Traditional American cereal is grain based. That means a lot of cereal varieties have the potential to classify as vegan. However, some hidden ingredients found in those cereals may cause the classification of "vegan" to no longer apply.
What Makes a Cereal Vegan
Foods that are vegan don't contain ingredients that have come from animals. This, most obviously, means a lack of meat, but other ingredients that must be excluded include eggs, fish, dairy derivatives such as whey and casein, carmine, cholesterol, fish oil, glycerine, lactic acid, lipase, rennet, retinol, and shellac. A more in-depth list can be found at PETA.
In cereal, some animal-based ingredients can hide in the ingredient label that even meat eaters aren't aware of.
Sneaky Ingredients to Avoid
Besides avoiding the above ingredients, some sneakier animal-derived ingredients exist that all consumers may not be educated about. If following a vegan diet you want to avoid cereals that contain the following ingredients in combination with those on PETA's website.
- Vitamin D3 in the form of lanolin
- Calcium caseinate
- Confectioner's sugar or shellac that comes from insects
If just beginning a vegan diet or when doubtful about the cereals you're buying, a safe practice is to only buy cereals that are certified vegan. This ensures they do not contain any animal-derived food ingredients.
Top Vegan Cereals
Many traditional household cereals contain non-vegan ingredients. Due to the popularity of veganism, cereal companies are beginning to accommodate vegan shoppers now more than ever. Although making a vegan cereal seems complicated, many food manufacturers have done just that. The following is a list of 100 percent certified delicious vegan cereals to choose from.
- Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Organic Granola Cereal - Purely Elizabeth makes a hearty granola providing three grams of protein and two grams of fiber. This granola is certified vegan, gluten-free, USDA organic, non-GMO, and is free from refined sugars. This granola pairs well with almond milk and fresh berries. Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Organic Granola Cereal is available for just over $5.00 per bag.
Dr. McDougall's Right Foods Organic Mighty Omega Superfood Hot Cereal - This cereal is the right way to start your day as it is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, and healthy carbohydrates. This hot cereal is in a cook-ready package you just pop in the microwave. It is also certified vegan, USDA organic, non-GMO, sustainable, and a good source of whole grains. Dr. McDougall's products can be purchased at most local stores, on their website, or Amazon for about $16.00 for a pack of six.
Kashi Organic Promise Sweet Potato Sunshine Cereal - Although not all Kashi cereals qualify as vegan, their Sweet Potato Sunrise Cereal does. Made with brown rice, hard red wheat, and dried sweet potato, this cereal is certified USDA organic, non-GMO, vegan, and the potatoes are even sourced in the US. This cereal is great topped with sliced bananas and is available at Walmart for just over $4.00.
Nature's Path Crunchy Maple Sunrise - This maple cereal boasts all natural maple syrup, no artificial coloring or flavors, and only 110 calories for 2/3 cup. Nature's Path Crunchy Maple Sunrise is certified vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, USDA organic, and is a good source of whole grains. This cereal can be purchased at many local grocery stores for around $4.50.
Food manufacturers have responded to the growth in popularity of the vegan diet and are producing more vegan cereals than ever before. However, hidden ingredients can be found in many common cereal brands that make them non-vegan. It is best to purchase certified vegan cereal brands such as those listed above to ensure your cereal is actually vegan, and always double check the ingredient label.