Is Oatmeal Vegan? Which Ones Are Vegan?

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Is oatmeal vegan? Yes! Plain oats (nothing else added) are vegan.

But here’s the catch: some oatmeal products contain animal derived ingredients.

In other words… not vegan.

So how do can you tell if your oats are vegan friendly? Are they healthy?

Hi! I’m the one to chat about this as both a credentialed food and nutrition expert (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist here) and ethical vegan.

Keep reading to stop feeling confused about your vegan oatmeal questions!

Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for medical or dietary advice. Always talk to your doctor about any major dietary changes, health concerns, and before taking supplements. Please know that ingredients on products can change. See our Disclaimers for more details.

This article was originally published on 12/14/21. The recent updated date is listed above.

Here’s a quick summary in this Youtube Short ( keep reading though- for more info and nuance!):

Are Oats Vegan?

Plain oats (nothing else added) are vegan.

Let’s break this down by first defining ‘vegan’ and than defining ‘oats.’

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary online defines “Vegan” this way:

“a strict vegetarian who consumes no food (such as meat, eggs, or dairy products) that comes from animals
also one who abstains from using animal products (such as leather)”

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vegan

Here’s their definition for “oat:”

“1 a : any of several grasses (genus Avena)
especially: a widely cultivated cereal grass (A. staiva)

b : a crop or plot of the oat
also: the seed of an oat – usually used in plural but singular or plural in construction.”

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oats

In conclusion, plain oats are entirely plant based and not derived from animals.

So yes! Oats are vegan and plant based.

But the question gets a bit more tricky when ingredients are added to plain oats.

This is common in those premade oatmeal packets, bowls, etc.

Get ready to check out the ingredients because we are about to put our detective hats on.

But first, let’s clarify another important question.

Can Vegans Eat Oatmeal?

Vegans have the option to eat oatmeal when it excludes animal products or animal byproducts.

Here is a list of commonly available types of oats that are vegan.
FYI: the following will list only these words in the ingredients label.

  • Whole grain oats
  • Old fashioned oats
  • Rolled oats
  • Steel cut oats
  • Instant oats
  • Quick cooking oats
  • Oat groats

You get the gist.

All of these options have the core ingredient of ‘oats.’ The difference is in how they are processed.

So yep- vegans have lots of options when it comes to shopping for plain oatmeal!

The tricky part often comes from animal based ingredients that are commonly added to instant oatmeal packets.

But there are many options available to vegans if you want some thing that is presweetened! (I like this when I’m in a rush or want something different than my typical fruit, nut/seed topped porridge!)

Typically, oatmeal products labeled as “vegan” are almost always vegan. Sometimes products will even have a certified vegan label (1).

Still, the best way to determine if your instant oatmeal is vegan, is to make sure animal ingredients (some listed below) are not found in the ingredients section, such as (FYI: Not a comprehensive list):

  • Milk or milk derivatives (could be listed as milk solids, cream, whey, lactose, etc)
  • Honey
  • Gelatin (most common in instant oatmeal with marshmallows or other other candy)
  • Vitamin D3 (if sourced from sheep’s wool (specifically, lanolin))
  • Collagen
  • Eggs (typically listed as ‘egg whites’)

Another fun tidbit is that major allergens(2) are required to be listed on the nutation facts for specific products in the USA.

However, milk, eggs, fish, and crustacean shellfish are the only non vegan major food allergens required to be listed (so read those ingredients).

Graphic showing ingredients that make oatmeal non vegan

The Issue With Sugar

Who says sugar isn’t vegan? After all, sugar is a plant based ingredient right?

Right, but the answer to “is sugar vegan” is a bit complicated for some.

Here’s the scoop: most refined sugar on the market (ie: white sugar, brown sugar) is processed with bone char (animal bones) to make it appear whiter.

But, you probably can’t tell from the label if the sugar was processed this way – unless you contact the company.

So, should vegans then avoid all sugar? Simply put, most vegans don’t.

Vegan.com adds some interesting insight: Many crops use animal derived fertilizer to help the soil, yet this topic does not appear to be as largely concerning amongst vegans, and vegans consume a fully plant based diet (article about sugar here).

Refined sugar is in lots of products, some that we may or may not be aware of (ie: pasta sauce, bread, crackers, etc). Whether or not to avoid it for the bone char issue controversial for many vegans.

For those who do want to avoid bone char processing, look for sugars labeled as “organic” “demerara,” “muscovado,” “turbinado,” or “evaporated cane juice.” Reach out to the company if you have any questions(3).

Are Oats Good For You?

Oats are a very nutritious grain that contains many beneficial nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, zinc, and several B vitamins. It also contains a good dose of protein, carbohydrates and fiber.

But that’s not all! Did you know that oats may play a role in lowering total and LDL (bad) cholesterol(4)?

Oats have a type of soluble (able to be dissolved) fiber called beta glucan that is likely responsible for the cholesterol lowering effects of oats.

Ever feel satisfied after a hearty bowl of oatmeal? Beta glucan may have done it again! One review suggests his type of fiber could be associated with satiety(5).

So in conclusion, yes – oats can definitely be a healthy choice, however if you are allergic to oats, or they are otherwise medically contraindicated, do not consume them.

If you must avoid gluten for a certain condition- like celiac disease, talk to your doctor. They may suggest you only use oats that are tested to be gluten free. Check out our article about gluten free vegan diets here for more on this topic!

Vegan Recipes that Include Oats

Now that you know oats are a nutritious, eco friendly plant based food, how can you incorporate them in your diet?

Of course we know that oats make a popular base for a hearty breakfast bowl, and yes, we have included those because… a vegan oatmeal recipes is such a staple!

As a vegan RDN, I love a good helping of oats in the morning!

But what are other ways oats can be used? Lets take a look at some awesome recipes by fellow Registered Dietitians that go beyond the typical vegan oatmeal recipes!

For Breakfast

  1. Apple Cinnamon Granola from Laura Yautz, RDN, LDN, owner of Being Nutritious
  2. Raspberry Almond Granola from Elise Harlow, MS, RDN owner of The Flourished Table
  3. Nut Free Granola Recipe (Deliciously Crunchy!) from KeyVion Miller Dietitian and Recipe Developer
  4. Turmeric & Black Pepper Granola from Leanne Ray, RD – Healthyish Appetite
  5. Vegan Banana Oat Pancakes (Dairy and Gluten Free) from Nicole Stevens, MScFN, RD – Lettuce Veg Out
  6. Pecan Pie Overnight Oats (Cold or Warm!) from KeyVion Miller Dietitian and Recipe Developer
  7. Instant Pot Pumpkin Oatmeal by Jessie Shafer, RDN – The Real Food Dietitians
  8. High Calorie Overnight Oats [Banana Cream] from Katie Dodd, MS, RDN, CSG, LD, FAND – Blogger, High Calorie Recipes
  9. Simple Oatmeal Protein Cookies from Megan Byrd, RD –The Oregon Dietitian
  10. Healthy Baked Oatmeal Cups Base Recipe from Lexi Endicott, RD, LD, CCMS – To Taste

For Lunch Or Dinner

  1. Vegan Black Bean Burgers w/Sweet Potato from Megan Byrd, RD – The Oregon Dietitian
  2. Hawaiian Meatballs (made with Chickpeas!) from Laura Yautz, RDN, LDN, owner of Being Nutritious
  3. Vegan Lentil Meatloaf Muffins By Abbey Sharp, RD – Abbey’s Kitchen

Snacks

  1. Vegan Hemp Protein Bars From Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RD – Bucket List Tummy
  2. Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bites from Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD Owner, Sound Bites Nutrition, Cincinnati, OH
  3. Pumpkin Cookie Dough Bites from Chef Julie Andrews, MS, RDN, CD, FAND – The Healthy Epicurean
  4. Healthy Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Muffins from Melissa Altman-Traub MS, RDN, LDN

Vegan Oatmeal Brands

The following is a list of companies available in the US that have vegan friendly oatmeal products (to the best of our knowledge at least).
Disclaimer: This is not a comprehensive list.
We can not ensure complete accuracy as ingredients list may change, so check before you purchase!
Not every single oat product from these companies are vegan. We did not count Natural Flavors as not being vegan, unless we could find something on the website addressing this.
Finally, this list was last updated on 12/14/23.

Vegan Oatmeal FAQ

Is Quaker Oatmeal Vegan?

Many are vegan, but several contain non vegan ingredients like milk and honey.

Per Quaker’s FAQ page because some cereal products contain dairy, they can not state a vegan-friendly claim.

We also noticed that some oatmeal’s contain honey or vitamin D3 as cholecalciferol (which is likely derived from from sheep’s wool unless indicated as vegan).

So the plain flavors, and even some of the flavored versions should be vegan- just read the ingredients.

Is Quaker Instant Oatmeal Vegan?

Several are, but several are not.

Those that are vegan will be devoid of animal derived ingredients, like honey, dairy, and vitamin D3 from sheep wool.

We looked at the ingredients on Quaker’s website (12/14/23) and found that the following are not vegan at this time (FYI: check the ingredients/nutrition facts panel for changes!):

  • Fruit and Cream variety pack
  • Strawberries & Cream
  • Blueberries & Cream
  • Peaches &Cream
  • Bananas & Cream
  • Cranberry Almond Protein
  • Banana Nut Protein
  • Maple & Brown Sugar Protein
  • Fiber & Protein Variety Pack (includes Maple & Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, and Banana flavors)
  • Protein Instant Oatmeal (Maple & Brown Sugar, Apples & Cinnamon flavors)
  • High Protein Banana Nut
  • High Protein Cranberry Almond
  • Dinosaur Eggs
  • Gotham City S’mores
  • DC Strawberry Banana (Likely has sheep wool derived vitamin D3, but we are unclear)
  • Honey Almond
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Protein Instant Oatmeal Cups (Cranberry almond, Maple & Brown Sugar flavors)
  • Strawberries & Cream Instant Oatmeal Cup
  • Honey & Almonds Instant Oatmeal Cup
  • Apples & Cranberry Instant Oatmeal Cup
  • Real Medleys Oatmeal + Summer Berry
  • Real Medleys Oatmeal + Blueberry Hazelnut

Is Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal Vegan?

Lucky for you! This company has a filter feature on their site so you can tell which oat products are vegan or not. Check it out Bob Red Mills products here.

In short, all of the one ingredient oat products appear to be vegan with the vegan filter (checked 12/14/23).

Is McDonald’s Oatmeal Vegan?

Mcdonald’s Fruit and Maple oatmeal includes light cream, a dairy based animal product – therefore, not vegan.

So if you take it off, it must be vegan right? Perhaps! But contact McDonalds if you have questions.

Is Panera Bread Oatmeal Vegan?

Here’s Panera Breads ingredient list for their Steel Cut Oatmeal with Strawberries & Pecans:

“Cooked Steel Cut Oats (Water, Cooked Steel Cut Oat Groats [May Contain Traces Of Wheat, Soy And Mustard], Salt), Fresh Strawberries, Oil Roasted Pecans (Pecans, Cottonseed Oil), Cinnamon Sugar Topping (Sugar, Cinnamon, Modified Corn Starch, Soybean Oil)”

Source: https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/menu/products/steel-cut-oatmeal-with-strawberries—pecans.html

In my books this is vegan! But if you are concerned with the sugar being processed with bone char, contact Panera Bread.

Is Oatmeal Vegan? (Conclusion)

Plain oats are vegan. And unflavored oatmeal is almost always likely to be vegan.

However, instant oatmeal packets often require vegans to scrutinize the ingredients list.

Common non vegan ingredients that are commonly found in oatmeal packets include dairy, honey, and vitamin D3 sourced from sheep’s wool.

Oats are a very nutritious food and there are tons of wonderful ways to include oats that go beyond breakfast.

Now the next time someone asks you “is oatmeal vegan?” send them this!

Did you learn anything new or discover any new vegan brands?
Have you been inspired by ways to cook rolled oats with more than just water and maple syrup? 😅
Let us know your thoughts or questions in the comments below!
And while you’re here, why not poke around on the blog? Here’s some other interesting topics you might be interested in!

What Cereals Are Vegan?
Can Vegans Drink Coffee?
-Is Peanut Butter Vegan?
-Is Chocolate Vegan?
If you want to keep up to date with all things vegan food and nutrition topics:

Ready to jump start your vegan journey? Get access to my FREE 7 day vegan challenge by selecting the ‘free trial option on

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