For vegan beginners, or even just veteran vegans who don’t like to cook, Oreos are right up there with peanut butter as an easy and convenient food to fill up on while still sticking to a vegan diet. Although this snack is made with a cream filling stuffed between two chocolate wafers, it turns out the former isn’t really “cream” at all. According to the official Oreo website, the dunkable cookie is made with ingredients like unbleached enriched flour, sugar, cocoa, certain combinations of plant-based oils, and the artificial flavor vanillin — not an animal-based component in sight.
But while the cream filling has never been made with dairy, Oreos weren’t actually vegan until the late 1990s: The original recipe called for animal lard to be added to the filling, relates Cornell University food science professor Joe Regenstein. Today, however, a plant-based fat gives the cookie its “creamy” filling. Despite all this, though, Oreo’s claim to fame as the convenient vegan cookie is still a little bit controversial. While it is true that there are no dairy or animal products among its main ingredients, some people argue that the snack is not really vegan because of one big problem: cross-contact.