ANSWER: Plain oatmeal, meaning just oats, is 100% vegan. However, pre-made oatmeal at restaurants or hotels may contain butter or milk so it is always better to ask if you're unsure. When it comes to pre-mixed oatmeal packets that contain oats and flavoring, that's going to vary based on the packet itself. Keep reading to get the low-down on oatmeal and get our oatmeal packet recommendations!
Most people are used to the traditional rolled oats or quick oats versions of oatmeal as this is what you're going to find in the big brands such as Quaker's Old-Fashioned and Quick Oats. A deeper dive into the cereal aisle might reveal oats that seem a bit more exotic such as Mccann's Irish Oats which are popular for their steel cut oats. All of these products come from the same plant simply processed differently to be chopped or rolled into thin pieces.
Any oats that are mixed with something else have the potential to not be vegan. For example, the ever popular Peaches and Cream Oatmeal had the following ingredient statement according to the manufacturer:
WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED OATS, SUGAR, CREAMING AGENT (MALTODEXTRIN, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL**, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, WHEY, SODIUM CASEINATE, SUGAR, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, ARTIFICIAL COLOR, SALT, SOY LECITHIN, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR), FLAVORED AND COLORED FRUIT PIECES (DEHYDRATED APPLES [TREATED WITH SODIUM SULFITE TO PROMOTE COLOR RETENTION], ARTIFICIAL PEACH FLAVOR, CITRIC ACID, ANNATTO COLOR), SALT, CALCIUM CARBONATE, GUAR GUM, OAT FLOUR, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, NIACINAMIDE*, REDUCED IRON, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE*, RIBOFLAVIN*, THIAMIN MONONITRATE*, FOLIC ACID*.
Whey (as we bolded in the ingredient statement) is derived from milk which renders Peaches and Cream Oatmeal non-vegan. We also ended up checking a few other brands of peaches and cream and they also had forms of milk.
Obviously if you’re planning on preparing your own oatmeal, you’re best off buying bulk rolled or steel cut oats such as these. This will give you the best bang for your buck, but might be more time consuming to prep if you’re on the go. We’ve also linked Earnest Oats below which sells premixed oatmeal with all vegan ingredients so be sure to check them out if you don’t have a lot of time to mix and prep your oats!
Oats are perfectly acceptable for vegans as long as you beware of any added ingredients that might contain dairy which eliminates many (if not all) of the Fruit and Cream flavored oat products. Even though there are many other pre-mixed oats out there, it is understandable if you're still craving the non-vegan packets. Luckily, there are plenty of easy cream oatmeal recipes that utilize the wonderful flavors and textures of plant-based milks.
Cooking healthy, delicious, plant-based meals has been Joey’s true passion since he went vegan in 2015. He has a masters in Nutrition and Food Science and is committed to making the internet a place of education and knowledge rather than misinformation and clickbait. He currently lives in Delaware with his wife.