Are Rice Krispies Vegan? (3 Problematic Ingredients)

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: June 21, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Dr. Kristy Dayanan, BS, MD
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Most breakfast cereal today are packed with vitamins and minerals, which puts them on the healthier spectrum if you disregard the fact they're laden with sugar and artificial colors.

If you enjoy morning cereal and practice a vegan diet, you must wonder — are Rice Krispies vegan?

As a certified personal trainer, I did all the research, and here's everything you need to know about Kellogg's Rice Krispies cereal.

Quick Summary

  • Rice Krispies are not vegan, primarily due to the inclusion of vitamin D3, which is typically derived from animal sources like lanolin in sheep's wool.
  • The primary concerns for vegans regarding Rice Krispies are the use of sugar, iron, and vitamin D3, as these ingredients can sometimes be derived from animal sources.
  • According to the Harvard School of Public Health website, iron-deficiency anemia affects approximately 4-5 million Americans each year, underscoring the importance of iron sources in the diet, which is relevant to discussions about cereals like Rice Krispies.
  • Personally, I believe that while Rice Krispies may not strictly adhere to vegan principles due to certain ingredients, they can still be a part of a predominantly plant-based diet for those with less stringent vegan practices.

Are Rice Krispies Vegan?

Close up shot of rice krispies

No, unfortunately, Rice Krispies aren’t vegan! However, the answer is more complicated and depends on your definition of veganism.

Kellogg's Rice Krispies has been around since 1928.

Their crunchy and crispy texture, combined with the variety of flavors the company offers, made them one of the most popular crispy rice cereals in the US.

Kellogg's Rice Krispies cereals may not have any visible animal-derived ingredients, but this rice cereal isn't wholly plant-based.

Rice Krispies cereals contain iron, sugar, and vitamin D3, which can be animal-derived.

Let’s see what makes this breakfast cereal non-vegan.

Ingredients List

In my quest to find vegan breakfast options, I've learned that Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, a staple in many households, is a puffed rice cereal typically made from brown rice. However, its vegan status is questionable due to certain ingredients.

The rice cereal's ingredients vary from country to country, so here are the US's Rice Krispies' ingredients:

Brown Rice, Sugar, Salt, Barley Malt Flavouring, Vitamins & Minerals: Niacin, Iron, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Folic Acid, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12.

Vegan Ingredients

Kellogg’s has a lot of vegan products, but you need to pay attention to the cereal ingredients. Looking for vegan ingredients may not seem easy, but I’m here to help you.

Pay attention to the following ingredients:

Vitamin B12, Vitamin D2, Vitamin B2/riboflavin, Lactic acid • Proteolytic enzymes, Rennet, Emulsifiers (including monoglycerides, diglycerides and polysorbate), Enzymes, Glycerin, Yeast ingredients.

These are all vegan ingredients and they’re included in Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereals and other Kellogg’s products.

3 Problematic Ingredients

Non vegan rice krispies

As I mentioned, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereals don’t have vegan-friendly ingredients. However, some people consider it vegan. There’s an ever-going debate whether sugar, iron, and vitamin D3 are vegan or not. I’ll state the facts and leave it up to you to decide.

1. Sugar

Sugar is typically available in two forms — organic and plain. The problem with plain sugar is the way in which it's processed. Based on one of the articles found on the OneGreenPlanet website, many producers use animal bone char for processing sugar, so many vegans consider it non-vegan [1].

Sugar in the US is mainly produced from sugar cane, even though it can also be produced from sugar beet. The production of sugar from sugar beet doesn't require bone char processing, making the final product vegan and organic.

"There are no technical reasons preventing the production of organic beet sugar; it has been done in Europe."

- Dr. Stephen Clarke, Director of Technical Services at Florida Crystals

2. Iron

Iron may also not be vegan, as there are two types — heme and non-heme iron. The heme iron is derived from animal sources, such as seafood, poultry, and meat.

According to the article from the Harvard School of Public Health website, non-heme iron is derived from plant foods, such as seeds, legumes, nuts, grains, and leafy greens [2]. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults 19-50 years is 8 mg daily for men, 18 mg for women, 27 mg for pregnancy, and 9 mg for lactation.

3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D  is also available in vegan and non-vegan forms in vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 forms. Vitamin D3 is derived from sheep wool and lichen (an organism present in algae).

Kellogg’s doesn’t indicate in the ingredients list whether these three ingredients are vegan-friendly or not.

Vitamin D3 derived from animals would mean that Rice Krispies are not vegan, so you may want to stay away from Rice Krispies cereals if you don’t consider these ingredients vegan. Or, you could call or email Kellogg’s representatives and ask for details.

Now, besides these three ingredients, there’s one more non-vegan angle to Rice Krispies, and that’s Rice Krispie Treats. Rice Krispie Treats contain animal-derived ingredients, such as milk and gelatine.

Milk is obviously an animal product, but if you didn’t know, gelatine is made by boiling animal skin, tendons, ligaments, or bones.

Finally, Krispie Treats also contain palm oil, which is obtained unethically by harming the environment, animals, and people who work in that industry. Hence, vegans consider it not vegan-friendly.

"While a vegan diet excludes all animal products, it's important to focus on whole, minimally processed foods. This means that even if a product like Rice Krispies doesn't contain direct animal ingredients, its processing and nutritional value are crucial factors in determining its suitability for a vegan diet."

- Dr. Reshma Shah, a noted advocate for plant-based eating

Are the Original Rice Krispies Vegan?

No, the Original Rice Krispies are not vegan. Kellogg’s states on their website that this flavor contains vitamin D3 derived from animals.

Are any Rice Krispies Vegan?

Vegan rice krispies alternatives

The answer depends on the recipe of the cereals. The same cereals can be vegan in one country and non-vegan in another.

That’s why it’s essential to pay attention to the table of contents and study every ingredient.

Sadly, Kellogg’s products are mostly not vegan. The only product that’s entirely vegan in the US is Kellogg’s Mini Wheats Unfrosted Bite Size.

The Special K Protein Plus used to be vegan. However, some recent posts have revealed that it’s not vegan since it contains D3 vitamins, which are not vegan.

However, Australians have it much better, as there’s an entire vegan cereal section on the brand’s website. Some of the numerous vegan options include:

  • Kellogg’s® All-Bran® Wheat Flakes
  • Kellogg’s® Corn Flakes
  • Kellogg’s® Nutri-Grain® cereal
  • Kellogg’s® Rice Bubbles®

Vegan Rice Krispie Treats Quick Recipe

A person making homemade rice krispies

Luckily, there are tons of vegan Rice Krispie Treats recipes on the internet, and they’re all incredibly easy to make. Here’s a quick recipe. You’ll need:

  • ¾ cup vegan butter
  • 2 10oz bags vegan marshmallows (or make your own)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 cups vegan rice krispies cereals (since Rice Krispies aren’t technically vegan, you can use Nature’s Path which is vegan and gluten-free)
  1. First you’ll need to line a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper and lightly spray it with oil. Then, melt the butter over low heat and add the marshmallows in slowly.
  2. Vegan marshmallows don’t melt as easily as non-vegan ones, so there may be some chunks left, but they won’t spoil the final product or the taste. Make sure you coat every cereal in marshmallows.
  3. 2. Next you’ll want to remove the pan from heat and add in the vanilla extract. Then, fold in the vegan Rice Krispies with a spatula or a spoon. Your spatula or spoon may get sticky, but you can grease it with butter.
  4. The next step is to transfer the mixture to the lined pan. Press down the mixture to even it out. Put the pan in the fridge and let it cool for one hour. Use the parchment paper to remove the dessert from the pan, cut into squares, serve, and enjoy!

FAQs

What Is the Environmental Impact of Producing Rice Krispies?

The production of Rice Krispies involves significant water usage and carbon emissions, factors that are crucial for environmentally conscious consumers. Understanding the environmental footprint of these cereals can help in making more sustainable food choices.

Are There Ethical Concerns in the Rice Cultivation Process for Rice Krispies?

Ethical considerations in rice cultivation, such as labor practices and land use, are important for many vegans. These aspects go beyond the ingredients and delve into the overall impact of the product's production.

How Does Rice Krispies Nutritionally Compare to Other Vegan Cereals?

When compared to other vegan cereals, Rice Krispies may differ in fiber content, added sugars, and levels of vitamins and minerals. This nutritional comparison can guide consumers in choosing the healthiest cereal options.

Can You Make Vegan Rice Krispies at Home?

Yes, you can create homemade vegan Rice Krispies using plant-based ingredients, offering a great alternative to store-bought versions that might contain non-vegan elements. These DIY recipes can be tailored to personal tastes and dietary preferences.

What Are the Health Implications of Non-Vegan Ingredients in Rice Krispies?

Consuming non-vegan ingredients like vitamin D3 from animal sources in some Rice Krispies varieties can have health implications, especially for those following a strict vegan diet. It's important to understand these impacts when making dietary choices.


References:

  1. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/bittersweet-secrets-of-sugar/
  2. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/iron/
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About The Author

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Senior Coach
Christiana Mikesch, CPT is a personal trainer and author with contributions to publications like the Chicago Tribune and Yahoo. She emphasizes a holistic approach to weight loss, combining an energy-fueling diet, goal-oriented workouts, and daily habits. Her approach avoids short-term goals and fosters a lifelong commitment to health and well-being.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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