Special K used to contain a milk protein called casein. That made it clearly not vegan. Things have changed, and casein has been removed from the recipe. However, there still remains some question: Is Special K vegan?
Special K Original is generally considered vegan. However, it contains sugar and vitamin D3, which are gray-area ingredients that some vegans avoid. Other flavors of Special K cereal also contain honey and milk ingredients.
Below, I’ve made tables showing all the Special K flavors from the U.S., U.K., and Australia. I’ve also explained why sugar and vitamin D are complicated ingredients for vegans—so you can decide for yourself how to treat them.
What Is Special K Cereal Made Of?
First, let’s look at Special K Original Cereal in the United States. For the Original flavor, the ingredients are quite similar in all the countries I checked.
I’ve bolded the ingredients of concern for vegans in red:
Special K Original Ingredients (U.S.): “Rice, wheat gluten, sugar, defatted wheat germ, contains 2% or less of salt, malt flavor. Vitamins and Minerals: Reduced iron, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), niacinamide, vitamin E acetate, beta-carotene, folic acid, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin B1 (thiamin hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin D3, vitamin B12.” (source)
Sugar and vitamin D3 are also present in the UK and Australia versions of Special K Original. Let’s take a quick look at each:
- Sugar: Gray-Area Ingredient. Sugar is quite a controversial ingredient for vegans. Non-organic cane sugar is often filtered with bone char to make it whiter. So, some vegans avoid it—others are okay with it. (Personally, I’m fine with sugar.)
- Vitamin D3: Gray-Area Ingredient. Vitamin D3 can be made from vegan sources like lichen, but it’s usually from lanolin (from sheep’s wool). However, it’s used in small quantities, so many vegans (including me) don’t worry about it. Read more in this blog post.
So, as you can see, the vegan status of Special K depends on whether you avoid sugar and vitamin D3. For me personally, I’m fine with both of these ingredients, so I consider Special K Original to be vegan. But some other vegans would not be okay with.
What Special K Flavors Are Vegan?
No Special K cereal flavors are completely free of potentially animal-derived ingredients. All of them contain vitamin D3, which is typically derived from lanolin (from sheep’s wool). And almost all of them contain sugar, which is likely to be filtered with bone char.
Whether you consider each flavor vegan depends on which “gray-area” ingredients you personally avoid. For example, vitamin D3 is almost always animal-derived, but it’s used in such small amounts, some vegans (like me) don’t worry about it (as I explain here).
So here is the full list of flavors and which ingredients of concern they include. After that, I’ll break them down into different categories of vegan-ness. Again, these are the U.S. flavors:
|Flavor||Ingredients of Concern|
|Special K Blueberry with Lemon Clusters Cereal||sugar, honey, natural flavor, vitamin D3|
|Special K Raspberry Cereal||sugar, natural flavors, vitamin D3|
|Special K Fruit & Yogurt Cereal||sugar, nonfat milk, nonfat yogurt powder, honey, vitamin D3|
|Special K Vanilla Almond Cereal||sugar, natural flavor, vitamin D3|
|Special K Chocolatey Delight Chocolate Cereal||sugar, natural flavors, vitamin D3.|
|Special K Cinnamon Pecan Cereal||sugar, vitamin D3|
|Special K Chocolate Almond Cereal||sugar, natural flavors, vitamin D3|
|Special K Protein Cereal||sugar, natural flavors, vitamin D3|
|Special K Cinnamon Brown Sugar Crunch Protein Cereal||sugar, natural flavors, vitamin D3|
|Special K Protein Honey Almond Ancient Grain Cereal||sugar, honey, natural flavors, vitamin D3|
|Special K Original Cereal||sugar, vitamin D3|
|Special K Red Berries Cereal||sugar, vitamin D3|
|Special K Honey Oat Cereal||sugar, honey, natural flavor, vitamin D3|
|Special K Cereal Probiotics Berries & Peaches||sugar, natural flavors, nonfat milk, milk protein concentrate, Greek nonfat yogurt powder, vitamin D3|
|Special K Chocolatey Strawberry Cereal||sugar, vitamin D3|
|Special K Banana Cereal||sugar, natural flavors, vitamin D3|
|Special K Granola Cereal Touch of Honey||sugar, honey, natural flavors, vitamin D3|
|Special K Blueberry Cereal||natural flavor, vitamin D3|
Which Special K Cereals Have Dairy?
When looking at which Special K cereals are vegan in the U.S., you can first eliminate the ones with dairy ingredients. All vegans would agree these ones are definitely not vegan. So here are those…
Special K cereals with dairy:
- Special K Fruit & Yogurt Cereal
- Special K Cereal Probiotics Berries & Peaches
All the rest are dairy free! Now let’s narrow down the list further.
List of Special K Cereals I Consider Vegan
For me personally, I do avoid honey as a vegan. But I don’t worry about vitamin D3, sugar, or natural flavors. Obviously, my preference for where to draw the line is kind of arbitrary. But in case you agree with me…
Here’s the list of Special K cereals I consider vegan:
- Special K Raspberry Cereal
- Special K Vanilla Almond Cereal
- Special K Chocolatey Delight Chocolate Cereal
- Special K Cinnamon Pecan Cereal
- Special K Chocolate Almond Cereal
- Special K Protein Cereal
- Special K Cinnamon Brown Sugar Crunch Protein Cereal
- Special K Original Cereal
- Special K Red Berries Cereal
- Special K Chocolatey Strawberry Cereal
- Special K Banana Cereal
- Special K Blueberry Cereal
Is Special K Vegan in the U.K.?
Now let’s check out the Special K flavors in the United Kingdom. There’s nothing particularly shocking here from a vegan perspective:
|Flavor||Ingredients of Concern|
|Special K Original||Sugar, Vitamin D|
|Special K Red Berries||Sugar, Vitamin D|
|Special K Oats & Honey||Sugar, Honey, Vitamin D|
|Special K Peach & Apricot||Sugar, Vitamin D|
|Special K Milk Chocolate||whole milk powder, skimmed milk powder, sugar, vitamin D|
|Special K Protein Nuts, Clusters & Seeds||dried skimmed milk, sugar, natural flavourings, vitamin D|
|Special K Protein Berries, Clusters & Seeds||dried skimmed milk, sugar, natural flavourings, vitamin D|
Is Special K Vegan in Australia?
Let’s take a look at the Special K flavors in Australia, as well:
|Flavor||Ingredients of Concern|
|Special K Original||sugar, vitamin D|
|Special K Lower Sugar||sugar, natural flavour, vitamin D|
|Special K Gluten Free||sugar|
|Special K Gluten Free Almond and Cranberry||sugar, glycerol|
|Special K Forest Berries||sugar, vitamin D, natural flavour|
|Special K Nourish Cashew, Macadamia & Coconut||sugar, vitamin D|
|Special K High Fibre Advantage||sugar, natural flavour, vitamin D|
The only different ingredient of concern found in Australian Special K is glycerol. Personally, I don’t worry about glycerol as a vegan. It can come from plants or animals—but VRG considers it “Typically Vegan,” and they’re one of the most credible sources on questions like this.
Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey
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2. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in my 14 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).