Are Golden Grahams Vegan? Here’s What I Found Out!

Before we figure out if the Golden Grahams are vegan, I believe it’s important to differentiate the existing Golden Grahams in the market.

When I search for Golden Grahams online, I typically get the version sold by Nestlé. However, I live in Europe, so the Golden Grahams sold by General Mills doesn’t come up. Perhaps it’s needless to say, but the Golden Grahams manufactured by Nestlé is more popular in Europe, while the Golden Grahams manufactured by General Mills is more popular in the United States.

What changes besides the name of the company and the design of the package is also the process and ingredients used to formulate the product.

But are both Golden Grahams vegan? The Golden Grahams by Nestlé are vegan, but the version sold by General Mills contains vitamin D3, which is not vegan. 

Nestlé’s Golden Grahams: A Quick Overview

golden grahams nestlé
Nestlé’s Golden Grahams were cereals I had for breakfast quite often when I was younger, even though I preferred more chocolate-flavored cereals like Nesquik or Chocapic — all delightful cereals but not within the healthy scope.

To be frank, many of Nestlé’s cereals are vegan— putting the brand’s bad reputation aside.

At least, the ones I ate didn’t have honey, milk or eggs. In fact, they also didn’t have Vitamin D3, which is a vitamin most vegans don’t consider to be vegan because it is very often extracted from sheep’s wool.

Cereal Grains (Whole Grain Wheat (70.8%), Wheat Flour (36.3%), Maize Semolina (34.5%)), Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Maize Starch, Sunflower Oil, Invert Sugar Syrup, Brown Sugar, Vitamins and Minerals (Calcium, Niacin, Iron, Pantothenic Acid, Folic Acid, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin), Raising Agent: Sodium Bicarbonate, Salt, Molasses, Caramelised Sugar Syrup, Natural Flavouring

This being said, Golden Grahams still contain some questionable ingredients that companies typically don’t expand on — even though there is a slight probability they might be refined or extracted with/from animals. (I’ll expand on that later!)

General Mills’ Golden Grahams: A Quick Overview

general mills golden grahams
I can’t speak from experience here, because these Golden Grahams aren’t sold in sunshiny Portugal. I don’t know how much different it is, other than the fact this version has slightly different ingredients.

The most off-putting ingredient in this version is Vitamin D3. As I’ve mentioned, Vitamin D3 is typically extracted from sheep’s wool, mainly due to being the most accessible source.

Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Meal, Sugar, Brown Sugar syrup, Canola Oil, Dextrose, Baking Soda, Salt, Natural Flavor. Vitamins and Minerals: Calcium Carbonate, Iron and Zinc (Mineral Nutrients), Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbate), A B Vitamin (Niacinamide), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin Mononitrate), Vitamin A (Palmitate), A B Vitamin (Folic Acid), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3.

Other than Vitamin D3, these Golden Grahams also contain questionable ingredients such as sugar, as well as natural flavors. Ingredients that may or not be vegan depending on how they are extracted or refined. If you wish to know more, feel free to read the next section.

Why Is Sugar A Questionable Ingredient?

While sugar is definitely an ingredient derived from plants, it becomes an issue when it is refined with an animal ingredient. Unfortunately, in some countries (including the United States), sugar companies use bone char to filter and bleach cane sugar giving it a white, glowy color.

Bone char is the result of heating the bones of cattle at high temperatures until it turns into a black powder. But it’s also important to reference that not every company uses bone char.

In some cases, granular activated charcoal is used to achieve the same result. In other cases, sugar extracted from sugar beets is used, and curiously, it’s a type of sugar that doesn’t require any powder to crystallize.

Instead, it is extracted using a diffuser and mixed with additives. As such, we know that not every company uses the same methods, but there’s a chance bone char can be used.

An additional problem is that most labels simply stick to the word “sugar” so you never know what type of sugar is being used, or what type of agents were used to refine the sugar.

Why Are Natural Flavors Questionable Ingredients?

Most natural flavors are considered vegan.

In fact, here’s what the FDA has to say about natural flavors:

“The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

However, we also know that a natural flavor can be derived from animal ingredients. This said, one common natural flavor is castoreum. This flavor is extracted from the anal secretions of beavers in the United States and Europe. It’s typically used to create vanilla flavorings, but it can also be used to enhance strawberry and raspberry flavors.

And unfortunately, natural flavors simply show up as “natural flavor” on the label, so you don’t know exactly what flavor is being used.

Bottom Line

Nestlé’s Golden Grahams are suitable for vegans, while General Mills’ Golden Grahams are not vegan because it contains Vitamin D3, a vitamin that is typically extracted from sheep’s wool.

This said, it only contains trace amounts of Vitamin D3, thus some vegans don’t think it’s reasonable to stop consuming vitamin D3 fortified products.

In the end, it all comes down to each individual and his/her own definition of veganism.

Are you interested in knowing more about vegan cereals? Feel free to check out this list with some of my favorite vegan cereals!

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than five years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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