Cinnamon toast was a breakfast favorite long before General Mills came out with their famous Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. Today, it’s one of the best-selling cereals on the market and is a dream come true for anybody who truly loves cinnamon.
Unfortunately, cereal tends to be a bit of a tricky food when it comes to the vegan diet…
So, is Cinnamon Toast Crunch vegan?
On the surface, Cinnamon Toast Crunch looks vegan. It doesn’t contain any obvious dairy or animal-derived ingredients. However, it does contain vitamin D3 (which comes from animal hairs) and refined white sugar (which is filtered through bone char).
Unfortunately, this means that Cinnamon Toast Crunch is off-limits for strict vegans. Below, I’ll show you exactly what this popular breakfast cereal is made of, and explain why sugar and D3 aren’t vegan-friendly ingredients.
Does Cinnamon Toast Crunch Contain Dairy?
One of the more common additives to see in sweet cereals and snacks is dairy. Dairy typically comes in the form of:
- Whey or Whey Protein
- Milk Solids
Thankfully, Cinnamon Toast Crunch is 100% dairy-free. The cereal itself doesn’t have any dairy derivatives like milkfat or whey.
Recently, Cinnamon Toast Crunch also released a line of flavored milk beverages. These kinds of milk are marketed toward everybody who’s ever enjoyed the milk that’s in the bowl after they eat the cereal.
Unforutanley, Cinnamon Toast Crunch-flavored milk is only available as traditional dairy-based milk. There aren’t any dairy-free versions on the market yet.
What Is Cinnamon Toast Crunch Made Of? Cereal Break Down
Cinnamon Toast Crunch is an iconic cereal with a special recipe that makes it oh-so-addicting. If you’ve ever been curious as to what Cinnamon Toast Crunch is made of, then you’ve come to the right place!
Below, I’ll give you a full breakdown of all of the ingredients in this cereal, so you can see for yourself why most vegans don’t eat it.
Here’s the nutritional ingredients list, from the back of the box:
As you can see, most of the ingredients are vegan-friendly. There are really only two that are non-vegan, which I’ve highlighted in red.
Now, let’s take a few minutes to break down all of the ingredients so you can better understand this popular cereal.
1) Whole Grain Wheat
Whole grain wheat is the main ingredient that the base cereal squares are made out of. Unlike other cereals that use wheat flour, Cinnamon Toast Crunch is made with raw shredded wheat.
Whole grain shredded wheat is more nutritious than flour, as it’s less processed. Since it has yet to be processed, it contains more fiber and protein than flour does.
Whole grain wheat is 100% vegan, as it’s pure plant-based food, so there’s nothing to worry about as far as this ingredient is concerned. It’s actually quite healthy!
The second main ingredient is also the first non-vegan ingredient. While many first-time vegans tend to think of sugar as a vegan-friendly sweetener, that’s not the entire truth.
Yes – sugar does come from sugarcane.
However, to turn the raw cane sugar into the refined white sugar used for Cinnamon Toast Crunch, it’s filtered through high-carbon filters to remove the outer layer of malt flavor. After it’s filtered, you’re left with a pure white sugar crystal, which is more concentrated than unrefined cane sugar.
The problem is that the filters used to refine white sugar are packed full of bone char.
Bone char is made up of fire-roasted bones that come from slaughtered cattle and pigs. Because this is used to filter white sugar, many vegans completely abstain from it.
Instead, most vegans look for more organic cereals that are made with organic cane sugar or brown rice syrup, which are both vegans.
3) Rice Flour
To give Cinnamon Toast Crunch that soft yet crispy texture that it’s famous for, a bit of rice flour is added to the whole grain wheat. This helps to hold it together and helps the cereal cook more evenly, resulting in a more consistent texture.
4) Vegetable Oil
Cinnamon Toast Crunch is also made with a bit of vegetable oil, which serves as a fat, holding the cereal pieces together and softening the uncooked cereal dough.
According to the label, Cinnamon Toast Crunch is either made with canola or sunflower oil. Sometimes, depending on market availability, both oils are used since they share a similar consistency and flavor (many people aren’t aware that canola oil comes from a flower too).
Both of these plant-based cooking oils are vegan and sustainably sourced, so you don’t have to worry about them the same way that you would with palm oil.
In addition to white sugar, this cereal is also made with fructose. Fructose is a super-simple sugar syrup that’s extracted from various plant starches. As far as sweeteners go, this one really isn’t that very healthy for you.
Due to its “simple” nature, it’s rapidly absorbed into our bloodstream. This, in turn, can cause our blood sugar levels to spike, which messes with our metabolism and other important bodily functions.
That being said, fructose is a plant-based sweetener and is vegan-friendly.
Maltodextrin is a highly processed starch that’s typically extracted from corn and corn starch. The main purpose of maltodextrin is to act as a drying and anti-caking agent.
Without maltodextrin, all of the sugar and fructose used in the cereal could melt or separate from the cereal squares.
Maltodextrin also serves as a mild sweetener and is one of the main additives in cinnamon seasoning.
Dextrose is very similar to maltodextrin. It’s often added to food as a thickening agent and serves as a mild sweetener.
Like fructose, dextrose isn’t good for your blood sugar and metabolism, as it’s directly absorbed into your bloodstream. In small, measured amounts, it shouldn’t cause too many problems, though.
Plus, it’s plant-based and extracted from plants, so you don’t have to worry about any animal by-products being used to make it.
Salt is used in most cereal, bread, and crackers. In this case, it’s not used as a seasoning. Rather, it’s used to help thicken and strengthen the dough used to make the cereal squares. Only a small amount is required, so it’s not enough to make a noticeable difference in the taste.
What would Cinnamon Toast Crunch be without the cinnamon? I was a bit surprised to see cinnamon listed so low on the list. Then again, cinnamon is a very potent spice, so you don’t need to use a lot to taste the difference.
Cinnamon is 100% vegan, as it’s a natural spice. It also has some notable health benefits as well!
10) Trisodium Phosphate
Trisodium phosphate is a thickening agent and emulsifier that’s used in a number of different foods and cleaning products. Basically, it helps keep the cereal and the cinnamon consistent and prevents all of the ingredients from falling apart and separating.
It’s a chemical, but it is vegan.
11) Soy Lecithin
Soy lecithin serves a similar purpose as trisodium phosphate. It’s a naturally-derived emulsifier, thickening agent, and preservative. Soy lecithin is a highly processed by-product of soy, but it is vegan-friendly and doesn’t involve the use of any animal products.
It’s used in a number of vegan and non-vegan foods alike, so it’s a good additive to be aware of. To learn more about soy lecithin, check out this short video:
12) Caramel Coloring
While cinnamon provides some of the natural brown colorings for Cinnamon Toast Crunch, it’s not enough to make the cereal look as appealing as General Mills needs it to.
So, to ensure that the cereal has a more consistent appearance, caramel coloring is added to the outside of the cereal.
Caramel coloring is generally considered a vegan ingredient, so there’s no need to worry about this additive.
13) BHT Preservative
BHT is an artificial preservative that’s used to coat the lining of the plastic bags that the Cinnamon Toast Crunch is packaged in. This helps keep the cereal fresh, even after the packaging has been opened and the air seal has been released.
14) Added Vitamins & Minerals
Last but not least, Cinnamon Toast Crunch contains a blend of added vitamins and minerals. Most mainstream cereal brands contain the same blend. These vitamins and minerals are added to make the cereal appear healthier by giving it a higher nutritional value.
Unfortunately, there’s one ingredient, in particular, that’s non-vegan in this mixture – vitamin D3.
Unlike other D vitamins, D3 is extracted from animal hairs (usually sheep’s wool). Since sheep’s wool is a cruel and exploitative industry, the majority of vegans try to stay away from any food products that contain D3.
Conclusion – Is Cinnamon Toast Crunch Vegan-Friendly?
If you’re a strict vegan, then you’ll probably want to avoid Cinnamon Toast Crunch due to the added refined sugar and vitamin D3.
That being said, the cereal doesn’t contain any meat-derived ingredients, so less strict vegans might not find an issue with this cereal. I’ll leave it up to you to decide!
On the other hand, if you’re tired of compromising your morals and want to stick with something that’s 100% vegan-safe, then be sure to check out my list of the best vegan cereal brands next!