly to tongue.
Doritos Spicy Sweet Chili
While the more ubiquitous Doritos flavors Cool Ranch and Nacho Cheese contain whey, this zestier, dairy-free variety is suitable for consumption by the plant-based set -- and anyone else who savors spicy sweetness. You know who you are.
Famous Amos peanut butter sandwich cookies
Amos' chocolate chip cookies are more famous, but these peanut butter-filled treats are just as delectable. Plus, each cookie sandwich is technically made from two cookies with a thick swipe of peanut butter in the middle -- a win whether you are vegan or not.
The only ingredients found in the original Fritos are corn, corn oil, and salt, which is a refreshingly small number of ingredients for such a popular salty snack. Notably, not one of those ingredients is derived from a living creature. Watch out for other Fritos flavors, though, especially anything that contains the phrase "natural flavorings" in the ingredients list. No one knows what "natural flavorings" means and there is no guarantee it is animal product-free.
Justin's dark chocolate peanut butter cups
These rivals to Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are the darlings of health-food fanatics from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, despite a trust hiccup a little while back when the company suddenly added a note to its packaging that read "contains milk." Now that the reason for that has been cleared up, everyone's free to go back to shoving these delicacies into their faces.
Lay's Classic potato chips
Vegans can rejoice knowing that they, too, can continue to get super-salty potato grease mush stuck in all their molars. Just be sure to stick to the classic, salted version.
Lindt chocolate bars
Being vegan doesn't mean giving up chocolate. No one should ever be asked to do that. The 70% cacao bar from Lindt is there to take care of any chocolate cravings without involving any animal products. Things start to get dicier once you go down to 60% cacao, so definitely stick to the darker stuff.
How are they vegan if they have bacon in the name, you ask? Simple: smoke flavor, salt, and paprika, mostly. This flavor does contain the aforementioned and suspicious "natural flavors," but if the editors of PETA are willing to eat them, you should be too.
Sara Lee/Marie Callender's frozen pies
Make sure to double check the ingredients list, but a number of flavors -- including the beloved apple -- are great for folks who don't like to eat animal in any shape or form, but love warm fruit in a flaky crust.
Nutter Butter cookies
They're gritty, sweet, and salty, and they don't really taste like peanut butter, but hey, they're safe for vegans, and they're shaped like peanuts, so you can't go wrong.
Although the widely accepted method of eating these delights involves a twist and a milk dunk (they're promoted as "Milk's Favorite Cookie" for a reason), the sweet creme-stuffed cookie contain zero dairy products.
Don't let the rich buttery taste fool you -- these are completely butter-free. They're great with budget meats and cheeses or vegan-friendly toppings like peanut butter and Bac'n Pieces.
Sour Patch Kids
Sure, you can't have M&Ms or Skittles or trays of nachos with disconcertingly neon yellow cheese dip when you go to movies as a vegan. But you can have Sour Patch Kids. They're free of gelatin but still coated in enough sour crystals to make your tongue slightly raw.
There are plenty of (gummy) fish in the sea for hungry vegans looking for snacks without gelatin.
A sleeve at a time, straight out of the freezer, or with your mom -- no matter how you chow down on this seasonal favorite you can rest easy knowing no animals were harmed in the making of these minty chocolatey delights. Also, take note: Some versions of Lemonades and Peanut Butter Patties are vegan, so long as they come from ABC Bakers and are marked as such.
Pop-Tarts can be a vegan's best friend if they are the unfrosted strawberry, blueberry, and brown sugar-cinnamon varieties. Honestly, unfrosted Pop-Tarts are wildly underrated. When there's no icing, you appreciate the pastry for what it is: an utterly delicious flaky-ish, fake-tasting breakfast treat that's totally vegan-friendly. It's almost more surprising that the icing does actually contain real milk products.
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Carrie Dennis is an NYC-based writer and editor who will pet your dog with or without permission. Follow her infrequent retweets on Twitter: @carrriedennnis.