I'm a salty snack freak and one of my favorite snacks are potato chips. I know they aren't healthy - don't bother to tell me. I will continue to eat them. In moderation.
Two local chip companies make chips that I especially enjoy but, as a newly minted vegan, I wasn't sure which of their flavors were vegan. Yes, I could always safely choose the original salted chips as both companies use vegetable oil instead of lard, but I like different flavors! Many products of this kind contain "natural flavors" which could be from animal products.
So, with this in mind, I decided to try to find out which of their products I can consume.
I began with Utz Chips. First I visited their website to see if they had nutritional information there that might help me. Their FAQ on nutritional information is educational if you are interested in avoiding peanuts or gluten or if you follow a kosher diet. I did not see anything about which items were vegan, however. So, I decided to contact them via email to see if I could find out more.
I sent a simple question: Can you tell me which of your chips are vegan? I was only interested in their chips, not the rest of their snack food line so I thought I'd be more specific.
A couple days later, I received this response:
"While this is not a certification that we advertise most of our products are Kosher certified which means they would be free from any animal derived ingredients. I have included a link below that lists all of our products that are Kosher. Have a good day!"
I thought I was already familiar with what is required for Kosher certification and I'm aware that there are Kosher hot dogs -which I presume contain meat - but I thought I'd investigate. Wikipedia informs me that there are, in fact, Kosher animal products so I was right. Kosher products are definitely NOT all vegan.
I wrote back to the customer service rep explaining that vegan is not equal to Kosher but received no response. I plan to try calling next but I've not yet taken the time to do so. I'll update this post when I do.
The second chip company I contacted was One Potato Two Potato.
I contacted the company using the form on their website and received a quick response with a list of their vegan products! Success!
For the record, these flavors are vegan:
Naked Sea Salt
Plain Jaynes (sweet potato)
Seaside Salt'n Vinegar
Sgt. Pepper & Capt. Sea Salt
Sadly, my favorite flavor, Savannah Sweet Onion, is not on the list nor is the Hawaiian BBQ. I have to wonder if they contain cane sugar and that's why they aren't considered vegan.
Side note: I've learned that some vegans don't consider cane sugar vegan and some do. Apparently bone char is used in the processing of most cane sugar. You learn something new everyday....
[Update: I've since noticed that the vegan chip flavors are labeled vegan on their pages. It is possible that they were labeled all this time but I hadn't noticed the first time I looked. Regardless, they are now labeled.]
I was pleased to have the success I did and will try to remember to contact the Utz company to see if I can educate them AND get the information I need so I know if I can continue to consume their chips. Ultimately, my goal is to get them to list their vegan varieties on their Web page, if possible. I'll update this post if I get any further information.