Adopting a vegan diet and lifestyle is a personal choice that seems to be experiencing rapid growth. New vegans may have to give up some foods they once enjoyed. Is popcorn one of the foods on the chopping block? 

Popcorn is vegan. But this is only true when consumed in its purest form. Popcorn can be one single ingredient: corn. As long as your snack is plain, or you are careful regarding the toppings you add, it will be vegan. 

Plain popcorn is certainly vegan. This article will dive into the other kinds of popcorn available to ensure you follow your vegan diet. With just a little effort, you can be sure to only have vegan popcorn. 

Why Is Some Popcorn Not Vegan?

Some popcorn are not vegan due to animal-based toppings that might be added. However, plain popcorn is entirely vegan. Popcorn, or the kernels rather, are naturally plant based. 

The Problem With Buttery Popcorn

Many people correlate butter with popcorn, and this is, in fact, the foremost additive that makes popcorn not vegan. Although butter is often considered a staple for popcorn, it is not necessary. 

While traditional butter is dairy based, you can swap it out for oil. Some oils provide a butter-like taste and are easily swapped out for butter without compromising on the taste. 

Oils commonly used in place of butter are: 

  • Avocado oil 
  • Canola oil 
  • Coconut oil 
  • Flaxseed oil 
  • Olive oil 
  • Peanut oil 
  • Sesame oil 
  • Sunflower oil 
  • Walnut oil  

Of the above list, sunflower oil and coconut oil are top contenders for butter substitutes for popcorn. Vegan popcorn brands tend to use canola oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil. 

How To Tell If Popcorn Is Vegan Or Not?

Any popcorn with more than the one primary ingredient, popcorn kernels, may not be vegan. To make sure you are only eating vegan friendly popcorn, take a look at the back of the packaging. 

You should look at your popcorn’s packaging to tell whether it’s vegan or not. The first section you should look at is the ingredients list. The second location to review is the  allergen section. 

Popcorn Ingredient List

Some ingredients are not clear cut as to whether they are vegan or not. The ingredient label may be daunting, especially for new vegans. If you are not sure, you may be hesitant to purchase a product. 

The list below includes ingredients that are not necessarily known to be non-vegan: 

  • Albumin 
  • Casein 
  • Collagen 
  • Elastin 
  • Gelatin 
  • Honey 
  • Lactose 
  • Lard 
  • Tallow 

Popcorn Allergen List

The ingredients list is not always cut and dry as far as identifying non-vegan ingredients. Dairy is most likely to be hidden in a food. In the allergens list, you will look for an indication that the food contains dairy. It will usually have the phrase “contains: milk.” 

Is Pre-Popped Popcorn Vegan?

Pre-popped popcorn is sometimes vegan. If maintaining a vegan diet and lifestyle is your goal, be sure to flip that pre-popped popcorn bag over and review the ingredients list and allergen list. 

While the list below is far from exhaustive, it will point you in the direction of vegan friendly pre-popped popcorn to start with. 

Vegan Pre-Popped Popcorn: 

  • Boom Chicka Pop Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn 
  • Smart Food Smart 50, Sea salt 
  • SkinnyPop Popcorn 

Is Microwave Popcorn Vegan?

Some microwave popcorn brands are vegan while others are not. Checking the ingredient’s list is crucial before consuming anything on a vegan diet. Fortunately, there is an overwhelming amount of vegan microwave popcorn available. 

Here are some brands of microwave popcorn that is vegan friendly: 

  • Act II. This brand actually has three flavors that are vegan: Butter Lovers, Kettle Corn, and Llama Party. 
  • Boom Chicka Pop. Like their pre-popped variety, some flavors are vegan. 
  • Jolly Time. Jolly Time has three vegan microwave popcorn options. These are Simply Popped Sea Salt, KettleMania, and Healthy Pop Kettle Corn. 
  • Newman’s Own. Sea Salt and Tender White are the only two Newman’s Own flavors that are vegan. 
  • Orville Redenbacher. They have several vegan options, including Kettle Corn, Naturals Simply Salted, Avocado Oil Popcorn, and Naturals Light Simply Salted. 
  • Pop Secret. Pop Secret also has several flavors that are vegan. Some include Sea Salt, Kettle Corn, and Popfetti, to name a few. 
  • Skinny Pop. Both flavors of Skinny Pop microwave popcorn are vegan. 

Is Movie Theater Popcorn Vegan?

Movie theater popcorn is usually vegan. Many mainstream theaters use canola oil to prepare popcorn. The only caveat is to be sure to skip the butter. When asked if you want butter, politely decline. 

Since you cannot flip over a tub of movie theater popcorn and read the label, it is advisable that you call ahead and ask the theater if their popcorn is vegan. The staff at the concession stand may not know if the popcorn is truly vegan or not. 

Theaters vary by geographic region, but here are some mainstream theaters that state their popcorn is vegan: 

  • AMC 
  • Cinematic 
  • Regal 

Other Vegan Options At Movie Theaters

If you are at a theatre that does not offer vegan popcorn, you can still enjoy other snacks while you watch the movie. Several candies that are typically carried at movie theater concessions are what some say “accidentally vegan.” 

These candies are vegan-friendly, whether deliberate or not: 

  • Airheads 
  • Dots 
  • Skittles 
  • Sour Patch Kids 
  • Twizzlers 

Beyond candy, there are still other vegan options at your local movie theater. Soft pretzels, another movie theater staple, are also vegan, as long as there is no butter added. 

Some theaters have also begun to offer more meal-like foods. My local theater offers French fries. Rest assured that most French fries are vegan. To be sure, contact the theater ahead of time. 

Icees are a cold favorite to many. Fortunately, Icees are vegan, too. Icee uses vegan-friendly artificial flavors. While your local theater may only carry a couple of flavors, such as the popular duo Icee Cherry and Icee Blue Raspberry, Icee actually carries at least 30 flavors. 


Popcorn is naturally vegan. However, many people chose to add toppings to popcorn that take this plant-based snack food into the non-vegan territory. Vegans can enjoy popcorn, but they should check to make sure that no dairy has been added.

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