Made from pastry and filled with a mixture of dried fruits and spices known as ‘mincemeat’, mince pies are a popular British Christmas treat. If you’re wondering whether mince pies are vegan or vegetarian, the answer depends on which ones you buy.
Read on to find out exactly what mince pies are made of and see a list of which mince pies are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
Are mince pies vegetarian?
Historically, mince pies contained real meat, but nowadays almost all mince pies are vegetarian. When buying mince pies, vegetarians should check the packaging for the vegetarian logo to be sure that there is no animal fat in the ingredients.
Are mince pies vegan?
Most shop-bought mince pies are not suitable for vegans as they contain milk or egg. However, most UK supermarkets including Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, have at least one kind of mince pie that is vegan-friendly.
What are mince pies made of?
Mince pies are typically made of a pastry crust filled with a mixture of raisins, sultanas, currants, suet, sugar, brandy, nutmeg and cinnamon.
The ingredients in mince pies vary quite a lot. Luxury mince pies are more likely to include real butter, brandy and suet, whereas cheaper mince pies are more likely to be vegan-friendly.
Do mince pies have meat in them?
Modern mince pies don’t contain meat. However, the filling is called ‘mincemeat’ because traditionally it was made with actual minced meat, typically mutton. In the 18th century, sugar became easier to get hold of and the recipe for mince pies changed from being meaty to being sweet.
Why might mince pies not be vegan
Whilst mince pies don’t contain meat any more, they sometimes contain other ingredients which would make them unsuitable for people following a vegan diet.
Animal ingredients in mince pies may include:
Suet – Suet is a saturated fat that’s used in many traditional British recipes. Originally, suet was always made from the fat around the organs of cows and sheep. Nowadays, suet may be made using palm oil, sunflower oil and flour.
Butter – Mince pies are typically made using shortcrust pastry, although sometimes puff pastry is used. Either type of pastry may contain dairy butter.
Milk – Cows’ milk finds its way into many pre-packaged food items. In mince pies, milk may be in the form of butter, whey powder, or just added in the list of ingredients.
Egg – Some mince pies contain egg. This is used to bind the ingredients together.
Brandy – Luxury mince pies may contain Brandy. Whilst Brandy is usually vegan, some brandies may contain small amounts of gelatine, fish, milk, honey or eggs.
Palm oil – Some vegans choose to avoid unsustainable palm oil because it causes deforestation, environmental damage and the loss of animals’ habitats.
Which mince pies are vegan?
Vegan mince pies are available to buy in most supermarkets. Larger supermarkets tend to offer a few different varieties of mince pies, including standard, luxury, value and those that are baked in-store. Some of these mince pies are suitable for vegans and some aren’t.
The table below show which mince pies are vegan-friendly and which are not
|Brand||Mince pies||Are they vegan?|
|Asda||Baker’s Selection shallow mince pies||No|
|Asda||Extra Special luxury mince pies||No|
|Greggs||Sweet mince pies||Yes|
|Morrisons||The Best deep filled mince pies||No|
|Mr Kipling||Deep-filled mince pies||No|
|Oggs||Luxury handmade mince pies||Yes|
|Sainsbury’s||Deep filled mince pies||No|
|Sainsbury’s||Free From mini mince pies||Yes|
|Sainsbury’s||In-Store Bakery shortcrust mince pie||No|
|Sainsbury’s||Puff mince pies||No|
|Tesco||Finest mince pies||No|
|Tesco||Plant Chef mince pies||Yes|
|Tesco||Puff pastry mince pies||Yes|
|Waitrose||All Butter mince pies||No|
|Waitrose||Essential shortcrust mince pies||Yes|
|Waitrose||Free From mince pies||Yes|
Note: Not all of the vegan mince pies listed here are marked as vegan on the packaging. The lack of a vegan label usually means that food has been made in the same environment as animal products. Most vegans will eat food that is made in the same factory as non-vegan food, but very strict vegans may wish to only eat things that are labelled as vegan.
If something is labelled as vegan, it could still contain trace amounts of animal products. The vegan label means that the factory has taken extra steps to minimise the chance of cross-contamination.
Read more: Is food that ‘may contain milk’ vegan?
The use of palm oil in mince pies
Most shop-bought mince pies contain palm oil. Unsustainably-produced palm oil is damaging to our planet and it is something that many vegans choose to avoid.
Palm oil is in itself vegan and many vegans believe that the answer to the palm oil crisis is not to stop buying palm oil altogether but to choose brands that source their palm oil sustainably. All of the major supermarkets in the UK source sustainable palm oil for their own brand products, including mince pies.
Are Greggs mince pies vegan?
Greggs sweet mince pies are vegan-friendly. They do not contain any animal ingredients but have been made in the same environment as animal products. In line with the Vegan Society recommendations, Greggs takes steps to minimise the risk of cross-contamination.
Vegan gluten-free mince pies
There are several options for vegan gluten-free mince pies, including:
- Asda Free From mince pies
- Sainsbury’s Free From mince pies
- Sainsbury’s Free From iced mince pies
- Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Free from mince pies
- Waitrose Free From mince pies
- We Love Cake gluten-free and vegan mince pies
You should note that not all ‘Free From’ mince pies are vegan. Tesco Free From mince pies contain egg.
The best vegan mince pies
Asda was the first UK supermarket to offer vegan mince pies when they first went on sale in December 2017. Asda’s mince pies are accredited by The Vegan Society and carry the vegan trademark.
These mince pies do contain palm oil, but Asda ensures that the palm oil in all of its products is sourced to Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standards.
At just 87p for a pack of six, these vegan mince pies are great value for money and they taste fantastic too.
Vegan mince pie recipes
If you’d like to make your own mince pies this Christmas, there are lots of recipes for mince pies online. Some of the best ones are:
For fancy mince pies: BBC Good Food vegan mince pies recipe
These posh vegan mince pies have homemade pastry made using vodka and a fruit filling made with an apple, hazelnuts and a jar of black cherries. This recipe requires quite a lot of effort and it will take over an hour, but the result will be worth it.
For healthy vegan mince pies: The Healthy Tart vegan mince pies recipe
Free from gluten and refined sugar, these healthier mince pies are packed full of apples, raisins, sultanas, cranberries and orange juice. The pastry is made using coconut oil, ground almonds and flaxseeds. This recipe will take an hour and twenty minutes to make.
For easy mince pies: Viva!’s mince pies recipe
These easy mince pies are so quick and simple to make. Using ready-made vegan pastry and a jar of mincemeat, they’re easy and fun to make with children. Just cut out the pastry, add the filling and glaze with dairy-free milk.
Almost all mince pies are vegetarian, but most are not suitable for vegans. That said, there are lots of accidentally-vegan mince pies to choose from. Most UK supermarkets offer vegan mince pies, either in the standard range or the Free From section.