Chocolate is great. Cereal is great. And yet, somehow chocolate cereal manages to be even greater than the sum of its parts. Cocoa Pebbles is one of the classic chocolate cereals on the market today. Is it vegan-friendly?
Cocoa Pebbles are generally considered vegan. However, they do contain sugar, natural flavor, and vitamin D3, which are gray-area ingredients that some vegans avoid.
Below I’ll explain why each of these ingredients are so controversial to some vegans—and why I and many other vegans choose to go ahead and eat them anyway! I’ll also look at cocoa and chocolate as a whole, and whether Cocoa Pebbles Crisps are vegan.
What Are Cocoa Pebbles Made Out Of?
First let’s look at the ingredients list for Cocoa Pebbles. I’ve bolded three ingredients in red which some vegans avoid:
Cocoa Pebbles Ingredients: “Rice, Sugar, Canola and/or Soybean Oil, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Salt, Contains 1% or less of: Caramel Color, Natural and Artificial Flavor, BHT Added to Preserve Freshness. Vitamins and Minerals: Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Reduced Iron, Zinc Oxide, Vitamin A Palmitate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12.” (source)
Now let’s take a look at each of these controversial ingredients:
- Sugar: Gray Area. Sugar is debated amongst vegans. Non-organic cane sugar is often filtered with animal bone char to make it whiter. Some vegans avoid it—others don’t. (Personally, I don’t worry about it.)
- Natural and Artificial Flavor: Gray Area. “Natural flavor” can potentially come from plants or animals. In the case of Cocoa Pebbles, it’s probably not animal-based, but we don’t know that for sure by reading the label. So some vegans may raise an eyebrow at it.
- Vitamin D3: Gray Area. The vitamin D3 found in cereal is typically from lanolin, which is a grease from sheep’s wool. So it is an animal ingredient. That said, it’s used in small quantities (it’s practically the last ingredient in Cocoa Pebbles). So some vegans (like me) believe it is okay to eat it. Here’s a full explanation of how I view the issue.
So, whether you consider Cocoa Pebbles vegan depends on how you view sugar, natural flavor, and vitamin D3. The most strict vegans would not consider Cocoa Pebbles vegan. However, more flexible vegans like me are okay with it.
My personal view is that cereal companies like Post will probably not even notice if you boycott their cereals for these kinds of minor ingredients, or for ingredients that merely could be sourced from animals.
If you do want to boycott these animal by-product ingredients, I recommend you at least email the companies to voice your concern that way, too. I just don’t think they will get the message otherwise.
Do Cocoa Pebbles Have Dairy?
Cocoa Pebbles do not contain milk, lactose, or any other dairy. In fact, there doesn’t even seem to be an allergen warning on the package for “traces of milk” or “may contain milk”—so it should be safe even for people with milk allergies or lactose intolerance.
Do Cocoa Pebbles Have Eggs?
Cocoa Pebbles do not contain eggs. In fact, I can’t even think of one breakfast cereal that contains eggs. Probably there is one somewhere out there, but it’s extremely uncommon if so. Eggs are not generally an issue in cereal.
Do Cocoa Pebbles Have Gelatin?
Cocoa Pebbles do not contain gelatin. Typically, you’ll only see gelatin in cereal when there are marshmallows (like in Lucky Charms) or, in some cases, to hold frosting onto the cereal (like in Frosted Mini-Wheats).
Are Chocolate and Cocoa Powder Vegan?
Looking at whether Cocoa Pebbles are vegan can lead to a broader question about chocolate. Since one of the most common forms of chocolate is milk chocolate, many people mistakenly assume that chocolate itself is not vegan.
As I’ve written in a separate post, cocoa powder is generally considered vegan. Dark chocolate products, as well as things like chocolate cereal, are often vegan.
The only real issue with cocoa from a vegan perspective would be the ethical issues with slave labor in certain parts of the world. Read here for more about that.
Are Cocoa Pebbles Crisps Vegan?
Cocoa Pebbles Crisps are generally considered vegan. However, they do contain sugar and natural flavor, which are gray-area ingredients that some vegans avoid.
If you’ve never had them, Cocoa Pebbles Crisps are like chocolate rice chips. Pretty tasty. If you consider Cocoa Pebbles vegan, then the Crisps are definitely vegan, too, as they contain one less gray-area ingredient, and no new ones.
Again, I’ve bolded the gray-area ingredients in red:
Cocoa Pebbles Crisps Ingredients: “Rice, Soybean Oil, Sugar, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Contains Less than 1% of: Salt, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Caramel Color, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E) and BHT Added to Preserve Freshness.” (source)
More Vegan Guides to Breakfast Cereal
I’ve been writing a bunch of guides about which popular cereals are vegan. Here are a few more that may interest you:
Two More Recommendations for Your Vegan Journey
1. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in 13 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).
2. This is the best vegan starter kit I know of. It’s a bundle of 9 beautiful e-books that help you transition to a healthy plant-based diet—the right way. The advice is spot-on, and it has print-outs and checklists that make it easy to implement. Read my full review of Nutriciously here.