Is Cinnamon Toast Crunch Vegan? (5 Problematic Ingredients)

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
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As a certified personal trainer, I've guided many clients through dietary transitions, including adopting a vegan lifestyle.

One common question that arises is about cereal choices, particularly regarding favorites like Cinnamon Toast Crunch. In this article, we'll dive deep into the chemistry of this famous cereal, drawing from my experience in nutrition and fitness, to help you decide whether it fits into your vegan diet.

Understanding the ingredients and their sources is key, and I'm here to shed light on these aspects for informed dietary choices.

Quick Summary

  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch is not considered fully vegan due to ingredients like vitamin D3 sourced from sheep's wool and potentially bone char-processed sugars.
  • The cereal contains non-vegan ingredients such as vitamin D3 sourced from sheep's wool and sugars potentially processed with bone char.
  • A study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information highlights the significant role of vitamin D in the proper functioning of musculoskeletal, immune, nervous, and cardiovascular systems.
  • From my perspective as a nutritionist, I advise vegans to exercise caution with Cinnamon Toast Crunch and consider alternative vegan-friendly cereals.

Is Cinnamon Toast Crunch Vegan?

Cinnamon Toast Crunch in a white bowl with a spoon

This is a tricky question to answer, but Cinnamon Toast Crunch may contain a couple of ingredients that some vegans wouldn't rather skip on.

General Mills, the company that produces this famous cereal, never explicitly confirmed that its ingredients don't come from animal sources.

Ingredients List

bowl filled of flour, jar pouring salt grains, cinnamon sticks

From my experience in analyzing food labels for clients with specific dietary needs, I've learned that the details matter. Let's take a closer look at the ingredient list of Cinnamon Toast Crunch to determine its vegan status.

Here's what you can expect to find in your CTC box:

  • Whole grain wheat
  • Sugar
  • Rice Flour
  • Canola Oil 
  • Fructose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Trisodium Phosphate
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Caramel Color
  • BHT Added to preserve freshness

Vitamins and minerals content:

  • Tricalcium Phosphate
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Iron and Zinc (mineral nutrients)
  • Vitamin C (sodium ascorbate)
  • A B Vitamin (niacinamide)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin mononitrate)
  • Vitamin A (palmitate)
  • A B Vitamin (folic acid)
  • Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3

Sadly for folks with allergies, Cinnamon Toast Crunch also contains wheat and soy ingredients.

5 Non-Vegan Ingredients

palm oil in a coconut, brown powder in a table, spoon filled with sugar

1. Vitamin D3

In my professional experience, I've seen how certain ingredients like Vitamin D in cereals, often overlooked, can originate from animal sources. This is a crucial consideration for vegans, and it's important to be aware of these subtleties.

"Vitamin D2 is always suitable for vegans, but vitamin D3 can be derived from an animal source (such as sheep's wool) or lichen (a vegan-friendly source)".


So, is Vitamin D3 in this cereal derived from animal products? General Mills has never confirmed it or denied it, so we can only guess. But Vitamin D3 in most cereal and other processed foods is most likely sourced from sheep's wool.

A vegan version of Vitamin D is now available, and many companies use this form in a variety of vegan products, so General Mills should consider following the same path.

According to the study found on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, vitamin D has a huge impact on the proper functioning of musculoskeletal, immune, nervous, and cardiovascular systems [1].

Other ingredients in Cinnamon Toast Crunch that make vegans think twice include:

2. Processed Sugar

types of sugar on a table

So sugar may or may not be vegan, but is the risk worth it when deciding your diet? Most vegans are not okay with consuming refined white sugar because its production in most cases involves bone char. Although it is not directly in the sugar itself, it's used in the production process to give refined sugar its bright white color.

According to another study found on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, chronic ingestion of high-dose sugar has been linked to obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, Alzheimer's disease, and cellular aging [2].

3. Lecithin

Although "soy lecithin" is in the label, it may be wishful thinking to believe that soy or sunflower are the sources of it.

Many manufacturers get it from animals instead - usually the meat, to save some money.

4. Caramel color

Now, caramel is derived from natural sources and is vegan. However, it's also tested on animals - just like other colors added to processed foods.

5. Palm Oil

Despite being plant-based, palm oil is considered not vegan.

Although the label on the Cinnamon Toast Crunch doesn't mention that there is any palm oil in it, this ingredient is everywhere, and it somehow always finds its way to a box of cereal (especially those that are not vegan-certified)

Vegan Cinnamon Toast Crunch Alternatives

cookie bites in a bowl

Through my consultations, I've discovered and recommended several healthy and vegan-friendly cereal options to my clients. These alternatives provide the same satisfaction without compromising vegan principles.

For example, Kay's Protein Cookie Bites Cinnamon Almond is not only low in sugar but high in fiber and protein and, of course - vegan friendly.

Another option that we can vouch for is Catalina - super crunchy and satisfying - an excellent choice for a low-sugar vegan breakfast or afternoon snack.

But before jumping in and hitting that "order" button, maybe you can try homemade Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

We all know that homemade food is often a safer choice, especially for folks with food allergies.

Vegan Cinnamon Toast Crunch Recipe

jars of apple sauce with fresh apple beside, oat flour in a bowl

As someone who enjoys experimenting with recipes, I've found that making your own vegan Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a fun and healthy alternative. Let me guide you through a simple recipe that I've shared with clients who love to cook.

Well, whipping up your homemade version is a fantastic (and fun!) alternative. It's not difficult at all, trust us.

Here's what you'll need for your vegan cinnamon toast crunch:

  • Almond flour
  • Oat flour
  • Apple sauce
  • Cinnamon
  • Granulated sugar (organic cane sugar or coconut sugar)
  • Water


  1. First, mix the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl.
  2. Next, combine the rest of the ingredients with your hands or a spatula until a dough forms, adding water gradually.
  3. Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper.
  4. When it becomes nice and thin, remove the top layer of parchment paper.
  5. Brush the dough with some water and sprinkle with a cinnamon-sugar mixture. You can do this with the other side of the dough by turning it over. Roll it once again over the parchment paper to ensure that sugar and cinnamon stick to the dough.
  6. Cut the dough in 1/2 – 3/4 inch squares with a pizza cutter, place them on a baking sheet.
  7. Bake for about 10 minutes.

So, there you have it.

No more questions: "Cinnamon Toast Crunch vegan?" - you know it is! Not only that, but your bowl of cereal will be full of yummy and healthy ingredients.


Does Cinnamon Toast Crunch Contain Dairy?

The ingredients list suggests Cinnamon Toast Crunch is completely dairy-free during production.

However, there's a lot of confusion regarding this issue.  While General Mills stated that the cereal includes no milk whatsoever, it may contain lactose-derived ingredients.

It’s safe to say that even if a product doesn't contain dairy, it doesn't necessarily mean it's entirely vegan.

Is Cinnamon Toast Crunch Vegetarian?

Yes, it’s vegetarian. What makes Cinnamon Toast Crunch vegetarian-friendly is the absence of dairy, eggs, and other products directly tied to animals.

Although most vegans would find some of its ingredients questionable, most vegetarians wouldn't have issues with consuming products that don't directly or explicitly involve animals.

Is Cinnamon Toast Crunch Good for You?

Most mainstream cereal manufacturers load their products with all kinds of artificial stuff, and this product is no different.

So if you want to stick to a healthy diet, you should probably skip any cereal.

Cereals like these are not something you should eat regularly because of harmful ingredients like caramel color additives, trisodium phosphate, and high sugar content.

However, it depends on your habits. Are you eating a handful of sugary cereal once a week?

Or do you have the whole box with loads of milk right before bedtime?

Moderation should be the key when deciding if something is good or bad for your health.

What Are the Vegan-Friendly Sources of Vitamin D That Could Be Used in Cereals?

Vitamin D2 and lichen-based Vitamin D3 are vegan-friendly alternatives that can be used in cereals instead of the commonly used lanolin-derived Vitamin D3. These plant-based sources provide the necessary nutrients without compromising vegan ethics.

How Does the Sugar Refining Process Impact Its Vegan Status?

The sugar refining process often involves bone char, derived from animal bones, to achieve a bright white color, which is a concern for strict vegans. Vegans may seek out sugars processed without bone char or opt for unrefined sugars to ensure their diet aligns with vegan principles.

What Are the Ethical Concerns Associated With Palm Oil Production?

Palm oil production is frequently linked to deforestation, habitat destruction, and threats to wildlife, raising significant ethical concerns. Many vegans avoid palm oil due to these environmental and ethical implications despite it being a plant-based ingredient.

How Do Food Coloring and Testing Practices Affect Veganism?

Some food colorings used in processed foods, including cereals, may be tested on animals, which is a concern for vegans who avoid products associated with animal testing. Vegans often look for foods with natural or certified vegan colorings to ensure they adhere to cruelty-free standards.

What Are General Mills' Policies on Sustainability and Animal Welfare?

General Mills, the producer of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, has made commitments to sustainability and improving animal welfare in its supply chain, including using cage-free eggs and eliminating gestation crates for pigs. These policies reflect an effort to address ethical concerns in food production, which may be relevant to vegan consumers.


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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.
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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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