Is Popcorn Vegan? Healthy? (Insight from a Dietitian Who’s Vegan)

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Is popcorn vegan?

Short answer: Plain (1 ingredient- ‘popcorn’) popcorn is!

You’ll want to pay closer attention to packaged and flavored popcorns.

For more details and a review about the healthfulness of popcorn, keep reading this dietitian written article!

Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for medical or dietary advice. Talk to your doctor about any health concerns, food allergies, dietary changes, and before starting new supplements.  See our Disclaimers for more details.

Is Popcorn Vegan?

Plain popcorn is vegan because it contains no animal ingredients.

Botanically, popcorn is in the maize family and can be further classified as the variety: ‘Zea mays var. everta(1).’

These corn kernels ‘pop’ into the light and fluffy stuff we know of as ‘popcorn’ under heat.

In short, plain popcorn is 100% plant based and vegan friendly!

Unless vegans have some medical contraindication to popcorn, or are at risk for choking (such as children-popcorn is a choking hazard) – vegans will likely be fine with having this snack (just ask them! 😉 )

However, microwave, or premade popcorn might not be vegan friendly.

Let’s explore that subject next!

What Makes Popcorn Not Vegan?

If you aren’t buying single ingredient (plain) popcorn, it may or may not be vegan!

Some microwavable or bagged popcorn packages contain animal products.

While there are vegan versions, if you see pop corn flavors like these, they likely aren’t vegan:

  • Butter popcorn
  • Movie theater popcorn
  • Caramel corn
  • Cheese popcorn (and variations, like white cheddar)
  • Chocolate covered popcorn
  • Salty Kettle corn
  • Other flavored varieties

That’s because these popcorn flavors likely have all or any of these animal derived ingredients:

While ingredients like palm oil are plant based. Some vegans try to avoid it as well due to the environmental impact (learn more about that here).

In contrast, popcorns that are listed as vegan, or simply ‘salted’ (sometimes listed as sea salt or pink Himalayan salt), are likely vegan friendly (make sure to double check the ingredients).

Vegan Popcorn Brands

Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any popcorn brands that are exclusively vegan.

Still, many brands carry vegan popcorn that even go beyond plain popcorn!

Brands that carry some vegan flavors include (again, these brands aren’t exclusively vegan):

  • Skinny Pop
  • Lesser Evil
  • Boom Chicka Pop
  • Pop Secret
  • Act II
  • Smart Food
  • Jolly Time
  • Cracker Jack
  • Orville Redenbacher’s
  • Garrett Popcorn
  • Popcornopolis

Is Popcorn Healthy?

Popcorn can be a very healthy food!

Check out some of the nutrition highlights in the table below!

CaloriesSaturated FatSodiumCarbohydratesFiberProteinIronMagnesium
Popped Popcorn (plain); 4 cups (2)124<0.5 grams3 milligrams25 grams5 grams4 grams1 milligram46 milligrams

Plain popcorn is both low in sodium and saturated fat.

It’s important to be mindful of these nutrients, as dietary patterns that include excessive amounts is bad for heart health.

Popcorn is also high in fiber, which is important for gut health.

This nutrient dense snack also includes several essential minerals, such as iron and magnesium.

Since plain popcorn is well… plain – what we add to it can change the overall nutrition profile.

For example if you add lots of dairy butter, you can substantially increase the unhealthy saturated fats.

Many microwavable popcorns come packed with lots of sodium and saturated fat.

That’s important to keep in mind within the context of your overall diet.

If you would prefer to make your own popcorn, you can add your own healthy fats and have more control over the sodium content.

Vegan Popcorn Recipes

Sweet or salty?

What ever the case, these vegan recipes will be a hit!

Easy Vegan Popcorn
This savory recipe is my tried and true favorite (and, its nutrient dense!)
I’m all for a classic 😀
close up of vegan popcorn in a bowl on a wood table
Sweet and Salty Tahini Popcorn
Can't decide on sweet or salty popcorn? Why not have both in this vegan recipe?
Yes, please!
Photo from Jackie Newgent. Picture of sweet and salty popcorn in a decorative red jar
Popcorn, Tart Cherry and Pistachio Snack Mix
This recipe has trail mix vibes!
Take me to the recipe

In Summary: Can Vegans Eat Popcorn?

Plain popcorn is vegan friendly. If the popcorn is pre-made, vegans will want to read the ingredients to make sure it does not have animal products- like dairy and gelatin (to name a few).

Generally speaking, plain popcorn is a healthy, whole grain food that is high in fiber and low in saturated fat and sodium.

Since popcorn is a choking hazard, some individuals should not consume it (such as children).

If you have any questions about your dietary needs, talk to your own primary care provider and dietitian.

Did you learn something new about popcorn as tasty vegan snacks? What is your favorite vegan microwave popcorn? Let me know in the comments below!
If you liked this article ‘Is it Vegan’ article, there’s more where that came from! Feel free to explore other topics like:
Can Vegans Drink Coffee?
Is Tofu Vegan?

Do Vegans Eat Cheese?
Is Vegan Gluten Free?
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