Are Cocoa Puffs Vegan? (No – But You Have Options!)

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

There’s no denying that General Mills Cocoa Puffs is one of the most popular cereals on the market. In fact, they were one of the top-selling chocolate cereal brands in the US in 2020. Sounds very appealing! But what about the question of whether Cocoa Puffs are vegan or not? Or even healthy? Are Cocoa Puffs any good for us vegans?

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In this post, we’ll examine the list of Cocoa Puffs ingredients to determine whether they are vegan or not. We’ll also take a look at how healthy these chocolate cereal bites are and whether they fit the nutritional requirements for a healthy breakfast cereal. Finally, we’ll look at some alternatives to Cocoa Puffs that are not only vegan, but also more nutritious.

Are Cocoa Puffs Vegan?

The short answer is NO – Cocoa Puffs are not vegan friendly because they contain animal derived ingredients. Lanolin is produced from sheep glands which is used in the manufacture of Vitamin D3. And the refined sugar in Cheerios is processed in the US using bone char, which is formed from animal bones.

What are the Non-Vegan Ingredients in Cocoa Puffs?

The non-vegan ingredients in Cocoa Puffs are :

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is a vitamin that is important for bone health. It can be found in fortified foods or supplements, and it can also be produced by the body when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D3 is commercially made from lanolin. Lanolin is a waxy substance derived from sheep’s wool. Given vitamin D3 is derived from an animal source, this means that breakfast cereals fortified with this are not vegan friendly, however they are suitable for vegetarians.


The problem with sugar is because of its processing, not the actual ingredient itself. Cane sugar is processed using bone char, which is made from animal bones heated at high temperatures. Bone char is widely used commercially to filter and whiten sugar. Although the refined sugar itself doesn’t contain fragments of bone – it’s the number of animals that are used to produce the bone char which is an issue.

There are different rules for sugar in different parts of the world. Most brands in the UK and EU do not use bone char as a decolorizing filter. Similarly, Australia and New Zealand have completely banned bone char. However, the sugar industry in the US still widely uses bone char filters which has implications for many US cereals including Cocoa Puffs. (1)

Natural Flavor

Even though many people like natural flavors in their food, vegans may be confused about what this means. The FDA includes both plant- and animal-based products in their definition of natural flavors. This means that some vegans avoid foods with natural flavors to make sure they don’t accidentally eat something with an animal-based ingredient. (2)

Corn Syrup

Although Corn Syrup is technically vegan, some strict vegans may choose to avoid it. The FDA says that 92% of corn in the United States is genetically modified. (3) Some vegans feel this harms biodiversity. (4)

Health Benefits of Cocoa Puffs

It’s so popular that according to Statista, in 2020 more than 3 million Americans consumed 10 portions of Cocoa Puffs over one week with another 13 million consuming between 1 to 4 portions! (5)

But are Cocoa Puffs good for us? Are there any health benefits to eating this much loved cereal?

The simple answer is NO. Cocoa Puffs are not a healthy option and do not meets the nutrition requirements suggested by many health organisations, including the NHS and FDA. Although Cocoa Puffs are low in salt and saturated fat, they are high in sugar and very low in fibre. Cocoa Puffs contain 9g of sugar per serving which is considered too high by the USDA. (6)

Ideally, you should choose a cereal with under 5 grams of sugar per serving and at least 3 grams of fibre per serving. (7) The NHS and FDA also recommend at least 30g of fibre a day, and a 27g serving of Cocoa Puffs provides just 1g – which is a teeny 3% of the recommended daily amount. (8,9)

That said – it’s not all bad news! Cocoa Puffs does contain cocoa powder, which has been linked to several health benefits, including improved heart health and helping your body manage insulin which is essential for diabetics. (10,11)

Cocoa Puffs Ingredients

General Mills, the manufacturer of Cocoa Puffs, currently list their main ingredients as:

Wholegrain CornTricalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Zinc and Iron,  Vitamin C, 
niacinamide, Vitamin B 6 ,Vitamin B2 , Vitamin B1 ,Vitamin A , Folic acid, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3.
Rice Flour
Corn Syrup
Cocoa Processed with Alkali
Canola and/or
Sunflower Oil
Baking Soda
Natural Flavor

Cocoa Puffs Nutritional Information

Cocoa Puffs Calories per 27g Serving: 100kcal

Typical ValuesPer 100gPer 27g Serving
Total Fat
Of which saturates
Total Carbohydrates
Of Which Sugars

Vegan Alternatives to Cocoa Puffs

You’ll be pleased to know there are plenty of vegan alternatives to Cocoa Puffs! Here are some of the best:

Envirokidz Choco Chimps

365 Everyday Value Cocoa Crisp Cereal

Love Grown Original Chocolate Power O’s

Purely Elizabeth Chocolate Sea Salt Granola

How To Eat Cocoa Puffs

There are plenty of ways to eat vegan cocoa puffs! You can enjoy them with:

·      Almond milk

·      Soy milk

·      Coconut milk

·      Rice milk

·     Oat milk

You can also top your vegan cocoa puffs with:

·      Fresh fruit

·      Dried fruit

·      Vegan chocolate chips

·      Shredded coconut

·      Nut butter

Of course, you can always eat your vegan cocoa puffs plain as a snack!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Cocoa Puffs have Dairy?

No, Cocoa Puffs do not contain dairy products.

Are Cocoa Puffs Gluten Free?

No Cocoa Puffs are not gluten free, as they contain wheat flour. However, there are many gluten-free alternatives to Cocoa Puffs that you can try, such as Freedom Foods Cocoa Pops and Nature’s Path Chocolate Sunrise Cereal.

Are Chocolate Cheerios Vegan?

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