Got a box of Fruit Loops in your cupboard? Well, even if you don’t, that doesn’t change the fact that Fruit (“Froot”) Loops are consumed by millions of people across the globe. For a cereal that is supposed to taste like fruit but doesn’t have any real fruit in it, Fruit Loops have it nailed.
Sadly, if you’ve consumed Fruit Loops all your life and you’ve now become vegan, I’m afraid to tell you that Fruit Loops are not suitable for vegans.
Why aren’t Fruit Loops vegan? Fruit Loops contain Vitamin D3, which is also referred to as cholecalciferol, a type of vitamin D that is derived from an animal source. This is the main reason why Fruit Loops are deemed non-vegan, but there’s also the fact it contains questionable ingredients such as refined sugar and artificial colors.
In this article, I’m going to cover these ingredients in more detail and determine exactly why they may not be vegan, and I’m also going to share with you some vegan cereal alternatives. Once you learn about this information, you’ll be able to use it for any other products of the same kind.
Why Isn’t Vitamin D3 Vegan?
Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, is the type vitamin D our body produces when exposed to sunlight, but you can also find it in some non-vegan foods, namely oily fish, liver, egg yolk, and butter.
The Vitamin D3 that is added to cereals like Fruit Loops is derived from lanolin, a wax secreted from the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals, specifically sheep.
Lanolin extraction is done through sheep-shearing, a process in which the woolen fleece of sheep is cut off with electric clippers (usually) and sent off to be washed to separate the lanolin from the wash water. The lanolin takes the shape of a gold-colored waxy substance that is bottled and sent to a refinery, while the clean wool is used for making wool-based products like garments or carpets.
The lanolin is then purified, refined, and crystallized, and dispatched to a lab, where it’s placed inside a special kiln to be exposed to UV light to replicate the effects of sunlight on the skin. This method results in the creation of vitamin D3, which can then be used to fortify certain foods and supplements.
Bottom Line: The Vitamin D3 in Fruit Loops is not vegan because it’s derived from lanolin, which is extracted from wool-bearing animals like sheep.
Sugar in Fruit Loops May Not Be Vegan
I’m not individually referring to the sugar in Fruit Loops but all forms of refined sugar, including white, brown, and powdered sugar. I’m not stating that it’s always the case, but half of the time it is.
Sugar can be obtained from two sources: sugar canes and beets. While they taste the same and share similar texture, their refinement process is different. The sugar extracted from beets is always vegan, but the same can’t be said for the one extracted from sugar canes.
When refining the sugar extracted from sugarcanes, the sugarcanes are crushed and the juice is separated from the pulp. Then, oftentimes, the juice is filtered, refined, and bleached using bone char, which is a carbon-like property obtained by incinerating the bones of cattle.
Per Peta, the bones are from cattle that come from countries like Afghanistan, Argentina, India, and Pakistan. These bones are sold to traders in Scotland, Egypt, and Brazil who then resell them to sugar suppliers in the United States.
Fortunately, some suppliers use alternatives such as activated carbon or ion-exchange resins, but that may not be the case with Fruit Loops.
Some Vegans Also Avoid Artificial Colors
Fruit loops have the following artificial colors: Red 40, Blue 1, and Yellow 6.
These artificial colors have a history of animal testing, and there is some evidence that they continue to be tested to prevent potential health risks. These tests are, needless to say, cruel. While these animals may not die from a tumor, they’re killed once the experiment is terminated.
Some vegans may be okay with that fact, but I also know that others completely despise animal testing, and therefore do not consume products with added colors.
Vegan Alternatives to Fruit Loops
If you want sweet, vegan fruit-based cereals that might closely resemble Fruit Loops, I’ve found a few options that may be interesting for you.
Cascadian Farm Fruitful-O’s
The Fruitful O’s are whole grain and naturally fruit-flavored cereals packed with organic corn and oat, as well as numerous other organic ingredients. The cereals contain unrefined organic cane sugar and are also free from vitamin D and artificial colors. Making them a suitable vegan alternative to Fruit Loops.
The Cheetah Chomps are also mostly organic cereals packed with fruits and veggies. They’re free from refined sugar, vitamin D, and artificial colors, which also makes them an ideal vegan alternative to Fruit Loops.
They are certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO, and Gluten-Free, but judging from customer reviews, the flavor in Cheetah Chomps is not as appreciated as the flavor in Fruitful O’s.
Is Sheep Shearing Painful?
We’ve learned that to extract lanolin, sheep shearing needs to happen. However, there’s some disagreement on whether or not that method is painful for sheep.
On one hand, there is the argument (as shared by the Guardian) that sheep-shearing is not cruel, because if one year’s wool is not removed by shearing, the next year’s accumulation may cause sheep to overheat in the summer, which results in decreased mobility and increased risk for flystrike.
PETA, on the other hand, suggests that sheep shearing is cruel by giving an example of what takes place in Australia.
Merinos (a type of sheep), are bred to have wrinkly skin, allowing for more wool per animal. The overload of wool, however, causes sheep to overheat while the wrinkles collect urine and moisture. This attracts flies that lay eggs in the folds of the skin and the hatchlings that are born start to eat the sheep alive. To prevent this — Australian ranchers employ a method called “mulesing”, which is essentially the carving out of huge strips of flesh off the backs of sheeps’ legs and around their tails.
PETA has also shared this video to show us what happens to Alpacas:
In my opinion, even though you may have ethical ranchers that may employ non-painful, cruel methods to shear wool, PETA isn’t incorrect by saying that wool-shearing is (or can be) cruel.
Does Vegan Vitamin D3 Exist?
There is a plant-based Vitamin D3 that contains concentrations that equal those extracted from lanolin. It’s called lichen and it grows on rocks and trees in Scandinavia, North America, and parts of Asia. Lichen is a mixture of fungus and algae and it can survive in areas of extreme climatic conditions.
Lichen is gathered and washed at the site where it’s found and then is sent to a lab where a similar process to lanolin is employed (to manufacture vitamin D3).
At the moment, you’ll only find supplements containing this plant but that may change in the future. For example, Kellogg’s (the company behind Fruit Loops) is urged to use plant-based vitamin D in its products.