For roughly 280 million Americans today, a cold breakfast of cereal and milk is a morning meal. And that’s partly because in the mid-to-late 19th century, an American industrialist named William Keith Kellogg (or W.K. Kellogg, as he’s better known) took his brother’s recipe for corn flakes, working out how to mass produce and market it. They, and in turn, sewed the seeds of the influential multi-billion-dollar cereal empire we now know as Kellogg’s.
In 2020, more than 23 million Americans ate between one and four servings of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes per week. But the brand’s portfolio doesn’t stop with this little kernel of toasted corn. It offers all kinds of breakfast cereals, many of which are plant-based. In addition, 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, let’s learn more about how the food giant became one of the biggest names in breakfast food.
A Brief History of Kellogg
WK Kellogg was the businessman who led the Kellogg Company to success. But it was his older brother, John Harvey Kellogg, who actually came up with the idea of corn flakes. A vocal, committed, but incredibly controversial, member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, he believed – like many strict Christians at the time – that bland food was best for human health, and could also cure sexual desire, which he saw as a major problem in society.
He was a vegetarian and advocated eating a plant-based diet, but on moral grounds – not the environmental or ethical reasons that are common today. That’s why he made corn flakes. At the time, it was a simple, boring breakfast made from wheat flour, but WK Kellogg saw great potential in his brother’s invention.
Against his brother’s wishes, Kellogg added sugar to the recipe to make the corn flakes more palatable, saying History hits. And he was also smart with advertising, creating cartoon mascots to market the product to families. He died in the 1950s, but by then, the Kellogg Company (also commonly known as “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 with Tony the Tiger, and in 1955, the Special hit shelves for the first time.
Kellogg’s and plant-based foods
Kellogg’s is an ever-evolving company, but, true to its roots, plant-based food is still a core part of its business model (though, of course, it’s no longer inspired by religion). In fact, in 2022, it was announced that the company would split into three different divisions: one focused on grains, one focused on snacks, and another, called Plant Co., dedicated entirely to plant-based foods.
“All of these businesses have significant individual potential, and an increased focus will enable them to better direct their resources toward their individual strategic priorities,” said Steve Cahillen, chief executive officer (CEO) of Kellogg Companies. “In turn, each business is expected to create more value for all stakeholders, and each is well positioned to create a new era of innovation and growth.”
But in 2023, Kellogg backed away from that idea when it announced that it would not, in fact, spin off its plant-based brands, the largest of which is MorningStar Farms. According to Cahillane, plant-based sales are a little fragile right now, but that said, it still has a lot of faith in its meat-free portfolio and will therefore keep Plant Co. under the Kellogg umbrella.
“Morningstar Farms still has some of the highest household penetration, highest name recognition, great food, strong in the freezer space where this consumer is returning, and profitability, unlike many peers,” Cahillen said in an earnings call for Kellogg’s. In February, per Food Dive.
Here are more of the vegan brands as well as other vegan products available under the Kellogg Company.
What is vegan at Kellogg’s?
1 MorningStar Farms/Incogmeato Vegan Meat
Acquired by Kellogg’s in the 1990s, Morningstar Farms hit shelves in the mid-1970s with a line of soy-based meats. Since then, the vegetarian brand has significantly expanded its product range. 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 completely vegan). It also has a fully plant-based meat range called Incommitto, featuring realistically meaty plant-based patties, crispy fillets, tenders and more.
look at it
2 Kashi serial
In the early 2000s Kellogg acquired one of its competitors, a natural cereal brand called Kashi. 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. For example, there’s Toasted Berry Crisp or Peanut Butter Crunch, which contains peanut butter-smothered granola clusters.
look at it
The Pop-Tart is one of America’s most beloved foods. In fact, the brand sells almost two billion toasted pastries each year. Not all of them are vegan, and that’s because many icings actually contain gelatin. But there are three unfrosted, vegan flavors: blueberry, brown sugar cinnamon, and strawberry.
look at it
4WK Kellogg Serial
Not all of Kellogg’s famous cereals are vegetarian, and not because they contain milk or eggs or anything like that, but because they contain vitamin D3 derived from lanolin. But its WK Kellogg range of cereals and granolas (which are, of course, named after the brand’s founder) are 100 percent “plant-powered.” “We recognize that consumer tastes are changing,” Kellogg said of the WK Kellogg range. “People want more choices for breakfast, like organic and vegetarian, so those are areas we’ll continue to explore.”
look at it
5 Crackers (Zesta, Club Crackers and Town House)
For simple, 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 completely animal-free. Its Club Crackers are also vegan, as are the Town House Cracker varieties.
look at it
In May 2012, Kellogg’s finalized its $2.7 billion acquisition of Pringle, one of the most beloved snack brands in America and the rest of the world (they are sold in 140 countries). Not all varieties are animal-free, but vegetarians can safely enjoy flavors like Original, Wavy Classic Salted and Reduced Fat Original.
look at it
7 the echo
Historically, Eggo Waffles were not vegan. However, in 2022, Kellogg’s revealed that its two iconic brands (Eggo and MorningStar Farms) will collaborate to create plant-based chicken and Eggo Lee’s style waffle sandwiches. The vegan product, which is now available, is a “match made in heaven,” according to Joe Beauprez, Ago’s director of marketing. “Chicken and Waffles is already known and loved by waffle fans, we teamed up with Morningstar Farms to bring a plant-based twist to this classic meal table this year,” he told VegNews.
look at it