Are Rice Krispies Vegan?

Life would be a lot easier if every big supermarket brand made vegan products, but we know this isn’t the case. Because the bright blue puffed rice boxes are so common, a lot of people ask the question – are Rice Krispies cereal vegan? The answer is that they are not.

This is for one main reason – vitamin D3, but we will look into this in more detail, and see if there are any vegan alternatives available.

Ingredients

They may have been a popular cereal for over 100 years, but Kellogs has not made this cereal vegan. Fortified cereals can be a thorn in the side of many vegans, especially since we could often get a lot of use out of the added vitamins and minerals.

When it comes to Rice Krispies, Vitamin D3 is the main animal-derived culprit, but as it isn’t the only ingredient of interest, we should take a closer look:

Rice, sugar, contains 2% or less of salt, malt flavor. Vitamins and Minerals: Iron (ferric phosphate), niacinamide, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamin hydrochloride), folic acid, vitamin D3, vitamin B12.

Without the vitamins and minerals, there aren’t many ingredients, but the inclusion of sugar is an issue.

Sugar and Bone Char

Sugar processed in the USA and used in confectionery items and cereals are often decolorized using bone char. This is where the charred bones of cattle and pigs are used to make sugar a more desirable white.

This makes any product non-vegan but since it can be hard to tell where companies source their sugar from, it is problematic for plant-based diets. 

There is no way of telling if a brand uses this process or not unless contacting them directly. Even then, many will give a vague answer about using multiple suppliers. This is why it is hard to say if Rice Krispies use bone char.

To stay on the safe side, many vegans only buy products made with organic sugar or sugar made from coconut or beets.

Vitamin D3

Some may refer to this ingredient as ‘sheep’s grease’ and whilst this is unpleasant, it isn’t far from the truth. A large portion of the D3 used to fortify cereal is derived from lanolin, This is an oil that is found in sheep’s wool and is used as a form of waterproofing. 

There are vegan alternatives, but since lanolin is the cheaper, more popular alternative, it is more likely to be the D3 of choice for Rice Krispies. 

The inclusion of lanolin-derived vitamin D3 is enough to ensure Rice Krispies are not vegan. The proof of its source is as follows:

Non Vegan Vitamin D3 In Rice Krispies

Kellogs has confirmed the source of their animal ingredients across their products on their website, which includes D3:

Animal Sources: Eggs, Dairy (Milk, Whey, Casein, Cheese, Lactose and Yogurt), Gelatin, Vitamin D3 (but the ingredient label may not denote whether the vitamin is D2 or D3)

This is the clarification that many vegans like to see, although it would be good if this was featured on the label itself and not hidden on the website. 

When you need to decide in the supermarket, the label is key. 

Vegan Sourced Ingredients In Kellogs

Kellogs do use vegan ingredients, but when combined with any non-vegan ingredient, it makes the entire product unsuitable. Still, here is what Kellogs advises are their vegan ingredients (some are in Rice Krispies):

Non-Animal Sources: Vitamin B12, Vitamin D2 (but the ingredient label may not denote whether the vitamin is D2 or D3), Vitamin B2/riboflavin, Lactic acid • Proteolytic enzymes, Rennet, Emulsifiers (including monoglycerides, diglycerides, and polysorbate), Enzymes, Glycerin, Yeast ingredients

Vegan Alternatives

Some reputable brands are making plant-based alternatives for you and your vegan children to enjoy. They may lack a snap, crackle, and pop, but they are cruelty-free:

Nature’s Path Organic Rice Crispy Cereal, 10 OZ

Both organic and gluten-free, these make for an excellent alternative to cereals that are fortified with animal-based D3. Compared to Rice Krispies, the ingredients are rather simple and include organic cane sugar which means there is no risk of it being processed with bone char. 

They are as close to the real thing whilst remaining vegan, and the ingredients read as follows:

Brown Rice Flour*, Cane Sugar*, Sea Salt, Molasses* (*Organic)

One Degree Organic Sprouted Brown Rice Cacao Crisps

Another organic option that doesn’t use a lot of ingredients to make their cereal. The cacao gives the milk alternative of choice a chocolatey taste that kids love and they have the same texture as Rice Krispies without the cruelty.

They are non-GMO, and we like that they include organic coconut palm sugar as this means there is no risk of bone char being used at any time. The ingredients read as follows:

Organic Brown Rice, Organic Coconut Palm Sugar, Organic Cacao, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Sunflower Lecithin, Unrefined Salt, Tocopherols (Vitamin E).

365 by Whole Foods Market, Cereal Brown Rice Crisps 

A Whole Foods brand, these are organic, made with only a handful of ingredients, and plant-based. 

Made with whole grains and the authentic texture to match Rice Krispies, these are an excellent alternative that will keep kids happy around the breakfast table. Here are the ingredients:

ORGANIC WHOLE GRAIN BROWN RICE, ORGANIC CANE SUGAR, SEA SALT

Final Word

Although Kellogg’s Rice Krispies are not vegan, there is a variety of plant-based rice breakfast cereals to choose from. 

The innocent faces of those breakfast elves on the box may not be so happy when they find out where the vitamin D3 is derived from, but at least we can get some clarity to make an informed decision.

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