Is Special K Vegan? [All Flavors]

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:

FlavorIngredients of Concern
Special K Blueberry with Lemon Clusters Cerealsugar, honey, natural flavor, vitamin D3
Special K Raspberry Cerealsugar, natural flavors, vitamin D3
Special K Fruit & Yogurt Cerealsugar, nonfat milk, nonfat yogurt powder, honey, vitamin D3
Special K Vanilla Almond Cerealsugar, natural flavor, vitamin D3
Special K Chocolatey Delight Chocolate Cerealsugar, natural flavors, vitamin D3.
Special K Cinnamon Pecan Cerealsugar, vitamin D3
Special K Chocolate Almond Cerealsugar, natural flavors, vitamin D3
Special K Protein Cerealsugar, natural flavors, vitamin D3
Special K Cinnamon Brown Sugar Crunch Protein Cerealsugar, natural flavors, vitamin D3
Special K Protein Honey Almond Ancient Grain Cerealsugar, honey, natural flavors, vitamin D3
Special K Original Cerealsugar, vitamin D3
Special K Red Berries Cerealsugar, vitamin D3
Special K Honey Oat Cerealsugar, honey, natural flavor, vitamin D3
Special K Cereal Probiotics Berries & Peachessugar, natural flavors, nonfat milk, milk protein concentrate, Greek nonfat yogurt powder, vitamin D3
Special K Chocolatey Strawberry Cerealsugar, vitamin D3
Special K Banana Cerealsugar, natural flavors, vitamin D3
Special K ​ Granola Cereal Touch of Honeysugar, honey, natural flavors, vitamin D3
Special K Blueberry Cerealnatural flavor, vitamin D3
Which Special K Flavors Are Vegan? [United States] (source)

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:

FlavorIngredients of Concern
Special K OriginalSugar, Vitamin D
Special K Red BerriesSugar, Vitamin D
Special K Oats & HoneySugar, Honey, Vitamin D
Special K Peach & ApricotSugar, Vitamin D
Special K Milk Chocolatewhole milk powder, skimmed milk powder, sugar, vitamin D
Special K Protein Nuts, Clusters & Seedsdried skimmed milk, sugar, natural flavourings, vitamin D
Special K Protein Berries, Clusters & Seedsdried skimmed milk, sugar, natural flavourings, vitamin D
Which Special K Flavors Are Vegan? [United Kingdom] (source)

Is Special K Vegan in Australia?

Let’s take a look at the Special K flavors in Australia, as well:

FlavorIngredients of Concern
Special K Originalsugar, vitamin D
Special K Lower Sugarsugar, natural flavour, vitamin D
Special K Gluten Freesugar
Special K Gluten Free Almond and Cranberrysugar, glycerol
Special K Forest Berriessugar, vitamin D, natural flavour
Special K Nourish Cashew, Macadamia & Coconutsugar, vitamin D
Special K High Fibre Advantagesugar, natural flavour, vitamin D
Which Special K Flavors Are Vegan? [Australia] (source)

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 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.

Sharing is caring!