While not the healthiest choice, sodas are excellent pick-me-up beverages that everyone craves now and then. If you have recently turned to veganism, you may have questions about enjoying this fizzy drink with food or on its own. The quick answer to whether sodas are vegan is yes, many of them are, but some hidden ingredients may have you reconsider your drink choice. However, the only sure way to know if any fizzy beverage is safe for vegan consumption is to know which ingredients to look out for on the nutrition label.
Read on to find out which sodas you can enjoy as a vegan and which ingredients to avoid.
5 Vegan Sodas You Can Enjoy
Most ingredients on soda labels are vegan. These include sweeteners, caffeine, coloring, preservatives, and flavorings. The trick to understanding which sodas are vegan is knowing how to read the nutrition label and look for animal-based products. If a soda can does not feature any ingredients derived from animals, you can consume them.
However, there are some gray ingredients, like coloring and flavors, that vegans avoid at their discretion, which will be discussed later in the article. Moreover, the availability of various vegan soda options will vary by location since some products are not sold in certain countries.
Here are five vegan sodas based on the ingredient lists and company disclosures.
All Coca-Cola varieties, including Original Coke, Diet Coke, and Coke Zero, are vegan.
The ingredient list for Coke Original contains high fructose corn syrup, carbonated water, caramel color, caffeine, natural flavors, and phosphoric acid.
Of all the ingredients mentioned here, the only one of genuine concern is natural flavoring which may or may not be vegan. However, Coca-Cola has confirmed that all their coke varieties are safe to consume for vegans as they do not contain any animal by-products.
However, some coke products like Lilt and Lilt Zero in Great Britain contain fish gelatin, making it non-vegan.
All of the beverages in the Pepsi range are suitable for vegetarians and vegans, except for Diet Pepsi, which according to the Pepsico UK website, should not be consumed by vegans.
However, even though the information is still available on the website, the company reps have responded to queries saying that none of the Pepsi beverages contain any animal-derived products and are, thus, safe to consume for vegans.
3. Dr. Pepper
Dr. Pepper is another famous soda brand that is vegan. However, remember that it has natural and artificial flavors, which may or may not be vegan. However, as far as beverages are concerned, you can safely assume that such flavors do not come from animals. Therefore, you can make Dr. Pepper a part of your vegan diet.
You can enjoy 7UP if you are a vegan since none of the ingredients are animal by-products or derived from animals. However, there is debate over artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, found in 7UP since they may have been tested on animals. Therefore, if you are a puritan vegan, you should avoid beverages with aspartame, which is otherwise accepted as a vegan ingredient.
Based on its ingredients, Sprite does not contain anything derived from animals, making it a vegan-friendly soda. It does contain natural flavors, which can be animal-based, but the Coca-Cola company does not exclude it from its list of vegan drinks. Thus, Sprite can be included in a vegan diet.
Non-Vegan Ingredients to Look Out For in Sodas
Now that you know five popular vegan soda drinks, let’s dive into the ingredients you should avoid when indulging in fizzy beverages. While people know to look out for prominent animal-derived products such as gelatin, casein, lactose, whey, and milk, there are other soda ingredients you must know about.
Some unique soda flavors might feature honey on the label. However, since bees make honey, it comes under ingredients derived through animal exploitation, even if they are insects like bees. Moreover, unethical beekeeping practices also factor in vegans avoiding or eliminating honey from their diet.
Cochineal is a bug-derived red food dye. Whether or not you consider insect-derived ingredients to be vegan is a personal choice, but most vegans would avoid this ingredient if it featured on a soda label.
Ester gum, usually a stabilizer in orange sodas, is made from glycerol. While it is possible to use a lab derivative in making sodas, vegans believe that most companies use the animal-based version, thus making it non-vegan.
Vitamin D3 is usually a part of sports and energy drinks rather than sodas. However, if you ever see it on the label, know that it is not vegan since the ingredient is derived from wax from sheep’s wool.
While a little controversial, since Yellow 5 does not technically come from animals, most vegans avoid it. Since it is likely tested on animals, the ingredient is generally not considered vegan by many.
Mountain Dew contains Yellow 5 and, thus, is not considered vegan.
Many sodas contain natural flavors, which can be plant or animal-based. The issue is that you can only know if you directly ask the manufacturers. That said, context often plays an essential role in whether natural flavoring will be animal-based. For example, although Coca-Cola products often contain natural flavors, they most likely do not come from animals. In contrast, milk-based products will probably have natural flavors derived from dairy and other animal by-products.
However, if you wish to be very strict, you can avoid products containing natural flavors unless they explicitly mention that they are vegan.
A Note About Caramel Coloring
Many fizzy beverages have caramel coloring as an ingredient on their label. While most of the time, this ingredient is of no concern to vegans; it can be made from sugar that is refined using bone char. Thus, it might only sometimes be vegan. However, more often than not, caramel coloring is vegan and safe to consume.
If you are still unsure, you can always connect with the manufacturers to clear any doubts.
What to Consider When Consuming Vegan Sodas
While most sodas are considered vegan (even though unhealthy), some gray ingredients like natural flavors and caramel coloring may leave you in a fix. When you need clarification, you can always avoid such ingredients or use your discretion to consume them.
However, if you have just embraced a vegan lifestyle, you can make the transition easy by doing your best and being less critical of your choices.
Moreover, you can always be more ethical by looking at companies and the practices they are involved with before deciding whether you want to consume their products.
Popular Vegan Soda Alternatives
And suppose ingredients such as natural flavors and caramel have you second-guessing your choice. In that case, you can go for alternative vegan soda brands like Virgil’s, Fetimans, and Zevia, specifically crafted without any gray ingredients. For example, these drinks are naturally sweetened using plant-derived ingredients rather than cane sugar (used in various beverages) that is refined using bone char.
These alternatives can be easily found in select supermarkets and health food chains.
While it’s best not to overindulge in sodas, these addictive fizzy beverages are vegan for the most part. If ever in doubt, you can check the ingredient labels to ensure they don’t contain animal-derived products or contact the manufacturers directly.