Is Baby Cereal Vegan? (Not Always, Find Out Why)

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Vegan parenthood comes with a lot of, sometimes unexpected, challenges ranging from how to explain your choices to non-vegan family and friends to what is considered “acceptable” to feed your vegan child.

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One common question is whether or not baby cereal is vegan and whether you can give it to your vegan baby.

After all, as a parent, you want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to ensure the products you are feeding your family aren’t harming animals or the environment and support nutritional needs and normal growth.

This is especially true when it comes to baby cereal. Just because a product is marketed as “healthy” or “organic” doesn’t mean it is nutritious and vegan.

Here is a closer look at why this is the case and what you can do to make sure you are feeding your baby quality vegan food assuming your doctor or paediatrician has approved.

Warning – cereal is considered a solid food and according to the CDC should not be given to a baby before the age of 6 months. 1 For the best advice on weaning and feeding your baby a vegan diet – always check with the experts: your doctor and paediatrician.

Is Baby Cereal Vegan?

No, baby cereal is not always vegan and unless it is explicitly labelled vegan you will need to scrutinize the ingredients list and look out for non-vegan ingredients such as milk, honey, and Vitamin D3 which can contain animal derivatives. 

What is Baby Cereal

Baby cereal is a type of food that is usually made from grains that are ground into a fine powder, such as oats, wheat, or rice. Preparation typically involves mixing the cereal with breast milk, water, or formula.

The first solid food that many babies eat is baby cereal as it is easy to swallow and is often fortified with nutrients like iron. This makes it a good option for babies who are just starting to eat solid foods. It is typically introduced around 6 months of age when breast milk or formula can no longer provide all the nutrients a growing baby needs.

It’s important to note that the FDA recommends that you shouldn’t stay with just one type of fortified baby cereal or grain, for example, rice. Instead, you should also include other sources of fortified baby cereals such as oatmeal, porridge and multigrain. 2

It’s also worth noting that PETA deems breast milk to be vegan since it does not harm animals or the environment. They go on to say that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics agree that it is appropriate for vegan moms to breastfeed. 3

What Makes a Baby Cereal Vegan?

For a company to label and market its product as vegan it must be certified by the Vegan Society or have its ingredients verified by a vegan certification agency. 4

The authentication procedure is demanding, with only vegan-friendly ingredients being required.

If cereal isn’t certified or labeled vegan, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not vegan, but it does mean you’ll have to do a little more research and examine the ingredients.

What Non-Vegan Ingredients to Avoid

Even though most cereals are composed of plant-derived cereal grains, some well-known baby cereal brands on the market today are almost certainly not vegan since they contain several additional ingredients derived from animals.

Clearly, some obvious animal ingredients like egg, butter, and milk are to be avoided.

However, less obvious ingredients like honey, carmine, vitamin D3, and bone processed sugar (yes, really!) can also be found in some brands of cereal. Here’s an explanation of these ingredients and why they are a problem:

Vitamin D3

Fortified baby cereals are common but if they are fortified with Vitamin D3 that can pose a problem for a vegan diet. This vitamin is typically derived from sheep’s wool via lanolin and although some brands may use plant-derived Vitamin D2 it’s not always obvious and unless labeled you may want to contact the brand.


A surprising ingredient to watch out for is sugar. Sugar is generally extracted from sugar cane, sugar beets, or coconuts. None of these substances on their own indicates any issues in terms of being all-natural and suitable for a vegan diet. It’s during the refining process that sugar can become non-vegan.

Sugar Cane may be 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. Generally, you are unlikely to notice a reference to bone char in the ingredients lists. Many brands simply refer to it as natural carbon if mentioned at all.

In the UK, most brands 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 have implications for vegan baby cereals. 5


Honey is a sweetener that’s made by bees from the nectar of flowers. Because it requires insects to produce it, some vegans consider it off-limits.


Carmine is a red food coloring that’s made from crushed cochineal insects.


Gelatin is another ingredient that’s made from animal parts and is sometimes found in cereal.

Palm Oil

Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil that’s often used in food manufacturing. It’s usually produced in a way that destroys the habitats of animals like orangutans, so some vegans choose to avoid it.

Natural Flavors

Be careful here. Natural flavors can come from both plant and animal sources, so they may or may not be vegan depending on their source. In addition, vegans may be confused by the FDA definition because it encompasses both plant- and animal-derived components. As a result, many vegans avoid products with natural flavors to avoid unintentionally ingesting an item that contains animal ingredients. 6

What Does Organic or Natural mean for Vegan Baby Cereals?

The terms “organic” and “natural” are often used interchangeably, but they actually have different meanings when it comes to food labeling and both can be vegan or non-vegan.

In general, organic foods are those that are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers.

Natural foods, on the other hand, can be both organic and non-organic. The term “natural” simply means that the food has not been artificially processed or altered in any way.

So, what does this mean for vegan baby cereals?

Generally speaking, organic baby cereals are going to be your best bet if you’re looking for a cereal that’s free of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. 7 However, do remember not all organic cereals are vegan, so you’ll still need to check the ingredients list to be sure.

Who Makes Vegan Baby Cereal?

While there are a few different brands of plant-based baby cereals on the market, not all of them are vegan. It’s important to read the labels very carefully to make sure you’re getting a product that is truly free of all animal-derived ingredients.

One of the most popular brands of vegan baby cereal is Earth’s Best. This company makes a variety of organic and natural food products for babies and toddlers, including several different types of cereal. The ingredients in their cereals are all plant-based, and they are fortified with vitamins to ensure that your baby gets all the nutrients he or she needs. 8

Another popular option is the Beech-Nut line of infant cereals. These cereals are also made with organic ingredients and are fortified with iron.

Finally, Organix makes a variety of vegan baby cereals that are made with whole grains and fortified with vitamins.


When it comes to choosing a vegan baby cereal, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. First, look for a cereal that is fortified with iron and zinc. These are essential nutrients for babies.

Second, make sure the ingredients are all plant-based. Many cereals on the market contain animal-derived ingredients like honey, gelatin, or carmine.

Finally, check to see if the cereal is organic. This will ensure that it’s free of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.

Always seek guidance from professionals if you are feeding your child a vegan diet. Your doctor and pediatrician will provide the best advice on weaning and confirm your baby is eating and developing well.

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Sources: ‘Is Baby Cereal Vegan?’