According to Wikipedia, Lucky Charms are produced by General Mills and have been around since 1964, and they consist of toasted oat pieces and multi-colored marshmallow bits.
Unfortunately, Lucky Charms are not vegan. They contain ingredients such as gelatin and Vitamin D3, which is most likely extracted from an animal source. In addition to those two non-vegan ingredients, you can also find questionable ingredients like refined sugar and artificial colors, which some vegans might choose to avoid for plausible reasons.
In this article, I’m going to explain why gelatin and Vitamin D3 are not vegan, and I’m also going to provide you with some further background on the aforementioned questionable ingredients. Lastly, I’m also going to suggest to you some vegan cereal alternatives, as well as a vegan Lucky Charms recipe to do at home.
Why Gelatin Is Not Vegan
Gelatin is obtained by boiling the skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones of pigs and cows leftover from the meat industry. It is commonly used in beauty products like shampoos and face masks; but you’ll find it mostly in fruit gelatins and puddings, as well as marshmallows, and other products with a jelly-like consistency.
Needless to say, gelatin is not vegan, but you can now find alternatives like pectin, agar-agar, carrageen, which are derived from fruit peel or seaweed.
Why Vitamin D3 Is Typically Not Vegan
Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, is a type of vitamin that our body produces when exposed to sunlight, but you’re also able to find it mostly in non-vegan foods like fish, liver, egg yolk, and butter.
The Vitamin D3 that is added to cereals like Lucky Charms is derived from lanolin, which is a wax secreted from the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals, namely sheep.
Lanolin extraction is done through sheep-shearing, a process in which the fleece is cut off with electric clippers (usually) and sent to be washed where the lanolin is separated from the water. The lanolin, when extracted, takes the shape of a gold-colored waxy substance that is then bottled and sent to a refinery.
The lanolin is then purified, refined, and crystallized, and dispatched to a lab where it’ll be placed inside a special kiln to be exposed to UV light so that the effects of sunlight on the skin can be replicated. Exactly, this method leads to the creation of vitamin D3, which is then used to fortify certain foods like cereals.
Generally, two types of sugar are used to be included in the products we eat today: cane sugar which is derived from sugarcane, and beet sugar which is derived from sugar beets. While they both taste the same and share a similar texture, their refinement process is distinct.
While beet sugar is always processed in a way that no animal components are used, the same cannot be said for cane sugar. Yes, in some scenarios, cane sugar may be processed, filtered, and bleached with bone char.
Bone char is a carbon-like powder derived from the bones of cattle that are heated up at really high temperatures.
According to PETA, these bones come from countries like Afghanistan, Argentina, India, and Pakistan, which sell the bones to traders in Scotland, Egypt, and Brazil that later resell them to sugar suppliers in the US.
The good news is that some sugar suppliers rely on alternatives like activated charcoal or ion-exchange resins that help achieve the same result.
Lucky Charms contain the following artificial colors: Yellows 5 & 6, Red 40, Blue 1.
Some vegans choose to avoid all types of artificial colors or dyes due to them being byproducts of animal testing, even though the tests can be said to be conducted to avoid potential health risks.
That’s certainly not a plausible reason to perpetuate animal cruelty, especially when alternative testing methods like computer models, cell cultures, and human tissue exist. (Learn about animal testing alternatives here)
Should you avoid artificial colors in the future? That depends on how you define veganism, and whether or not you find it reasonable to avoid those ingredients.
Vegan Cereal Alternatives
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find vegan alternatives that are similar to Lucky Charms, but I’ve found a rather unique suggestion, but only if you’re craving Lucky Charms.
But if you’re not really up to it, here are some vegan cereal alternatives that are also delicious:
- 365 Everyday Value Organic Morning O’s
- Barbara’s Peanut Butter Puffins
- Cascadian Farm Organic Fruitful O’s
- Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries
- Nature’s Path Sunrise Crunchy Vanilla
I’m not sure if you’re able to find these options in grocery stores or co-ops near you, but I’m sure you’re able to find them selling on Amazon.
Vegan Lucky Charms Recipe
It turns out that you can make vegan Lucky Charms out of a can of chickpeas.
This recipe by “Seitan Beats Your Meat” basically teaches you how to create marshmallows using ingredients like aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas), cream of tartar, sugar, agar-agar powder, vanilla extract, plus some easy-to-obtain food colors.
Once you got the marshmallows, then you just have to mix them up with some whole oat-y cereal and you have yourself a bowl of fiber-rich vegan Lucky Charms.
Are Lucky Charms Halal Or Kosher?
The marshmallows present in Lucky Charms are not Halal nor Kosher, as they’re made using pork, an animal that both Muslims and Jewish people are not allowed to eat.
By going vegan, Lucky Charms would be able to appeal to an entire group of individuals — Vegans, Muslims, and Jewish people included.
Lucky Charms are not vegan because they contain ingredients like gelatin and Vitamin D3, which are both derived from animals.
Gelatin is derived from the leftover parts of the meat industry and Vitamin D3 is obtained by exposing lanolin to UV light to replicate the effects of sunlight on the human skin.
Other questionable ingredients like sugar and artificial colors are also present in Lucky Charms, but I don’t think that’s nearly as relevant as having flagrant animal ingredients.
If this blog post has been useful for you, feel free to share it with friends and family that may also find it useful.