Are Grits Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

July 17, 2023

In the world of diverse food products, determining the vegan status of a brand or company can often feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. 

This difficulty arises from the murky waters of hidden ingredients and undisclosed sources that manufacturers tend to favor. 

This article seeks to bring clarity to your dining table by revealing the truth about grits, guiding you to support a vegan lifestyle that aligns with your passion for protecting animals and our beloved planet.

Are Grits Vegan?

The essential question we’re exploring is this: Do our favorite companies offer vegan products, or are they straddling the line between plant-based and animal-derived ingredients? In the case of grits, the primary component is ground corn, which makes most varieties of grits vegan friendly. 

However, it’s crucial to note that certain brands, like Quaker Grits, may not entirely fit into the vegan grits category because they may include animal-derived ingredients or additives. Therefore, when looking for vegan grits, make sure to check the label and ingredient list diligently.

Are Grits Cruelty-Free?

When it comes to ensuring that a product is not just vegan but also cruelty-free, the goalpost moves slightly. We need to analyze if the company practices cruelty-free sourcing and manufacturing. 

While corn, the main component of grits, doesn’t directly involve animal harm in its production, the broad umbrella of cruelty-free goes beyond just the ingredients. It involves ensuring that the entire process, from sourcing to production, is devoid of any form of animal cruelty. 

As of now, most grits manufacturing companies do not fully disclose their practices, making it hard to guarantee that all grits are entirely cruelty-free.

What Are Grits Made Of?

Grits is a popular Southern American dish that has its roots in Native American cuisine. Traditionally, it’s a porridge made from a special type of ground corn known as hominy. The rich, creamy consistency of grits has made it a beloved breakfast staple, but it is also served as a side dish for lunch and dinner. 

Let’s explore the ingredients commonly found in grits.

  • Hominy
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Butter (optional)
  • Cheese (optional)


Hominy is corn that has undergone a process called nixtamalization, where the kernels are soaked in an alkali solution, typically lye or lime. This process removes the hull and germ of the corn and gives the corn its distinct flavor and texture. 

Hominy originates from Mesoamerica and was a staple in the diets of many indigenous peoples. In grits, hominy is the primary ingredient that gives the dish its unique texture and taste. As a corn product, hominy is vegan.


Water is a universal ingredient and is essential in the preparation of grits. It helps in the cooking process of the hominy, allowing it to soften and expand to achieve a creamy consistency. The source of water can be as simple as your tap, or from bottled sources if preferred. As a fundamental element of nature, water is vegan.


Salt enhances the flavor of grits. It is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride and is sourced from sea water or rock deposits. Its role in grits, like in many other dishes, is to amplify the natural flavors of the ingredients. Salt is considered vegan because it does not come from an animal source.


Butter is often added to grits for a richer, creamier flavor. It is a dairy product made from the fat and protein components of milk or cream, typically from cows. Its origins can be traced back thousands of years to when our ancestors first began domesticating animals. 

While it adds a rich flavor to the grits, it is not vegan due to it being an animal-derived product. There are vegan alternatives available, such as plant-based butters or vegetable oils.


Cheese is another optional ingredient that is often added to grits to create cheesy grits. It is a dairy product derived from milk and produced in a wide range of flavors, textures, and forms by coagulation of the milk protein casein. 

Cheese is typically produced from cow, goat, or sheep’s milk. It adds a savory, umami flavor to grits but it is not vegan as it is derived from animals. Vegan alternatives, like plant-based cheeses, can be used instead.

Vegan Alternatives to Grits

For those seeking vegan alternatives to traditional grits, you’re in luck! There are plenty of delicious, ethical options to satisfy your cravings.

  • Nutritional yeast grits: Nutritional yeast gives the dish a cheese-like flavor without any dairy.
  • Vegan butter grits: Using vegan butter in your own grits recipe can provide a creamy texture and rich taste without harming animals.
  • Vegan cheese grits: Substituting regular cheese with vegan cheese transforms this dish into a vegan-friendly treat.

Remember, you can make your own grits vegan friendly by using ingredients like garlic powder, cajun seasoning, and vegetable broth. For a creamier texture, cashew milk or a little vegan butter can be added as the grits thicken in a medium-sized pot.


In conclusion, while many grits products are fundamentally vegan, caution must be exercised when purchasing from certain brands. Always read labels carefully to ensure that your grits are vegan friendly. 

On the brighter side, numerous vegan alternatives and vegan grits recipes are available for those who wish to stick to a vegan diet without compromising on the classic taste and texture of creamy grits. 

By choosing these food options, we can enjoy our favorite hot cereals and side dishes, knowing that our choices align with our commitment to a cruelty-free world.