For roughly 280 million Americans today, a cold breakfast of cereal and milk is a morning go-to. And that’s partly because in the mid-to-late 19th Century, an American industrialist called William Keith Kellogg (or W.K. Kellogg, as he’s more widely known), took his brother’s recipe for corn flakes, worked out how to mass-produce and market them, and, as a result, sewed the seeds of the influential multi-billion-dollar cereal empire we now know as Kellogg’s.
In 2020, over 23 million Americans consumed between one and four portions of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes per week. But the brand’s portfolio doesn’t stop with these small kernels of toasted corn. It offers all kinds of breakfast cereals, many of which are plant-based. Plus, the corporation owns the vegetarian and vegan meat brand MorningStar Farms.
Here are all the vegan products you can find at Kellogg’s right now. But first, here’s a little bit more about how the food giant came to be one of the biggest names in breakfast food.
A brief history of Kellogg’s
W.K. Kellogg was the businessman that drove the Kellogg Company to success. But it was his older brother, John Harvey Kellogg, that actually came up with the idea for Corn Flakes. A vocal, committed, but also incredibly controversial, member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, he believed—like many strict Christians at the time—that bland food was best for people’s health, and could also cure sexual urges, which he saw as a major problem in society.
He was a vegetarian and advocate for the consumption of plant-based foods, but on the grounds of morality—not for the environmental or ethical reasons that are common today. That’s why he created Corn Flakes. At the time, it was a simple, unexciting snack made with wheat dough, but W.K. Kellogg saw big potential in his brother’s invention.
Against his brother’s wishes, Kellogg made Corn Flakes more appealing by adding sugar to the recipe, says History Hit. And he was also smart with advertising, creating cartoon mascots to help market the product to families. He died in the 1950s, but by that time, the Kellogg Company (also commonly referred to as simply “Kellogg’s”) had added Bran Flakes, Rice Krispies, and Corn Pops to its portfolio.
The year after his death, Sugar Frosted Flakes made their debut alongside Tony the Tiger, and in 1955, Special K hit the shelves for the first time.
Kellogg’s & plant-based food
Kellogg’s is an ever-evolving company, but, true to its roots, plant-based food is still a core part of its business model (although, of course, this isn’t motivated by religion any longer). In fact, in 2022, it was announced that the company would be splitting into three different parts: one would remain focused on cereal, one would focus on snacks, and the other, named Plant Co., would be dedicated entirely to plant-based foods.
“These businesses all have significant standalone potential, and an enhanced focus will enable them to better direct their resources toward their distinct strategic priorities,” said Steve Cahillane, CEO of the Kellogg Company, at the time. “In turn, each business is expected to create more value for all stakeholders, and each is well positioned to build a new era of innovation and growth.”
But in 2023, Kellogg’s backtracked on this idea when it announced that actually, it won’t be splitting off its plant-based brands, the biggest of which is MorningStar Farms. According to Cahillane, plant-based sales are a little fragile right now, but that said, it still has a huge amount of faith in its meat-free portfolio, and so will retain Plant Co. under the Kellogg’s umbrella.
“MorningStar Farms still has some of the highest household penetration, highest name recognition, fantastic foods, strong in the freezer space where this consumer is migrating back to, and profitable, unlike many of the peers,” Cahillane said on an earnings call for Kellogg’s in February, per Food Dive.
Here’s more about the vegetarian brand, as well as many of the other vegan products available under the Kellogg Company right now.
What’s vegan at Kellogg’s?
1 MorningStar Farms/Incogmeato Vegan Meat
Acquired by Kellogg’s in the 1990s, MorningStar Farms first hit the shelves in the mid-1970s, with a line of soy-based meats. Since then, the vegetarian brand has expanded its product range significantly. Now, you can find MorningStar Farms Vegan Cheezeburgers on the shelves, as well as its Zesty Ranch Chik’n Nuggets and Veggie Meatballs (which, despite the name, are totally vegan). It also has an entirely plant-based meat range called Incogmeato, which features realistically meaty plant-based patties, crispy fillets, tenders, and more.
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2 Kashi Cereal
Kellogg’s acquired one of its competitors, a natural cereal brand called Kashi, back in the early 2000s. It was a strategic move for the food giant, but it was also mutually beneficial, as it helped Kashi reach a more mainstream consumer base. The brand—which prides itself on nutritious products made with minimal ingredients—has many vegan options, all of which are clearly labeled. There’s Toasted Berry Crisp, for example, or Peanut Butter Crunch, which features peanut butter-smothered granola clusters.
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Pop-Tarts are one of America’s most-loved treats. In fact, the brand sells around two billion of its toasted pastries every single year. Not all of them are vegan, and that’s because a lot of the icing actually contains gelatin. But there are three unfrosted, vegan flavors: Blueberry, Brown Sugar Cinnamon, and Strawberry.
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4W.K Kellogg Cereal
Not all Kellogg’s famous cereals are vegan, and that’s not because they contain milk or eggs or anything like that, but because they contain lanolin-derived vitamin D3. But its range of W.K. Kellogg cereals and granolas (which, of course, is named after the brand’s founder) is 100 percent “plant-powered.” “We recognize that consumers’ tastes are changing,” states Kellogg’s regarding the W.K. Kellogg range. “People want more choices at breakfast, such as organic and vegan, so these are areas we will continue to explore.”
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5 Crackers (Zesta, Club Crackers, & Town House)
For plain, thin saltine crackers (also known as soda crackers), Zesta is one of the go-to options. And good news, you can break out the vegan cheese! The brand’s version of this simple snack is totally animal-free. Its Club Crackers are vegan, too, as are many varieties of Town House crackers.
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Back in May 2012, Kellogg’s finalized its $2.7 billion acquisition of Pringle’s, one of the most beloved snack brands in America and the rest of the world (they’re sold in 140 countries). Not all varieties are animal-free, but vegans can safely tuck into flavors like Original, Wavy Classic Salted, and Reduced Fat Original.
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Historically, Eggo waffles have not been vegan. However, in 2022, Kellogg’s revealed two of its iconic brands (Eggo and MorningStar Farms) would be collaborating to create the Plant-Based Chik’n and Eggo Liège Style Waffle Sandwich. The vegan product, which is available now, is a “match made in heaven,” according to Eggo’s marketing director Joe Beauprez. “With chicken and waffles already known and loved by waffle fans, we came together with MorningStar Farms to bring a plant-based twist on this classic dish to tables this year,” he told VegNews.
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