Many vegans find it difficult to mix up breakfasts with convenient plant-based cereals, which begs the question, what cereals are vegan?
With so many options, many are “accidentally” vegan and some display it proudly on the side of the box. We’re going to take a closer look to make breakfast easier for any vegan.
Vegan Cereal Brands
Barbara’s Puffins Cereals
You get to take your pick of Barbara’s Organic Corn Flakes, Barbara’s Peanut Butter Puffins, and Barbara’s Puffin Originals.
To give you a flavor of what you can and cannot expect (think no animal products etc) to find in these vegan-friendly cereals, here are the ingredients for their original cereal:
CORN FLOUR, WHOLE GRAIN OAT FLOUR, CANE SUGAR, OAT FIBER, UNSULFURATED MOLASSES, CORN BRAN, SEA SALT, BAKING SODA, VITAMIN C (ASCORBIC ACID), TOCOPHEROLS (ANTIOXIDANTS TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS).
The cane sugar can’t be processed with bone char because they say they are vegan, and PETA recommends them. This is a relief as it is otherwise a common occurrence in a lot of USA-made products that use the charred bones of cattle and pigs to decolorize their sugar.
This might be a bit of a surprise to some, but many believe Cap’n Crunch’s cereals are vegan. Their Crunch Berries, Original, and Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch are all recommended by PETA although the controversial issue of sugar and bone char is always there, ad not the only concern.
To show you what you are in for, here are the ingredients for Cap’n Crunch Original cereal:
Corn Flour, Sugar, Oat Flour, Brown Sugar, Palm and/or Coconut Oil, Salt, Reduced Iron, Yellow 5, Niacinamide*, Yellow 6, BHT (to preserve freshness), Thiamin Mononitrate*, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride*, Riboflavin*, Folic Acid*
On top of the sugar content, there is also the potential for palm oil to be used, plus artificial colors such as Yellow 5 & 6. Although they are not animal-derived, artificial colors are often tested on animals, making them problematic for most vegans.
Still, they do not contain any animal-derived ingredients so many will see them as fine to consume.
Some Kashi cereals are vegan. Both Strawberry Fields, Kashi Island Vanilla, and Kashi Go are vegan friendly, so grab a box and pour over your morning milk substitute of choice.
Their Kashi Go cereal offers a good plant-based protein hit with 10g in every serving, and even says it is vegan which is always reassuring.
Take the almond milk (or whatever you like to use) out of the fridge, and grab some Nature’s Path Lightly Frosted Flakes or Crispy Rice cereal.
Their Envirokidz brand makes Amazon flakes that are vegan. Great for a young vegan, they are made from only three ingredients, and every box helps endangered blue macaws and their habitat.
The creators of the Organic Graham Crunch know a thing or two about making a vegan-friendly breakfast cereal.
One look at the ingredients for their Graham Crunch recipe and it’s nice to see plenty of organic ingredients, fiber, and no animal-based ingredients:
Whole Grain Wheat*, Cane Sugar*, Rice Flour*, Oat Fiber*, Sunflower Oil*, Dextrose*, Molasses*, Baking Soda, Sea Salt. Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) Added To Preserve Freshness. *Organic
Avoid their honey vanilla crunch cereal for obvious reasons and you will find that there are plenty of other vegan options available from Cacadiam Farm.
You have the option of Original Bran from their Fiber One brand but be sure to avoid their honey clusters (again, obviously not vegan!)
Original Bran provides 65% of your daily fiber, and a bunch of plant-based ingredients, and makes an excellent breakfast option when taken with plant-based milk.
The vegan-friendly ingredients are as follows:
Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Bran, Modified Wheat Starch, Color (caramel color and annatto extract), Guar Gum, Cellulose Gum, Salt, Baking Soda, Sucralose, Natural Flavor.
365 Everyday Life
Certified organic is always a good place to start, and that is what the PETA cruelty-free company 365 Everyday Life offers with their Morning O’s Organic Whole Grain Oat & Rice Flour Cereal.
Made with organic cane sugar, there is no risk of it being processed with bone char so vegans can rest assured that this wholesome product is fine for their morning routine.
Just to further make the point, here are the ingredients:
ORGANIC WHOLE GRAIN OAT FLOUR, ORGANIC WHEAT STARCH, ORGANIC CANE SUGAR, SEA SALT, CALCIUM CARBONATE, MIXED TOCOPHEROLS (ADDED TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS).
Quaker Life Cereal
Cinnamon and cereal just seem to go together so well. This is partly why we’re relieved to see Quaker Life Cinnamon and Original are both vegan-friendly.
Made with whole grains and full of fiber, the only concern is the sugar as there is nothing to say that they do not use bone char to process and decolorize their sweet ingredient. Still, the ingredients are plant-based so many vegans will see it as a new breakfast option.
Mom’s Best Cereals
Popular with plant-based kids, and for good reason. They are made with no high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or preservatives, and vegan-friendly ingredients.
The sugar content is questionable, but since PETA lists it as a vegan kids cereal, we have to assume that bone char isn’t an issue. The simple ingredients are also non-GMO verified.
An interesting brand with more than one vegan option when it comes to their cereal. The Comet Crispies are full of plant protein and are made from the following ingredients:
Bean Blend (Navy Beans, Lentils, Garbanzo Beans), Brown Rice, Dried Cane Syrup, Cocoa (processed with Alkali), Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavor, Salt, Sunflower Lecithin, Vitamin E (to maintain freshness).
The other popular options from Love Grown are Sea Stars and Cinnamon Lion Hearts, both are vegan.
Chex cereals are not all vegan for many different reasons. The inclusion of sugar and the use of Vitamin D3 in most versions is enough to make Chex cereal non-vegan. Some versions also include honey, making them completely unappealing to vegans.
Popular Non-Vegan Cereals To Avoid
The following brands may be popular in your local store, but should not be consumed by anyone following a cruelty-free, plant-based life.
Kellogs-owned Fruit Loops are not your vegan friend. They contain sugar which may or may not be forgivable but it is the inclusion of Red 40 and other artificial colors that are problematic.
Because they are often tested on animals, many vegans choose to avoid them. They are made from petroleum byproducts, making them plant-based, but the question of ethics cannot be avoided for many vegans.
The vitamin D3 content also makes Fruit Loops non-vegan. Although obtaining D3 from a plant-based source is possible, most brands get theirs from lanolin.
Why is this an issue? Well, lanolin is derived from sheep’s wool and is a greasy substance that is used in different ways. There is no ethical way about it, wool is removed in a way that causes sheep a lot of pain.
So, as you can see by the ingredients, Fruit Loops are not vegan:
Corn flour blend (whole grain yellow corn flour, degerminated yellow corn flour), sugar, wheat flour, whole grain oat flour, modified food starch, contains 2% or less of vegetable oil (hydrogenated coconut, soybean, and/or cottonseed), oat fiber, maltodextrin, salt, soluble corn fiber, natural flavor, red 40, yellow 5, blue 1, yellow 6, BHT for freshness. Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), reduced iron, niacinamide, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamin hydrochloride), folic acid, vitamin D3, vitamin B12.
Apple Jacks are not vegan for similar reasons to Fruit Loops. There is sugar that could be processed with bone char, yellow 5 and Red 40 coloring that has been tested on animals, and Vitamin D3.
Yes, it might have dried apples, but this is nowhere near enough to make this a good option for a plant-based diet.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Ok, it may have one of our favorite combinations in cinnamon and cereal, but there are plant-based problems with Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It is not vegan because it contains vitamin D3, most likely derived from lanolin (sheep’s wool).
There is also caramel food color which is known for being tested on animals, something most vegans cannot accept. It used to contain milk, and although removing it is a step in the right direction, it isn’t enough to make this a vegan option.
Frosted Mini-Wheats are another bite-sized cereal option, but not one you will want to consume as a vegan. This may be one of the most surprising breakfast cereals on the list because it contains gelatin.
Made by billing the bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilages, and hooves of cattle and pigs, gelatin forms a gel that is used as a thickening agent in many confectionery and baked goods.
Combine this with questionable sugar, and the ingredients are as follows:
Whole Grain Wheat, Sugar, Contains 2% or Less of Brown Rice Syrup, Gelatin, BHT for Freshness. Vitamin and Minerals: Reduced Iron, Folic Acid.
They may have the word fruit in their name, but Fruity Pebbles are not as wholesome as you may hope. As a vegan, the problematic ingredients include the artificial colors Red 40 and Yellow 5 among others, as well as sugar, and palm oil.
Because of its devastating impact on the environment, many vegans won’t touch products made with palm oil. It is derived in a way that destroys the rainforest, a natural habitat for many displaced animals.
Fruity Pebbles also contain Vitamin D3 which we have confirmed is highly unlikely to be vegan.
It is becoming the common ingredient that prevents many bowls of cereal from being vegan, but vitamin D3 is included in Rice Krispies. It also uses sugar, but the main culprit that is concerning is the lanolin derived ingredient included in the following recipe:
Rice, sugar, contains 2% or less 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.
More Cereal Brands
Common Non-Vegan Ingredients in Cereal
The most common is sugar because it could be processed with bone char. An ingredient that many will turn a blind eye to, look for organic sugar or sugar derived from beets or coconut as these will not be processed with bone char.
Another common non-vegan ingredient is the synthetic colors that many use. Red 40 is one that always seems to come up and is frequently tested on animals such as rats and cows.
They are forced to consume high doses of Red 40 to test its safety for humans, with many dying as a result.
A lot of brands use honey to flavor and sell their cereal. It is often seen as a good way of marketing their cereal but it does mean their products are not vegan.
The next issue that many vegans will have with cereal is the added vitamins. This is because Vitamin D3 often makes its way into the recipe.
Any breakfast cereal with this ingredient should be avoided as it is highly likely that is derived from lanolin, found in sheep’s wool.
Then there is gelatin. It is not the most common ingredient in cereal, but certainly, one to look out for. We have seen Kellogs include it in their Frosted Mini-Wheats recipe after all.
What To Look For In Vegan Cereal
The main thing to look for is an ingredient list that you can pronounce and a brand that doesn’t need to use too many ingredients.
Organic sugar is always good as it means it hasn’t been processed with bone char and anything that uses fruit juice to sweeten their cereal can be a worthwhile choice. Of course, we all want fiber in our diet, and breakfast cereals are often great for this, so wheat grain oat flour, and the likes are always welcome.
Nutritional Facts Label
A lot of cereals will include information about what they have used to fortify their product so look out for vitamin D3 if it is to be found on the label.
From a dietary perspective, you want to see how much fiber is included, and that there are not excessive amounts of salt and sugar used to start your day right.
It is always good to look at the calorie content as this can be a good indication as to whether the cereal is a good choice or not.
Are There Any Dedicated Vegan Cereal Brands?
Brands are always changing their recipe so it can be hard to say which will stick to being vegan. However, some companies are known for making numerous vegan products even if it is not the case for all of their products.
We like Natures Path as they have several options (just remember to check for the likes of honey). Other brands making numerous vegan cereals include Cascadian Farm, Barbara’s Puffins, and Kashi.
What Makes A Cereal Vegan?
By staying clear of animal-derived ingredients such as vitamin D3 and honey, most brands could be vegan.
Vegan cereals will often use organic sugar to ensure it is not derived from bone char and no artificial colors that are tested on animals. They can also be sweetened using fruit rather than sugar.
Whilst many store-bought brands are making accidentally vegan cereals, you have plenty of options from reputable plant-based brands who even label their products as vegan.
Breakfast used to be a tricky time for many vegans, but there are now more brands than ever making products worthy of mixing with your plant-based milk every morning.