Are Takis Vegan? The Guide to Vegan Takis

This spicy snack may make your tongue sizzle, but will it break your vegan diet?

are takis vegan photo illustration

Treehugger / Takis

A snack for the new millennium, Takis intensely flavored rolled tortilla chips spiced up supermarket shelves back in 1999. Over the ensuing decades, Takis expanded its product line to include sticks (made from corn), potato chips, nuts, and popcorn. And lucky for plant-based eaters, many of these varieties are indeed vegan-friendly.

But other animal-derived products do appear in some types of Takis, and not all of them are easy to spot. Find out which ingredients to avoid during your next vegan junk food craving in our guide to vegan Takis.

Why Many Takis Are Vegan 

By most vegan standards, many varieties of Takis are “accidentally vegan”—including chips, Stix, Pop, and Kettlz. Still, Takis contain sugar, an ingredient some vegans avoid. Vegans who chose the diet for environmental reasons may likewise find other ingredients questionable.

Sugar

All varieties of Takis contain sugar, a plant-based ingredient. But not all sugar is processed in the same way. Most cane sugar is refined with non-vegan animal bone char while sugar from beets is always vegan-friendly. 

Foods like Takis that don’t specify the sugar source usually contain a mixture of both beet and cane sugar. For this reason, strict vegans also abstain from sugar that does not specify its vegan status. 

Canola and Palm Oils

High-fat oils like canola (made from rapeseeds) and palm may be vegan, but they face sustainability concerns. Environmental vegans often avoid products with palm oil because of its association with wildlife habitat destruction.

Soy Products

Soybean, soybean oil, and hydrolyzed soy protein are completely vegan, but soy cultivation is a concern for environmental vegans as it plays a role in deforestation and growing carbon emissions. However, the vast majority of soy is cultivated as livestock feed; only 5% of soy production goes directly to human consumption.

Yeast Extract

Although yeast is neither plant nor animal, these single-celled members of the fungi family are included in a vegan diet. Yeast becomes yeast extract when the cell wall is removed; the remaining cell contents are used as a food additive to provide umami—a savory or “meaty” flavor. 

Artificial Colors

Artificial food colors are synthetic dyes generally derived from petroleum. For this reason, environmental vegans often abstain from artificial coloring.

Natural and Artificial Flavors

Natural flavors, according to federal law, are derived from vegan-friendly plants and fungi as well as from non-vegan animal sources. Artificial flavors refer to synthetically-derived products not made from animals, plants, or fungi. Despite their differences, on a molecular level, these flavors are identical. 

Most vegans with a “practical and possible” approach don’t concern themselves with the origin of natural flavors, but some strict vegans avoid natural flavors altogether to ensure none were derived from animals. Environmental vegans may steer clear of artificial flavors as they are derived from petroleum.

MSG, GMP, and IMP

Monosodium glutamate (MSG), disodium guanylate (GMP), and disodium inosinate (IMP) are a family of fermented vegan-sourced starches and sugars. As food additives, these sodiums have a synergistic effect in providing umami to processed foods.

TBHQ

Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ) is a preservative and antioxidant used to extend the shelf life of processed foods. Like other food additive synthetics, it comes from petrochemicals.

Why Some Takis Are Not Vegan

The Takis line includes other snack products like popcorn and peanuts that often contain non-vegan ingredients. Some ingredients, like milk and gelatin, are more obvious while others, like carmine, may sneak past a single glance at a label.

Skim Milk

Made from cow’s milk, skim milk has nearly all milkfat removed and has a water content of around 85%. Skim milk can also be called skimmed,  nonfat milk, or fat-free milk.

Whey

A by-product of the cheese industry, whey is the liquid remaining after the milk is coagulated and strained. Whey commonly appears as a food additive in baked goods.

Carmine

Like shellac and beeswax, carmine is the product of small animals. This non-vegan red food coloring is made by crushing wax covers of female cochineal scale insects—tiny, soft-bodied organisms related to whiteflies, aphids, and mealybugs. Each year between 22 billion to 89 billion cochineals are killed to meet carmine demands in the food and cosmetics industries.

Luckily, as of 2009, laws surrounding allergy labeling require any foods or cosmetics that contain either carmine or cochineal extract to explicitly state so on the label.

Gelatin

Gelatin is a byproduct of the meat and seafood industries produced by boiling the connective tissues of cattle, chicken, pigs, and fish to extract collagen. It provides many foods like gummy candies and marshmallows with a proper mouthfeel.

Did You Know?

In 2018, Takis’ parent company Barcel entered into a Virtual Power Purchase Agreement with a wind farm in Texas that now produces renewable electricity to offset all of the company’s U.S. manufacturing, sales, retail, and office electrical consumption.

Types of Vegan Takis

Whether you’re humming for tortilla chips, potato chips, popcorn, or corn snacks, Takis offers vegans several options. These Takis do, however, contain sugar, so adherent vegans, beware.

  • Fuego
  • Blue Heat
  • Crunchy Fajitas
  • Nitro
  • Stix Flare
  • Stix Fuego
  • Pop Caramel Crunchy (despite its name, this caramel corn doesn’t contain any dairy products)
  • Kettlez Fuego
  • Kettlez Habanero Fury

Types of Non-Vegan Takis

Alas, some types of Takis are completely off-limits for plant-based eaters: the Hot Nuts and the Crisps. Other varieties, too, contain animal-based ingredients.

  • Guacamole
  • Crisps Fuego
  • Hot Nuts Fuego
  • Hot Nuts Flare
  • Pop Fuego
  • Kettlez Jalapeño Typhoon
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Are Fuego Takis vegan?

    Yes. For most “practical and possible” plant-based eaters, Takis Fuego are vegan.

  • Are blue Takis vegan?

    Takis Blue Heat chips are considered vegan by most standards.

  • Are red Takis vegan?

    The red Takis, called Nitro, are vegan and contain no animal-based ingredients.

  • Are Takis Stix vegan?

    Yes, both varieties of Takis Stix are indeed vegan.