Switching from omnivore to herbivore is quite a transition. In the beginning, you may find yourself accidentally reaching for some yogurt or beer. Even vegan veterans might be unaware of certain foods that are not vegan-friendly. Veganism, as a way of life, entails eating an entirely plant-based diet with no food or drink coming from animals or their byproducts.
This animal-free gastronomic lifestyle is usually for the benefit of animals that the food industries mistreat and abuse. This philosophy makes vegans extra careful about what they take in, just in case it is something that goes against their beliefs. While these are universal reasons to become vegan, of course, this all depends on you and why you choose or were drawn to the lifestyle in the first place.
On the surface, some food may not look like it has animal-derived materials but may very well have honey from bees or even gelatin which comes from animal collagen. One of the drinks you might have to do a double-take on is that bottle of Coca-Cola. With a plethora of flavors and all those zeros and fruits attached to Coca-Cola products, you might be at a loss about its contents and whether they are approved for vegan consumption.
But is Coke vegan? More specifically, is Diet Coke vegan? What are vegan-friendly Coca-Cola drinks? Are there any at all? Let’s open up those questions here.
Why are Some Drinks Confusing as a Vegan?
Tracing the different origins of food, what company they came from, what supplier, how they were made, what additives are included— these are all processes and questions that factor into deciding whether or not something is vegan.
As for particular ingredients that are not vegan that you might not be aware of, here are some: cochineal or carmine which are used as a dye; gelatin, lanolin, and glycerol which are used as food stabilizers; and cow bone char utilized for sweetening. You can check labels for information about these in nearly all grocery items. More than that, just because something is purely plant-based doesn’t mean they don’t have or involve practices that harm animals. Doing your research on your food and drinks is key.
What’s in Your Coke? A Vegan’s Take on the Ingredients
The Coca-Cola original flavor is made of high fructose corn syrup, carbonated water, phosphoric acid, caffeine, natural flavors, and caramel color. Coca-Cola Great Britain said themselves that most of their drinks, which includes Coke, can be ingested by vegetarians and vegans. Their ingredients do not come from any animal derivatives.
Unfortunately, the use of genetically engineered (GE) crops is used. These are more often referred to as GMOs. This aspect, however, does not affect the vegan nature of the soda.
What about the Varieties of Coke?
Coca-Cola Australia talks about the different kinds of coke and which ones are purely plant-based. These include Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Coke Classic, Coke No Sugar, Coke Vanilla, Coke Raspberry, Sprite, Fanta Orange, Fanta Jelly Fizz, Powerade, Powerade Zero, Appletiser & Grapetiser, Lift, and Fanta Passionfruit Cream.
The Coca-Cola company does state that BARISTA BROS flavored milk has dairy components. Thus, it is not consumable by vegans but can be for some kinds of vegetarians like ovolactovegetarians, Lacto-vegetarians, and flexitarians. While it is not a soda, it might be good to mention here for those wondering about that specific Coke product.
Coke and Animal Testing
You, as a vegan, might primarily be concerned with the welfare of animals. Animal testing is one methodology that is protested against by many vegans and continues to be practiced by various industries around the world. In particular, an article by PETA in 2019 discusses that the Coca-Cola company had recently stopped all their operations that relate to animal testing.
In particular, one of the ingredient suppliers for the company, Ingredion Incorporated, barred all animal testing for research purposes. Experiments involving mice mutilation, animal blood draining, and carcinogen injections were some of the research procedures backed by the supplier. These were conducted to test the nutritional and/or health claims of the ingredients.
Rest assured, PETA announced that Coke is now officially cruelty-free. This situation only highlights how far down the process of manufacturing you might have to look into to ensure that the product is truly vegan.
Are There Other Vegan Sodas?
Luckily, Diet Coke isn’t the only soda that is vegan on the market. Aside from the vegan Coca-Cola options already mentioned in the section above, many other manufacturers also create sodas without animal derivative materials.
You can add these bottles of fizz or fruity flavors to your next grocery list if you’re in a sweet tooth kind of mood:
- Mountain Dew (original and diet)
- Pepsi (original and diet)
- Red Bull (It has a synthetic component in its Taurine content)
- 7 Up
- Lipton iced teas
Another alternative is to make your soda! Add seltzer water to your flavoring of choice and enjoy.
There are a lot of things to consider when choosing what to eat or drink as a vegan. As such, research is important to make sure you are supporting companies that are cruelty-free down to the ingredients and process.