Are Cheerios Vegan? A Comprehensive Analysis of Ingredients

Many people wonder if Cheerios, a popular breakfast cereal, are suitable for a vegan diet. With an increasing number of people turning towards a plant-based lifestyle, it’s essential to know whether commonly consumed foods like Cheerios align with vegan principles. In this article, we will delve into the world of Cheerios and explore the ingredients they contain, which may or may not make them vegan-friendly.

To determine if Cheerios are vegan, we must examine the ingredients found in different types of Cheerios and their sources. We will also discuss potential controversies surrounding the vegan status of Cheerios, as no product can be universally deemed vegan due to varying perspectives among vegans. Finally, we will present some alternatives to Cheerios for those following a strict vegan diet.

Key Takeaways

  • Different types of Cheerios may contain varying ingredients, affecting their vegan status.
  • Controversies exist regarding the vegan classification of Cheerios due to varying perspectives.
  • Vegan-friendly alternatives to Cheerios are available for those seeking strict compliance with a plant-based diet.

Are Cheerios Vegan?

We understand that many of our readers are interested in knowing whether Cheerios are vegan or not. As a popular breakfast cereal, Cheerios are often a go-to choice for those seeking a quick and healthy meal to start their day. When it comes to determining if Cheerios are vegan, we need to take a close look at the ingredients and the production process.

Firstly, let’s examine the primary components of original Cheerios. The main ingredient is whole grain oats, which are naturally vegan. Other ingredients include corn starch, sugar, salt, and a mix of different vitamins and minerals. At a glance, all of these elements seem to be vegan-friendly. However, there is more to consider.

Cheerios are also fortified with various vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin D3. Unfortunately, the source of Vitamin D3 in Cheerios is derived from lanolin, which is obtained from sheep’s wool. This makes it a non-vegan ingredient. As a result, original Cheerios are not considered entirely vegan due to the presence of Vitamin D3 from an animal source.

Moreover, the production process is another aspect to consider. While oats are inherently vegan, there is a possibility of cross-contamination with non-vegan ingredients during manufacturing. For instance, some facilities might produce other cereals with ingredients like honey or dairy, which could come into contact with Cheerios. Although this may not be a concern for some, strict vegans might want to keep this in mind.

In summary, while the primary components of Cheerios are vegan, the inclusion of Vitamin D3 from an animal source and the potential for cross-contamination during production make them not entirely vegan. It is crucial for those adhering to a strict vegan lifestyle to examine the ingredients and production methods of any food products they consume.

Types of Cheerios and Their Ingredients

Original Cheerios

Original Cheerios are made primarily from whole grain oats. The other ingredients include corn starch, sugar, salt, and a few essential vitamins and minerals. To maintain their crispiness, we use a mixture of calcium carbonate and tocopherols. Because of their simple ingredients, original Cheerios can be considered vegan.

Honey Nut Cheerios

Honey Nut Cheerios have a distinct honey and almond flavor. In addition to the primary ingredients found in the Original Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios contain honey, almond flavor, and natural flavors. Honey is an animal-derived product, so we cannot consider Honey Nut Cheerios as vegan.

Multigrain Cheerios

Multigrain Cheerios consist of 5 whole grains: oats, corn, rice, wheat, and barley. We use a mix of corn starch, sugar, and salt, as well as vitamins and minerals to maintain their balanced taste. The ingredients in Multigrain Cheerios don’t include any animal-derived products, making them vegan-friendly.

Frosted Cheerios

Frosted Cheerios have a sweet frosting covering the whole grain oats. The frosting includes sugar, corn starch, salt, and natural flavors. Other ingredients resemble those in Original Cheerios. Since no animal-derived ingredients are present, Frosted Cheerios can be viewed as vegan.

Chocolate Cheerios

Chocolate Cheerios contain cocoa powder, which is responsible for their rich chocolate flavor. Along with the primary whole grain oats, we use sugar, corn starch, and various vitamins and minerals. Without any animal-derived components, Chocolate Cheerios qualify as vegan.

Apple Cinnamon Cheerios

Apple Cinnamon Cheerios are flavored with apple puree concentrate, cinnamon, and other natural flavors. The core ingredients are whole grain oats, sugar, corn starch, and a blend of vitamins and minerals. Since there aren’t any animal-derived ingredients, Apple Cinnamon Cheerios can be considered vegan.

Other Varieties

Various other Cheerios flavors and limited editions are available, each with its unique combination of ingredients. We recommend checking the ingredient list of each variety to verify its vegan status. Some flavors may include animal-derived elements, making them unsuitable for vegans.

Related: Is Cinnamon Toast Crunch Vegan?

Animal-Derived Ingredients in Cheerios


Cheerios are often thought of as a vegan-friendly cereal. However, one of the ingredients commonly found in certain varieties is honey. Honey is made by bees and is considered an animal-derived product, which means it is not suitable for those following a strict vegan diet. While Original Cheerios and other varieties may not specifically include honey in their recipes, it is worth noting for those who are particularly cautious about their consumption of animal-derived ingredients.

Vitamin D3

Another potentially non-vegan ingredient in some Cheerios products is Vitamin D3. This is usually derived from fish liver oil or lanolin, a substance obtained from sheep’s wool. Since both of these sources are animal-derived, they may not be appropriate for a strict vegan lifestyle. Therefore, it is important for vegan consumers to check the label and make sure that the specific Cheerios variety they choose does not contain Vitamin D3.


The sugar used in Cheerios products may also present a concern for some vegans. Some sugar is processed using bone char, which is made from the bones of animals. This processing method can make the sugar non-vegan. However, it is difficult to ascertain the exact source of the sugar and how it was processed. As a result, some vegans may decide to avoid Cheerios containing sugar.

Calcium Carbonate

Calcium carbonate is a common ingredient in many foods, including Cheerios. It is typically used as a source of calcium and can be derived from various sources, including limestone, eggshells, and seashells. Since eggshells and seashells are animal-derived sources, calcium carbonate could potentially be non-vegan. It’s important to note, however, that the majority of calcium carbonate used in the food industry is derived from mineral sources, such as limestone.

Mixed Tocopherols

Finally, mixed tocopherols are used in some Cheerios products as an antioxidant and to preserve freshness. These can be derived from plant or animal sources, such as soybean oil or fish liver oil. While plant-based sources are vegan-friendly, the fish liver oil is not. It is not always clear which source is used in particular products, so vegans should exercise caution when considering Cheerios products containing mixed tocopherols.

Plant-Based Ingredients in Cheerios


One of the primary ingredients in Cheerios is oats. Oats are a nutritious whole grain rich in fiber, protein, and essential nutrients. As a plant-based cereal, oats are a staple in many vegan diets. We make sure the oats used in Cheerios are sourced responsibly and produced without harming the environment.

Corn Starch

Another key ingredient in Cheerios is corn starch, which is derived from corn – a plant-based source. Corn starch acts as a binder and thickener, helping to give Cheerios their distinct shape and texture. As a plant-based ingredient, it aligns well with vegan diets.


Salt is an essential mineral and a basic flavor enhancer used in various foods, including Cheerios. Given its mineral origin, salt is appropriate for vegan diets as it is neither derived from animals nor contains any animal byproducts.


In order to fortify Cheerios and make them even more nutritious, vitamins are added to the mix. These essential nutrients are important for maintaining good health and can benefit individuals choosing to follow a vegan lifestyle. It is important to ensure that the vitamins used in Cheerios are sourced from plant-based or synthetic materials to align with vegan guidelines.


Cheerios are also fortified with minerals, which contribute to the overall nutritious profile of the cereal. Minerals play a vital role in various bodily functions and are essential for maintaining optimal health. Like vitamins, the minerals used in Cheerios must be vegan-friendly and free of any animal-derived ingredients.

Our commitment to using plant-based ingredients in Cheerios makes them a suitable choice for individuals following a vegan lifestyle. The use of oats, corn starch, salt, vitamins, and minerals are all excellent examples of how we strive to create a responsibly sourced and nutritious cereal that caters to a wide range of dietary preferences.

Vegan Controversies Surrounding Cheerios

Bone Char Refined Sugar

In some cases, Cheerios might contain sugar that has been refined using bone char, which is derived from animal bones. This is a concern for vegans, as it involves the indirect exploitation of animals. Bone char is typically used to decolorize and filter sugars. However, it is important to note that not all sugar refineries utilize bone char, and some use alternative vegan-friendly methods like the use of activated charcoal. Consequently, the sugar used in Cheerios may or may not have been processed using bone char.

Vitamin D3 from Lanolin

Another controversial ingredient found in some varieties of Cheerios is vitamin D3, which is often obtained from lanolin, a wax secreted by the glands of sheep. Lanolin is commonly extracted from shorn sheep’s wool, making it a non-vegan ingredient. The inclusion of vitamin D3 from lanolin in particular Cheerios products may cause these products to be considered non-vegan. It’s important to carefully check the labels to confirm the source of the vitamin D3 is vegan or plant-derived.

Exploitation of Bees

The honey-flavored Cheerios, known as ‘Honey Nut Cheerios,’ contain real honey. Vegans tend to avoid products containing honey as it involves the exploitation of bees. Beekeepers extract honey from the beehives, which can disrupt and potentially harm the bees. In addition, bees produce honey for their own nourishment, and taking it away is considered greedy from a vegan standpoint. As a result, Honey Nut Cheerios, and possibly other varieties sweetened with honey, may not be considered vegan-friendly.

Alternatives to Cheerios for Vegans

We understand that following a vegan lifestyle can sometimes be challenging when it comes to finding suitable breakfast options. While Cheerios may contain some non-vegan ingredients, there are plenty of healthy and delicious alternatives for vegans to consider. In this section, we will provide a few vegan-friendly alternatives that you can rely on to start your day.

1. Granola and Oat-based Cereals

A popular choice among vegans is granola and oat-based cereals. They offer a hearty, satisfying meal made from whole grains and a variety of nuts and seeds. Look for brands that use natural sweeteners like maple syrup or agave syrup to keep in line with a vegan diet. You can even make your own granola with a personalized mix of ingredients.

2. Puffed Rice and Corn Flakes

Puffed rice and corn flakes are simple, yet classic breakfast options that are both vegan-friendly and delicious. These cereals can be enjoyed with your choice of plant-based milk, such as almond, soy, or oat milk. To add some natural sweetness and extra nutrients, try tossing in some fresh fruits or chia seeds.

3. Fruit and Vegetable Smoothies

For a more refreshing breakfast, we recommend trying fruit and vegetable smoothies. They provide an excellent way to incorporate essential nutrients into your diet while keeping things simple and delicious. To make a smoothie, blend your favorite fruits like berries, bananas, or mangoes with vegetables like spinach or kale and mix with a vegan-friendly liquid base such as coconut water or almond milk. You can also add protein sources like nuts and seeds for an extra energy booster.

4. Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seed pudding is a great alternative that you can prepare ahead of time for a quick and nutritious breakfast. To make this pudding, simply mix chia seeds with your preferred plant-based milk and let it sit overnight. In the morning, you can add your favorite fruits, nuts, or seeds to complete the dish according to your taste preferences.

These alternative options offer a variety of flavors and textures to suit any vegan palate. By incorporating these healthy and vegan-friendly dishes into your morning routine, we believe that you can continue to thrive on your vegan lifestyle with ease and satisfaction.

Conclusions and Recommendations

In our research, we have found that Cheerios are not entirely vegan due to the presence of Vitamin D3 derived from either fish liver oil or lanolin from sheep’s wool. However, they are primarily made of plant-based ingredients such as whole grain oats, cornstarch, and sugar.

For those who are strictly following a vegan lifestyle, we recommend seeking out alternative breakfast cereals that are explicitly labeled as vegan. There are many vegan-friendly options available in the market, including cereals made from whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

If you are a less strict vegan and the trace amounts of animal-derived ingredients in Cheerios do not concern you, then you may still choose to consume Cheerios as part of your diet. It is essential to strike a balance and choose food products that align with your values and preferences.

Finally, we recommend always reading ingredient labels and doing independent research to ensure that the products you consume align with your dietary choices. The ingredients and manufacturing processes of food products may change over time, so it is crucial to stay informed and make educated decisions as a consumer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are some flavors of Cheerios vegan?

Yes, some flavors of Cheerios are vegan-friendly. The Original Cheerios, for instance, are made with whole grain oats and do not contain any animal-derived ingredients. However, not all flavors are suitable for vegans, so it’s essential to check the ingredients list before buying a box.

Do Chocolate Cheerios contain any animal products?

Chocolate Cheerios might contain animal-derived ingredients, such as vitamin D3, which is sourced from lanolin – a substance obtained from sheep’s wool. Additionally, some vegans might avoid sugar that comes from sources that use bone char in the processing.

Are Apple Cinnamon Cheerios suitable for vegans?

Apple Cinnamon Cheerios might not be suitable for vegans, as they might also contain vitamin D3 derived from animal sources. It’s important to verify the ingredients list to ensure no animal-derived components are present.

Is Oat Crunch Cheerios vegan?

Oat Crunch Cheerios is potentially unsuitable for vegans due to vitamin D3 from animal sources, the presence of honey, and possible non-vegan sugar. To find a vegan-friendly alternative, you should check the ingredients of other Cheerios varieties.

Are there any vegan-friendly Cheerio varieties?

Yes, there are vegan-friendly Cheerio varieties. Original Cheerios are considered vegan, as they are made with whole grain oats and do not contain any animal-derived ingredients. It is essential, however, to check the ingredients list, as some factories may have different manufacturing processes which might introduce traces of animal-derived ingredients.

Are Berry Cheerios compatible with a vegan diet?

Berry Cheerios might not be compatible with a vegan diet, as they could contain vitamin D3 derived from animal sources or use sugar refined with bone char. It is advisable to check the ingredients list to ensure the product aligns with your dietary preferences.