You would have poured vegan soy milk into a bowl of Cheerios and assumed it to be the perfect vegan breakfast. Because what could go wrong with a simple pack of cereal everybody brings home like a tradition. Like many old things you’ve always seen around the house, Cheerios look innocent. But are Cheerios vegan?
A deep dive into the ingredient list has revealed that Cheerios employ many non-vegan constituents. Technically, they aren’t vegan according to most standards. Head onwards if you’re wondering where your naive breakfast cereal went wrong.
Cheerios may not be absolutely vegan, here’s why
Turn the packet backwards and peer into the list of constituents. You’ll spot numerous ingredients that are undoubtedly vegan and you may skip some red flags in the process. These red flags won’t be visible as non-vegan constituents unless you are aware of them in advance. The non-vegan ingredients in Cheerios may be recognized as processed sugar, honey, vitamin D3, calcium carbonate, and fortified flour.
Many vegans don’t admit processed sugar on their table because it is often whitened using bone char
We hope you aren’t hearing this for the first time. The sugar extracted from cane in factories is brown in coloration. It is passed through a bleaching agent known as bone char in order to render it aesthetically superior and free from impurities. You really don’t want a product like bone char to play a role in the production of a food item you casually consume. Bone char is created when cattle bones are burned for long durations at high temperatures to turn them into an absorbing carbon form.
Sugar gains its shiny white crystal coloration after passing through this agent. However, it is known that bone char does not enter the final refined sugar as a remnant.
Many vegans do not feel comfortable consuming sugar that was produced by methods involving animal cruelty. Others think it is okay to consume processed sugar because bone char is not passed into the final product.
We can admit that processed sugar is ethically non-vegan. But it is also true that not all sugar is filtered using the same process and much of it might actually be vegan. A large amount of sugar in America is also filtered using granular activated carbon. A large lot is organic sugar derived from coconut and beetroot. It really isn’t possible to assume all sugar to be vegan or non-vegan.
Processed sugar has always been a matter of debate in the vegan community. The choice of including processed sugar in your diet totally depends on how strict a vegan you are and how much impact you think this action will have.
On a personal note, sugar should not be brushed as a non-vegan food item when the impact of avoiding it isn’t as large as actual bigger culprits like meat, dairy, and eggs. You can still have Cheerios if you are okay with consuming such sugar.
Bees definitely don’t make honey for us
Honey is produced by bees to feed their own large beehive family. They spend months collecting nectar and converting it into a storable source of energy. We steal the honey they produce to sustain themselves. The bees in turn work more hard to compensate for the honey they lose to us. This act is straightforward intrusion in the life of bees.
Beekeepers rear honey bees in artificial conditions, which is another form of animal exploitation. This cruelty is not acceptable to vegans. It is also true that numerous bees die in the process of collecting honey. Oftentimes, bees are killed by the collectors before stealing their honey laden hive.
It is possible to be vegan and reduce your cruelty index by avoiding meat, eggs, and dairy alone if you don’t want to lose honey. Only the honey nut flavour of Cheerios contains honey so you can still consume the other varieties.
Cheerios have Vitamin D3 as an ingredient
Vitamin D3 is a controversial ingredient although many vegans consider it to be absolutely non-vegan. This is because it does come from an animal source.
A product called lanolin is produced by specific glands in the skin of sheep. This waxy material is in turn extracted from sheep wool. It is not known whether the lanolin laden wool is taken from dead sheep or that live sheep are ruthlessly skinned for this product. Vitamin D3 is most commonly extracted from this source.
Although it is possible that Cheerios uses some other vegan source to obtain this ingredient, the company has never mentioned anything of this sort. This makes it safe for us to assume that Vitamin D3 constituent of Cheerios is probably obtained from sheep, probably from sheep suffering injuries due to wool pierced off their skin.
Calcium Carbonate in the ingredient list is bound to raise an alarm
It is a well known fat in the vegan community that Calcium Carbonate is commonly obtained from the shells of shellfish and other crustaceans. Most crustaceans and sea animals are on the brink of survival due to rampant overuse of their resources and bodies as if they are inexhaustible.
Another common method of obtaining this mineral is from the egg shells of chickens. It is not known to us how the Cheerios manufacturers obtain their share of Calcium Carbonate. Of course it is possible to obtain this compound in mineral form from non-animal sources. But it doesn’t seem likely because animal based sources are always cheaper alternatives and manufacturers are seldom known for their humanity.
Fortified flour is never vegan
This piece of information may be relatively new for some people. Almost none of the flour in our kitchens is absolutely vegan because all flour production requires pest control in the agricultural fields. Farmers often poison mice so that their fields are never endangered because of them.
If you are a vegan who doesn’t tolerate animal cruelty, this aspect of flour production may bother you. Although it is important to understand that farmers don’t really have another choice. Lack of pest control and unmanaged mice population could ruin their entire agricultural produce. There wouldn’t really be any flour at all if the invading pests and animals aren’t controlled.
We feel that a line should be drawn considering what should be assumed to be vegan and what shouldn’t be.
Where will you draw the line?
Many problematic ingredients are listed as constituents of Cheerios.
You may choose to not have a problem with processed sugar, but there is Vitamin D3. You may choose to eat honey anyway, but are you okay assuming that Calcium Carbonate could be vegan?
We have to allow some minor non-vegan ingredients in our food if we are to survive on this planet amidst the current food production scenario. We cannot literally stop eating flour altogether.
At some point, we ought to accept that some said non-vegan items are in fact controversial and we don’t yet have evidence to render them entirely non-vegan. It is true that bone char is used in refining and filtering cane sugar but it is also true that almost every food has sugar as a constituent and most sugar might not even be definitely filtered using bone char.
You can choose organic sugar in the supermarket but you cannot choose the sugar that goes into your factory made food. It wouldn’t be wise to start avoiding all sugar because some sugar may be produced by non-vegan methods.
Likewise, it isn’t really wise to stop eating even organic honey if the producers claim it was produced without harming the bees in relatively sustainable scenarios. You can of course choose to not eat honey produced ruthlessly with total disrespect to the bees hard work.
When it comes to Calcium Carbonate, the situation is almost similar to processed sugar. When we don’t know for sure that it is non vegan, we shouldn’t just assume it. It would indeed be better to ask the producers how they obtain such ingredients.
Vitamin D3 has a similar case. Nobody knows this finitely that it is actually obtained by tearing off living sheep’s wool off their skins. In many cases around the world, wool gatherers are not as cruel people as we deem them to be. They often nurture their sheep like their pets and don’t harm them in the process of collecting wool. In fact they are abundantly cared for in pastures.
The question seems quite ridiculous in the case of flour. Every variety of flour may be declared non-vegan if pest control is deemed as a supreme form of animal cruelty. If we consider protecting ourselves from threatening animals as animal cruelty, how could we ever escape the plague?
Are Cheerios Vegan then?
They obviously are. As there are no outrageously non-vegan ingredients in Cheerios, it is safe to consume them as your preferred vegan breakfast cereal.
Vegans can avoid the honey oats flavour which has honey and all the other flavours which state the use of dairy in their ingredients.
If you are a more prudent vegan and you don’t want to allow even minor animal based products in your diet, Cheerios are not the appropriate breakfast cereal for you.