Answer: No. Vegans cannot eat Kellogg’s Raisin Bran because of the D3 vitamin, white sugar, and glycerin.
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What Is Raisin Bran?
Cool milk, crunchy flakes, and plump raisins, all doused in a hearty helping of sugar, raisin bran is a classic breakfast cereal. Cereal is a mainstay of the day’s first meal and a frequent appearance at dinnertime for those with busy schedules. Kellogg’s Raisin Bran is one of the most popular and easily recognized breakfast cereals. So is Raisin Bran vegan?
The bright purple box of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran can be found on supermarket shelves. Raisin Bran options are available from all the major cereal distributors like Kellogg’s, General Mills, Post Cereals, and many other generic or boutique brands. But this doesn’t mean it is a good fit for every diet.
Is It Healthy?
Raisin bran is one of the most popular cereals due to the perceived health benefits of the addition of both the raisins and the bran. Bran is a fiber-packed byproduct of the grain industry. The filling effect of fiber is great for breakfast and will keep you full and energized longer into the day.
However, when you compare Kellogg’s Raisin Bran to another popular cereal that seems unhealthy like Lucky Charms, it might not be a smart choice. Lucky Charms contains 10g of sugar per serving, while Kellogg’s Raisin Bran contains 17g of sugar. The vegan alternatives included in this article mostly have less than 10g of sugar, making them healthier options.
Is Raisin Bran Vegan?
Most cereals will not contain direct animal products, and almost all of them would be good options for a vegetarian diet. However, the addition of white sugar or honey can make some otherwise clean cereal choices problematic for strict vegans.
Kellogg’s Raisin Bran contains added white sugar and D3 vitamins, as well as glycerin in the raisins. Let’s look at the details of these ingredients and why they are a problem for vegans.
What Animal Products Does Raisin Bran Contain?
White sugar is usually processed by using bone char, sometimes under the name natural carbon. Food production companies use bone char as a decolorizing filter to get the sugar white. The bone char is usually sourced from cow bones from cattle farming, so this might make some vegans uncomfortable.
Not all white sugar uses this process, and it is possible to use other carbon sources to filter the sugar. But, in large-scale operations, bone char is widely considered the most cost-effective.
To make things more complicated, large retailers of white sugar source their products from various manufacturers, so tracking whether your sugar was a product of bone char can be difficult. Sugar used in the production of other food products like Kellogg’s Raisin Bran can further complicate things when companies use various producers.
Vitamin D is an essential part of any diet, and people who spend most of their time indoors are often at risk of not getting enough of it naturally. A lot of the vitamin D that is added to processed food products is D3. While D2 is derived from plants, D3 is almost always made from animal products.
D3 is generally made from lanolin, which is a material that comes from sheep’s wool. Sometimes, inclusion as small as this is why a company is not labeling its product as vegan-friendly.
It is worth noting that many nutritional studies have shown that D3 is superior to D2. Finding plant-based D3 can be difficult. Recently, D3 vitamins made from a type of lichen have hit the market. Lichen is a complex organism resulting from the mingling of fungi and algae. This is great news for vegans, as this development will improve many foods’ vitamin contents.
Kellogg’s cereals contain plump, sweet fruits in many of the company’s options, and Raisin Bran is no different. However, companies like Kellogg’s can package these dried fruits and have them stay so soft by using preservatives. The preservative that Kellogg’s uses to coat its fruit, like the raisins in Raisin Bran, is glycerin. The glycerin they use is likely derived from animals, according to Kellogg’s themselves.
Glycerin keeps the moisture locked into the fruit to prevent it from leaching out into the cereal’s dry grains. Glycerin can also be derived from plants, so it is not always an automatic reason to not eat something. However, when the supply chain is in question, a product cannot be certified vegan.
Finding another source of raisins to add to a different cereal is another option. The smaller, drier raisins marketed for snacks are less likely to be treated with glycerin since they do not need to remain plump and soft. While drier raisins won’t mix as well in cereal, raisins are a great source of iron and other vitamins, especially in a vegan diet.
Raisin Bran Top Vegan Alternatives
While Raisin Bran is not vegan, there are plenty of other simple cereal options that use other sugar sources like cane sugar or beet sugar. These are typically unprocessed, so they will not be whitened using bone char. Avoiding any breakfast cereal that contains dried fruit is another good rule of thumb.
Kashi Seven Whole Grain Flakes
While Kellogg’s Raisin Bran is not vegan, the company has committed to offering options for every diet type. Their Kashi cereal line is almost completely vegan. The Kashi Seven Whole Grain Flakes is the closest in flavor to Raisin Bran, and it is also non-GMO certified.
365 Everyday Value Bran Flakes
This Whole Foods brand has tons of vegan and GMO-free options. However, the 365 Everyday Value Raisin Bran is also not labeled as vegan. Their raisins are likely treated with glycerin, just like Kellogg’s Raisin Bran. That said, 365 Everyday Value has regular Bran Flakes without raisins, providing another healthy and worry-free fiber source for breakfast.
Barbara’s Corn Flakes
These flakes are vegan and organic, and the fact that they don’t come with anything added. Crisp cornflakes act as a blank canvas, ready to be dashed with a handful of berries, a sliced banana, or even the standard sun-dried raisins. Barbara’s also has other classic cereals like shredded wheat and multigrain flakes that are closer to the ones in Raisin Bran. But their Corn Flakes have the added benefit of being fully organic.
Fiber One Original Bran
If you are looking for a hearty helping of fiber to start your day, Fiber One’s Original Bran cereal is a great choice. It has all vegan ingredients and no added sugar. Spice it up with some fruit, cinnamon, or your favorite responsibly sourced sweetener. This delightful, quick meal also has 55% of the suggested daily value for fiber, which means it has low net carbs and can promote heart health.
Nature’s Path Sunrise Crunchy Maple Cereal
While some Nature’s Path cereals have honey as a sweetener, the Sunrise Crunchy Maple Cereal uses maple syrup for a subtle caramel and vanilla flavor profile. These flakes are also gluten-free and low in sugar at only 7 g sugar per serving.
Vegan Milk Options for Delicious Cereal
Another hurdle for a quick and easy vegan breakfast is the ever-present cow’s milk added to breakfast cereal. In recent years, the amount of cow’s milk substitutes has exploded, with companies making milk from all sorts of nuts and grains.
If you already have a favorite vegan milk replacement, try it with one of these cereals. If you are looking for the best pairing with cereal and haven’t decided yet, here are some delicious options.
Creamy and naturally sweet, oat milk would mix great with one of these vegan cereal options. And at 5 g protein in each cup, you can fortify the most important meal of the day.
Almond milk is thinner than oat milk but is usually easier to find in different flavors like vanilla or chocolate. Change up the milk to make otherwise simple bran cereals more interesting.
Clocking in at 7 g protein per cup, soy milk is a great way to bolster your bran. Versatile and smooth, soy milk is an excellent replacement for cow milk in a lot of situations. Using it on cereal is no different.
While raisin bran can be a heart-healthy, flavor-filled choice for breakfast, becoming an informed consumer takes a little extra work. The trace amounts of products derived from animals found in many breakfast cereal options should encourage vegans to inspect the labels closely.
Pairing fresh fruit with whole-grain cereal will always be an inexpensive, easy-to-prepare meal for anyone. And all the available plant-based ingredients and alternatives mean that this category of processed foods is expanding quickly for vegans. So go grab a bowl and spoon, and give raisin bran a try.