Maintaining a vegan diet means paying especially close attention to proper nutrition. Some nutrients that are plentiful in foods from animal sources occur less often in plant-based foods. Look for fortified foods to ensure that your family gets all the nutrition they need. Breakfast cereals fortified with vitamins and minerals offer a quick and tasty way to start the day with a nutritionally complete meal.
Plants do not produce vitamin B-12, yet your body needs it to survive. A healthy vegan diet requires supplements or foods enriched with added B-12 from nutritional yeast or fortified soy. Check the label on your box of cereal to see if it's enriched with B-12; if it isn't, choose a plant milk that contains the essential vitamin. Calcium, another vital nutrient, occurs naturally in green leafy vegetables, but chances are you won't be dicing kale into your breakfast cereal any time soon. Instead, look for fortified cereals or add calcium-rich almonds to the bowl. Look for cereals that contain flax seeds and walnuts for their omega-3 fatty acids. Cereals with oats give you extra protein.
Finding a Vegan Cereal
Whole-grain cereals with minimal processing typically contain only plant products, but read labels to ensure that all ingredients come from vegetable sources. Cross cereals that contain marshmallow bits or honey off the list; these products are vegetarian, but not vegan. Single-grain products such as puffed rice, flaked corn or shredded wheat fit with a vegan diet as long as they contain no honey or gelatin. Buy unsweetened cereals and add your own sweeteners or shop for flavors sweetened with sugar, maple syrup or fruit juice.
Non-Dairy Milk Products
A bowl of cereal is just a snack until you add milk to turn it into breakfast. Vegan families have a wide variety of milk options for their cereal. Supermarket dairy aisles now contain milk-like fluids made from soy, rice, almonds and coconuts. Each plant-based milk has its own flavor and texture, so sample a few to find out which one your family prefers. Pair almond milk with a walnut-almond cereal or try coconut milk and bananas with shredded wheat.
Hot cereals give your family a hearty and delicious change from cold cereal. Oatmeal, corn grits and farina feel more filling on a chilly morning than cold cereal, yet take little longer to prepare than a bowl of cold cereal. Some cold cereals double as hot cereals; while you wouldn't want to try it with crisp flakes, crunchy granola blends and granular prepared cereals heated with soy milk transform into a soft hot cereal. If you're buying pre-packaged instant hot cereals, read labels carefully; those packets may contain honey or powdered milk as flavorings.