Nature Valley is a brand of granola bars that belongs to General Mills. It started with one granola bar back in 1975 and then the brand introduced different types of granola bars such as crunchy, chewy, clusters, nut, yogurt coated, and protein-packed.
Some Nature Valley granola bars are not vegan, and some may or not be vegan depending on how strict of a vegan you are. In any case, I’ll be going over both the non-vegan and the potential non-vegan ingredients, then you can decide for yourself whether or not you should purchase these granola bars by Nature Valley.
Nature Valley has 4 types of granola bars:
- Crunchy Bars
- Sweet & Salty Bars
- Layered Granola Nut Bars
- and Fruit & Nut Bars
They also sell protein and wafer bars, but those aren’t really granola bars, so I’ll leave them out.
Let’s first look at the non-vegan and potential non-vegan ingredients in Nature Valley granola bars.
Non-Vegan Ingredients in Nature Valley Granola Bars
The granola bars from Nature Valley contain a few non-vegan ingredients, but all of them contain questionable vegan ingredients. Here’s the list of non-vegan and questionable vegan ingredients, as well as a short explanation for each:
Honey: Honey is a non-vegan ingredient. The extraction of honey is regarded as a form of exploitation. One of the reasons why conventional beekeepers are frowned upon is because they replace the honey in beehives with regular sugar, which is significantly worse for bees because it lacks the essential micronutrients found in honey.
Milk: Unfortunately, some of the granola bars contain some milk derivatives like whey or whey protein concentrate. Obviously, milk requires no explanation.
Refined Sugar: Nature Valley granola bars are made in the United States. And sadly, not all sugar in the United States is vegan-friendly. Bone char, which is also known as natural carbon, is still commonly used as a decolorizing and deashing agent. Companies use it to remove inorganic impurities like sulfate and ions of calcium and magnesium.
Palm Oil: Technically, palm oil is a plant-based ingredient. However, in order to create palm oil plantations, the natural habitats of certain animal species are ruined. As a result, because of their incapacity to adapt, the species end up dying. Between 1999 and 2015, the quest for palm oil had led to the death of 100,000 orangutangs, according to research.
Natural Flavors: This one is a bit tricky. Why? Well, natural flavors can be derived from plants and animals, but companies are not required to reveal where these natural flavors come from. This is controversial because some companies may use animal ingredients and not have them explicitly declared on the ingredients label.
This is not surprising, taking into account Nature Valley belongs to General Mills, a company that also owns brands such as Yoplait, Cheerios, Häagen-Dazs, and the list goes on. These brands I’ve just mentioned also rely heavily on animal-based ingredients.
Which Nature Valley Granola Bars Are Vegan?
Out of the 28 flavors and variations of granola bars, 12 of them are considered to be suitable for vegans. However, keep in mind that they still contain what’s regarded as questionable (or controversial) ingredients.
Here is a table I’ve created to help you out:
|Type||Flavor:||Non-Vegan & Questionable Vegan Ingredients:||Verdict:|
|Crunch||Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate||Honey, Sugar, Natural Flavor||Not Vegan|
|Almond Butter||Sugar, Natural Flavor||Possibly Vegan|
|Oats n’ Honey||Honey, Sugar, Natural Flavor||Not Vegan|
|Peanut Butter||Sugar, Natural Flavor||Possibly Vegan|
|Coconut||Sugar, Natural Flavor||Possibly Vegan|
|Oats n’ Dark Chocolate||Honey, Sugar, Natural Flavor||Not Vegan|
|Pecan||Sugar, Natural Flavor||Possibly Vegan|
|Apple Crisp||Sugar, Natural Flavor||Possibly Vegan|
|Roasted Almond||Sugar, Natural Flavor||Possibly Vegan|
|Maple Brown Sugar||Sugar, Natural Flavor||Possibly Vegan|
|Sweet & Salty||Dark Chocolate, Peanut & Almond Minis||Sugar, Palm Oil, Milk, Natural Flavor||Not Vegan|
|Peanut Minis||Sugar, Palm Oil, Honey, Natural Flavor||Not Vegan|
|Salted Caramel Chocolate||Sugar, Palm Oil, Milk, Natural Flavor||Not Vegan|
|Toasted Coconut||Sugar, Palm Oil, Honey, Milk, Natural Flavor||Not Vegan|
|Peanut||Sugar, Palm Oil, Honey, Milk, Natural Flavor||Not Vegan|
|Almond||Sugar, Palm Oil, Honey, Milk, Natural Flavor||Not Vegan|
|Cashew||Sugar, Palm Oil, Milk, Natural Flavor||Not Vegan|
|Roasted Mixed Nut||Sugar, Palm Oil, Honey, Milk, Natural Flavor||Not Vegan|
|Dark Chocolate, Peanut & Almond||Sugar, Palm Oil, Milk, Natural Flavor||Not Vegan|
|Chocolate Pretzel Nut||Sugar, Palm Oil, Milk, Natural Flavor||Not Vegan|
|Layered Granola Nut Bars||Salted Caramel||Sugar, Palm Oil, Milk, Natural Flavor||Not Vegan|
|Peanut Butter Chocolate||Sugar, Palm Oil, Milk, Natural Flavor||Not Vegan|
|Almond Butter Chocolate||Sugar, Palm Oil, Milk, Natural Flavor||Not Vegan|
|Fruit & Nut||Trail Mix||Sugar, Natural Flavor||Possibly Vegan|
|Dark Chocolate & Nut||Sugar, Natural Flavor||Possibly Vegan|
|Cranberry & Pomegranate||Sugar, Natural Flavor||Possibly Vegan|
|Dark Chocolate Cherry||Sugar, Natural Flavor||Possibly Vegan|
The Crunch and Fruit & Nut granola bars are the ones that provide you with the most vegan-friendly options. The rest contain either milk or honey.
Are There Other Alternatives?
Frankly, you can find alternatives that are as equally delicious but may offer you a wider range of interesting vegan flavors. Here are a few options to get you started:
*Keep in mind that some of the brands may contain non-vegan bars.
Summary: Not All Nature Valley Granola Bars Are Vegan
Not all Nature Valley granola bars are vegan, but you can still find 12 flavors that don’t contain any animal-based ingredients. These flavors are:
- Almond Butter
- Peanut Butter
- Pecan Apple Crisp
- Roasted Almond
- Maple Brown Sugar
- Trail Mix
- Dark Chocolate & Nut
- Cranberry & Pomegranate
- and Dark Chocolate Cherry
At the same time, these bars also contain controversial ingredients such as refined sugar and natural flavor.
If you’re a more stringent vegan, it’s likely you’ll want to avoid them, but for most vegans out there, these granola bars are legitimate vegan-friendly options.