Captain Crunch (or Cap’n Crunch) is a corn and oat breakfast cereal manufactured by Quaker Oats Company, a subsidiary of PepsiCo since 2001.
After introducing the original Captain Crunch in 1963, Quaker Oats has since introduced many flavors and seasonal variations – available for a limited time – such as the ones below:
- Original Captain Crunch
- Captain Crunch’s Crunch Berries
- Captain Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch
- Captain Crunch’s All Berries
- Captain Crunch’s Cotton Candy Crunch
- Captain Crunch’s Christmas Crunch
Fortunately, none of the variations above contain flagrant animal ingredients (i.e: milk or gelatin), but they contain ingredients that are deemed questionable by the vegan community, for logical reasons.
Captain Crunch: Ingredients
I’ve analyzed the ingredient labels of every Captain Crunch variety, and there isn’t a significant difference between them, which is why I’m going to use the original Captain Crunch as an example.
These are the ingredients present in the original Captain Crunch recipe:
Although there isn’t a single animal ingredient, which allegedly makes Captain Crunch a vegan product, there are three ingredients that are deemed questionable by more stringent vegans.
These ingredients are sugar (more specifically, cane sugar), palm oil, and artificial colors (yellow 5 & 6). The reason they’re considered questionable is that they may be associated with animal cruelty.
Unfortunately, some sugar is not vegan due to one of its principal processes – decolorization. Cane sugar always passes through a decolorizing step, while beet sugar is rarely decolorized.
Its color is usually removed from cane sugar streams using carbon, or special resins. Oftentimes, a high degree of color removal is required, and one of the traditional methods to achieve that result is to use bone char. Bone char is a granular material prepared by grinding cattle bones and roasting them in a kiln.
The bone char is loaded into large vertical cylinders called cisterns, and the clarified syrup is passed downwards through one, and sometimes two of these cisterns until the bone char is exhausted. The char is then washed clear of sugar and emptied from the cistern and sent to a drier and a kiln, where it’s regenerated by getting heated for a few minutes, as well as exposed to a limited quantity of air. The char is then returned to the cistern for the process to be repeated.
Other decolorizing agents such as granular carbon and ion-exchange are also used by a great number of sugar suppliers, but what happens (a lot of times) – at least by having contacted a few companies inquiring about the sugar in their products – is that many source sugar from different suppliers, which means there’s a mixed pool of suppliers, including ones that use bone char.
According to the Vegan Society, palm oil is a vegetable product that does not involve the (ab)use of animals and therefore is suitable for vegans.
However, some vegans (and others) might disagree. Even though palm oil is derived from a plant, it’s (ironically) considered one of the most destructive ingredients in the world. The way it is cultivated (strictly through monocultures) leads to nocive environmental effects and consequently, harms animals in the process.
Put simply, palm oil is difficult to produce sustainably, and its extraction is linked to deforestation in Africa, Asia, America, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Its production requires large areas of land to be cleared to allow for the growth of palm trees, and this destroys parts of the rainforest and renders the natural habitat of several species of animals inhabitable, which naturally leads to their demise.
Yes, palm oil is a plant-based ingredient, but it’s also tremendously nocive to the planet and biodiversity.
Artificial colors have been associated with animal cruelty for a very simple reason: they are by-products of animal testing, a practice that exploits and harms animals.
Some individuals argue that animal testing serves a greater good, but some vegans disagree, so you will find individuals that strictly avoid products containing artificial colors.
Is Captain Crunch Healthy?
Captain Crunch is touted to be a great-tasting cereal that supplies grains, an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, but that doesn’t make it healthy.
Even though has several vitamins and minerals, is low in fat (0 grams of trans fat), and contains 1 gram of fiber, it all goes down the drain when you look at the amount of sugar it contains.
1 cup (38 grams) is equivalent to 33g of carbohydrates, of which 17 grams are added sugars.
Naturally, this means that a lot of these cereals (that some deem to be healthy and nutritious) are actually sugar bombs that should only be consumed sporadically (and considered a snack, at best).
Alternatives to Captain Crunch
Here are some of the alternatives that I’ve found to be 100% vegan:
|Product:||Where to Buy:|
|Barbara’s Peanut Butter Puffins||Amazon|
|Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries||Amazon|
|365 Everyday Value Organic Morning O’s||Whole Foods|
|Cascadian Farm Organic Cinnamon Crunch||Amazon|
|Cascadian Farm Organic Fruitful O’s||Amazon|
|General Mills Fiber One Original||Amazon|
|Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats Unfrosted Bite Size||Amazon|
|Nature’s Path Crunchy Maple Sunrise||Amazon|
Naturally, while these are suitable alternatives, they don’t have a taste similar to Captain Crunch.
Captain Crunch (all of the varieties available) does not contain any animal ingredients, however, it contains ingredients that may be associated with animal cruelty. (i.e: sugar, palm oil, and artificial colors)
These are ingredients that some (usually deemed stricter) vegans avoid. For instance, the Vegan Society considers sugar and palm oil to be vegan ingredients, despite the environmental and other ethical implications, but some vegans still choose to avoid them.
As such, it really comes down to you as an individual and what you deem as acceptable.
Is Captain Crunch Gluten-Free?
Captain Crunch is not vegan because it contains oats that may contain gluten derived from cross-contamination during the production process.