Fiona is the editor of Plantpuree, a website that celebrates vegan living. With over 20 years in diet & fitness, fashion, and beauty, she brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to her work and writing on veganism.
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
There’s no denying that Honey Nut Cheerios is one of the most popular cereals on the market. In fact, they were the top selling cereal brand in the US in 2019. (1) This is largely due to their very sweet taste and almond and honey flavoring. Sounds great! But what about the question of whether Honey Nut Cheerios are vegan or not? Or even healthy? Are Honey Nut Cheerios any good for us vegans?
In this post, we’ll look at the ingredients list of Honey Nut Cheerios to see if they are vegan. We’ll also assess the healthiness of these little cereal bites and whether they fit any dietary intolerances you might have such as gluten or FODMAPS. Finally, we’ll suggest alternatives cereals that are both vegan, healthy and more nutritious.
Table of Contents
Are Honey Nut Cheerios Vegan?
Sadly, the answer is NO, Honey Nut Cheerios are not vegan. Strict vegans should avoid them because they include animal derived components such as honey, lanolin and bone char. Lanolin is produced by sheep sebaceous glands and is used in the manufacture of Vitamin D3. Secondly, the refined sugar in Cheerios is processed in the US using bone char, which is formed from animal bones.
However, some dietary vegans feel that because the amount of animal derivates is so small in cereals it’s ok. However, ethical vegans would consider Honey Nut Cheerios off limits. It really does come down to your personal definition of veganism and what type of vegan you are.
Who Makes Honey Nut Cheerios
Honey Nut Cheerios is owned and made by General Mills and manufactured in a number of factories around the world. In the US, the Cheerios brand offers 18 different varieties – all varying in ingredients and nutritional content but none of which are vegan. Similarly, there are four varieties offered in Europe and eight in Canada but again – none of which are vegan.
Honey Nut Cheerios are not sold in the UK and Europe. Instead, Honey Cheerios (without the almond flavoring of the US version) are sold via a Cereals Partners Worldwide partnership between Nestlé and General Mills under the Nestle Brand. The joint venture takes advantage of Nestlé’s brand presence in Europe and General Mills’ advanced cereal-making technology. (2)
US General Mills Cheerio Brands
- Blueberry Cheerios
- Maple Cheerios
- Cheerios Oat Crunch Cinnamon
- Original Cheerios
- Honey Nut Cheerios
- Whole Grain Cheerios
- Apple Cinnamon Cheerios
- Chocolate Cheerios
- Frosted Cheerios
- Cheerios Oat Crunch Almond
- Cheerios Oat Crunch, Oats ‘N’ Honey
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios
- Cinnamon Cheerios
- Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch
- Honey Nut Cheerios Treat Bars
- Multi Grain Cheerios with Real Strawberries
- Strawberry Banana Cheerios
- Very Berry Cheerios
UK Nestle Cheerios Varieties
1. Nestle Cheerios Multigrain cereal
2. Nestle Cheerios Honey cereal
3. Nestle Cheerios Flavoured ‘O’s
4. Nestle Honey Cheerios Breakfast Bars
What Are The Non Vegan Ingredients In Honey Nut Cheerios?
There are three non-vegan ingredients in Cheerios: Vitamin D, refined sugar and honey. Depending on how strict you are, the tocopherols indicated in the ingredients list could be a problem which we’ll discuss in more detail. Let’s take a closer look at each ingredient.
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 D is commercially made from lanolin. Lanolin is a waxy substance derived from sheep’s wool. Given vitamin D is derived from an animal source, this means that breakfast cereals fortified with this are not vegan, however they are suitable for vegetarians. (3)
The problem with sugar is because of its processing, not the actual ingredient itself. Sugar Cane 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 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. (4)
Vegans try to avoid or minimize any type of animal exploitation, including the exploitation of bees. Many of the practices involved in beekeeping are detrimental to the health of bees’. To most vegans, there is no difference between bee farming and other types of animal agriculture. As a result, the majority of vegans abstain from consuming honey.
Vitamin E is often found in fortified cereals and is known as tocopherol. If you see it listed under ingredients, the tocopherol might be derived from palm oil. Some vegans avoid palm oil because of how animals like orangutans, pygmy elephants and Sumatran rhinos are impacted when their habitats are destroyed during production. If you are concerned about the tocopherols in Honey Nut Cheerios it is worth emailing General Mills for more information. I’ve listed their contact details further down in the post.
Are Honey Nut Cheerios Healthy?
The simple answer is no. According to Healthline, Honey Nut Cheerios are low in fat and calories as well as loaded with vitamins and minerals. However, they are extremely high in sugar. They are also low in protein and they recommend choosing varieties such as multigrain and adding additional protein such as nuts and nut butter. (5) You should note that like Honey Nut Cheerios, Multi-grain cheerios contains a number of animal derivatives.
Fiber Content in Honey Nut Cheerios
There are many health benefits to fiber including improved digestion and a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. And while Honey Nut Cheerios does contain fiber, according to health experts, at 3 grams of fiber per serving it does meet the requirements of a ‘good’ wheat bran cereal. (6)
In addition, The NHS and FDA recommend at least 30g a day and a serving of Honey Nut Cheerios provides 10% of the recommended daily amount. (7,8)
Sugar Content in Honey Nut Cheerios
Unfortunately, while Honey Nut Cheerios is a good source of dietary fiber it falls down when it comes to sugar content.
As mentioned earlier, Honey Nut Cheerios are extremely high in sugar which is associated with an increased risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. (9) At a whopping 12 grams of sugar per serving – a cupful of this cereal serving delivers over twice the recommended level of sugar for a healthy cereal. (10)
Honey Nut Cheerios Ingredients
General Mills, the manufacturer of Honey Nut Cheerios, currently list their main ingredients as:
|Ingredients||Vitamins & Minerals|
|Whole Grain Oats|
Brown Sugar Syrup
Rice Bran Oil and/or Canola Oil
Natural Almond Flavor
Tocopherols (Vitamin E for preservatives)
|Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Zinc, |
Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Vitamin B6,
Vitamin B2, Vitamin B1,
Vitamin A, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3
Honey Nut Cheerios Nutritional Information
Honey Nut Cheerios Calories per 37g Serving Size: 140kcal
|Of which saturates||0.0g|
|Of which 12g are added sugars|
Vegan Alternatives To Honey Nut Cheerios
There are a large number of supermarket and cheaper Cheerios brands available in the market but they all contain vitamin D3 and refined sugar – both of which are unsuitable for a vegan lifestyle.
Thankfully there are a few vegan breakfast cereals on the market that are oat based and similar in appearance in look and texture for those wanting a vegan version of Cheerios. Some popular options include:
Great Value Toasted O’s Cereal
If you are a vegan on a budget, then Great Value Toasted O’s Cereal is a great option for you. With only 2 grams of sugar and 5 grams of protein per serving plus fiber and vitamins, it offers a superior nutritional profile to Honey Nut Cheerios and is available from Walmart.
Ingredients: Whole Oat Flour, Modified Cornstarch, Wheat Starch, Sugar, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Oat Fiber, Tripotassium Phosphate, Tocopherols (Preservative), Color (Annatto Extract), Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbate), Reduced Iron, Vitamin A Palmitate, Niacinamide, Zinc (Zinc Oxide), Vitamin B₆ (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B₂ (Riboflavin), Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol), Vitamin B₁ (Thiamine Hydrochloride), Folic Acid, Vitamin B₁₂ (Cyanocobalamin), BHT added to packaging to help preserve freshness
Nature’s Path Whole ‘O’s Cereal
This organic cereal contains just 5 ingredients plus pomegranate juice. Per 40g serving it has 5g of sugar, 4g each of fiber and protein and is another low sugar vegan alternative to Honey Nut Cheerios.
Ingredients: Brown rice flour, corn flour, cane sugar, pomegranate juice concentrate, sea salt.
Cascadian Farm Fruitful O’s
Cascadian Farm Fruitful O’s has a very similar nutrition profile to Cheerios but the difference is that all the ingredients are organic, plant derived and vegan.
Ingredients: Whole Grain Oats, Cane Sugar, Corn Meal, Oat Fiber, Tapioca Syrup, Wheat Starch, Sea Salt, Sunflower Oil, Color (carrot concentrate, elderberry juice concentrate, annatto, pumpkin concentrate, apple concentrate), Natural Flavor, Dextrose. Vitamin E
Doves Farm Ancient Grain Cereal Hoops
With only 111 calories per serving and 3.2 grams of protein, Doves Farm Ancient Grain Cereal Hoops is another high quality vegan alternative to Honey Nut Cheerios. It has just 2 grams of sugar and 3.5 grams of fiber per serving, making it a great low-sugar vegan breakfast option. It’s also been certified by The Vegan Society.
Ingredients: cereal blend 82% (buckwheat 29%, wholegrain rice, tef18%, quino8%), date powder, maize bran, rice bran extract
Berry Blast Cheetah Chomps
An option for kids, this cereal is vegan, gluten free and organic. Truthfully, not the best nutrition profile but fine as a treat every now and then.
Brown Rice Flour, Corn Flour, Cane Sugar, Gluten Free Whole Grain Oat Flour, Pomegranate Juice Concentrate, Freeze Dried Berry Powders (Raspberry, Strawberry), Sea Salt, Black Carrot Juice Concentrate (Color), Vegetable Powder (Kale, Broccoli, Carrot, Spinach, Beet, Green Cabbage, Parsley), Berry Flavors (Blackberry, Strawberry, Raspberry)
Are Honey Nut Cheerios Gluten Free?
No – because of the risk of cross contamination during processing. Although General Mills label Cheerios as Gluten Free, the Canadian Celiac Association recommends that Celiac sufferers not consume Cheerios. (11) In addition, The Gluten Free Watch Dog also urge caution.
You should also note that Nestle Honey Cheerios sold in the UK and Europe do contain wheat and should actively be avoided if you have a gluten intolerance.
Are Honey Nut Cheerios Dairy Free?
According to Nestle (who are General Mills partners in Europe) Cheerios are dairy free. (12)
Are Honey Nut Cheerios Low Fodmap?
At present, Monash University have not certified Cheerios as Low FODMAP. This means that we cannot be certain that they are suitable for people following a low FODMAP diet.
How To Eat Vegan Alternatives to Honey Nut Cheerios
Cheerios are most commonly eaten as a breakfast cereal with milk such as oat, soy, and almond. However, there are many other ways you can eat vegan O cereals. Here are some ideas:
1. As a topping on porridge or oatmeal
2. In a smoothie
3. Baked into muffins or cookies
4. As a crunchy topping on vegan yogurt
5. In a trail mix
6. By themselves as a snack
Contact Cheerios to ask for Vegan Cheerio Options
If you’re a fan of Cheerios but are looking for a vegan option, the best thing to do is to contact the company and let them know of your interest. You can find General Mills’ contact information here:
Or email the Board of Directors directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
While Honey Nut Cheerios aren’t vegan, there are several excellent vegan options on the market. We recommend trying one of these cereals if you’re searching for a cereal that isn’t made with animal products. If you have any questions or comments about General Mills’ lack of vegan cereal alternatives, please do not hesitate to contact them. Your opinion may make a significant difference in the effort to provide more plant-based options from this major food manufacturer.