Cheerios cereal has been around since the early 1940s. They have become a favorite to people both young and old. This O-shaped cereal is enjoyed in more than 100 countries and has remained one of the most popular options throughout the years.
Most vegans and non-vegans have at least heard of this cereal, but are Cheerios vegan? It would be easy to assume Cheerios are safe with such simple-seeming ingredients. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Are Honey Nut Cheerios vegan?
Are Honey Nut Cheerios vegan? This question is one you may answer on your own without much thought. The name implies that they are not vegan as they contain honey, which is true. Honey Nut Cheerios are not vegan, but what about other Cheerios?
The simple answer is no, but it is more complicated than that. Cheerios contain ingredients that a new vegan might assume are safe. This mistake would be easy to make, but Cheerios are not vegan if you are a strict vegan. Why are Cheerios not vegan?
Honey Nut Cheerios and Original Cheerios are both fortified with vitamin D. Without further exploration, this may sound harmless, but this vitamin D comes from wool grease.
If you love Cheerios, there is a possible option for you. Oat Cheerios are just as tasty as Original Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios but are vegan-friendly. Sort of..but we’ll get to that later.
What ingredients are in Cheerios?
The ingredients in Original Cheerios seem simple. It would be easy to assume they are vegan-friendly, but it is trickier than that. Some ingredients in popular cereals go overlooked because they sound like they would be vegan-friendly.
The ingredients in Original Cheerios include:
- Whole Grain Oats
- Corn Starch
- Tripotassium Phosphate
- Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols)
- Calcium Carbonate
- Iron and Zinc (mineral nutrients)
- Vitamin C (sodium ascorbate)
- A B Vitamin (niacinamide)
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride)
- Vitamin A (palmitate)
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin mononitrate)
- A B Vitamin (folic acid)
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D3
The ingredients found in other Cheerios vary, but many remain the same. They tend to include whole grain oats and other healthy ingredients. With all of the vitamins in Cheerios, one might assume this option is great for vegans, but that is not the case.
Cheerios do not contain most non-vegan ingredients found in popular cereal brands.
Luckily Cheerios does not contain natural flavors or added color. These two ingredients go unnoticed because they sound harmless to animals. Unfortunately, some artificial colors come from bugs and many go through animal testing. This coloring is not always cruelty-free or safe for vegans. The same goes for natural flavors.
Natural flavor is a term used to refer to many ingredients. According to the FDA, natural flavors can come from spice, fruit, fruit juice, vegetables, vegetable juice, edible yeast, herbs, bark, bud, root, leaf, and other plant materials. However, they can also come from meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy, or fermentation products. Natural flavors can come from any of these sources above and fall under this name, so they are not always vegan.
Cheerios seem pretty straightforward. They do not contain milk ingredients, natural flavors, or added color. It can be hard to find a product without palm oil, but Cheerios skip this ingredient too. The issues arise when it comes to vitamin D3.
Why is vitamin D3 in cereals not always vegan?
Vitamin D3 can be vegan, but in most cases, it is not. That is because vitamin D3 often comes from lanolin. In many cases, the process of creating lanolin uses oil in sheep’s wool. The oil that comes from wool is not vegan. Vegans are against the exploitation of animals.
If someone were to make an exception with vitamin D3 because they thought no animals face harm in the process of making it, they would be mistaken. Taking wool from sheep sounds like something that could happen without harming animals, but the wool industry has many violent practices.
If vitamin D3 is lanolin-derived, it is not vegan-friendly.
Are Cheerios vegan?
Until Cheerios change, it might be best for vegans to avoid this classic cereal.
Feel free to eat Cheerios if your plant-based diet does not involve being a strict vegan, and you are okay with consuming a tiny amount of animal-based vitamin D3. Skip Cheerios if you are a strict vegan and see the harm in even the smallest amount of this product.
In 2015 Cheerios made some alterations to become gluten-free. Before that, they changed the recipe to eliminate genetically modified ingredients. Today they are GMO-free and gluten-free. This brand may make additional changes in the future and become certified vegan in the process.
While some brands stick to their original recipes and hesitate to make positive changes, the Cheerios brand seems open-minded. They want to offer people a healthy cereal option and include others. Hopefully, this translates to plant-based eaters soon. For now, it is best to avoid Cheerios and opt for a vegan-friendly alternative. If you are looking for an alternative, you should check out our article about Fruit Loops.
Frequently Asked Questions
Feel free to eat Cheerios if your plant-based diet does not involve being a strict vegan, and you are okay with consuming a tiny amount of animal-based vitamin D3.
Unfortunately, Honey Nut Cheerios are not vegan, because it contains honey, which is a no-go for us.
Oat Cheerios are not entirely vegan, because it contains vitamin D3. If you are a strict-vegan, you should avoid oat Cheerios as well.
Fruity Cheerios are not entirely vegan, because it contains vitamin D3. If you are a strict-vegan, you should avoid fruity Cheerios as well.