The short answer is that it depends on how strict a vegan you are.
Technically, Cocoa Puffs are not vegan.
If you’d like to know why, read on.
Ingredients in Cocoa Puffs
There are 2 potential non-vegan ingredients when you look at the ingredients in Cocoa Puffs:
Whole grain corn, sugar, corn meal, corn syrup, cocoa processed with alkali, canola oil, fructose, salt, caramel color, refiner’s syrup, baking soda, natural flavor.vitamins and minerals: tricalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, zinc and iron, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B2, vitamin B1, vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin D3.
Super unhealthy, but almost all of those are vegan.
Except for the 2 highlighted.
Why Is “Sugar” Not Always Vegan
When I first went vegan, the thought of sugar not being vegan-friendly seemed crazy, but years later it’s very clear why some sugar is not vegan.
White sugar (mostly an issue in North America) is frequently whitened using bone char (basically burnt cattle bones).
While the bones aren’t actually in the final product, if you eat sugar that was processed with bone char, you’re still supporting the people killing animals and selling their bones. When you think of it like that, it seems pretty logical that this type of sugar isn’t vegan.
While we can’t know for sure just based on seeing “sugar” in the ingredient label, it’s usually a safe bet that large companies, particularly ones who make processed foods, typically use at least some of this non-vegan sugar.
The only way to know for sure is to contact the company itself (which I did below).
Why is Vitamin D3 Usually Not Vegan?
When you see vitamin D3 added to fortified foods, it almost always came from lanolin (the oil in sheep’s wool). Vitamin D3 is rarely vegan.
Admittedly, it’s a very small amount. You’d have to eat thousands or maybe millions of bowls of Cocoa Puffs to equal the amount of vitamin D3 that comes from the wool of one sheep.
However, that’s still an animal product, and every animal product contributes to some animal’s suffering.
So it’s your call.
I Contacted Customer Support For a Clear Answer
While I wasn’t told the specific ingredients that weren’t vegan, it’s safe to assume that the issue was either the sugar, vitamin D3, or both.
What we can conclude is that Cocoa Puffs are not vegan.
If you’re really craving them, there are usually similar cereals from other brands in big stores that don’t add D3, they just cost a bit more. For example, 365 Everyday Value Organic Peanut Butter and Cocoa Balls Cereal, which you’ll find at stores like Whole Foods.