Is Soda Vegan? We’ve covered the most popular brands and products here along with everything else you need to know.
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Is Soda Vegan?
99% of the time, most soft drink brands and products are going to be vegan. There are a few niche brands of soft drinks that may use honey as a sweetener (which obviously wouldn’t make it plant-based), but you don’t need to be concerned about that for the most popular brands.
Vegan Status of Soda Ingredients
Here are some other ingredients worth noting (and why you shouldn’t get caught up knowing all the details)…
- Ester Gum: Some articles out there state that “ester gum” is a non-vegan ingredient in certain soft drinks because it’s made from “glycerol”. Because glycerol can be animal-based or plant-based, there’s a chance that it might not be plant-based. However, it is important to note that it’s MOST LIKELY from plants. According to this report from VRG, vegetable oils are used in the majority of glycerol used in food is plant-based. Do note that ingredient is mostly in ORANGE pop.
- Natural / Artificial Colorings: The truth is that food colorings you’ll find in soft drinks have probably tested on animals at one point or another. It’s also nearly IMPOSSIBLE to determine exactly what’s in an artificial or natural color as on a label. But the odds are that most are indeed from non-animal sources.
- Natural / Artificial Flavors: Much like color, it’s virtually impossible to know what’s in them. The FDA gives a list here of all the possible sources that they could come from.
- Cochineal or Cochineal Extract: This is a coloring agent that’s actually made from insects so they’re not veg-friendly. However, this ingredient isn’t prevalent in any popular soft drinks.
If you’re new to veganism or thinking about transitioning. You shouldn’t let this stuff scare you.
Just avoid all labeled animal products (including gelatin and clear animal products like cochineal) and you’re already doing 99.9% of what you could possibly do to avoid animal cruelty via your diet. Over time, any of these super small trace ingredients that may be derived from animals will disappear as animal agriculture declines.
For the remainder of this guide (and most of our guides for that matter), we won’t don’t consider any of the trace ingredients that could go either way to be non-vegan (including natural flavors or colors which can come from a variety of untraceable sources). In our opinion, it does more harm than good to do so by making veganism complicated. Most organizations, even PETA, agree with this assessment. We will do our best to point out when there are ingredients that could be on the fence, but the final choice is up to you.
Finally – just remember that soft drinks and other processed foods aren’t healthy just because they don’t have animal products. To optimize your health, you need to focus on whole-plant foods.
Learn how to shop as a plant-based eater with our printable grocery list.
An original Pepsi is indeed cruelty-free. It doesn’t have any ingredients that contain animal products as seen in their ingredient statement below. The company has also confirmed this on a few different occasions that we’ve seen.
Ingredients: CARBONATED WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CARAMEL COLOR, SUGAR, PHOSPHORIC ACID, CAFFEINE, CITRIC ACID, NATURAL FLAVOR
Diet Pepsi Soda
For some reason, Pepsi has specifically said that Diet Pepsi is NOT veg-friendly (at least in the UK). Because the ingredient statement doesn’t reveal anything suspicious, it means that it could be an extremely small trace ingredient as part of one of the flavors or something.
Since the company has stated that it’s not plant-based specifically, we’d recommend avoiding it since it sends market signals to them to make it cruelty-free.
Ingredients: CARBONATED WATER, CARAMEL COLOR, PHOSPHORIC ACID, POTASSIUM BENZOATE (PRESERVES FRESHNESS), SUCRALOSE, ACESULFAME POTASSIUM, CAFFEINE, NATURAL FLAVOR, CITRIC ACID
Yes, Sprite is vegan.
Sprite is owned by The Coca-Cola Company who have clearly stated on their website that the majority of products are suitable for vegans and vegetarians – aside from a handful of exceptions which contain gelatin, honey and POSSIBLY lanolin for the vitamin D.
Here are the ingredients for Sprite…
INGREDIENTS: CARBONATED WATER, SUGAR/GLUCOSE-FRUCTOSE, CITRIC ACID, SODIUM CITRATE, NATURAL FLAVOUR, SODIUM BENZOATE
Mountain Dew (Mtn Dew) has a pretty crazy ingredient list, but there aren’t blatantly labeled animal products. This means that Mountain Dew is cruelty-free.
Check out this vegan starter kit
INGREDIENTS: CARBONATED WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CONCENTRATED ORANGE JUICE, CITRIC ACID, NATURAL FLAVOR, SODIUM BENZOATE (PRESERVES FRESHNESS), CAFFEINE, SODIUM CITRATE, ERYTHORBIC ACID (PRESERVES FRESHNESS), GUM ARABIC, CALCIUM DISODIUM EDTA (TO PROTECT FLAVOR), BROMINATED VEGETABLE OIL, YELLOW 5
Yes, Diet Coke is free from animal products, making it safe for a plant-based lifestyle. Here’s the ingredient statement for your reference…
INGREDIENTS: CARBONATED WATER, CARAMEL COLOR, ASPARTAME, PHOSPHORIC ACID, POTASSIUM BENZOATE (TO PROTECT TASTE), NATURAL FLAVORS, CITRIC ACID, CAFFEINE.
Cherry Coke, like most Coke products that we’ve mentioned in this guide, is cruelty-free.
INGREDIENTS: CARBONATED WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CARAMEL COLOR, PHOSPHORIC ACID, NATURAL FLAVORS, CAFFEINE.
Yes, Dr. Pepper is cruelty-free just like most of the soft drinks made by the Coca-Cola Company. It has the same ingredients as virtually every dark soft drink out there, with the difference in taste coming from the “natural and artificial flavors”.
Ingredients carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate (preservative), caffeine
Diet Dr. Pepper
Just like regular, Dr. Pepper – Diet Dr. Pepper is also plant-based. It’s sweetened with aspartame rather than sugar, which doesn’t contain any animal products.
Ingredients: Carbonated water, caramel color, aspartame, phosphoric acid, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate (preservative), caffeine
Yes. Coke Zero is vegan. It’s sweetened with Aspartame and acesulfame potassium which aren’t produced with any animal products. This has been confirmed by the president of the NutraSweet Company, a leading manufacturer for aspartame.
Ingredients: CARBONATED WATER, CARAMEL COLOR, PHOSPHORIC ACID, ASPARTAME, POTASSIUM BENZOATE, NATURAL FLAVORS, POTASSIUM CITRATE, ACESULFAME POTASSIUM, CAFFEINE.
A&W Root Beer
Yes! A&W Root beer doesn’t have animal products. You’ll notice one strange ingredient in the list called “Quillia”. Not to worry, it’s made from tree bark and not animals.
Ingredients: CARBONATED WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CARAMEL COLOR, SODIUM BENZOATE (PRESERVATIVE), NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, QUILLAIA EXTRACT
Yes – cream pop doesn’t have animal products. The majority of bottled or canned cream soft drinks that we’ve seen don’t contain any actual cream (like from a cow). They’re flavored with natural and/or artificial flavors. Plus, they tend to have more of a vanilla flavor profile than a cream one.
Here’s a typical ingredient statement for Stewart’s cream soda...
Ingredients: carbonated water, sugar, artificial flavor, sodium benzoate (a preservative), caramel color, citric acid, quillaia extract
Canada Dry Ginger Ale
Ingredients: CARBONATED WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CITRIC ACID, SODIUM BENZOATE (PRESERVATIVE), NATURAL FLAVORS, CARAMEL COLOR
Yes! Every flavor of Fanta that we’ve looked at was vegan. The orange flavor DOES have “Glysterol Ester” as an ingredient, so it’s up to you whether you want to choose to avoid it. However, we’ve made the case in the intro why that’s not necessary as it’s likely plant-based and doesn’t contribute to any animal suffering or cruelty.
Here’s a sample of ingredients for Fanta Grape..
Ingredients: CARBONATED WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, NATURAL FLAVORS, TARTARIC ACID, POTASSIUM SORBATE AND SODIUM BENZOATE (TO PROTECT TASTE), CITRIC ACID, RED 40, BLUE 1.
Looking at the ingredient statement for Sierra Mist seen below, there aren’t any animal products to be found. This means that Sierra Mist is fine for us to drink – another soft drink to add to the list.
Ingredients: Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Lemon Juice concentrate, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate and Potassium Benzoate (Preserve Freshness), Calcium Disodium EDTA (to Protect Flavor)
Vegan Soda Wrap Up
So there’s the long answer to “is soda vegan”. Long story short, don’t worry about things like this unless you see labeled animal products. Veganism is about reducing your harm as much as practicable and possible and not stressing about every single ingredient so long as its not clearly from an animal.
Want to take all of the guess-work around going vegan?
Click here to check out the Vegan Starter Kit.