Is Special K Suitable For Vegans? (Here’s all you need to know)

Special K is a popular brand of breakfast cereals primarily made of grains like lightly toasted rice, wheat and barley that are manufactured and owned by Kellogg’s. 

According to Special K’s official website, there are 18 different flavors available, but unfortunately, not a single flavor is suitable for vegans. They all have an ingredient in common: vitamin D3, which is synthesized from lanolin, which is an oil taken from sheep’s wool. 

However, it’s important to mention that not all vegans are against consuming vitamin D3 because it’s typically added in tiny amounts. I’ll break down each flavor so that you’re able to decide whether you can eat any of them. 

Animal Ingredients in Special K Cereals

Among the 18 varieties available, there are some obvious animal ingredients, which include:

  • Honey
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • and Whey.

Honey is an ingredient that is a highly debated, but by the Vegan Society’s definition of veganism, we can’t consider it suitable for vegans since there is a level of exploitation involved. 

The remaining ingredients are evidently not vegan.

In most varieties, you’re also going to find controversial ingredients such as:

  • Vitamin D3 – It’s derived from sheep’s wool, so it’s clearly not vegan. However, many vegans claim it would take tens of thousands of boxes to add up to a significant amount of lanolin, so they are not fond of the idea of excluding products containing vitamin D3. (Still, by the standard definition, it is not vegan)
  • Sugar – Unfortunately, in the United States, it’s common for sugar to be processed with bone char. It’s also common for big companies like Kellogg’s to source their sugar from a mixed pool of sugar suppliers, which implies that, at least, part of the sugar has been processed with bone char. Regardless, many vegans will take the risk and consume these products. 
  • Natural flavors – While most natural flavors are suitable vegans, it’s also an umbrella term that refers to non-vegan ingredients as well.
  • Palm Oil – Palm oil is an ingredient derived from the palm tree. But because farming it destroys the environment, many vegans choose to avoid it. 

Personally, I believe that vitamin D3 is an ingredient that is clearly not vegan, but for ingredients like sugar, palm oil and natural flavors, it’s a bit more difficult to determine. I would be okay with consuming natural flavors, palm oil, and sugar, but I wouldn’t be comfortable consuming vitamin D3.

Which Special K Cereals Are Definitely Not Vegan?

Let’s look at the Special K Cereals that contain recognizable animal ingredients. 

Flavors: Animal-based ingredients:
Fruit & Yogurt Milk, Yogurt Powder, and Honey
Honey Oat Honey
Blueberry with Lemon Clusters Honey
Apple Cinnamon Crunch Honey
Nourish Dark Chocolate Coconut Whey
Probiotics Berries & Peaches Milk, and Yogurt
Protein Honey Almond Ancient Grain Honey

Which Special K Cereals Might Be Considered Vegan?

The following varieties might be more difficult to determine, because the ingredients are questionable. 

Vitamin D3 is technically not vegan, but because of the quantities used in the cereals, some vegans are actually okay with consuming them. 

If you’re someone that is okay with consuming vitamin D3, then you might also be fine with sugar, natural flavors, and palm oil. 

Flavors: Questionable ingredients:
Vanilla Almond Vitamin D3, Sugar, Natural Flavors
Special K Protein Vitamin D3, Sugar, Natural Flavors
Red Berries Vitamin D3, Sugar
Raspberry Vitamin D3, Sugar, Natural Flavors
Banana Vitamin D3, Sugar, Natural Flavors
Cinnamon Pecan Vitamin D3, Sugar
Chocolate Almond Vitamin D3, Sugar, Natural Flavors
Chocolatey Strawberry Vitamin D3, Sugar, Palm Oil
Cinnamon Brown Sugar Crunch Protein Vitamin D3, Sugar, Natural Flavors


The Special K Cereals are not vegan because they all contain vitamin D3, which is an ingredient synthesized from sheep’s wool. However, I understand some individuals may feel like that the tiny quantities of vitamin D3 included in each cereal are not a sufficient reason to exclude these products. 

It’s up to you to decide if you want to eat these products… but if a product contains an ingredient that is derived from an animal, we cannot consider it to be vegan.