Is Soda Vegan? Yep, it’s time to answer that question. Whether you call it “soda”, “pop”, “fizzy pop”, “fizzy drink” (the UK way of saying it), “soda pop”, “fizzy juice” (yes, they call it that in Scotland), “soft drinks”, “tonic”, or just the generic “I’ll have a coke, please”, Soda remains one of the most popular drinks in the World. Half of Americans drink one or more glasses of soda a day (Gallup), with 7 percent saying they drink four or more sodas a day. In the US alone the Soda industry is worth a whopping $39 billion, with around 604 businesses in the field employing around 66,379 people (Ibisworld). It got us thinking – for years, we had just been drinking soda – but Is Soda Vegan?
Is Soda Vegan?
As a general rule, most sodas are vegan. This includes the basic Coca-Cola sodas in Northern America (such all Coca-Cola varieties, Fanta and Sprite) and Pepsi and Pepsi-Max. Diet Pepsi is, however, not vegan in the UK. The main non-vegan ingredients to watch out for on other soda labels are cochineal/carmine, honey, vitamin D3, and ester gum.
Is it Soda or is it Pop?
Wait, is it Soda or is it Pop? There are a whole host of answers on this topic. Even websites dedicated to it. The most helpful and insightful is Pop vs Soda a website set up to survey and find out exactly what Soda is called in every part of America and Canada. The results – “Soda” remains the most popular term for the drink in the US and Canada with 40.89% of 401,414 respondents saying that was the term used in their local area. In a close second is “Pop” with 39.28%, and in third is “Coke” with 14.57%.
“Soda” it is then.
Is Soda Vegan – What is Soda?
Soda is the term used to reference any sweet, carbonated, non-alcoholic drink. These types of sodas are also referred to as “soft drinks” distinguishing them from “hard drinks” which refers to those types of drinks containing alcohol.
IBISWORLD defines the Soda Industry as:
Companies in the Soda Production industry manufacture soft drinks by blending various ingredients with artificially carbonated water. This industry also includes energy beverages. Producers of bottled water, juices, and ready-to-drink teas and coffees are excluded from this industry.
Is Soda Vegan – Top 10 Sodas
To make it clear when we are talking about Sodas, we are talking about some of the most popular drinks on the market. The ones we have all heard of since the moment we entered this world. The Top 10 selling of these are below (we also list which of these are vegan and which are not).
|Position||Soda Brand||Is It Vegan|
|5||Original Mountain Dew||No animal ingredients but it does contain artificial colors (see below)|
|7||Diet Pepsi||Not Vegan in the UK|
|10||Diet Mountain Dew||No animal ingredients but it does contain artificial colors (see below)|
Which Sodas Are Not Vegan?
The good news is that, yes, most soda is vegan. However, like with most things, there are a few exceptions, and particular exceptions you need to look out for are –
- Cochineal/Carmine – this is a red coloring derived from the cochineal bug. To know if your Soda contains this you need to check the ingredients list of any RED-TINTED soda. There have been many ways carmine/cochineal has been labeled globally and historically. Words to look out for on the label include: “E120”, “natural red 4”, and “crimson lake”. US manufacturers are now required to list carmine/cochineal by name on the label so always be on the lookout for it. Although more juice than a Soda, it is worth noting that Ruby Red Grapefruit Drink contains cochineal.
- Vitamin D3 – Vitamin D3 is derived from sheep’s wool. Vitamin D3 can be found in energy and sports drinks – so make sure to double-check the ingredient lists of any energy or sports drinks.
- Artificial Colorings – Some artificial colorings are tested on animals. Colorings such as yellow 5, red 40, and blue 1 (which can be found in some Mountain Dew flavors) are not derived from animals but they are tested on animals.
- Honey – honey is often used in specialty Sodas (Sprecher’s Cream Soda uses it for example). Some ginger ales are also sweetened with honey (but you do not need to worry about Canada Dry Ginger Ale which is vegan and can be bought on Amazon here). The same goes for some root beers which are also sweetened with honey (such as Joe’s Root Beer and Lost Rhino Root Beer).
- Ester gum – this is a stabilizer made from glycerol which is normally derived from animals. It tends to be used in orange soda – Sunkist Orange Soda uses it.
- Cream Soda – If you are ordering a cream soda in a restaurant, they will often add vanilla ice cream to the drink or sometimes they will make their own cream soda using dairy or egg so make sure to double-check ingredients if ordering a cream soda in a restaurant.
- Dairy – Although most sodas do not contain dairy, dairy can occasionally be found in some soft drinks, for example, Monster Coffee Energy Drinks contain cream.
- Sugar – The most complicated issue for Soda… sugar. Sugar is a notoriously difficult and grey area for vegans to navigate as some sugars are filtered using bone char. There is no bone char present in these sugars – the bone char is just used in the production process. That still doesn’t make it vegan, though. The hard part is that it is difficult to know if the sugar used in the Soda has been filtered using bone char or not. The only way to ensure it hasn’t is to only buy soft drinks which use organic, raw, beet or unrefined sugar or alternatively high fructose corn syrup.
- Orange Juice – Okay, you got us. Orange juice is not technically a Soda (but wait what if it is carbonated?), but this point is just some good bonus knowledge to include. Are you ready? Some Orange Juice contains Fish. Yes, Fish. Tropicana Heart Health Orange Juice contains fish oils and fish gelatin from Tilapia, Sardines, and Anchovies.
Is Vegan Soda – Soda Brand Breakdown
To try and make this article useful for your everyday Soda drinking life we wanted to break down the drinks which are and are not vegan made by the two biggest players in the industry: Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
Yes, most Coca-Cola drinks sold in Northern America are vegan (according to Coca-Cola). This includes all the best-known Coca-cola Soda Brands such as Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Fanta, and Sprite (these links will take you through to the soda listings on Amazon).
Vegan & Non-Vegan Coca-Cola Drinks
|Vegan Coca Cola Sodas|
|Non-Vegan Coca-Cola Sodas|
|Diet Coke||Lilt Zero*|
*Lilt and Lilt Zero are not vegan as they contain fish gelatin (a stabilizer for the beta-carotene color). Both drinks are commonly found outside of the US and are sold in the UK, Ireland, Gibraltar, and Seychelles.
If you want to learn more about Coca-Cola, I break down all of Coca-Cola drinks in my blog here: Is Coca-Cola Vegan? Secrets to Know About Coca-Cola Drinks.
PepsiCo has confirmed that regular Pepsi and Pepsi Max are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. PepsiCo UK has stated that Diet Pepsi is only suitable for vegetarians as it contains traces of ingredients that are not suitable for people following a vegan diet. PepsiCo has not announced what those ingredients are due to commercial reasons. Just because Diet Pepsi is not vegan in the UK doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t vegan here in the US. There is no mention of it on the US website so I have emailed PepsiCo asking if Diet Pepsi here in the US is vegan. I received the following response –
“There are no animal by-products in our Pepsi products.”
So it looks like Diet Pepsi in the US is vegan but Diet Pepsi in the UK is not vegan.
If you want to learn more about Pepsi, I break down all of PepsiCo’s drinks in my blog here: Is Pepsi Vegan? Secrets to Know About Pepsi Drinks.
Is Soda Vegan? – The Final Sip
The final take away, if you have a burning love of everything Diet Pepsi and you are a UK-based vegan then your relationship with this Soda may have just come to an end. Other than that, the answer to “Is Soda Vegan” is that yes, most sodas are vegan, but there are a few things to always check for including red colorings (they are made from beetles), honey, artificial colorings, and the type of sugar used. But, hey, most importantly Sprite is still vegan!
…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 this article, want to find out more? Want to know if your favorite wine, or spirit, or even if your morning coffee (yes, your morning coffee) is vegan? Then check out some of our other articles and sign up for our newsletter below:
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