Are Rice Krispies Vegan? It Depends


Are rice krispies vegan?

When switching to a vegan diet, a lot of folks want to know if they have to give up their favorite cereal. Rice Krispies is an iconic cereal, so it’s no surprise I get this question on the regular.

Is it vegan? Kellogg’s Rice Krispies is not vegan, as it contains vitamin D3 derived from animals.1 However, “Rice Krispies”, while a trademark, is often used to refer to cereals of the same kind (puffed rice). In this sense, the cereal can be vegan, as many generic versions don’t use vitamin D fortification.

The answer also depends on what type of vegan you identify as. Some vegans are primarily concerned with health, and this variety of vegan may not take issue with animal-derived food additives as many pose no health risks.

Why Are Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Non-Vegan?

This is confusing for many as there are actually two types of vitamin D—vitamins D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Both can be found in food and supplements. Vitamin D2 is always considered vegan. With the exception of lichen (an obscure source of D3), vitamin D3 occurring naturally in food is never considered vegan.

The vitamin D3 you’ll encounter in supplements can be vegan (lichen derived), but this is easy to spot as it’ll be advertised as such. If it’s not plastered all over the bottle, you can be sure it’s animal-derived.

This brings us to vitamin D3 in fortified foods. This stuff is always animal derived. Perhaps in the future, lichen will become a common source of D3 for food fortification, but as of now, D3 fortified foods are almost sure to be derived from sheeps oil.

If this is confusing, I wrote an entire article on determining when vitamin D is vegan you can check out here. Even included a handy flow-chart.

What Is This Lanolin Stuff Anyway?

Lanolin, aka wool grease, is a waxy substance that’s secreted by the sebaceous glands of wooled animals. It’s often referred to as wool oil or wool fat, but it’s actually not a true fat because it lacks glycerides.2-4

The compound’s properties make it a great water-proofing agent and sheep need it to help shed water from their coats. Certain breeds tend to produce large amounts of the stuff, making them targets for exploitation by manufacturers of food and other goods.

It’s of interest to the food and supplement industries because it contains 7-dehydrocholesterol which is a compound needed to synthesize vitamin D3 via irradiation with ultraviolet light.5

If you’re an ethical vegan, you’ll definitely want to steer clear of lanoline as it’s certainly not appropriate for strict vegans.

Other Non-Vegan Crispy Rice Cereals

Great Value Rice Crispers Rice Cereal (Walmart)

Ingredients:6

  • Rice
  • Sugar
  • Malt extract
  • Salt
  • Vitamin C (sodium ascorbate)
  • Iron (Ferric Orthophosphate)
  • Vitamin A palmitate
  • Niacinamide
  • Tocopherols (preservative)
  • Zinc oxide
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine mononitrate)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride)
  • Vitamin D (cholecalciferol)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Folic acid
  • Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin).

Clover Valley Cereal, Crispy Rice (Dollar General)

Ingredients:7

  • Rice
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Malt extract
  • Tocopherols
  • Vitamin C (sodium ascorbate)
  • Iron (ferric orthophosphate)
  • Vitamin A palmitate
  • Niacinamide
  • Zinc (zinc oxide)
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine mononitrate)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride)
  • Vitamin D (cholecalciferol)
  • Viitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Folic acid
  • Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)
  • BHT

Toasted Rice Breakfast Cereal (Target)

Ingredients:8

  • Rice
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Malted barley syrup
  • Mixed tocopherols (added to preserve freshness)
  • Sodium ascorbate (vitamin C)
  • Reduced iron
  • Niacinamide
  • Alpha tocopherol acetate (vitamin E)
  • Pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6)
  • Vitamin A palmitate
  • Thiamin mononitrate (vitamin B1)
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • Folic acid
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B12

Malt-O-Meal Breakfast Cereal, Crispy Rice

Ingredients:9

  • Rice
  • Sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Salt
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine mononitrate)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Niacin (niacinamide)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride)
  • Folic acid
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin A palmitate
  • Vitamin C (sodium ascorbate)
  • Vitamin D
  • Iron (ferric orthophosphate)
  • Zinc (zinc oxide)

Vegan Crispy Rice Cereal

These are few and far between, but they are out there. Keep in mind that these are marketed toward a nutrition-conscious crowd so they tend to be on the healthy side. That may or may not be a good thing, depending on your preferences.

I for one, like to find alternatives as close to the original as possible. But, these are still really good and much better than foregoing this tasty cereal altogether.

Also, the below brands don’t list many vitamins at all. But, when you’re scanning the ingredients label of other generic crispy rice cereal, you will sometimes see other vitamins in the ingredients. Usually, thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), vitamin B6 and folic acid (B9). These vitamins tend to be produced via chemical and microbial synthesis, so they’re generally considered vegan.15

You can check out articles I wrote on B vitamins in the context of a vegan diet here:

One Degree Organic Foods Sprouted Brown Rice Crisps

Ingredients:10

  • Organic sprouted whole grain brown rice
  • Organic coconut sugar
  • Unrefined salt
  • Tocopherols (vitamin E)

One Degree Organic Foods Cereal, Brown Rice Cacao Crisps

Ingredients:11

  • Organic sprouted whole grain brown rice
  • Organic coconut sugar
  • Organic cacao
  • Organic sunflower oil
  • Organic sunflower lecithin
  • Unrefined salt
  • Tocopherols (vitamin E).

Nature’s Path Organic Crispy Rice Cereal

Ingredients:12

  • Brown rice flour
  • Cane sugar
  • Sea salt
  • Molasses

Arrowhead Mills Natural Puffed Rice Cereal

Ingredients: puffed whole grain brown rice.13

These are advertised as:

  • Vegan
  • NON-GMO Project VERIFIED
  • KOSHER-PAREVE
  • 100% WHOLE GRAIN

Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice – Gluten Free Cereal

Ingredients:14

  • Organic brown rice
  • Organic brown rice syrup
  • Sea salt

That’s it for Rice Krispies and Krispy Rice cereal. Thanks for reading.

You may also want to check out the following articles:

References

  1. Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies® Cereal – Smartlabel™ http://smartlabel.kelloggs.com/Product/Index/00038000005657#ingredients
  2. Hoppe, Udo, ed. (1999). The Lanolin Book. Hamburg: Beiersdorf.
  3. Barnett, G. (1986). “Lanolin and Derivatives”. Cosmetics & Toiletries. 101: 21–44. ISSN 0361-4387.
  4. Riemenschneider, W.; Bolt, H. M., “Esters, Organic”, Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, Weinheim: Wiley-VCH.
  5. Holick, M. F (2007). “Vitamin D deficiency”. New England Journal of Medicine. 357 (3): 266–81.
  6. Great Value Rice Crispers Rice Cereal. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Great-Value-Rice-Crispers-Rice-Cereal-24-oz/49303123
  7. Clover Valley Cereal, Crispy Rice. https://www.fooducate.com/product/Clover%20Valley%20Cereal%20Crispy%20Rice/1AAABC36-66A9-11E1-AFF9-1231380C18FB
  8. Toasted Rice Breakfast Cereal. https://www.target.com/p/toasted-rice-breakfast-cereal-12oz-market-pantry-153/-/A-15796567?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=google_pla_df&fndsrc=tgtao&CPNG=PLA_Grocery%2BEssentials%2BShopping&adgroup=SC_Grocery&LID=700000001170770pgs&network=g&device=c&location=9012908&ds_rl=1246978&ds_rl=1247077&ds_rl=1246978&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1pTD36_Q4gIVioCfCh2ZQQonEAQYBSABEgJsgvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
  9. Malt-O-Meal Breakfast Cereal, Crispy Rice. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Malt-O-Meal-Breakfast-Cereal-Crispy-Rice-36-Oz-Zip-Bag/11964845
  10. Sprouted Brown Rice Crisps. https://onedegreeorganics.com/products/sprouted-brown-rice-crisps-19dcmw/
  11. One Degree Organic Foods Cereal, Brown Rice Cacao Crisps. https://www.walmart.com/ip/One-Degree-Organic-Foods-Cereal-Brown-Rice-Cacao-Crisps-10-Oz/42769163
  12. Nature’s Path Organic Crispy Rice Cereal. https://www.naturespath.com/en-us/products/natures-path-foods/crispy-rice-cereal/
  13. Arrowhead Mills Natural Puffed Rice Cereal. https://www.swansonvitamins.com/arrowhead-mills-puffed-rice-cereal-6-oz-pkg?SourceCode=INTL4071&DFA=1&UTM_Medium=Shopping&UTM_Source=GOOGLE&UTM_Campaign=SWAN_National_Gen_Shopping_Null_Null_All+Products+4055-01+Food+and+Beverage&UTM_Content=PRODUCT_GROUP&SourceCode=INTL4071&ds_rl=1262629&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1pTD36_Q4gIVioCfCh2ZQQonEAQYASABEgKd-vD_BwE
  14. Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice – Gluten Free Cereal. https://www.theglutenfreeshoppe.com/default/erewhon-organic-crispy-brown-rice-cereal.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1pTD36_Q4gIVioCfCh2ZQQonEAQYBCABEgK3aPD_BwE
  15. Jose L. Revuelta, Ruben M. Buey, Rodrigo Ledesma‐Amaro, and Erick J. Microbial biotechnology for the synthesis of (pro)vitamins, biopigments and antioxidants: challenges and opportunities. Microb Biotechnol. 2016 Sep; 9(5): 564–567.

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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