Answer: … depends on your definition of veganism*
Jelly Belly jelly beans were Ronald Reagans favorite. He was not vegan, but these jelly beans are ALMOST strictly vegan. The sticking area is related to two products, both used for making the bean “shiny.” Yes, shiny. These two ingredients are beeswax and shellac. Beeswax obviously comes from bees, and shellac can come from crushed insects. Yeah. I’ve read on other sites that Jelly Belly jelly beans contain milk and gelatin. This is NOT true. These beans are free from these products. I’ve also read “reports” that the butter and cheesecake flavors contain dairy products. This is also NOT true. I reached out to Jelly Belly specifically on this issue. This their complete response:
Question: The “buttered popcorn” and other beans contain “natural flavor.” Are any of these natural flavors animal-derived (like actual butter)? Thank you.
Answer: There are no animal-derived products in our beans. The butter flavor is artificial in the Buttered Popcorn.
While not an animal, but an insect, we do use beeswax as a sealant for and to give the beans their shine.
Consumer Affairs Representative
Jelly Belly Candy Company
* I hate having to use that disclaimer. But some vegans are pro honey. Not me, but some are. So whenever items like these come up, you’ll see the disclaimer.