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Are Cheetos Vegan-Friendly?

Do you want to know whether you can consume Cheetos on your vegan diet??

Cheetos are a crunchy snack made from cornmeal. They come in many variations besides the well-known cheese with a total of 21 different versions of Cheetos sold in the USA.  

Currently sold in thirty-six different countries, flavors include the well-known Cheese puffs and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.  In Japan, they can be found in sweet flavors like Pepsi and Sweet Strawberry.

If you’re vegan, can you enjoy the “crunch” of Cheetos? Read on for the answer…

Are Cheetos Cheese Puffs Vegan-Friendly?

The Answer is: NO

Unfortunately, Cheetos are NOT VEGAN friendly. All Cheetos flavors contain dairy; particularly non-vegan cheese and whey.   

What Are Cheetos Made Out Of?


CHEETOS® Puffs Cheese Flavored Snacks: Enriched Corn Meal (Corn Meal, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil (Corn, Canola, and/or Sunflower Oil), Cheese Seasoning (Whey, Cheddar Cheese [Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes], Canola Oil, Maltodextrin [Made from Corn], Natural and Artificial Flavors, Salt, Whey Protein Concentrate, Monosodium Glutamate, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Artificial Color [Yellow 6]), and Salt. CONTAINS MILK INGREDIENTS.

Why are Cheetos Bad for Vegans?

Cheetos list “cheddar cheese” and “whey” on their ingredients list. Both ingredients are fundamentally derived from animals and are not suitable for vegans

Whey is directly derived from milk. It is the watery remnants of milk after it has been thickened and separated from its water content to make cheese. Cheetos contain protein derived from whey. 

On the other hand the cheese that Cheetos uses in all their flavors (including non-cheese flavors) contains animal-derived rennet which comes from enzymes in the stomach lining of a cow, sheep or goat. While some manufacturers use plant-derived rennet, what Cheetos uses is non-vegan. 

The dairy products in Cheetos are the following:

  • Cheddar cheese: While vegan cheddar cheese exists as derived from cashew milk, Cheetos uses cheddar cheese derived from cow’s milk. 
  • Buttermilk: Is fermented milk. Traditionally, it was from the remains of cultured cream after it has been churned to make butter. Vegan buttermilk can be made from alternatives like, but in Cheetos, the buttermilk is derived from non-vegan milk.

As Cheetos contain  ingredients like animal-derived dairy and rennet, they are not vegan.

Final Thoughts

The crunchy cornmeal snack is globally available and made to accommodate a global market. However, Cheetos cannot be consumed by vegans. All flavors of Cheetos contain dairy as an ingredient in all their variants, namely cheese, buttermilk and whey.

It takes 5,000 cows to make a year’s worth of Cheetos. This stat comes straight from Kimberly Scott, the director of communications at PepsiCo, Inc./Frito-Lay North America: a year-long production run requires 11 million gallons of milk, which translates to 10 million pounds of cheddar cheese that’s then used in the Cheetos seasoning. That averages out to an astonishing 2,200 gallons of milk per cow.

For more on Cheetos, follow this link to get to their website: https://www.cheetos.com

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