Apple Jacks: the multicolored, fruit-flavored twin sister of Cheerios. They debuted in 1965 when they were called “Apple O’s,” and they’ve been around ever since. They’re grain-based, the flavoring is all-natural, and they’re sweetened with sugar, not honey. At first glance, you might assume they’re vegan. But let’s say you’re a more discerning consumer, and you look at the ingredients.
Ingredients to Figure Out Are Apple Jacks Vegan?
For this answer, we can take a look at the side of the box:
Sugar, corn flour blend (whole grain yellow corn flour, degerminated yellow corn flour), wheat flour, whole grain oat flour, modified food starch, oat fiber, soluble corn fiber, contains 2% or less of vegetable oil (hydrogenated coconut, soybean and/or cottonseed, partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed), salt, milled corn, dried apples, apple juice concentrate, cornstarch, cinnamon, modified corn starch, natural flavor, yellow 6, baking soda, turmeric extract color, blue 1, red 40, BHT for freshness, vitamins and minerals: vitamin c (sodium ascorbate and ascorbic acid), niacinamide, reduced iron, zinc oxide, vitamin b6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin b2 (riboflavin), vitamin a palmitate, vitamin b1 (thiamin hydrochloride), folic acid, vitamin b12, vitamin d3.
No milk products. No honey. Obviously, there’s no meat, so you’d think you were good to go, right? Well, not quite.
What is Lanolin? – Unpacking Vitamin D3 and Does it make Are Apple Jacks Vegan?
The issue here is the very last ingredient, Vitamin D3. While Vitamin D is found naturally in many foods, the refined grains used in breakfast cereals are more or less devoid of any nutritional value. To compensate for this, food companies like Kellogg’s (the makers of Apple Jacks) fortify their cereals with vitamins to make them healthier to eat. While this has many positive effects, the downside is that certain vitamins, including Vitamin D, are hard to extract from plants.
Vitamin D comes in two forms, D2 and D3. While Vitamin D2 is found in many plants and is a part of any healthy vegan diet, it’s harder to artificially extract. To save money, many food producers opt to use Vitamin D3, which is easier to obtain. Unfortunately, Vitamin D3 is derived from lanolin, a waxy substance produced by wool-bearing animals, usually sheep. When the sheep are sheared, their wool is washed in hot water, and the lanolin rises to the surface. It’s less complicated than plant-derived extraction methods, but unfortunately, it involves the use of animals.
So, are they Vegan?
While Vitamin D2 is vegan, Vitamin D3 is not. A vegan diet, as opposed to a vegetarian diet, means abstaining from all foods that come from animals. Since Vitamin D3 is animal-derived, and since Apple Jacks are fortified with Vitamin D3, Apple Jacks are not vegan.
Fortunately, the vegan lifestyle has been growing in popularity, and the market has responded. As a result, there are now alternatives to Apple Jacks that not only taste delicious in a bowl of almond milk but are also vegan. Cascadian Farms, Barbara’s, and Kashi Organic all make fruit-flavored, multigrain cereals that are nutritionally sound and completely animal-free. If you can’t find these brands in your local supermarket, all of them are available on Amazon.