Friday, March 17, 2017

Is Movie Theater Popcorn Vegan?

Have you read  PETA's "Accidentally Vegan Movie Theatre Snacks" article or VegNews Vegan Movie Snack(s) Time?  They usually provide relatively accurate information, but these two articles are not giving you the full story.  (For the record, I have tweeted PETA twice, asking them to update this article, but never received a response.  And I tweeted VegNews once.)  While the buttery topping at Cinemark and AMC Theatres are vegan, their salt is not.  Seriously?!?!  Yes, seriously.

I tweeted the three major movie theater chains in my area, Cinemark, AMC and Regal for confirmation about their popcorn.

Cinemark was the least interested in interacting with me, simply directing me to their Nutritional and Allergen Information Page.


On that page you will find this;

"The popcorn salt that we use to pop the corn with does have some soy as well as dairy.

If the guest would prefer to have a batch popped without the popcorn salt (if this was found to be the cause of a reaction) - the employee would be able to accommodate this request.  We have asked theatres to honor requests for no salt batches of popcorn, so they should be aware of this - not only for allergy reasons, but more due to recent concerns about salt intake levels.  There may be trace amounts left in the popper from previous batches though."  

While it stinks that their popcorn has dairy in the salt, I appreciate how detailed this information is, as most establishments apparently refuse to provide any nutritional information (that means you Starbucks and Texas Roadhouse, whose french fries are cooked in animal fat!  WTF?!?!)

AMC Theaters admitting to dairy in their salt is what started all of this inquiry.  A person from a vegan Facebook page I am part of had always gotten the popcorn at AMC because they told her it was vegan. After hearing a rumor that it wasn't, she asked again the next time she went.  This time she asked the employee to check the ingredients on the bag.  After reviewing it together, it was clear that there was dairy in the salt.  When I brought this incident to their attention, they responded:


When I pointed out that people have asked, and they were told it was vegan.  They simply repeated that you could ask for it without seasoning.


But that's not the point....  Shouldn't your employees be trained to know what's in your food? Especially if you don't have an online or printed nutrition and allergen list available?  So ignore PETA's and VegNew's article, they are wrong.

While PETA was wrong about AMC, they were right about Regal!


As someone who always tries to support vegan-friendly businesses, Regal is now my one-and-only when it comes to going out for a movie.

On a separate note, if you were interested in a bag of freshly popped popcorn, but not into going to the movies, you can grab some at Target.


I guess they mentioned salt is a mineral because they were probably very confused by my question. As they should be!  Why is anyone adding dairy to the salt?  Some people may lead you to believe that it's to prevent the salt from caking.  I don't remotely believe that's the case.  In my opinion, it's for the same reason they add dairy or dairy by-products to almost everything we eat...it has addictive properties.  Some research proves the link, some research (usually funded by the dairy industry or people benefiting from denouncing the link between dairy and bad health) says it's not.  Do your own research, apply some common sense and make up your own mind.

In terms of the popcorn, stick with Regal for an evening out; or Target if you're having a movie night at home.








19 comments:

  1. Do you have sources for the regal movie theater popcorn being vegan twitter posts? Would help a lot thanks!

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    1. I'm the source! lol I tweeted them, and those are the responses I received. They were quick to respond, and very receptive to questions if you want to try tweeting them yourself. Hope that help!

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  2. The article on PETA that you are referring to says: "AMC Theatres is another theater chain with many locations, and its popcorn is made with coconut oil, which does not contain any dairy products. The buttery topping ingredients at AMC vary depending on location, though, so the theater chain recommends checking with your local AMC location about the ingredients." ---- they do not imply the popcorn is automatically vegan.

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    1. Well...the title is "Accidentally Vegan Movie Theatre Snacks" so I think that implies the snacks they are talking about are vegan...

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  3. Dairy salt does not have any animal products in it. It is a type of salt (very fine in nature) that dissolves well and is typically used to add salt to butter or cheese (dairy products). It's like pickling salt. So, yea, AMC's popcorn is vegan if there is no real butter or animal oils used.

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    1. Sorry, I think you're confused. The salt being used in this popcorn contains dairy. They not only state that that information in the tweets above, but they provide that information in the fine print of their nutritional information. Try reading it, it's pretty clear. They have to make it clear for people with dairy allergies.

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  4. There is a difference between shared equipment for processing food (as pertains to allergens) and something CONTAINING a non-vegan ingredient. They are likely saying that cross-contamination is possible, and for allergic people, they can't guarantee no trace amounts. IMO, that does not make the product non-vegan.

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    1. Totally agree. There is a difference. That's why products have to clearly notate that their product contains dairy, or was manufactured in a plant that also produces other products that contain dairy in case of cross-contamination. Maybe you misunderstood something, but they are not talking about cross-contamination. They are clearly stating that their salt CONTAINS dairy.

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  5. I found your article totally superficial (a lot like explanations I've heard of the vegan diet). Come on, Naomi; if you care about nutrition, then why don't you do some meaningful journalism. For example, does movie popcorn have MSG? You know, the chemical compound lined to parkinsons and alzheimers? I'd be interested to know.

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    1. How odd that you reference me by name, yet you're using Anonymous to your comment... Anyway, this article a simple blog post to help people determine if movie theater popcorn was vegan. This was not an article about nutrition, nor was my goal to write whatever you consider "meaningful journalism". I am not a journalist. If your interest lies in nutrition or the dangers of MSG, then perhaps you should take the time to research it and post a blog post yourself. Or publish a meaningful journal article. While you're at it, perhaps look up the word superficial as it applies to writing, because clearly, you are confused. Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. Naomi. You are awesome! I love your very snappy and polite comebacks to the confused. Keep up the good work and thanks for the information!

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    1. Thank you and your welcome! (I'm not always good at it, but I try to play nice with others...)

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  8. Have you seen this article? It shows regal stating their buttery topping isn’t vegan. I’m assuming it either changed this year or the representative was misinformed. Because I have only seen other posts confirming it is vegan. Those are all older than the post below though. Thoughts?

    https://itdoesnttastelikechicken.com/how-to-eat-vegan-at-the-movies/

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    1. That's so bizarre. Especially since they specifically said the oil, buttery topping and salt are vegan...to list all three and not have that be accurate seems odd. I just emailed them, and I will update you and blog when I track down an answer. Here's was I said, "I have a question about nutrition/allergen information. I tweeted Regal a while back and was told the popcorn was vegan-friendly, and that there was no dairy in the buttery topping nor the salt (some theatres have dairy in their salt). Then someone else tweeted and was told there is dairy in the buttery topping. Unlike other theatres which make it available online, I cannot find anything about the food you sell at the theatre. It has been consistently proven that concession stand employees are completely unaware of what allergens are in the food and regularly provide misinformation so asking at the theatre isn't a good solution. I understand each location may be different, but I would think the food being provided is not from local vendors but provided via your corporate-contracted vendor. Can you provide any nutritional/allergen information that can confirm whether there is or isn't dairy in the popcorn, whether in the buttery topping or the salt? Let me add that this isn't just a vegan or Buddhist issue, there are people with serious allergies to dairy and have died from being misinformed about food. I understand you can't guarantee there won't be cross contamination, but I would think you could at the very least provide a definitive answer about your popcorn. If you are simply a customer service representative and you don't have that information, please forward me the contact information to your corporate office so I can finally get a definite answer. Thanks so much for your assistance."

      My only side-note is that I've noticed the responses they provide publicly tend to be more accurate because they are making a statement to a large audience. I know when Whole Foods and Target and all the other companies I harass have a positive response, they respond on twitter; but when it's not what I want to hear, they DM me. So...I don't know, but I guess we'll soon find out. Thanks for showing me that link. If I get a definite answer, maybe I'll reach out to whomever runs that blog.

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    2. Oh dang! It’s awesome that you reacted and responded so fast!! I really didn’t know what the best way was to contact the company. Publicly absolutely does seem like the best idea to get an accurate response since the company can be held accountable easier by a large number of people. I did ask at my local theatre and they guaranteed me that the buttery topping is all imitation butter. It is still frustrating to be hearing contradictory information on such an important topic though. I am vegan, my fiancé is lactose intolerant, and my dad’s fiancée is very allergic to dairy and gluten. So I am very thankful to have resources and people like yourself really getting on these companies haha.

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    3. Just an update...still no response. I'm going to try writing them. Companies tend to respond more accurately to people who take the time to write out actual letters and mail them. Trying to find out what's in your food really shouldn't involve this much work...yeesh!

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    1. Nada. I guess the problem is, their reps can always say whatever they want. Even if it's inaccurate, they can always blame the rep and not take any real responsibility for false information. Maybe the only real solution...while a pain in the ass...is to ask the theatre you go to to show you the bag of salt and butter flavored oil to confirm it's vegan. Why can't companies just be transparent? So frustrating.

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