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Breakfast is often referred to as “the most important meal of the day” and whether you believe this or not, you cannot think of breakfast without simultaneously thinking about cereal. Some people prefer the savory flavors of cereal, being sweetened by nothing but the gifts of nature and perhaps honey. Other people enjoy more sugary cereals that are a bit like a dessert but healthy, and at the start of your day…
One of the most popular breakfast cereals that match this sweet and sugary description is the Cinnamon toast crunch cereal by Nestlé. However, with different diets rising in popularity it begs the question “Is Cinnamon Toast Crunch vegan?”
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What is Veganism?
‘Being vegan’ or taking part in veganism is the practice of not consuming products that are in any way related to animals and their suffering. It is similar to the vegetarian diet, but instead of just restricting the consumption of meat, it goes further and omits any other goods that animals provide.
This includes items such as milk, eggs, and gelatin. The diet does not stop at food, though, as it also means that items of clothing or furniture containing animal products are also excluded.
In a quick summary, veganism is the philosophy and practice of avoiding all forms of exploitation and cruelty to animals and instead promoting the use of animal-free products as a better alternative. These alternatives can be materials such as faux leather, or ingredients such as soy milk.
What is Cinnamon Toast Crunch?
As discussed, it is a sugary cereal at face value that, as the name would suggest, is cinnamon flavored. A more detailed inspection would show that they are rectangular pieces of rice and wheat covered in cinnamon and sugar. The ingredient rice flour provides a satisfying audible ‘snap’ when immersed in milk, similar to the other cereal known as ‘Rice Krispies’.
The cereal was made to resemble the cinnamon toast snack that is popular globally but with a more crunchy texture. Which turned out to be perfect for cereal in bite-sized pieces.
What is in the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Recipe?
The cereal is made of whole-grain wheat and rice flour which is then shaped into squares and coated with cinnamon flavor, sugar, and fortified with various vitamins and minerals. Nutritionally this includes your basic intakes such as protein, fiber, and some fats. However, it has a lengthy list of vitamins and minerals which are as follows:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D3
As you can see, the list is plentiful and you are sure to benefit from eating this cereal. As for other dietary information, the product contains whole-grain wheat which means it is not gluten-free. However, it is dairy-free on its own and will continue to be if you use soy or nonfat milk or any other alternative with it. This classic cereal might not have a natural flavor, but the flavoring ingredients used are not bad. The flavorings are a simple cinnamon-sugar mixture that coats the cereal.
Is it vegan?
Looking online can provide a very conflicting report on if this cereal is vegan or not. The ingredients used are quite non-problematic and include some vegan alternatives such as using soy lecithin. This is a product used in vegan foods very often and it is an odd choice to put soy lecithin in a food item that is not vegan itself.
As for the question “Is Cinnamon Toast Crunch vegan?” the answer is, unfortunately, no. It all comes down to the last ingredient on the list, vitamin D3. This specific vitamin, scientifically known as cholecalciferol, is made from lanolin which is extracted from sheep’s wool. This non-vegan supplement is a strange choice as there are vegan alternatives for vitamin d3. The choice to have some vegan ingredients is considered pointless due to this one vitamin not following suit.
The same company, General Mills, also has a product called ‘Chocolate Cinnamon Toast Crunch’ and another one named ‘Apple Cinnamon Toast Crunch’. This product, like all of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch family, unfortunately, has the same issue as the initial cereal, it is not vegan-friendly due to the vitamin D3 being present in the recipe. Some places still claim that the recipe and product are safe for the diet, but after some research, you can see they are blatantly non-vegan.
Why is Vitamin D3 not vegan-friendly?
It is commonly unknown and overlooked that vitamin D3 is obtained from lanolin, which is a product of sheep’s wool. This is then used as one of the ingredients in Cinnamon Toast Crunch used to fortify the cereal with vitamins and minerals.
Lanolin is a waxy, and greasy substance which is found in sheep’s wool. Similar to all animal products, the extraction of this cannot be pleasant for the sheep, and sometimes will end with the sheep getting skinned.
A lot of workplaces tend to claim they practice a painless extraction of lanolin but this is without proof and cannot be fully believed. There are plenty of vegan-friendly plant-based alternatives from which vitamin D3 can be obtained so the suffering of an animal is completely pointless and goes against the vegan status and philosophy.
The method of obtaining the sugar used in the recipe has a relatively high chance of being non-vegan. This is because the majority of sugar factories in America use bone char to filter their sugar, which makes it appear white. This obsession with white sugar is unnecessary and as a result, cattle skulls are burned to harvest the bone char for this process.
There are many other alternatives that are more vegan-friendly such as coconut sugar. Coconut sugar already appears white and is more vegan-friendly. That being said, it is impossible to know for certain whether the sugar used has actually been filtered using bone char. So while you cannot know for definite, it is worth keeping in mind. More strict vegans will avoid it unless they know for sure, but the choice is up to you.
While the word ‘soy’ is in the name, it would be over-ambitious to expect a company this large to acquire their soy lecithin from soy or sunflowers. Animal alternatives are much easier to obtain so it is more likely companies get their soy lecithin from animal-based sources such as egg yolks, fish, and other meat.
Despite not being vegan, Cinnamon Toast Crunch tastes amazing. Who can resist those delightfully crunchy and tasty cinnamon squares? If you can’t quite scratch the itch for them, there are vegan alternatives on the market that will help satisfy your cravings. Many vegans struggle to find vegan cereal or other vegan products that are similar to their non-vegan alternatives in both quality and price. This is why vitamin D3 is sometimes overlooked in a recipe by vegans, yet strict vegans stand by their diet and will shop for alternatives.
The Vegan alternatives for Cinnamon Toast Crunch are:
- Cinnamon Crunch Cereal – Cascadian Farms
- Cinnamon Heaven – Van’s
- Cinnamon Taste – Catalina Crunch Cereal
Veganism not only practices animal-friendly regulations on food, but it is also a lifestyle about having a healthy diet and treating our bodies properly. Some of the healthiest food is vegan.
Make Homemade Cinnamon Toast Crunch
If the vegan alternatives do not interest you for any reason, you can always try to make your own! It can be a nice challenge and also quite fun, so it is worth a try. Lots of recipes can be found on the internet as to how to make it, and you can even mess around with the flavorings yourself during this. Most recipes will include similar ingredients, and due to it being a vegan recipe, no animal products.
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) of dairy-free/vegan-friendly butter
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2-4 tablespoons of salted vegan-friendly butter
The simplest way to use this recipe is to combine the solids first, and then slowly add the liquids such as the water. If the dough is too wet then add more flour, and if the opposite happens then add more water.
Once mixed and a dough has been formed, turn it out onto a floured surface and form a ball. Divide this ball in half and working with one half at a time, roll it as flat as possible, ideally a 1/8-inch thick. After this, place the dough on some parchment paper and brush it with the melted butter while generously sprinkling your cinnamon sugar over the top.
To help with the flavoring, you can gently push the sugar into the dough. Cut this entire piece into squares that are 1/2 an inch in size using a pizza cutter or anything similar. Once this has been done, transfer the squares from the parchment paper to a baking sheet and space them out by 1/2 an inch.
Once this has all been completed, you can bake them for 12-14 minutes (or until they turn golden brown) at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to let them cool and then store them in an airtight container for up to 1 week.