Is Coca-Cola Vegan? Coca-Cola – literally is there anyone on this planet that has (a) not heard of them (if you are wondering 94% of the world’s population recognize the Coca-Cola logo), or (b) not tried Coca-Cola? Even if you are not a die-hard “coke’ drinker, I can guarantee that at some point in your life you will have drunk a Coca-Cola product. Don’t believe me? Well, how about this: every second of the day more than 10,000 soft drinks from Coca-Cola are consumed. Every second. And it is not just “Coke”. Coca-Cola makes more than 200 brands of drinks – from water to coffee, to tea, to kombucha. Here are just a few brands Coca-Cola owns in addition to Coca-Cola brand drinks – Fanta, Costa Coffee, Dasani Waters, Gold Peak Teas and Coffees, Honest Tea, Innocent Smoothies and Juices, Minute Maid, Powerade, Schweppes, Smartwater, Sprite, and Vitaminwater. According to Statista Coca-Cola owns around 40% of the US soft drinks market and is worth a whopping $87.6 billion. Being a vegan blog on all things drinks related how could I ignore the giant which is Coca-Cola. Well, I couldn’t. So, it is time to sit back and go through everything Coca-Cola-related and ask that all-important question – Is Coca-Cola Vegan?
Is Coca-Cola Vegan?
As a general rule, Coca-Cola Coke soda itself is vegan as are most Coca-Cola owned sodas in the US. The main Coca-Cola owned drinks that are not vegan are some of their juices. This is mainly due to the presence of fish gelatin that gives juice an orange color or cochineal (crushed beetles) to give the juice a red color. There are a few other non-vegan Coca-Cola owned drinks that contain dairy, as well as a few drinks in the UK and Ireland that contain honey or vitamin D from lanolin from sheep’s wool.
In this blog, I will break down the main Coca-Cola Drink brands including “coke”. I then separately break down the Coca-Cola brands of Lilt, Costa Coffees, Honest Teas, Schweppes, Glaceau Vitamin Water, Kia-Ora, Minute Maid, Jugos Del Valle, and FUZE Refresh as these are the brands that have some non-vegan drinks varieties.
There is a separate table of vegan and non-vegan Coca-Cola drinks at the end of the article.
Is Coca-Cola Vegan – Australia
We start in Australia (this is mainly because there are only two official Coca-Cola statements regarding the vegan status of their drinks – one is found on the Coca-Cola Australia website and one is found on the Coca-Cola Great Britain website). Coca-Cola Australia states on its website that Coca-Cola in Australia does not contain any ingredients derived from animal sources and can be part of a vegan diet.
Coca-Cola Australia also clarifies that the only drink that is not suitable for a vegan diet is Barista Bros. Barista Bros is a popular bottled coffee-flavored milk sold in Australia by Coca-Cola. They then list several Coca-Cola drinks that are suitable for vegans which I have for ease of reference put into the table below.
|Vegan Coca-Cola Drinks in Australia||Non-Vegan Coca-Cola Drinks in Australia|
|Coke Classic||Barista Bros|
|Coke No Sugar|
|Fanta Jelly Fizz|
|Fanta Passion Fruit Cream|
Is Mexican Coca-Cola Vegan?
Have you ever heard of or tried Mexican Coke? Yes, Mexican coke or as it is informally known Mexicoke.
What’s the difference? Mexican “Coke” uses cane sugar as a sweetener whereas US “Coke” uses high-fructose corn syrup. Both follow the same base “secret recipe” for the drink (if you are interested the Guardian did an article a while back supposedly revealing the secret recipe).
Is Mexican Coke Vegan? It seems unlikely that the sugar is processed with bone char as processing sugar with bone char tends to only be carried out in the US, so it is most likely vegan like Coca-Cola elsewhere in the World.
Is Coca-Cola Vegan – the United States and the rest of the world
In my research, I couldn’t find anything definitive on the Coca-Cola US website that said they were vegan. However, Coca-Cola UK does have the following statement:
“The vast majority of our drinks, including Coca‑Cola, are suitable for vegetarians and vegans as they do not contain any animal derivatives.
The following drinks are not free from animal derivatives and therefore may be unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Kia-Ora Orange Squash No Added Sugar
Schweppes Indian Tonic Water
Schweppes Orange Squash
Honest (Lemon and Honey)
Glaceau Vitaminwater Zero Sunshine and Multi V
Costa Coffee Ready-to-Drink Caramel Latte
Costa Coffee Ready-to-Drink Latte
Costa Coffee Ready-to-Drink Americano”
Digging further, I came across this email response to Joshua Cuellar in 2012 from the Coca-Cola company:
“Except the products that contain cochineal (which is listed on the label), and the products that contain milk (which is also indicated on the label), brands of The Coca-Cola Company in the United States do not contain any ingredient derived from animals.
However, some of our juice products contain Vitamin D3, which is derived from lanolin…
… Additionally, some of our suppliers use a common industry practice for grape juice clarification that does involve animal by-products. The gelatin used to clarify the juice is made from bovine skin.
In the U.S., the only Coca-Cola brand products that are currently produced with cochineal are Minute Maid Juices To Go Ruby Red Grapefruit Drink, Jugos Del Valle Strawberry Banana Juice Nectar, and Jugos Del Valle Strawberry Juice Nectar.
The only currently manufactured Coca-Cola brand products that contain milk are Far Coast (World of Coca-Cola only), FUZE Refresh, and Minute Maid Fruit and Creme Swirls.”
Based on the above, it seems that Coca-Cola’s “Coke” is vegan. I just wanted to be sure so I emailed Coca-Cola. I received the following response:
“The brands of The Coca-Cola Company in the United States do not contain ingredients derived from animals.”
Is Coca-Cola Vegan – United Kingdom
Coca-Cola UK and Ireland seem to be the only website of the Coca-Cola company that lists the non-vegan drinks made by Coca-Cola. These non-vegan drinks tend to only be found in the UK and Ireland – so this probably explains why veganism is addressed on the Great Britain website but not on the US website.
You will see below that most of these non-vegan drinks are juices and/or orange or red-colored.
Lilt is a soda inspired by the flavors of the Caribbean. It is marketed as “the totally tropical taste“. The original flavor is pineapple and grapefruit which is also available as a diet version. Subsequent flavors have been released such as mango & mandarin, banana & peach, and finally mango – however, they were all discontinued.
Having grown up in the UK I remember Lilt being one of my favorite sodas as a child (the original flavor). Not going to lie I am slightly perturbed to find out that I was drinking soda laced with fish.
Yes, you read that correctly Lilt and Lilt Zero are not vegan as they contain fish gelatin (stabilizer for the beta-carotene color).
Lilt and Lilt Zero are sold in the UK, Ireland, Gibraltar, and Seychelles. Coca-Cola does not distribute Lilt or Diet Lilt over here in the US. There are some online British shops selling British products over here in the US. To this extent just be aware that it contains fish gelatin if you come across it.
If you want to learn more about Soda in general and if it is vegan, I cover the whole topic in my blog post: Is Soda Vegan? Revealing What You Need To Know.
Costa Ready-to-Drink Coffee
Costa is a popular coffee chain in the UK known as “the nation’s favourite coffee shop”. It was acquired by Coca-Cola in 2019. It is the largest coffee chain in the UK and the second-largest in the world. The following grab-and-go Costa coffee drinks are not vegan as they contain milk –
- Costa Coffee Ready-to-Drink Caramel Latte; and
- Costa Coffee Ready-to-Drink Latte
Costa Coffee Ready-to-Drink Americano may contain milk – this must be due to the potential of traces of milk getting into the drink during production – americanos do not normally contain milk.
If you want to read more about whether coffee is vegan check out my post Is Coffee Vegan? How to Find Out the Truth.
Honest Honey and Lemon Tea
Honest is an organic bottled tea owned by Coca-Cola. The only Honest Tea flavor that isn’t vegan is honest Honey and Lemon as it contains honey. This flavor is just available in the UK.
If you would like to read more about whether tea is vegan, then check out this blog post Is Tea Vegan? Time to Know the Complete Facts.
Schweppes Indian Tonic Water
This is a sparkling soft drink made with quinine and sugar. Quinine is from the bark of the cinchona tree, and it gives it a very bitter taste. It may be bitter, but is Schweppes vegan? Schweppes Indian Tonic Water contains honey, making it not vegan.
Schweppes Indian Tonic Water is known in the UK for mixing with gin to make a g&t (gin and tonic). Personally, I was never a fan of Indian tonic water (too bitter for me personally) but I have friends who are obsessed with it. Coca-Cola owns Schweppes in the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand. Interestingly Schweppes in North America is owned by Keurig Dr. Pepper.
Schweppes Orange Squash
Fish Gelatin is used in Schweppes Orange Squash squash for the beta carotene color. Growing up in the UK, I remember squash being such a popular drink, especially for kids. It is essentially a very concentrated juice and sugar mixture that you dilute with water. Schweppes Orange Squash is just sold in the UK and Ireland. It is not distributed in the US, but it is again sold via British online retailers.
Glaceau Vitaminwater Zero Sunshine and Multi
Zero Sunshine and Multi V flavors of Glaceau Vitaminwater contain vitamin D from Lanolin and so are not vegan. Lanoline comes from sheep’s wool. If you would like to read more about whether vitamin water is vegan, then check out my blog post on it Is Vitamin Water Vegan? How to Know The Difference.
Kia-Ora Orange Squash No Added Sugar
This is another drink that uses fish gelatin for beta carotene color. Kia-Ora is just sold in UK and Ireland (I told you squash is popular in the UK). Kia-Ora’s popularity has declined over the years with all the flavors having been discontinued apart from orange no sugar and sugar-free mixed fruit (the sugar-free mixed fruit is vegan).
Are There Any More Non-Vegan Coca-Cola Drinks?
I mentioned above an email Coca-Cola sent to Joshua Cuellar in 2012 so I investigated the non-vegan drinks mentioned in the email further. World of Coca-Cola doesn’t exist anymore so that can be disregarded also, as this website just looks at drinks I will not be looking at Minute Maid Fruit and Crème Swirls.
Minute Maid Juices To Go Ruby Red Grapefruit Drink
Minute Maid Rudy Red Grapefruit Drink contains cochineal, which is basically crushed beetles. This is listed as cochineal extract on the label. In the US it must be listed as cochineal or carmine on the label. Elsewhere there is a whole host of ways cochineal can be listed such as natural red no 4, E120, carmine lake, and crimson lake.
Jugos Del Valle Strawberry Banana Juice Nectar and Strawberry Juice Nectar
Jugos Del Valle is a Mexican juice brand, which do import into the US. There are two non-vegan flavors to watch for – strawberry banana juice nectar and strawberry juice nectar. This is again due to the presence of cochineal, which is listed on the ingredient labels.
If you would like to read further about whether any juice is vegan check out my post in it Is Orange Juice Vegan? Revealing What You Need To Know.
FUZE makes fruit drinks that are enhanced with vitamins. The reason the FUZE Refresh range is not vegan is that they contain dairy (this is listed on the ingredient label). Please note that Refresh is just one of FUZE’s products line – not all FUZE drinks contain dairy.
Coca-Cola Juices Generally
Coca-Cola has additionally stated in the past that some of their suppliers use a practice of clarifying grape juice using gelatin from bovine skin. Coca-Cola does not clarify what juices this relates to. I would look out for anything that contains grape juice – in which case it may not be vegan. Please note grape juice does not appear to be used in Coca-Cola’s soda brands.
Is Coca-Cola Vegan – The Final Sip
As you read this sentence alone another 10,000 drinks from Coca-Cola will have been drunk. Assuming this article took around 6.7 minutes to read (that is the average for 2,000 words), that means 4,020,000 Coca-Cola drinks would have been consumed by the time you finished this article. The economics of Coca-Cola is just astonishing. Whether you love Coke, hate it, or just avoid it – you will at some point in time still come across a Coca-Cola brand drink. The good news is that Coca-Cola Sodas are vegan (with the exceptions of those specific brands mentioned above). It is mainly the juices you need to watch out for. Always Coca-Cola – gives new meaning to the brand, right?
…now you know
Beverage makers may change ingredients and/or manufacturing processes. Always double-check ingredients before purchasing any beverages.
Like What You Are Reading?
Like what you are reading? Want to learn more? Want to know if your favorite orange juice (yes, orange juice), sodas, tea, or even coffee are vegan? Then check out some of my other non-alcoholic vegan drink articles:
- Is Pepsi Vegan? Secrets to Know About Pepsi Drinks
- Are Energy Drinks Vegan? Complete Guide To Finding Out
- Is Vitamin Water Vegan? How to Know the Difference
- Is Soda Vegan? Revealing What You Need To Know
- Is Orange Juice Vegan? Revealing Why You Need To Know
- Is Coffee Vegan? How To Find Out the Truth
- Is Tea Vegan? Time to Know the Complete Facts
- Is Kombucha Vegan? The Complete Facts You Need to Know
- Is Root Beer Vegan? Unlock the Hidden Root Cause
- Is Cream Soda Vegan? Unlock All You Need to Know