At the movies

Vegan at the Movies

Some people might think the vegan lifestyle is mysterious. It may seem like our social calendars are full of protest marches and excursions to the newest all-vegan bistro. That may be true to some extent, but the vegans I know also lead pretty normal lives. We take family trips, we play in the park, and sometimes we even go to the movies.

So, you’ve picked out the film du jour and purchased your ticket. Standing in the lobby of your local movie theater might prove a daunting adventure. The tantalizing aroma of salty popcorn wafts through the air. A shiny display case of brightly-colored candy wrappers calls your name. The beverage options seem to come in just as many colors.

I’ve never heard of a vegan movie theater  so let’s assume that most of the options before you are not vegan. How will you ever figure out which treats you can partake of before the previews begin?

Photo: Jeff Gunn via Flickr

Chances are, the popcorn at your theater is popped in a machine with a butter-like substance. However, it could still be vegan. Although the staff may raise an eyebrow at your request, it’s okay to ask to see the ingredients of the “butter” for the popcorn. Depending on where you live, the concession stand may offer other toppings such as cheese powder (not vegan), pepper, garlic, or other spices. If you think you’ll buy some popcorn, bring along a little baggie of nutritional yeast to add your own vegan flair.

As it turns out, a lot of candies on the market are “accidentally” vegan. Popular movie theater candies like Airheads, Hot Tamales, Skittles, and Twizzlers are among the vegan-friendly options you might find in your area. Since the list is long, you may want to bookmark PETA’s vegan candy list on your smartphone so you can pull it up to reference while you make your decision at the concession counter. If you’re a planner, try ordering your snacks in advance. Here are a few we love munching on while watching movies:

Top 5 Vegan Snacks for Movie Night

1. Beanfields Bean and Rice Chips
2. Premium Chocolatiers No No’s (like vegan M&Ms but with marshmallows inside) and Mini Peanot Cups
3. Louisville Vegan Jerky
4. The Good Bean roasted chickpeas
5. Lush Gourmet Foods sweet candy coated peanuts

Sodas may be off-limits, depending on your theater’s offerings. Many colas and sodas contain animal-derived ingredients like ester gum or gelatin, which are often used in the filtering process. Most movie theaters now sell bottled water and juices, as well as occasionally bottled iced teas and other beverages. Many of those options will be vegan by default, but keep an eye out for honey as an added ingredient.

Photo: Geoff Peters 604 via Flickr

Adult Beverages
Barnivore is the best resource for determining if a certain beer, wine, or liquor is vegan-friendly. They get the word straight from the horse’s manufacturer’s mouth, and update the reports frequently. There are even a few mobile apps that use Barnivore’s database to help you make vegan drink choices on-the-go.

Other Snack Options
Many movie theaters have expanded their concession offerings to include fresh foods and snack boxes that include things like hummus, crackers, and fresh fruit. Since most of these are pre-packed, simply check the ingredient list prior to purchasing.

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