Are Clif Bars Vegan? (List of Vegan Flavors)


Are Clif Bars Vegan Final?

The Clif Bar, stylized as CLIF BAR, is your classic hippy granola bar, that took off during the early natural foods movement.1

It’s a favorite among endurance athletes, and vegans are an active bunch, so I get asked quite often if there are any flavors that are suitable for 100% plant-based eaters. Other vegans grew up consuming them as a convenient source of energy, and want to know if they can continue to do so after switching to a vegan diet.

Are they vegan? Yes, Clif Bars are largely considered vegan. From the milkless chocolate to the plant-based vitamin D fortification, Clif Bars are among the most vegan-friendly of all mainstream food products. The one exception (for most vegans) would be the PB and honey variety.

Since basically all but one of the Clif Bars are considered vegan by most standards, we’ll do an ingredient analysis for the most popular flavors to give you a good idea as to why the products are largely considered vegan.

Vegan Clif Bar Flavors

Chocolate Chip

This one is probably the most iconic. Which is another way of saying it’s one of the most common varieties you’ll find at gas stations.

It contains:2

  • Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Cane Syrup
  • Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Roasted Soybeans
  • Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Organic Soy Flour, Organic Oat Fiber
  • Cane Sugar, Sea Salt, Barley Malt Extract
  • Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa Butter
  • Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil
  • Natural Flavors, Soy Lecithin, Organic Cinnamon
  • Minerals: Dicalcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide
  • Water-Soluble Vitamins: Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12)
  • Fat-Soluble Vitamins: DL-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Ergocalciferol (Vitamin D2)*, Beta Carotene (Vitamin A)

*Ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) is not to be confused with cholecalciferol (vitamin D3).

Fortunately, Clif Bars contain the former. Ergocalciferol is derived from fungus or yeast. It’s typically produced synthetically by sourcing ergosterol from ergot (a type of mold) and radiating the compound with UV light.3

So, it’s never derived from animals and thus always vegan.

Cholecalciferol (D3), on the other hand, is usually derived from lanolin, which is a waxy substance secreted by wooled animals (usually sheep).4,5

Plant-based vitamin D3 is never used to fortify processed foods. It’s usually only put in specialty products like vegan-friendly D3 supplements.

Crunchy Peanut Butter

Ingredients for this one include:6

  • Organic Brown Rice Syrup
  • Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Cane Syrup
  • Organic Peanut Butter, Peanuts, Peanut Butter
  • Organic Roasted Soybeans, Soy Protein Isolate
  • Rice Flour, Organic Soy Flour, Organic Oat Fiber
  • Natural Flavors, Barley Malt Extract, Sea Salt
  • Standard vitamin and mineral fortifications including vitamin D2

As you can see, Clif Bars make heavy use of brown rice syrup. This is good news because honey is a really common ingredient in granola bars. This goes for granola bars, in general, but especially for the peanut butter variety. Let’s face it, PB and honey is a great combination.

Honey tends to be used because making granola bars requires that you take tons of small ingredients and make them stick together in a cohesive mass of grains, nuts, and seeds. It also allows manufacturers to market their health products as “all-natural” as opposed to a binder like high fructose corn syrup.

Whatever the reason, they opted for brown rice syrup. I’ll take it.

Oatmeal Raisin Walnut

These contain:7

  • Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Cane Syrup
  • Organic Rolled Oats, Barley Malt Extract
  • Organic Raisins, Walnuts
  • Soy Protein Isolate*, Organic Roasted Soybeans
  • Organic Soy Flour, Rice Flour, Organic Oat Fiber, Rice Starch
  • Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil
  • Natural Flavors, Sea Salt
  • Organic Cinnamon
  • Nutrient Fortifications Including Vitamin D2

*I have been asked before if soy protein isolate is vegan. Usually by newcomers to the subject of plant-based diets and nutrition.

I’d imagine because other protein isolates commonly encountered on food labels are often dairy-based. For example, whey protein is the second most abundant protein in milk and is nearly ubiquitous on food labels these days.

Soy protein isolate performs much of the same functions (not all but most) in food manufacturing, but you can rest assured that it is 100% vegan-friendly.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch

Ingredients for this flavor include:8

  • Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Cane Syrup
  • Organic Rolled Oats
  • Soy Protein Isolate
  • Organic Peanut Butter, Peanuts
  • Rice Flour, Organic Soy Flour, Peanut Flour, Organic Oat Fiber
  • Organic Roasted Soybeans
  • Cane Sugar, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa Butter
  • Natural Flavors, Sea Salt
  • Barley Malt Extract, Soy Lecithin*
  • Nutrient Fortifications Including Vitamin D2

Like soy protein isolate, soy lecithin is always considered vegan. Folks often ask if it is suitable for vegans because lecithin can be non-vegan, depending on where it’s sourced—for example, soybeans and egg yolks are both abundant sources of the molecule.

The compound is useful in food production because it attracts both fat and water molecules helping ingredients stay nice and mixed. It’s also used as a surfactant which makes foods easier to work with.

Fortunately, it seems most lecithin is plant-derived these days—it’s usually in the form of soy or sunflower lecithin.

Sweet & Salty Chocolate Chunk w/Sea Salt Clif Bar

This variety contains the usual ingredients minus the nutrient fortifications.

Specifically, they contain:9

  • Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Brown Rice Syrup
  • Organic Rolled Oats
  • Soy Protein Isolate
  • Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soy Flour
  • Rice Flour, Organic Oat Fiber
  • Cane Sugar, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt
  • Unsweetened Chocolate, Organic Unsweetened Chocolate
  • Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil
  • Cocoa Butter, Organic Cocoa Butter
  • Barley Malt Extract, Soy Lecithin

No problems here.

Bar White Chocolate Macadamia Nut

This came as quite a shock. It’s labeled as “white chocolate” which usually requires the presence of milk derivatives.10

There usually has to be a certain percentage of cocoa butter (the vegan portion of white chocolate), sugar, and cocoa solids (the non-vegan portion).

The FDA is usually pretty strict, but I suppose they found a way around the labeling guidelines.

Ingredients for this one include:11

  • Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Brown Rice Syrup
  • Organic Rolled Oats
  • Soy Protein Isolate, Organic Roasted Soybeans
  • Rice Flour, Organic Oat Fiber, Organic Soy Flour
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Organic Cane Sugar, Sea Salt
  • Cocoa Butter, Organic Cocoa Butter
  • Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil
  • Natural Flavors
  • Soy Flour
  • Barley Malt Extract
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Nutrient Fortifications Including Vitamin D2

Non-Vegan Clif Bars

This is a short list. And the one product listed here probably isn’t considered to be off-limits by all vegans.

It’s not that there’s a huge divide in the vegan community about the consumption of honey, but there doesn’t seem to be a definitive consensus on the matter either.12

I listed it as a non-vegan flavor, because it probably is considered off-limits by most mainstream standards, and several vegan organizations reject the stuff.13

I personally don’t consume honey, but I’m not convinced that if one consumes the stuff it would render them non-vegan.

Anyway, the Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter & Honey w/ Sea Salt variety contains:14

  • Organic Brown Rice Syrup
  • Organic Rolled Oats
  • Organic Honey
  • Organic Roasted Soybeans, Soy Protein Isolate
  • Organic Peanuts, Organic Peanut Flour, Organic Peanut Butter
  • Organic Cane Sugar, Sea Salt
  • Organic Cat Fiber*
  • Organic Soy Flour, Rice Flour
  • Palm Kernel Solids
  • Natural Flavors
  • Organic Cocoa Butter
  • Barley Malt Extract
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Mixed Tocopherols (As a Preservative, not Fortification)

*Cat fiber is listed as an ingredient on several websites. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s not made up of actual cats… or cat food for that matter. Or cat litter.

I searched high and low, and couldn’t figure out what it’s referring to. It may be a misprint. But, again, it is listed on several sites.

That’s it for the vegan status of Clif Bars. Thanks for reading.

You may also want to check out the following related articles:

References

  1. Clif Bar. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clif_Bar
  2. CLIF Bar®, Chocolate Chip, 2.4 Oz, 12 Ct Energy Bars. https://www.walmart.com/ip/CLIF-Bar-Chocolate-Chip-2-4-Oz-12-Ct-Energy-Bars/23740920
  3. Laura Tripkovic, et al. Comparison of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 supplementation in raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Jun; 95(6): 1357–1364. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3349454/
  4. Hoppe, Udo, ed. (1999). The Lanolin Book. Hamburg: Beiersdorf. ISBN 9783931146054
  5. Riemenschneider, W.; Bolt, H. M., “Esters, Organic”, Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, Weinheim: Wiley-VCH. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/14356007.a09_565.pub2
  6. CLIF Bar® Crunchy Peanut Butter Energy Bars 18-2.4 oz. Bars. https://www.walmart.com/ip/CLIF-Bar-Crunchy-Peanut-Butter-Energy-Bars-18-2-4-oz-Bars/182721230
  7. Clif Bar® Oatmeal Raisin Walnut Energy Bars 6-2.4 oz. Bars. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Clif-Bar-Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut-Energy-Bars-6-2-4-oz-Bars/12018840
  8. Clif Bar® Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch Energy Bars 6-2.4 oz. Bars. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Clif-Bar-Chocolate-Chip-Peanut-Crunch-Energy-Bars-6-2-4-oz-Bars/12018839
  9. Clif Bar® Sweet & Salty Chocolate Chunk with Sea Salt Energy Bar 12 ct Box. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Clif-Bar-Sweet-Salty-Chocolate-Chunk-with-Sea-Salt-Energy-Bar-12-ct-Box/597154179
  10. “Title 21 Chapter I Subchapter B Part 163 of the Code of Federal Regulations”. United States Government Publishing Office. 24 February 2017. https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=64ec925fd70dcc3f30f6c45d41315509&mc=true&node=pt21.2.163&rgn=div5#se21.2.163_1124
  11. CLIF Bar White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Energy Bars 12-2.4 oz. Bars. https://www.walmart.com/ip/CLIF-Bar-White-Chocolate-Macadamia-Nut-Energy-Bars-12-2-4-oz-Bars/33731553
  12. Why Vegans Can’t Decide Whether They’re Allowed To Eat Honey. Daniel Engber – https://slate.com/human-interest/2008/07/why-vegans-can-t-decide-whether-they-re-allowed-to-eat-honey.html
  13. The Honey Industry. https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/honey-industry
  14. Clif Bar® Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter & Honey with Sea Salt Energy Bar 12 ct Box. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Clif-Bar-Sweet-Salty-Peanut-Butter-Honey-with-Sea-Salt-Energy-Bar-12-ct-Box/762472156

Drew Davis

Hi! I'm Drew and this is the place where I nerd out about vegan and plant-based diets. I have a BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Alabama and have taken dozens of classes in areas like organic and biochemistry, food science, medical nutrition therapy, nutritional genomics, and vegetarian diets. I'm still learning every day, and on this blog, I'll be sharing everything I discover about vegan diets as I go.

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