Are Cheerios Vegan?

July 31, 2023

Identifying whether a product is vegan or not can often be a daunting task. 

Manufacturers of breakfast cereals are often less than transparent about the origin and nature of their ingredients. 

That’s where we come in. This article aims to uncover the truth and provide support for your admirable dedication to a vegan lifestyle.

Are Cheerios Vegan?

Technically, Cheerios are not entirely vegan. The reasoning behind this classification stems from a few non-vegan ingredients that are integral to the manufacturing of this popular cereal.

Cheerios’ main ingredients include whole-grain oats and corn bran, which are inherently vegan. 

However, the product also contains non-vegan ingredients, such as refined sugar and vitamin D3. 

Refined sugar is often processed with bone char (a product derived from animal bones), to produce white sugar crystals. As for Vitamin D3, it is generally derived from sheep’s wool, a waxy substance known as wool grease, which constitutes an animal source, making it non-vegan.

These may be obscure, iffy non-vegan ingredients, but strict vegans agree — Cheerios aren’t it. And you’ll definitely want to avoid Honey Nut Cheerios and Honey Vanilla Cheerios because honey is definitely not vegan.

Is Cheerios Cruelty-Free?

Sadly, Cheerios cannot be considered entirely cruelty-free. The use of bone char in refining sugar indirectly contributes to animal exploitation and cruelty. Moreover, sheep are often not treated well in wool production processes, which calls into question the ethics behind the sourcing of vitamin D3.

What Are Cheerios Made Of?

Here’s a quick rundown of Cheerios’ primary ingredients:

  • Whole grain oats
  • Corn bran
  • Refined sugar
  • Vitamin D3
  • Cornstarch
  • Canola oil
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Vitamin C (sodium ascorbate)
  • Vitamin E
  • Folic acid
  • Natural flavor

Let’s break down these ingredients:

Whole grain oats

Whole grain oats are an entirely vegan ingredient that offers a variety of health benefits. Oats are the primary component in Original Cheerios, as well as Cheerios Oat Crunch, Honey Nut Cheerios, Multi-Grain Cheerios, and more.

Corn bran

Corn bran is another vegan-friendly plant-based ingredient. It contributes to the overall grain content and adds texture to the cereal.

Refined sugar

Refined sugar is where we run into some issues. Though derived from sugarcane, which is a plant, it is often processed using bone char to create that sparkling white color, which makes it a non-vegan ingredient. Strict vegans tend to avoid bone char.

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3, typically derived from sheep’s wool, is not considered vegan. Despite the essential nutrients it provides, its source involves animal exploitation.

Natural flavor

The natural flavor could potentially be non-vegan, as well, since it can be derived from both plant and animal sources. Unfortunately, the exact source is not specified by General Mills, the Cheerios brand manufacturer.

Vegan Alternatives to Cheerios

If you’ve always loved to eat Cheerios, especially if you like that they’re gluten-free, but you’re switching to a vegan lifestyle, all’s not lost. There are numerous vegan alternatives to Cheerios available:


While Cheerios may appear vegan at first glance due to their whole grain oats and corn bran ingredients, the inclusion of refined sugar and vitamin D3 sourced from animals makes them non-vegan and non-cruelty-free. 

Though Cheerios do provide essential nutrients, those leading a vegan lifestyle may wish to opt for one of the many vegan-friendly food brands available on the market, ensuring a breakfast that aligns with their ethical commitments.