Is Special K Cereal Vegan? (It Depends on How Strict You Are)


Certain flavors of Special K cereal are clearly not vegan.

But, some flavors might be, depending on how you feel about a few controversial ingredients.

I’ll break down those ingredients quickly, and then go through each flavor so that you’ll be able to decide if you’re okay with eating any of them.

Potential Non-Vegan Ingredients in Special K Cereal

In some varieties, there are obvious non-vegan ingredients:

  • Honey
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Whey

By any definition of standard, these are all out.

But in the other varieties, there are some controversial ingredients that are gray areas among vegans:

  • Vitamin D3 – Derived from sheep’s wool, so it’s not vegan. However, there’s also an incredibly small amount of it added. It would take tens of thousands of boxes to add up to a significant amount. While it’s not vegan, some vegans consider it unreasonable to avoid it in this situation for this reason.
  • Sugar – In the U.S., some sugar is filtered with bone char and isn’t vegan. Large companies like Kellogg’s use so much sugar that at least a portion of it probably was made using bone char. Some vegans are okay with the risk, some are not, you’ll need to decide for yourself
  • Natural flavors – While natural flavors are often vegan, it’s an umbrella term that can include non-vegan flavoring ingredients as well. If you want to be on the safe side, you’d want to avoid them.

Personally, I’m about as “strict” as vegans get. I’m okay with taking a chance on natural flavors in this context, but I wouldn’t be comfortable with the D3 or sugar.

But always remember that there’s no one definite authority on veganism. You need to make choices that you’re happy with, I’m just here to provide the background information you need to make those decisions.

Which Special K Cereals Are NOT Vegan?

Let’s quickly go through the ones that aren’t vegan by any reasonable standard.

Flavor Potential Non-Vegan Ingredients
Apple Cinnamon Crunch Cereal Honey, Sugar, Palm oil, Natural flavors, Vitamin D3
Blueberry with Lemon Clusters Honey, Sugar, Palm oil, Natural flavors, Vitamin D3
Fruit & Yogurt Milk, Yogurt powder, Honey, (and others…)
Honey Oat Cereal Honey, Sugar, Natural flavors, Vitamin D3
Nourish Dark Chocolate Coconut Granola Whey (from milk), (and others…) 
Probiotics Berries & Peaches Milk, Yogurt, (and others…)
Protein Honey Almond Ancient Grain Honey, Sugar, Natural flavors, Vitamin D3

Which Special K Cereals Might You Consider Vegan?

special k box

The rest of the varieties might be a little trickier for you to decide on.

Technically, none are vegan for sure because of the vitamin D3. However, for the reasons above, you might be okay with it because of the quantity that’s in the cereal.

If you are, it comes down to how you feel about sugar and possibly natural flavors.

Flavor Potential Non-Vegan Ingredients
Chocolatey Delight Sugar, Natural flavors, Vitamin D3
Chocolate Almond Sugar, Natural flavors, Vitamin D3
Cinnamon Brown Sugar Crunch Protein Sugar, Natural flavors, Vitamin D3
Cinnamon Pecan Sugar, Vitamin D3
Nourish Very Berry Granola Sugar, Vitamin D3
Raspberry Sugar, Natural flavors, Vitamin D3
Red Berries Sugar, Vitamin D3
Special K Protein Sugar, Natural flavors, Vitamin D3
Vanilla Almond Sugar, Natural flavors, Vitamin D3

Summary: Is Special K Cereal Vegan?

The simplest answer to our original question is that no, Special K cereal is not vegan.

However, some vegans may decide that avoiding certain non-vegan ingredients, vitamin D3 in this case, is unreasonable.

If that’s you, and you’re okay with taking a risk on sugar and natural flavor ingredients, then there are several varieties that you may consider vegan, or at least be okay with eating.

Ultimately, the choice is up to you. If you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to share, leave a comment below.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. I've spent over 6 years as a freelance nutrition writer and researcher. During this time, I've tested over 50 vegan protein powders, and over 100 other types of vegan supplements.

1 comment

  • Thank you! The cereal aisle can be so confusing. Appreciate this! Will AVOID Special K and stick with Kashi, even though the price was tempting.