Vegan Snacks: Curb “Carnivore” Cravings — A Case For Plant Based

It’s 2 a.m., you’re binge watching Netflix, and those late night cravings hit. I’ve heard it many times: cravings are the most difficult thing for people to overcome, especially when converting to a healthier diet. We’ll discuss snack foods that are not vegan and highlight other snacks that are vegan. We’ll also talk about some healthier plant based alternatives: something I like to call curbing those carnivore cravings. 😉

Why foods that should be vegan aren’t

“How is that not vegan?!” Something each of us have said a thousand times. Reading food labels can be daunting and discouraging. Hidden meat and dairy products are everywhere.

There’s actually a simple and equally infuriating answer to why these products are hidden in so many foods. The meat and dairy industries have been on the decline for years. There are, quite literally, hundreds of millions of pounds of surplus. In order to deal with this, the meat and dairy industry went to their old pal, the U.S. government.

Not only have our tax dollars bailed out the meat and dairy industry time and again, but they have come up with new, clever ways to get rid of some of that surplus: i.e. hiding milk products in our food. And that, my friends, is your government at work for you.

Non-vegan snack foods and vegan alternatives

In some of these products, it’s easy to understand why they’re not vegan (such as snack foods that are cheese-based). While others, you’re left scratching your head as to why they contain milk products. Again, see above. 😠

Snack Foods

not vegan


Vegan alternative


milk, cheese

Doritos Spicy Sweet Chili flavor is vegan

Lay’s Kettle Cooked salt and vinegar chips


regular Lay’s salt and vinegar chips are vegan

Pringle’s BBQ chips


Lay’s BBQ flavored potato chips

Ice cream

cream, milk, condensed milk

Vegan ice cream brands
Bonus: Hershey’s chocolate syrup is vegan and so is Smucker’s marshmallow ice cream topping

Snack foods that are vegan

Candy and sweets that are vegan

It is hotly debated whether or not Oreos are vegan. You’ll have to do your research and decide for yourself. I personally don’t eat them.

Dessert in a mug

These single serve desserts are a brilliant way to satisfy that sweet tooth without having to bake a whole cake or pan of brownies. 🙌

Vegan-specific snack brands

Why sugar and junk food is addictive

There is a system in the brain called the reward system, which rewards a person for doing things that encourage survival, like eating. When we eat, the brain releases endorphins (“feel-good” chemicals) to the reward system that encourages us to continue this behavior for survival.

These chemicals include dopamine, which the brain interprets as pleasure. Our brains seek out behaviors that release dopamine into the reward system.

“Junk food” (like sugar, salty snacks, and all processed foods), stimulates the reward system part of the brain in the same way addictive drugs do. Junk food causes a surge that is more powerful than any reward the brain can get from whole, natural food. We also learned about something similar in cheese.

For example, eating an apple, which contains natural sugar, releases a moderate amount of dopamine; whereas eating a bowl of ice cream that contains a high amount of added sugar (even if it’s vegan), releases a much larger amount of dopamine. This reward causes us to crave those more unhealthy foods.

Hunger is the body’s need for energy and nourishment. A craving, on the other hand, is the brain’s need to satisfy the desire for dopamine.

Curb Cravings

Some people can cut out junk food completely and not give in to cravings; others find it much more difficult to cut back on or eliminate junk food from their diet. Strategies that work for one person may not work for the next. It may take experimenting (and some failures along the way) to find what works best for you in your journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Healthy snack options

We’ve talked about junk food, now let’s talk about some healthier snack alternatives.

Other resources

You can check out these lists of common snack foods that are vegan:

Eat This, Not That Spoon University “Accidentally” vegan

It’s also important to keep in mind that some sugar may not be vegan and “ natural flavors” can, literally, be anything. To be 100% sure a product is vegan, look for the certified vegan logo.

Healthy is best

As a nurse and health activist, I obviously don’t condone a diet rich in processed junk food. At the same time, I am a realist; we all need to indulge from time to time, and that’s ok. Healthy plant based diets with the occasional unhealthy snack or “cheat day” are usually just fine-as long as healthy habits are not replaced by poor eating habits.

What are some of the ways you suppress cravings? Were you surprised by any particular food or brand on these lists? Sound off on the comments below! 🌱

Originally published at on July 31, 2020.