Is Food Coloring Vegan? Shatter Your Doubts!

Color is something that stimulates us. Back when we were little, color was one of the first things we were thought. As we grow, we were fascinated with it and had associated it with many other things like clothes and foods. Is food coloring vegan?

Color makes the food enticing. Won’t we agree that a salad looks beautiful with the many colors of the different ingredients it has?

But now you are wondering if food coloring is safe for vegan consumption. Maybe you are cooking for a group of fellow vegans, and you want to make sure that you will not violate everyone’s food preference.

Now, let’s find out!

What Are Food Colors Made Of

There is no singular answer that would state that all food coloring is not safe for vegan. There are different types of food coloring, and each has a different origin. So, essentially, depending on the type of food coloring, it can be vegan or not.

Natural Food Color

natural food color

The term natural may be alluring and may prompt to get them for your cooking needs. However, not all the natural food coloring stuff you can buy at the grocery is safe. Well, most of them are plant derived.

However, one particular color, red, involves harvesting a type of insect and processing them to get their extract. Cochineal is an insect found sucking moisture on cacti. These insects are harvested, dried, and processed to get that enticing red color.

Avoid anything that says Carmine, Natural Red 4, or E120 on the label of food colorants. Other naturally derived food colorants are safe and come from plant sources.

Orange (E160b) is derived from annatto seeds which makes them safe. Caramel (E150a-d) comes from caramelized sugar which does not involve any life form being threatened. Elderberry juice (E163) can give your recipe a dark purple color.

A vegan-friendly version of red is Lycopene (E160d). If you want something yellow, Turmeric (E100) can give your food an enticing color.

Artificial Food Color


artificial food color

Using artificial food color is not a miracle of the 20th century. In fact, history tells us that the Egyptians have been using dyes to color food and cosmetics way back 1500BC.

Today, the use of coloring agents are heavily guided and regulated by the government because of some possible health concerns. There are more than 700 artificial coloring agents before and has been narrowed down by the US government to 7.

Artificial food colors are synthetically made from a combination of organic compounds. They can be used for food and drinks as an additive to make it enticing without adding flavor. They are also used in cosmetics to give color.

However, these artificial colorants are sometimes related to allergies and irritation that’s why they are heavily regulated by the government.

But overall, these artificial colorants do not involve dairy, animal and animal products, or any life form which makes it safe for vegan consumption.

Natural and Basic Food Colorants

If you are unsure if commercially bought food colorants are safe for you and your vegan friends, making your own version of homemade food colorant is your best choice. This way you will be 100% sure that it is vegan safe!

Here are some natural food colorants you may want to try out yourself!

Beet Juice

Beet juice will give your food or your drink a purplish-red color. Depending on the variety and amount of beet juice you add to your recipe, you can have a pink colored treat! Just remember, adding beet juice will add the flavor of the beets.

If you are using it for a drink, you may want to cut back some sugar as it may add sweetness to the food or drink!


If you are cooking some dish or making a drink and you want to add up an ouch touch of yellow color, you may add turmeric to it to liven things up. This will also add a tangy flavor to your drink or dish.


If you want to achieve green, you can boil spinach then blend it in a food processor. Using a cheesecloth, extract the liquid and let it cool before storing. This will give a green tinge to any food or drink you want. You can mix them on frostings to make a garden-themed dessert.

Red Cabbage

I don’t know the name, but red cabbage looks more purple, right? Well, if you want to achieve blue, there is quite a neat trick. Just finely chop and boil your red cabbage for up to 20 minutes. Let it cool and strain the liquid.

Now, here comes the trick. Your purple concoction can turn to blue with the addition of baking soda. Add a few sprinkles at a time to achieve the blue you want.


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Coloring food makes them more enticing and enjoyable. The color of the food suggests flavor and how it might taste that’s why it has become popular.

However, for vegans, there are some considerations you that must be defined. Natural red #4 is not really friendly as involves collecting the extracts from insects.

Aside from that, artificial food colorants are made with chemical compounds and do not involve dairy, meat, and other life forms. However, there are concerns that may involve allergy from these chemical compounds.

So, is food coloring vegan safe? Well, generally they are. If you are quite unsure of store-bought colorants, you can make your own food colorants at home!


Joseph P Demars
Joseph P Demars
Joseph P. Demars is a food lover and an entrepreneur who has experienced in running successful restaurants. Joseph lives in Chicago with his adorable family. His wide knowledge, plus his practical skill has helped him earn extraordinary profit from running restaurants.

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