Is Oatmeal Vegan?

Oatmeal is one of the most popular breakfast dishes in the country and very healthy too.

Many people begin their day with a bowl of hot oatmeal, topped with banana slices or maple syrup. 

Is Oatmeal Vegan?

But is oatmeal vegan? We take a look at which types of oatmeal are vegan, which might be and which definitely are not. 

What Exactly Is Oatmeal?

Oatmeal is the product of the oat plant or Avena Sativa, to give it its Latin name.

The grains from the plant are harvested and processed to produce different types of oatmeal. 

Rolled Oats

Rolled oats are often called ‘old fashioned oats’. These are the flattened kernels of the oat grain after the hull has been removed.

The depth to which they are flattened will determine the rolled oats texture. 

Steel Cut Oats

These oats receive the least amount of processing and so are the most healthy option.

This is because the nutrients in the oats are denser. The grain is cut into small pieces hence the name ‘steel cut’. 

Quick Cook Oats

Quick cook oats are a version of rolled oats which have been rolled much thinner.

This means they can be cooked much quicker. They are ideal for those who need breakfast in a hurry. 

Instant Oats

A step up from quick cook oats, instant oats can be eaten with just hot water poured over them.

They can be eaten this way as these oats are cooked and then dried and rolled very thinly. 

Not All Oatmeals Are The Same

Oatmeal in all its forms comes from the grains of the oat plant and as such is definitely vegan.

However, this only applies to the oatmeal in its natural form and that does not have any other ingredients added to it. 

When choosing your oatmeal at the grocery store it pays to carefully check the ingredients on the packaging.

There are plenty of added ingredients that will mean the oatmeal is no longer vegan. 

Why Oatmeal Is Not Always Vegan?

Is Oatmeal Vegan?

So what ingredients should you be looking for on your oatmeal labeling to make sure you are buying vegan. 

Butter & Milk

Butter and milk are two of the most common ingredients that you will see listed on a packet of oatmeal.

They are added to enhance the flavor and make the oatmeal more rich and creamy. Obviously if your oatmeal has these ingredients it is not vegan, so check carefully. 


You may think that sugar as an ingredient would not affect whether an oatmeal is vegan.

However, many kinds of sugar are put through a process that uses the char of animal bones to bleach it. 

If sugar is listed then you may want to choose an unsweetened brand and add your own sweetener. 


Honey is a very popular flavor and sweetener for oatmeal.

This is not a vegan option in the strictest sense so go for an unsweetened variety and use maple syrup or agave syrup instead. 

Or find an oatmeal that uses these instead of honey. 

Finding Vegan Oatmeal Brands

If you want to be sure that the oatmeal you are eating is vegan then go for the least processed and natural brands. 

For the most vegan of them all rolled oats and steel cut oats are completely vegan.

They have nothing else added to them and so are just as nature intended, just the grain. 

Quaker Old Fashioned Oats are a great example of how pure and unadulterated oatmeal can be. They are made from rolled oats or ‘old fashioned oats’ as the name implies. 

For steel cut oatmeal there is no finer than McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal which are 100% vegan and incredibly healthy. 

Quick cook oats will sometimes be vegan and sometimes will not, so you need to be careful with the brands you select and check the ingredients for non-vegan products. 

Instant oats often have added flavorings such as honey or sugar.

Honey is obviously not a vegan option and depending on how the sugar is processed, it too may be non-vegan. 

Is Quaker Oats Oatmeal Vegan?

Quaker Oats produce a lot of different versions of oatmeal, steel cut, old fashioned, instant, flavored, organic, gluten free. Their variety is impressive. 

The most vegan of them all though are the Old Fashioned Oats. These have no added ingredients that would cause them to be less than 100% vegan. 

But what about their Instant Oats? With so much selection how can you tell which are vegan and which aren’t?

For those who want to eat vegan but are always in a rush in the mornings how can you ensure that the Quaker Instant Oats you’re eating are vegan. 

Some are pretty easy to figure out, like the Original Instant Oatmeal. But there’s also Apples and Cinnamon, Coconut and Caramel and Cinnamon and Spice.

Such a diverse range of flavors but guess what? They’re all vegan!

However be aware of flavors such as Quaker Strawberries and Cream Instant Oatmeal, as well as the Peaches and Cream and the Blueberries and Cream versions.

They all have sodium caseinate and whey which are milk products. 

Also Quaker’s Fiber & Protein Maple & Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal has whey protein isolate in its ingredients list, so this is not a vegan product either. 

Which Oatmeal Is Definitely Not Vegan?

McDonald’s Oatmeal is not vegan as it contains both milk and cream so no stopping there for breakfast. 

ThinkThin Honey Peanut Butter Bowl is definitely not vegan as it has both honey and dry milk powder in it. 

Finally, Essential Everyday Strawberries & Cream oatmeal has whey, and sodium caseinate so does not qualify as vegan. 

Final Thoughts

Considering the vast range of oatmeal products on the market it is safe to say that the majority of them are vegan. 

However, it pays to check the ingredients as sometimes the non-vegan varieties may not be immediately apparent. 

It only takes a few seconds to check, and it’s worth it to know you are eating vegan oatmeal.

Kimberly Kidd
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