Answer: It depends. Cocoa Pebbles are technically vegan, but if you have ethical and environmental concerns, you should think twice before consuming this cereal.
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Are Cocoa Pebbles Vegan?
Have you been wondering whether this cereal, which has remained your all-time favorite, is vegan? It’s time to find out!
A glance at the ingredients listed on the Cocoa Pebbles nutrition list puts your mind at ease that this is vegan food. After all, there are no animal by-products, right?
But then, you were not the only one fooled. The absence of meat or dairy has been the basis of the argument favoring Cocoa Pebbles being vegan.
Yet, a detailed look into the ingredients used in this cereal will make you think again. Cocoa Pebbles manufacturers represent it as vegan cereal, but it contains questionable natural and artificial flavors.
You are probably aware that plants or animals can produce natural and artificial flavors. The manufacturers of Cocoa Pebbles carefully left us in the dark about where these flavors come from.
Of course, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not mandate companies to display this information on the nutrition label. But until the makers of Cocoa Pebbles disclose these flavors’ source, Cocoa Pebbles will remain non-vegan.
History of Cocoa Pebbles
Cocoa Pebbles is a pebble-shaped chocolate-flavored cereal. Post, an American food company, introduced it alongside Fruity Pebbles in 1971. It is one of the many cereal products invented by this company.
After many reformations, in 2007, Post merged with Ralcorp Holdings to create Post Foods, LLC. But in 2012, they split to give room for Post Holdings, the new producers of Post cereals.
Using Flintstone characters, they advertised Cocoa Pebbles on TV commercials and boxes. The cereal gained popularity among chocolate lovers and soon became Post’s best-selling product.
Ingredients of Cocoa Pebbles
At the end of the day, when it comes to vegan meals, what matters are the ingredients. So, if you still think whether Cocoa Pebbles are vegan, let’s put this to rest with a critical look at the label.
This is what the nutrient list of Cocoa Pebbles looks like:
- Hydrogenated vegetable oil (coconut and palm kernel oil)
- Cocoa (processed with alkali)
- Caramel color
- Natural and artificial flavor.
Vitamins And Minerals:
- Niacinamide (vitamin B3)
- Reduced iron
- Zinc oxide
- Vitamin A palmitate
- Pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6)
- Thiamin mononitrate (vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- Folic acid
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin B12
These ingredients, vitamins, and minerals look safe and vegan-friendly, right? But the presence of products like sugar, artificial and natural flavors, vitamin D3, and palm kernel oil is problematic. Let’s see why.
Let’s start with sugar. It may be interesting to know that bone char is used to process sugar. Bone char is a granular black material from charring animals, usually cattle bones.
I guess you’re thinking right now that some sugars are vegan. Yes, you’re right! Especially those produced by vegan companies. But, the manufacturers of Cocoa Pebbles don’t provide any information about the sugar they use.
Natural and Artificial Flavors
Since you are a vegan, you already know that not all-natural flavors are vegan. The FDA did not make it mandatory for companies to disclose if they use vegan ingredients in their natural flavors.
Another reason to consider Cocoa Pebbles unsafe for you as a vegan is the use of vitamin D3.
Traditionally, the primary source of vitamin d3 is lanolin. Lanolin is a by-product of the wool industry, which makes it non-vegan.
Healthspan recently developed a viable procedure for producing vitamin D3 from a 100% plant source. This is excellent news, right? But the bad news is that there is no way you can know whether Post sourced their vitamin D3 from plants or animals.
Palm Kernel Oil
It’s a well-known fact that palm trees are the source of palm kernel oil. As a result, it’s considered a 100% vegan ingredient. But then, have you ever wondered why many vegans avoid it?
Palm oil production involves clearing large parcels of land to enable the palms to grow. This process kills many animals, such as tigers, elephants, bears, and orangutans.
Vegan Society defines veganism as a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation and cruelty to animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.
Consequently, though palm kernel oil is vegan, many ethical vegans don’t use it.
Are Cocoa Pebbles Gluten-Free?
Cocoa Pebbles naturally don’t have gluten. However, Post makes Cocoa Pebbles in the same facility used in making cereals that contain gluten.
This brought about a public outcry that Cocoa Pebbles could be cross-contaminated. In December 2010, Post announced that it was reducing the sugar content of Cocoa Pebbles and getting a gluten-free certificate.
Cocoa Pebbles and Health Concerns
Besides the non-vegan ingredients mentioned above, Cocoa Pebbles also contains hydrogenated vegetable oil and caramel coloring.
Hydrogenated oil is known for its benefit of keeping foods fresh, but it has serious side effects on the flip side. Scientists have discovered that adding hydrogen to oil increases your cholesterol level more than any other fat.
Cocoa Pebbles contain caramel coloring. Although the FDA has generally classified caramel coloring in food as safe, many scientists have labeled this ingredient dangerous.
In 2011, the Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a regulatory petition to the FDA, urging that caramel coloring be banned. Their findings concluded that caramel coloring is contaminated with chemicals known to cause cancer.
Alternatives to Cocoa Pebbles
Are you sulking, having learned that your most cherished breakfast treat is not vegan?
Don’t worry – there are many vegan alternatives!
So here are some alternatives you could enjoy:
- Kellogg’s Rice Krispies
- Cheerios Cereal
- Jordans Country Crisp
- Arrowhead Mills Puffed Millet Cereal
- Elan Original Granola Cereal
Vegans avoid animal products for health, ethical, and environmental reasons.
So when it comes to Cocoa Pebbles, it actually boils down to the reason why you are a vegan.
If you avoid animal products, Cocoa Pebbles might be fine for you.
However, if you have ethical and environmental concerns, you should think twice before consuming this cereal.