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Why are cool ranch doritos not vegetarian?

Doritos are one of the most popular snack chips around, but their Cool Ranch flavor has long drawn scrutiny from vegetarians. This is because Cool Ranch Doritos contain ingredients that are not suitable for vegetarians.

What makes Cool Ranch Doritos non-vegetarian?

The primary ingredient in Cool Ranch Doritos that makes them unsuitable for vegetarians is monosodium glutamate, more commonly known as MSG. MSG is a common flavor enhancer that is used in many savory snack foods and takeout meals. It is made through a fermentation process that involves bacteria fed on sugar beets, sugar cane or molasses. Since these bacteria are living organisms, MSG is considered an animal-derived ingredient.

Vegans and vegetarians try to avoid animal products and by-products in their diets. Other animal-derived ingredients sometimes found in flavors like Cool Ranch Doritos include casein (milk protein), lactose (milk sugar), whey (another milk protein), and gelatin which is derived from animal bones and connective tissues.

Are other Doritos flavors vegetarian?

While Cool Ranch Doritos contain MSG and other animal ingredients, some other Doritos flavors are suitable for vegetarians:

  • Nacho Cheese Doritos
  • Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos
  • Salsa Verde Doritos
  • Sweet & Smoky BBQ Doritos
  • Blaze Doritos

These flavors avoid non-vegetarian ingredients like MSG, instead using vegetarian flavorings like yeast extract, caramel color, paprika oleoresin, and annatto. However, vegetarians should still scrutinize the ingredients list, as formulations can change. Some additional flavors may also be vegetarian depending on region and formulation.

What makes a food product vegetarian or vegan?

For a food product to be considered vegetarian, it must not contain any ingredients derived from animals. Here are some common animal-derived ingredients vegetarians avoid:

Ingredient Source
Meat, fish, poultry Animals
Gelatin Animal bones/tissues
Lard Pig fat
Rennet Calf stomach enzymes
Casein, whey Milk proteins
Beeswax Bees
Carmine Crushed cochineal insects

For a product to be vegan, it must not contain any animal-derived ingredients and must not involve animal testing. This includes avoiding milk, eggs, honey, and other animal by-products.

Are there any vegetarian options for ranch-flavored snacks?

While Cool Ranch Doritos contain MSG, there are some vegetarian-friendly options for people who want that ranch flavor:

  • Frito-Lay’s Garden Ranch SunChips
  • Ranch-flavored tortilla chips from brands like Food Should Taste Good or Beanfields
  • Ranch-flavored pea crisps from Snack Factory
  • Popchips Ranch Ridges
  • Homemade ranch kale chips
  • Ranch dressing flavored chickpea snacks

Many of these use vegan seasonings like onion powder, garlic powder, dill, and parsley to create the ranch taste instead of relying on MSG. With some creative substitutions, vegetarians don’t have to miss out on the ranch snack experience.


Cool Ranch Doritos contain MSG and other animal-derived ingredients that make them unsuitable for vegetarian diets. Other Doritos flavors avoid MSG and are vegetarian-friendly. Vegetarians should read ingredients lists carefully to watch out for animal-based ingredients like gelatin or whey. While they can’t enjoy Cool Ranch, vegetarians have several alternate options for getting their ranch snack fix.