Is Pepsi Vegan? Since I already talked about all things Coca-Cola related in my article Is Coca-Cola Vegan? Secrets to Know About Coca-Cola drinks, how could I not talk about Pepsi Co. SPOILER ALERT – you may be disappointed if you like Diet Pepsi and are based in the UK.
Talk about the greatest rivalries in history: Ali vs Frazier, Nadal vs Federer, Yankees vs Red Sox, Nike vs Reebox, McDonald’s vs Burger King (definitely not vegan), Apple vs Microsoft, Ford vs Chevy, Amazon vs Walmart, Boeing vs Airbus – all pail into significance when it comes to Coca-Cola vs Pepsi. Coca-Cola is still the market leader with 45% of the “soda” market according to Statista – Pepsi has 29.5%. It’s been a long while since either of these companies just sold cola and while Coca-Cola is the cola leader Pepsi is ahead in lots of different areas – like water, juice, sports drinks, and iced coffees. So, as we did for Coca-Cola, I think it’s time to find out Is Pepsi Vegan – a breakdown of all main Pepsi brand drinks.
Is Pepsi Vegan?
As a general rule, Pepsi and Pepsi Max are both vegan-friendly. Diet Pepsi in the UK is not vegan (although it is not known why this is). PepsiCo-owned juice brands Tropicana and Naked have several juices that are not vegan due to the presence of cochineal (crushed beetles), fish oil and gelatin, whey, or vitamin D3. In contrast, PepsiCo-owned non-juice drinks such as 7UP (UK), Mountain Dew, and Gatorade do not contain any animal ingredients.
What is the difference between Coca-Cola and Pepsi?
First, before we get into anything I need to understand one thing – what is the difference between Pepsi Cola and Coca-Cola? There are a whole host of things on the internet that claim to know the exact difference between Pepsi and Coca-Cola. I am going to go with Malcolm Gladwell’s breakdown in Blink which says the following:
“Pepsi is sweeter than Coke, so right away it had a big advantage in a sip test. Pepsi is also characterized by a citrusy flavor burst, unlike the more raisiny-vanilla taste of Coke. But that burst tends to dissipate over the course of an entire can. Pepsi, in short, is a drink built to shine in a sip test.”
There you have it. Pepsi is sweeter and has more of a citrus tang. The real question is could you tell the difference between the two in a blind tasting? Okay, now back to the vegan question – Is Pepsi Vegan?
Is Pepsi Vegan – Breakdown of Pepsi Owned Drinks Brands
In the below table, I break down all the Pepsi-owned drinks brands and tell you whether they are vegan or not. Whilst, I do not cover food on Veganbev you should know Pepsi is a big owner of food brands as well such as Frito Lays, Doritos, Quaker Oats, Sabra Hummus, Cap’n Crunch, Funyuns, Tostitos – it’s how they remain competitive.
|PepsiCo Owned Drink Brands||Is it Vegan?|
|Diet Pepsi||Not in the U.K.|
|Mountain Dew||No animal ingredients, but does contain artificial colors (tested on animals)|
|Tropicana||The following are not vegan:|
Tropicana Pure Premium Health Heart Orange Juice (contains fish)
Tropicana Pure Premium Calcium and Vitamin D – contains Vitamin D3 from Lanolin (sheep’s wool)
Tropicana 100% Juice Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice (contains Carmine)
Tropicana Tropics Orange Strawberry Banana (contains Carmine)
Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Strawberry Banana (contains Carmine)
Tropicana 100% Juice Medley (contains Carmine)
Tropicana 100% Strawberry Orange (contains Carmine)
Tropicana Farmstand Pomegranate Blueberry (potentially contains beef derivatives)
|7UP (owned by PepsiCo outside of the USA)||7UP UK is vegan|
|Lipton Tea||Vegan except for the following non-vegan varieties which contain honey: |
Decaffeinated Honey Lemon Chamomile Green Tea
Honey Lemon Green Tea
Decaffeinated Honey Lemon Green Tea
Tea & Honey “To Go” Mango Pineapple
Tea & Honey “To Go” Blackberry Pomegranate
|Naked Juices||Vegan except for the following flavors which are not vegan:|
Protein range (contains Whey)
Tropical Mango Probiotics (issue is most likely Bifidobacterium)
Power C Machine (unclear as to why not vegan)
Rainbow Machine (contains Vitamin D3, Lanolin from sheep’s wool)
Vitamin D Machine (contains Vitamin D3, Lanolin from sheep’s wool)
|Starbucks To Go Drinks||Most are not vegan due to the presence of milk. There are a few vegan options.|
Is Pepsi Vegan?
I am going to start with the biggie, Pepsi Cola – is it vegan?
The answer depends on what type of Pepsi Cola you are talking about – regular Pepsi, Pepsi Max, or Diet Pepsi, as well as where in the world you live. In 2017, Pepsi released the following statement to Metro (a London-based newspaper) in a piece titled (… and I kid you not): “Pepsi won’t say what it is that makes Diet Pepsi non-vegan”
“We can confirm that regular Pepsi and Pepsi Max are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Diet Pepsi is only suitable for vegetarians as it contains traces of ingredients that are not suitable for people following a vegan diet.”
Similar conclusions can also be found on the Pepsi UK website:
“Our entire range is suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets, apart from Diet Pepsi which isn’t suitable for vegans.”
It is not clear what this non-vegan ingredient in Diet Pepsi in the UK is. PepsiCo does not want to announce what it is – “commercially sensitive” information apparently.
There is no statement addressing whether Pepsi is vegan on the .com website. Just because Diet Pepsi isn’t vegan in the UK does not necessarily mean it isn’t vegan here in the US. I emailed PepsiCo asking if Diet Pepsi is vegan here in the US. I received the following response –
“There are no animal by-products in our Pepsi products.”
So it is looking like Diet Pepsi here in the US is vegan but Diet Pepsi in the UK is not vegan.
Is Pepsi Nitro Vegan?
Is Pepsi Nitro Vegan? On March 28 Pepsi introduce its brand-new Pepsi Nitro soda available in vanilla and regular cola flavors. This form of cola is infused with Nitrogen gas (that’s good old N2) instead of the normal Carbon Dioxide (CO2) that you find in every other type of soda in existence.
Is Pepsi Nitro vegan? As it currently stands (May 2022), Pepsi has not provided any exact comments on the vegan status. So, I have reached out directly to PepsiCo for an answer. Below was Pepsi’s response (I kid you not) to my question about whether Pepsi Nitro was vegan.
“Thank you for contacting us!
There are no established FDA standards for the term “vegan”, nor is there a legal definition for the term. A common definition for a vegan is “a vegan (most commonly pronounced VEE-gun) is a person who does not eat animal products, including meat, fish, seafood, eggs, and dairy.”
I invite you to visit www.PepsiCoBeverageFacts.com, where you will find up-to-date ingredient and nutritional information on all our beverages. If you should have additional questions, please feel free to contact us again and we’ll be glad to assist.
Pepsi Consumer Relations“
So, is Pepsi Nitro Vegan?
Normal (carbonated) Pepsi are all vegan. The exception is Diet Pepsi varieties which are NOT VEGAN. The current Pepsi Nitro does not come in any diet variety. On this basis, I want to be able to say that Pepsi Nitro is vegan, but given their response above and the issue with Diet Pepsi, until this is 100% confirmed by Pepsi I would be pre-cautious when it comes to Pepsi Nitro.
Is the use of Nitrogen in Drinks Vegan
What about the use of Nitrogen in drinks generally – is this vegan? Well, yes the use of nitrogen in drinks such as soda, nitro coffee, or nitro beer is vegan. The use of Nitrogen in the drink instead of Carbon Dioxide is designed to produce a soda with smaller bubbles and less heavy carbonation. The result is meant to be a “smoother” and “creamy” consistency with a super foamy head. Pepsi calls it a “draft cola”. Using Nitrogen doesn’t present any non-vegan issues.
Is Pepsi Vegan – Is Mountain Dew Vegan?
Ah, that drink that tastes like a mix of fruit juice and sprite, and Mountain Dew does not contain any animal ingredients. It is also sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, rather than sugar, so there are no bone char concerns (sugar here in the US is sometimes processed with bone char to give it its white color).
The main ingredient that could put Mountain Dew off the table for some vegans is artificial color. The different varieties of Mountain Dew contain one or more of the following colors – Yellow 5, Red 40, and Blue 1. Artificial colors are routinely tested on animals. To this extent, whether Mountain Dew is vegan depends on your stance as a vegan.
Is Pepsi Vegan – Is Gatorade Vegan?
Gatorade appears to be vegan and features on PETA’s list of approved vegan drinks. If you want to learn more about Gatorade and other Sports and Vitamin Drinks I go into them in detail in my post Is Vitamin Water Vegan? How to Know the Difference. A variety pack of Gatorade is available on Amazon here.
Is Pepsi Vegan – Is Tropicana Orange Juice Vegan?
Tropicana is ranked number 1 on the YouGov Most Popular Beverages list, and it is made by PepsiCo. But is Tropicana Vegan? This is where things start to get tricky. As was the case for Coca-Cola, it is the juices rather than the sodas which tend to be non-vegan. I go into detail on juices in my post Is Orange Juice Vegan? Revealing Why You Need To Know.
Here is what you need to know about Tropicana:
Tropicana Pure Premium Calcium and Vitamin D
Tropicana Pure Premium Calcium and Vitamin D juice are not vegan as vitamin D comes from lanolin from sheep’s wool. Not vegan.
Tropicana’s Pure Premium Healthy Heart Orange Juice
Tropicana’s Pure Premium Healthy Heart orange Juice is not vegan. This is because it contains fish oils and gelatin from anchovies, sardines, and tilapia. It is the omega 3 that makes it heart-healthy so always watch for any orange juices labeled as heart-healthy. You can read more about why orange juice is sometimes not vegan in my post – Is Orange Juice Vegan? Revealing Why You Need To Know.
Tropicana 100% Juice Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
Tropicana Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice is not vegan as it contains carmine. Carmine is basically crushed beetles. This is what gives the juice its ruby-red color. Note that their red grapefruit juice does not contain carmine – this grapefruit juice is just made of grapefruit.
When picking grapefruit juice, just watch for the word “ruby”.
Tropicana Farmstand Pomegranate Blueberry
All I could find on this was a customer response from the Tropicana customer support team. This stated that the Farmstand Pomegranate and Blueberry juice contains beef derivatives.
Looking at the ingredient list I can’t obviously see what the beef derivatives could be – the only ingredient I could see that could account for this is the natural flavors. Alternatively, it could be to do with the way it is processed.
It is also worth bearing in mind that this customer service response was from 2014 so it is possible that they have changed the recipe to remove the beef derivatives since then.
Tropicana Tropics Orange Strawberry Banana
Tropicana Tropics Orange Strawberry Banana also contains cochineal. This juice, unlike the ruby red grapefruit juice, is labeled as containing cochineal, and not “carmine”. “Cochineal” and “Carmine” are basically the same things (crushed beetles). In the US carmine or cochineal must be labeled on the bottle which at least makes it easy to spot. Outside of the US, it can be listed as – Crimson Lake, E120, Natural Red 4, and Carmine Lake just to name a few.
Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Strawberry Banana
The Pure Premium version of the Orange Strawberry Banana juice also contains cochineal. Not vegan.
Other Non-Vegan Tropicana Juices
In my research, I also came across this Reddit chain that shows cochineal to be found in some of their shelf-stable juices. I also had a look around at the ingredient lists of the shelf-stable juices and found the following two that also contain cochineal/carmine.
- Tropicana 100% Juice Medley – labeled as carmine
- Tropicana 100% Strawberry Orange – labeled as cochineal
I looked at the ingredients of their other red juices such as the Caribbean Sunset (which uses vegetable juice for color) and Cranberry Juice and couldn’t see carmine or cochineal on the labels.
Remember Tropicana pure orange juice (made from juice 100% orange juice) like this original no-pulp variety available on Amazon is always vegan.
Is Pepsi Vegan – Is 7UP Vegan?
PepsiCo owns the 7UP brand outside of the US. So, I decided to look at 7UP UK to see if it is vegan. At first glance, it looks like 7UP is vegan. I had a look at the ingredients on the UK 7UP website and couldn’t see anything that could make it not vegan.
It contains sugar, but most sugar in the UK is vegan – it tends to just be in the US that can be processed using bone char. No artificial colors are used so no routine animal testing to worry about. The ingredient label also states “lime and lemon natural flavors” rather than the generic “natural flavors” (which can be not vegan) so you don’t need to worry about that.
In my internet research, I did come across a report by a blogger back in 2014 claiming that 7UP in the UK contains gelatin. However, I got to the bottom of it when I finally found this statement on the 7UP UK website –
“Yes, the entire 7UP range is suitable for both vegans and vegetarians.”
Whatever the past situation was with 7UP, at least in the UK, it is now vegan.
Is Pepsi Vegan – Is Lipton Tea Vegan?
Lipton tea is produced by PepsiCo and Unilever via a partnership. The original black Lipton Tea is simply made from the Camellia Sinensis plant (you can buy it on Amazon here). It does not contain any animal ingredients. Lipton also, according to PETA, no longer tests on animals. Looking through the teas on their website it looks like the main ones to watch out for are any honey-based teas such as:
- Decaffeinated Honey Lemon Chamomile Green Tea – not vegan
- Honey Lemon Green Tea – not vegan
- Decaffeinated Honey Lemon Green Tea – not vegan
- Tea & Honey “To Go” Mango Pineapple – not vegan
- Tea & Honey “To Go” Blackberry Pomegranate – not vegan
These were the non-vegan Lipton teas I found. There may be more out there, but honey does tend to be found in the title making them easy to spot.
If you want to learn about Tea or Coffee and whether they are vegan then I cover both in my two posts: Is Tea Vegan? Time to Know the Complete Facts and Is Coffee Vegan? How to Find Out the Truth.
Is Pepsi Vegan – Is Naked Juice Vegan?
The following statement can be found on Naked Juices website –
“And to all of our vegan friends: You’ll be glad to know the majority of our products are also vegan* approved excluding our Protein, Half Naked, and Tropical Mango Probiotics skus as well as our Power C, D and Rainbow machines.”
So, let’s look at the non-vegan juices listed and try and work out why they are not vegan –
The Protein Range
The Protein range contains whey which is derived from milk, making it not vegan. Fear not though – if you want a vegan protein smoothie their Plant Protein range is made from protein from soy and peas and their indulgent Protein Range uses almond milk rather than whey.
I can’t seem to find a Half-Naked range. It must have been discontinued or isn’t available in the US.
Tropical Mango Probiotics
This is the ingredient list of the Tropical Mango Probiotics –
APPLE JUICE FROM CONCENTRATE (WATER, APPLE JUICE CONCENTRATE), MANGO PUREE, ORANGE JUICE, PINEAPPLE JUICE, BANANA PUREE, FRUCTOOLIGOSACCHARIDES, BIFIDOBACTERIUM, NATURAL FLAVOR
The two obvious ingredients to look at further are the two with super long names and which I have never heard of before!
Fructooligosaccharides are bacterium which is found in fruit and vegetables and are vegan. This then is not the non-vegan ingredient. It looks like the non-vegan ingredient might be Bifidobacterium as this is a bacterium that is often found in milk protein or could have been extracted from mammals (it is found naturally in mammals). Although I can’t be sure – it could be the natural flavor or even the way the juice is processed that makes it not vegan.
Power C Machine
Looking at the ingredients list for this one there isn’t anything that immediately stands out as not vegan
“APPLE JUICE FROM CONCENTRATE (WATER, APPLE JUICE CONCENTRATE), MANGO PUREE, ORANGE JUICE, GUAVA PUREE, PEACH PUREE, STRAWBERRY PUREE, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), NATURAL FLAVORS, ACEROLA JUICE POWDER, ROSEHIPS POWDER, ZINC OXIDE”
The most likely offender is “natural flavors” as these can either be derived from plants or from animals. It could also be the way that the smoothie is processed. For example, apple juice sometimes isn’t vegan as sometimes apple juice is clarified using fish bladders (isinglass).
This is a booster smoothie with vitamin D3 added so it must be the vitamin D3 that makes it not vegan. Vitamin D3 can be obtained from lanolin (grease) from sheep’s wool.
Vitamin D Machine
This smoothie also contains vitamin D3 which must be from lanolin making it not vegan.
If you want to try vegan Naked juice I recommend the strawberry banana, which is available on Amazon here.
Which Starbucks To Go Drinks Are Vegan?
Did you know that the Starbucks-To-Go Drinks range is owned by PepsiCo? No, neither did I.
Obviously, as you will have already guessed most of these drinks contain dairy milk and so are not vegan. It goes without saying that this is labeled on the ingredients list.
I did manage to find a few varieties of the range that do not contain milk. A few of these dairy-free options do contain sugar, which we do not know if it has been processed with bone char or not. A few of these milk-free options do also contain natural flavors (natural flavors can be derived from plants or animals).
For ease, I have provided a breakdown in the table below – I will leave it to your discretion if the sugar and/or natural flavors are a deal-breaker for you or not.
|Potential Vegan Starbucks To-Go Drinks||Is it Vegan?|
|Black Unsweetened Cold Brew||Yes, Vegan.|
|Nitro Cold Brew Black Unsweetened||Yes, Vegan.|
|Double Shot Cubano||No milk, but does contain sugar.|
|Double Shot Americano||No milk, but does contain sugar and natural flavors.|
|Nitro Cold Brew Dark Caramel||No milk, but does contain sugar and natural flavors.|
Want to read more about what Starbucks coffee shop drinks are vegan then check out the post I wrote on it – How to Actually Order Vegan Starbucks Drinks. Or do you just want to learn more about whether coffee generally is vegan? Then check out my post on it – Is Coffee Vegan? How to Find Out the Truth.
Is Pepsi Vegan – The Final Sip
Wow, Pepsi makes a lot of drinks. If you are a fan of Diet Pepsi (or Tropicana for that matter), then this article probably brought nothing but sad news into your life. The unfortunate reality is that for reasons no one currently knows why Diet Pepsi is not vegan in the UK. The good news is that you are good to go with regular Pepsi or Pepsi Max and it looks like Diet Pepsi is vegan in the US. Like Coca-Cola though, the story just doesn’t stop there. Pepsi makes a whole bunch of some of the most popular beverages around which means at some point you will come face to face with a PepsiCo drink. At least now you know which are vegan and which are not.
…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?
Do you want to find out more? Want to know if your favorite Soda is vegan? How about Cream Soda or Root Beer? What about that morning juice you go for each morning – think that is vegan? If you want to find out then check out some of my other articles in the below list.
- Is Soda Vegan? Revealing What You Need To Know
- Is Coca-Cola Vegan? Secrets To Know About Coca-Cola Drinks
- Is Orange Juice Vegan? Revealing Why You Need To Know
- Is Vitamin Water Vegan? How To Know The Difference
- Are Energy Drink Vegan? Complete Guide To Finding Out
- Is Tea Vegan? Time To Know The Complete Facts
- Is Coffee Vegan? How To Find Out The Truth
- Is Kombucha Vegan? The Complete Facts You Need To Know
- How To Find Out – Is Boba Vegan?