Are Corn Flakes Vegan? Know What The Problem Is (2023)

Corn Flakes first hit store shelves in 1894 and were one of the first widely consumed cereals in the United States.

Although Kellogg’s offers a wide variety of sweet, sugary cereals, the original Corn Flakes are still very popular (especially among adults). The cereal is also used for a number of different deserts and is sometimes used as breading for fried foods! 

However, are Corn Flakes vegan? 

Unfortunately, Corn Flakes are not fully vegan. Although the main ingredient (milled corn) is vegan, the cereal contains refined white sugar, which many vegans abstain from. Corn Flakes in the US also contain vitamin D3, which is non-vegan since it comes from sheep’s wool. 

That being said, less strict vegans may not be quite as concerned with these “gray area” additives. Below, I’ll show you exactly what Corn Flakes are made of and answer some of the top questions, so you can decide for yourself whether or not these are right for your diet. 

Do Vegans Eat Corn Flakes? 

Do Vegans Eat Corn Flakes

Compared to some of the more obvious non-vegan cereals out there (like Lucky Charms, which are loaded with gelatin), Corn Flakes seem pretty innocent. In fact, they’re one of the simplest cereals on the market in terms of added ingredients. 

The main ingredient is corn, followed by a bit of sugar, natural flavoring, and some added vitamins and minerals. 

The problem, unfortunately, lies with the sugar and one of the vitamins (specifically vitamin D3). Those who are simply dietary vegans probably won’t have a problem with this.

These products aren’t technically animal products. However, they ultimately involve some form of animal cruelty up the line, which is why most ethical vegans avoid them. 

In short, dietary vegans shouldn’t have a problem with Corn Flakes, as they don’t contain any obvious animal ingredients. However, ethical vegans don’t eat Corn Flakes due to larger ethical concerns. 

At this point, you’re probably wondering what type of vegan I am… 

Personally, I lean more on the side of ethical veganism. 

Don’t get me wrong, dietary vegans are certainly doing their part, and the diet is certainly a lot healthier than a purely carnivorous diet. However, I didn’t just go vegan for my health; I went vegan because I believe it’s the right thing to do for animals and for our planet. 

Of course, there are differing viewpoints on this. There haven’t been any long-term studies conducted on the impact of vegans on the planet, as only 3% of the entire population identifies as a vegan. 

However, based on preliminary numbers and statistics, I’m inclined to think that we’d see some improvements in our environment if just half of the planet went vegan! 

Are Corn Flakes Vegan Overseas? 

Are Corn Flakes Vegan Overseas

This is an interesting question that often comes up when I’m reviewing certain foods that are sold worldwide.

For example, McDonald’s French fries in the US are non-vegan (due to meat seasoning), while McDonald’s fries in the UK are vegan-friendly and don’t contain any animal-derived additives. 

As it turns out, the same can also be said of many international kinds of cereal, such as Corn Flakes. 

One of the main reasons why Corn Flakes are considered non-vegan in the US is because they contain vitamin D3, which is derived from sheep’s wool. 

In most European countries, Corn Flakes don’t contain D3. In fact, there are around half of the added vitamins and minerals that you’ll find in American Corn Flakes! 

I’m not sure exactly why this is. However, I’m willing to bet that it has something to do with ethical concerns. 

All of that being said, European Corn Flakes still contain refined white sugar, which most vegans still try to avoid. Again, as a dietary vegan, this might not be an issue for you.

But if you’re an ethically driven vegan (like myself), then you’ll still want to avoid Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, even if they’re not from the US. 

Are Frosted Flakes Vegan? 

Are Frosted Flakes Vegan

Frosted Flakes were released in 1951, and were one of Kellogg’s first sweet cereals. Up until then, the company had mostly focused on creating simple, grain-based nutritious cereals.

Once Americans started consuming more sugar in the mid-1900s, though, there was a higher demand for sweeter breakfast cereal. 

They’re basically just Corn Flakes with a bunch of added sugar. 

Unfortunately, Frosted Flakes are also non-vegan. They contain both refined white sugar and vitamin D3, which are both generally considered non-vegan ingredients. 

However, you can find vegan Frosted Flake alternatives at certain health food stores or online. These are usually made with organic unrefined sugar and don’t contain as many additives (including D3). 

Are Any Of Kellogg’s Cereals Vegan? 

Are Any Of Kellogg’s Cereals Vegan

You’re probably beginning to wonder if any of Kellogg’s breakfast cereals are vegan… 

Sorry to disappoint you, but none of Kellogg’s cereals are vegan-friendly. Even the simplest, most natural cereals still contain white sugar and vitamin D3. 

This is mostly because all Kellogg’s products use the same pre-mixed vitamin and mineral mixture. Until they change this aspect of their production, all of the company’s cereals are non-vegan. 

What Are Corn Flakes Made Of? Ingredients Listed

What Are Corn Flakes Made Of

Above, I mentioned that Corn Flakes are made of relatively simple ingredients. Keep in mind that they were first created in the late-1800s before today’s highly advanced food processing equipment was around. 

Despite advances in food processing technology, Kellogg’s still uses the same exact recipe that they’ve used since day one. The only thing that’s changed about the recipe is Kellogg’s adds extra vitamins and minerals to their Corn Flakes to make them more nutritious. 

If you’ve ever been curious about what exactly Corn Flakes are made with, then keep on reading for a detailed explanation of each ingredient! 

Here’s the short list of ingredients from the Kellogg’s website

Kellogg's Corn Flakes

1) Milled Corn

Milled Corn

Milled corn is the main ingredient in Corn Flakes and is where they get their name from. Milled corn is one of the earliest forms of corn flour and was first made by Native Americans, who’ve been cultivating corn for thousands of years. 

Milled corn is very similar to corn flour. However, it has a far thicker, more coarse consistency and texture. This is because it’s made with whole corn kernels. It has a more natural color (yellow) and is more nutritious because it has higher fiber content. 

Milled corn is always 100% vegan, as it’s a pure plant-based powder! 

2) Sugar


Next up, we have sugar. Sugar, in its natural form, is vegan-friendly and purely plant-based. However, to turn organic raw sugar into the more concentrated white sugar, the sugar crystals must first be filtered through animal bone char. The animal bone char comes from slaughterhouses. 

This process is the reason why more and more vegans are boycotting white sugar. Instead, vegans try to look for products that contain organic unrefined cane sugar, coconut sugar, or other plant-based sweeteners. 

3) Malt Flavor

Malt Flavor

Malt flavor is a flavoring additive that comes from sugar syrup. The raw, unprocessed sugar is covered in malt syrup. This is part of what’s stripped from the sugar crystals during the refining process. 

While some malt flavor comes from the sugar refining process, other malt flavors may be artificially created in a lab. It’s unclear which type of malt flavor is used by Kellogg’s. However, the malt flavor is generally regarded as a vegan-friendly flavoring. 

4) Added Vitamins & Minerals

Added Vitamins & Minerals

And, of course, we have some added vitamins and minerals in Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. In the US, Kellogg’s vitamin and mineral mixture include iron, niacinamide, vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, folic acid, and vitamin D3. 

While these are certainly healthy, one of them is not vegan. Vitamin D3 is obtained through processing sheep’s wool, which makes it unethical and non-vegan. 

Now, some argue that sheep’s wool is vegan-friendly, as sheep kind of need to be sheared. However, sheep aren’t naturally this way.

Today’s sheep only produce so much wool because they’ve been genetically modified to do so, similar to the way that chickens are injected with growth hormone to produce larger cuts of meat. 

This whole process is unusual and manipulates the natural order of things. 

Additionally, the shearing process isn’t exactly a painless, ethically-driven process. Most sheep shearing facilities are packed full of underpaid workers who get paid by how much wool they can gather in a day. 

Believe me – they aren’t concerned with the animal’s well-being and stress levels. Many sheep come out of their shearing sessions covered in bruises and cuts, stressed out of their minds. That, my friends, is not ethical. 

The Verdict – Are Corn Flakes Vegan-Friendly?

Are Corn Flakes Vegan-Friendly

If you’re a simple dietary vegan who’s just concerned with avoiding obvious animal ingredients, then Corn Flakes should be right up your alley.

They’re mostly natural and don’t contain obvious non-vegan additives like gelatin, animal fat, or dairy. However, they do contain white sugar and vitamin D3, which most ethical vegans stay away from. 

If you’re tired of reading through ingredients labels and hyper-analyzing your cereal, then you might be better off buying certified vegan cereals. Keep on reading to see my list of the best vegan cereal brands next!  

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Author Bio
Im Emma and I’m the creator of Vegan Calm. When I became a vegan seven years ago, I mainly did it for health and ethical reasons. To my surprise, it had another amazing benefit; I became a much calmer and peaceful person. This change inspired me to create Vegan Calm. Whether you’ve been a vegan for a long time or just want to learn more, this website will have something for you!

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