While we vegans are always wondering about what we can and cannot eat, we do not spend enough time wondering what we can and cannot drink, but we should.
So many popular drinks now have ingredients in them that we are not really familiar with, one of these being Coca-Cola.
According to Coca-Cola, most of their soft drinks are vegan, however, some of their drinks do have trace elements of fish gelatine. These include Lilt, Kia-Ora Orange Squash No Added Sugar, Lilt Zero, and Schweppes Orange Squash.
You should also note there are some products that may contain cochineal, although this is listed on the product label if it is included) and some contain milk as well.
Some of their drinks may also contain Vitamin D3, which comes from Lanolin, which comes from sheep’s wool.
It is also well worth knowing that some of Coca-Cola’s suppliers use common practice for grape juice clarity involving animal by-products
So, let’s take a look at whether or not vegans can actually drink Coca-Cola or not, and if so which ones we can actually drink!
Can Vegans Drink Coke?
Coca Cola Original
Ingredients: High fructose corn syrup, carbonated water, phosphoric acid, caramel color, natural flavors, caffeine.
Only natural flavors are of concern here as these can be animal or plant sources, however, it is believed in coke the natural flavors are citric acid, cocaine, herbs, and sugar. Therefore, Coca-Cola’s original flavor is vegan!
Caffeine Free, Cherry, Orange Vanilla, Vanilla.
Ingredients: High fructose corn syrup, phosphoric acid, caffeine, natural flavors, carbonated water, caramel color.
Once again, the only ingredients which are of concern with these flavors are the natural flavors, as these could be from plant or animal products. However, according to Coca-Cola, all of these are vegan. So, as far as I am concerned all of these flavors are vegan as well!
California Raspberry & Georgia Peach
Ingredients: Cane sugar, phosphoric acid, carbonated water, caffeine, caramel color, natural flavors.
Once more the main area of concern here is the natural flavors, as they could be plant or animal, but Coca-Cola considered these flavors to be vegan.
I also want to point out the cane sugar ingredient, as sugar can be a problem. It does not state if it is refined cane sugar or not, refined cane sugar is where most issues with sugar begin, as this will include the use of bone char in the manufacturing process.
However, if it is raw cane sugar or certified organic then this is totally fine.
There are plenty of vegans who tend not to pay too much mind to the sugar complications of a vegan diet as it is very hard to find out what type of sugar it is and since so many things contain sugar these days, it can be exceptionally hard to avoid.
For now, I would consider these flavors vegan!
Ingredients: Caramel Color, Potassium benzoate, Caffeine, Aspartame, Carbonated Water, Phosphoric Acid, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid.
Once again, with Diet Coke, the only ingredients of concern are the natural flavors, as these can come from animals or plants, however, Coca-Cola states this is vegan, so, if you don’t fancy a full-fat coke, go with a diet coke and still enjoy the flavor!
Ingredients: Natural flavors, acesulfame potassium, aspartame, caffeine, carbonated water, potassium citrate, caramel color, and potassium benzoate.
Again, it is only the natural flavors that are of concern, but Coca-Cola swears that all the natural flavors they use are vegan. So, if diet coke is not for you, try coke zero instead. They are still very delicious!
Strictly speaking, Coke is about 90% carbonated water, however, it does have 6 main ingredients overall. These ingredients include:
- Natural flavors.
- Caramel color.
- Phosphoric acid.
- Carbonate water.
It does seem to be vegan, at least on a surface level, and Coca-Cola does state that Coke does not contain any ingredients that come from animal sources, and therefore coke can be ingested by vegans and vegetarians alike.
However, I am always cautious myself, animal ingredients can easily be in products without being labeled as animal products. Wine is one of these infamous liars and the soda industry is not much better.
My biggest beef is with the sugar, because sugar is not always consumable for vegans, and not enough companies actually let us know what kind of sugar they use.
Sugar is an important part of any fizzy beverage, and a single can of Coke contains a whopping 39 grams of it!
Now, most sugars are considered vegan, but many are still using animal bones and they’re just not telling us. Yep, I am talking about bone char.
Bone char is the product added to make that distinct white color, and it is rarely listed that it was used. It can also be called ‘natural carbon’, but all it really is is the bones of slaughtered cows, ground up to make sugar look white.
(Excuse me while I go and vomit… How gross!)
Anyway, brown sugar doesn’t need it but some companies STILL use bone char, even on brown sugar!
Now, the sugar used in Coke varies per country, most of the time it will be sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Although, they do use aspartame in some products to make them ‘healthier’.
Aspartame is used a lot in the UK, Ireland, and Australia, and it is well-known as an artificial sweetener. But, it is made from amino acids…
…But not animal amino acids…(phew!)
…It is also extensively tested on animals. (*sigh*).
So, Is Coke Vegan?
Yes and no, it really depends on how strict you are. I’ll say yes for now, but it is a reserved yes.