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?
What commonly available oatmeal’s are vegan?
Vegan Dietitian, Christine tells all (and more) so keep reading!
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.
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This article was originally published on 12/14/21. The recent updated date is listed above.
Are Oats Vegan?
Lets discover the answer 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 animalsSource: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vegan
also : one who abstains from using animal products (such as leather)”
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 oatSource: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oats
also: the seed of an oat – usually used in plural but singular or plural in construction.”
In conclusion, plain oats are entirely plant based and not derived from animals.
So yes! Oats are vegan.
But the question gets a bit more tricky when ingredients are added to plain oats.
Get ready to check out the ingredients because we are about to put our detective hats on.
Can Vegans Eat Oatmeal?
Vegans have the option to eat oatmeal that 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
You get the gist (any other type of oats that do not contain animal products/byproducts).
Vegans have lots of options when it comes to shopping for plain oatmeal!
The tricky part often comes from ingredients that are often added to instant oatmeal packets.
This popular breakfast item may or may not be vegan, because many contain animal derived ingredients.
Typically, oatmeal products labeled as “vegan” are almost always vegan. Sometimes products will even have a certified vegan label.
Still, the best way to determine if your instant oatmeal is vegan, is to make sure the following ingredients are not listed on the ingredients/nutrition facts label (FYI: Not a comprehensive list):
- Milk or milk derivatives (could be listed as milk solids, cream, whey, lactose, etc)
- Gelatin (most common in instant oatmeal with marshmallows)
- Vitamin D3 (if sourced from sheep’s wool (specifically, lanolin))
- Eggs (typically listed as “egg whites”
Major allergens are required to be listed on the food label in the USA. However, milk, eggs, fish, and crustacean shellfish are the only non vegan major food allergens required to be listed.
So, you would still need to read the label for other non vegan ingredients.
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. When it comes to these types of sugar, you probably can’t tell from the label if the sugar was processed this way – unless you contact the company.
But the question remains: should vegans then avoid all sugar? Simply put, some self proclaimed vegans do and some do not.
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. Check Vegan.com to learn more via their article 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.
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(1)?
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(2).
So in conclusion, yes – oats can definitely be a healthy choice, however if you are allergic to oats, do not consume them.
If you must gluten for a certain medical condition, you may want to make sure oats are not contaminated with gluten. Check out our article about gluten free vegan diets here.
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 recipe 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!
- Apple Cinnamon Granola from Laura Yautz, RDN, LDN, owner of Being Nutritious
- Raspberry Almond Granola from Elise Harlow, MS, RDN owner of The Flourished Table
- Nut Free Granola Recipe (Deliciously Crunchy!) from KeyVion Miller Dietitian and Recipe Developer
- Turmeric & Black Pepper Granola from Leanne Ray, RD – Healthyish Appetite
- Vegan Banana Oat Pancakes (Dairy and Gluten Free) from Nicole Stevens, MScFN, RD – Lettuce Veg Out
- Pecan Pie Overnight Oats (Cold or Warm!) from KeyVion Miller Dietitian and Recipe Developer
- Instant Pot Pumpkin Oatmeal by Jessie Shafer, RDN – The Real Food Dietitians
- High Calorie Overnight Oats [Banana Cream] from Katie Dodd, MS, RDN, CSG, LD, FAND – Blogger, High Calorie Recipes
- Simple Oatmeal Protein Cookies from Megan Byrd, RD –The Oregon Dietitian
- Healthy Baked Oatmeal Cups Base Recipe from Lexi Endicott, RD, LD, CCMS – To Taste
For Lunch Or Dinner
- Vegan Black Bean Burgers w/Sweet Potato from Megan Byrd, RD – The Oregon Dietitian
- Hawaiian Meatballs (made with Chickpeas!) from Laura Yautz, RDN, LDN, owner of Being Nutritious
- Vegan Lentil Meatloaf Muffins By Abbey Sharp, RD – Abbey’s Kitchen
- Vegan Hemp Protein Bars From Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RD – Bucket List Tummy
- Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bites from Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD Owner, Sound Bites Nutrition, Cincinnati, OH
- Pumpkin Cookie Dough Bites from Chef Julie Andrews, MS, RDN, CD, FAND – The Healthy Epicurean
- 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 sell oats/oatmeal and are (in our best estimate) vegan friendly.
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 12/4/22.
- Natures Path Organic
- Purely Elizabeth (The ones with collagen added are not vegan)
- Quaker Oats (with many exceptions-see Vegan Oatmeal FAQ section)
- Bob’s Red Mill (at least the one ingredient oats/oatmeal packets- see Vegan Oatmeal FAQ section below for more details)
- Oats Overnight (You can filter out the vegan options on their site )
- McCann’s (The Maple and Brown Sugar and vanilla honey flavor’s contain monoglycerides which may not be vegan)
- Food To Live
- Better Oats (except Classic Straberries & cream,
- One Degree Organic Foods
I frequently get their sprouted rolled oats one when it’s available at Costco! (affiliate link*) below:
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 a non vegan ingredient from sheep’s wool.
When looking at instant oatmeal, check that the ingredients do not contain honey, milk products (such as whey protein or milk fat), vitamin D3 (although this can be vegan, it likely is derived from sheep wool).
So the plain flavors, and even some of the flavored versions should be vegan.
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 (12/4/22) and found that the following aren’t 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
- 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 unlear)
- 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! Bobs Red mill offers a filter feature on their site so you can tell which oat products are vegan or not. Check it out here.
In short, all of the one ingredient oat products appear to be vegan.
Why aren’t the flavored oatmeal’s given vegan status?
Our guess is because the sugar/bone char issue mentioned in the topic above “The Issue with Sugar.” In short, refined sugar is an ingredient that some self proclaimed vegans avoid, while others don’t. It’s up to you as a vegan!
Just a personal aside- as a vegan myself, I do try to be mindful of my sugar intake, but I do not eliminate it completely.
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. A couple ingredients some vegans may be skeptical of include the “natural flavor” and “sugar.” so if those ingredients are a concern for you, contact McDonalds if you want to try their oatmeal.
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
The only ingredient we can see here that may or may not be a problem for some vegans is the sugar (if its processed with bone char). So in short, your call (for yourself or to contact Panera Bread).
Is Oatmeal Vegan? (Conclusion)
Oats – plain, by themselves are vegan. Buying unflavored oatmeal is almost a guarantee that it is vegan.
However, instant oatmeal packets often require vegans to scrutinize the ingredients list.
Common ingredients that are not vegan on 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 about vegan oatmeal?
Discovered 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? You’ll learn about whether coffee or chocolate is vegan and more!
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