Is Diet Coke Vegan? A Low-Calorie Option for Vegans?

Coca-Cola launched its no-calorie alternative called Diet Coke in 1982 to slowly replace Tab, the low-calorie cola drink introduced in 1963. Initially, the company used a mixture of saccharin and aspartame. It soon made aspartame its primary sweetener because it had a better taste.

Interestingly, Diet Coke is not based on the same Coca-Cola recipe as they did with Coca-Cola Zero. The company created a new recipe for its production.

The no-calorie Coca-Cola alternative with its silver label soon became a big hit, making it the largest-selling soft drink in the U.S.

Vegans do not consume animal products, meaning their food must contain no trace. Some animal-derived products often seen in soft drinks include bone char, cochineal (a scale that produces carmine, a dye derived from insects), gelatin, lanolin, and milk.

Is Diet Coke Vegan?

Therefore, armed with this information, we ask, is Diet Coke vegan? Technically, it contains no animal products, so yes, it is. The diet version of regular Coke contains some Coke ingredients and added a few more.

Ingredients Used in Diet Coke

The Coca-Cola website in the USA states that Diet Coke contains the following ingredients:

  • Carbonated water
  • Sweeteners, including include Acesulfame K and Aspartame
  • Caramel color E150d
  • Caffeine
  • Citric and Phosphoric Acids for flavoring

Let’s take a closer look at these:

Citric Acid – This food additive and preservative is a weak acid made from the black mold using vegan sugar. Since it contains no animal ingredients, it’s vegan.

Aspartame – An artificial sweetener, aspartame contains phenylalanine and aspartic acid. Neither comes from animals. Aspartame was previously tested on animals, meaning some vegans may avoid it, but most consider it vegan.

Sodium Benzoate – A common food preservative, sodium benzoate is vegan since it’s the sodium salt of benzoic acid, made with sodium hydroxide.

Acesulfame-Potassium – It is a no-calorie artificial sweetener that is intensely sweet. It retains its sweetness throughout a wide range of temperatures. It is a potassium salt made with acetoacetic acid, and since it uses no animal products, it’s vegan.

Here are a few more facts…

Diet Coke only contains artificial sweeteners, meaning it’s safe for vegans to drink that avoid sugar for ethical reasons. It also has no dairy, gelatin, cochineal coloring, or lanolin.

According to the company website, Diet Coke also contains no fat, carbohydrates, salt, or proteins. Therefore, the diet soft drink meets all the beliefs held by vegans, not to consume any animal products nor use animals for their gain.

Some vegan websites say that soft drinks may contain the additive known as ester gum, the glycerol food stabilizer sometimes derived from animals. However, most foods contain glycerol derived from plants, and Diet Coke contains no glycerol or ester gum.

Cruelty-Free Reviews also mentions that aspartame, the artificial sweetener used, is widely tested on animals, even though it’s not an animal-derived product. However, in this announcement to PETA, Coca-Cola stopped all direct and indirect animal testing in 2007 to stop animal suffering.

As you can see, the ingredients in Diet Coke are all vegan-friendly, and Coca-Cola itself confirms it’s vegan.

Is Coke Zero Healthy?

Compared to the sugar intake from a regular cola drink, usually between 29 grams and 35 grams, it’s better to drink the diet versions. Researchers have linked regular high sugar intake from sodas to higher risks of some chronic conditions, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Some reposts have linked the use of artificial sweeteners to a higher risk of cancer, but there is still no conclusive evidence to support it, Katherine Zaratsky, RD, L.D., told Veg News. She said that even though the diet versions of these drinks can’t do much harm, people with the genetic disorder phenylketonuria should avoid aspartame because their bodies can’t break down phenylalanine.

She stresses that diet soda does not provide any nutrition, nor can it help a person lose weight. However, it is an effective alternative for people wanting to consume fewer calories when indulging in a beverage.

Ethical and Environmental Concerns

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Coca-Cola has over 200 global bottling partners, employing over 700,000 people.

Unfortunately, soft drink companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are considered among the top companies contributing to the problem of plastic in our environment. The companies use aluminum cans for packaging most versions of their products, but their continued use of plastic bottles greatly impacts the environment because they release microplastics. These pose a risk to humans and animals.

Human rights issues have also come to light. For example, Coca-Cola was accused of refusing fair wages to workers in the Philippines who worked throughout the pandemic. PepsiCo has also faced human rights accusations like child-labor practices in Indonesia.

Both companies have pledged to reduce their environmental impact by increasing their use of recycled materials and reducing single-use packaging. Both companies claim they have entrenched strict human rights policies.

On its FAQ page, Coca-Cola declares: “Our purpose is to refresh the world. We care about people and the planet, meaning we’re actively working toward solutions…”

Besides reducing plastic waste, they have ongoing efforts to manage water responsibly, promote workplace diversity, and support women’s advancement and empowerment. They also provide support for local communities.

Suppose your ethical concerns go beyond looking for a vegan beverage. Is Diet Coke Vegan? In your case, you may want to look for more ethical and environmentally-friendly products on the market that are vegan and similar in taste.

On the other hand, if you own a soda machine, you can create fizzy water to mix with the organic flavors of your choice. That way, you can ensure your beverage of choice is vegan, environmentally friendly, and ethical.

Finally, if you love the flavor of Diet Coke too much to give it up, do your bit by buying it in an aluminum can. It’s easier to recycle, and you know it’s completely vegan.

Final Take

Whether Diet Coke is a healthier choice than a regular soda depends on the type of sugar you prefer to consume. However, if you have wondered: “Is Diet Coke vegan?” then yes, the low-calorie drink gets the green light because it contains no animal products.

Is Diet Coke vegan?

Yes, Diet Coke is vegan since it contains no animal products. It uses artificial sweeteners like aspartame and acesulfame-potassium, which have been previously tested on animals but are deemed safe by most vegans. The drink also contains no dairy, gelatin, or lanolin.

Is Coke Zero healthy?

Compared to regular cola drinks’ sugar intake, diet versions are safer. Some reports link artificial sweeteners with an increased risk of cancer, but no conclusive evidence supports this claim. Diet soda does not provide any nutrition either. However, people looking to reduce their calorie intake can drink these beverages in moderation.

Are there ethical and environmental concerns?

Yes, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have been called out for using single plastic bottles, which release microplastics. The companies also face human rights issues such as child labor in Indonesia and unfair wages to workers in the Philippines. Both companies strive to reduce their environmental impact and protect human rights by increasing recycled materials, reducing single-use packaging, and introducing strict policies.

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