What drinks can vegans have? In this post, I am putting together the Vegan Bev HQ absolute guide to what drinks you can have as a vegan. In it, I will share all those non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks which you can have as a vegan. As a vegan, it can be hard to navigate what exactly is vegan and what isn’t. To help make your life as easy as possible I wanted to share with you the list of all the drinks you can have as a vegan. A helpful guide all in one place. Think of this as a quick and easy reference for you to exactly find out if that drink you are about to consume is vegan or not. This guide covers everything I know about vegan drinks from soda to coffee and all the way to whiskey, beer, and wine (to just name a few). So with further ado, what drinks can vegans have?
What Drinks Can Vegans Have?
Vegans cannot drink any drinks containing dairy, honey, carmine, vitamin D, fish gelatin, or ester gum. In terms of alcoholic drinks, vegans cannot drink most wines as wine is often filtered using non-vegan fining agents. Vegans can drink most beers and liquors as fining agents do not tend to be used in the production process.
How to use this guide?
I have divided the guide into vegan non-alcoholic drinks and vegan alcoholic drinks. Below is an index for you to use to navigate to any particularly relevant section you are looking for.
- Vegan Non-Alcoholic Drinks
- Vegan Alcoholic Drinks
Vegan Non-Alcoholic Drinks
I have written a whole post on what non-alcoholic drinks vegans cannot have (you can find that here: What Drinks Are Not Vegan? Complete Guide Of Drinks To Avoid).
Non-Vegan Ingredients in Non-Alcoholic Drinks
To summarize for you, there are several essential ingredients that can make any non-alcoholic drink unsuitable for vegans. The ingredients you need to look out for are:
– Carmine/cochineal (crushed beetles);
– fish gelatin; or
– vitamin D from lanolin (sheep’s wool).
Soda, juice, squash, cream soda, sports drink, root beer, energy drink, tea, or coffee can contain any one of these ingredients and therefore not be vegan.
With non-alcoholic drinks, it tends to be non-vegan ingredients that can make a drink not vegan. Alcohol, in comparison, is usually not vegan due to non-vegan processing rather than non-vegan ingredients. You can read more about drinks that are not vegan here (What Drinks Are Not Vegan? Complete Guide Of Drinks To Avoid) but the purpose of this post is about what drinks ARE vegan, so let’s dig in.
Vegan Drinks and Sugar
I can’t talk about most types of vegan drinks without mentioning the “S-word”…sugar.
If you are vegan, you need to be particularly aware of the presence of sugar in drinks. That is because in the US a lot of drinks are sweetened using cane sugar. And cane sugar is often processed using bone char making it not vegan.
Bone char is exactly as it sounds – charred animal bones and it makes the sugar white.
For some vegans, this is a deal-breaker. For others, it isn’t since it is so hard to know if sugar has been processed with bone char or not. If this is an issue for you, then just be aware when reading the below post that any drinks here in the US which contain sugar could have been processed with bone char.
The only way to avoid any potential non-vegan cane sugar is to drink sugar-free drinks or just drinks that list the sugar as beet, raw, or organic (it is just cane sugar that is processed with bone char).
If you are based outside of the US, you probably do not need to worry about bone char sugar as the use of bone char is much more heavily regulated outside of the US.
Can Vegans Drink Soda?
Vegans can drink most sodas.
This includes the basic Coca-Cola sodas in Northern America (such as all Coca-Cola varieties, Fanta, and Sprite), Pepsi, and Pepsi-Max. Diet Pepsi is, however, not vegan in the UK – although it is not known why this is.
Main Non-Vegan Ingredients in Sodas
The main non-vegan ingredients to watch out for on other soda labels are cochineal/carmine, honey, vitamin D3, and ester gum. Here is a breakdown of why these ingredients are not vegan:
- Cochineal/carmine is essentially crushed bugs that can give a soda a red hue, so watch out for that ingredient in red sodas. Here in the US, it has to be labeled as cochineal or carmine, but elsewhere in the world, it can be labeled as one of many things – E120, crimson lake, carmine lake, or natural red 4 to name a few.
- Honey obviously comes from bees and so is not vegan.
- Vitamin D3 – most vitamin D3 comes from lanolin which is the oil in sheep’s wool.
- Artificial colors – these are tested on animals (this can be an issue for some vegans but not others).
- Ester gum – ester gum is a stabilizer made from glycerol – most glycerol is derived from animals.
Vegan & Non-Vegan Coca-Cola Sodas
Below is a table summarizing the main Coca-Cola and Pepsi brands of vegan and non-vegan sodas.
|Vegan Coca-Cola Sodas||Non-Vegan Coca-Cola Sodas||Vegan Pepsi Sodas||Non-Vegan Pepsi Sodas|
|Coke Original||Lilt*||Pepsi||Diet Pepsi|
|Diet Coke||Lilt Zero*||Pepsi Max|
*Lilt and Lilt Zero are not vegan as they contain fish gelatin (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 read more about what sodas are vegan check out the following posts –
Can Vegans Drink Cream Soda?
Vegans can drink most cream soda. The name cream soda comes from the presence of vanilla and not the use of cream in the drink. The big cream soda brands are vegan, such as A&W, Barqs, and Mug cream sodas.
However, there are a few potentially non-vegan ingredients to watch out for:
- Sugar (as it could have been processed with bone char);
- Red 40 (normally just found in red cream soda) is routinely tested on animals. Bone char processed sugar and artificial colors are ingredients some strict vegans won’t have, but for a lot of vegans, it’s not a deal-breaker.
- Honey. One ingredient that is a deal-breaker for most vegans is honey. Honey can be found in a few cream sodas such as Sprecher’s cream soda and Henry Weinhard’s Vanilla Cream Soda.
- Restaurant Made Cream Soda. Most cream sodas in restaurants are not vegan due to restaurants adding ice cream so if ordering a cream soda in the restaurant make sure to double-check with your server if it’s vegan.
You can read more about whether all cream sodas are vegan here – Is Cream Soda Vegan? Unlock All You Need To Know.
Can Vegans Drink Root Beer?
As a general rule, vegans can drink most root beers including the store-bought versions of four of the most well-known and popular brands – Barqs, Mug, A&W, and Virgil’s. The main potentially non-vegan ingredients to watch out for are
- Honey (e.g in Joe’s root beer and lost rhino root beer);
- Sugar processed with bone char; and
- Dairy ice cream in root beer floats in restaurants.
You can read more about whether all root beers are vegan here – Is Root Beer Vegan? Unlock The Hidden Root Cause.
Can Vegans Drink Boba Tea?
Pure boba pearls tend to be vegan – their chewiness is not derived from gelatin, but instead is derived from tapioca which is extracted from the cassava root. There are, however, a few non-vegan ingredients to watch for when ordering a boba tea or bubble tea drink including:
- Dairy milk (order your boba tea with non-dairy milk instead);
- Honey teas (most of the actual teas in boba shops are vegan but make sure to avoid any teas with honey in the name);
- Whey-based creamers (powdered creamers often contain whey which is derived from dairy so make sure to ask);
- Boba soaked in honey (some boba shops soak their boba pearls in honey so always double-check with the server); and
- Non-Vegan Toppings. Some of the toppings in boba shops are not vegan such as boba pudding as it contains eggs.
If you love a trip to your local boba shop and want to read more about how to make sure your boba tea order is vegan, then you can here – How To Find Out – Is Boba Vegan?.
Can Vegans Drink Kombucha?
Vegans can drink most kombuchas. This is because kombucha is simply made of fermented tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast. The main non-vegan ingredient to watch out for is sugar processed with bone char. Most of the main kombucha brands are vegan, including but not limited to, Health-Aid, Brew Doctor, GT, Kevita, Equinox, and Humm.
You can read more about whether kombucha is always vegan here – Is Kombucha Vegan? The Complete Facts You Need To Know.
Can Vegans Drink Sports Drinks?
Most Vitamin Waters and Sports Drinks are vegan. Glacéau’s Vitamin Water here in the US is vegan.
Vegans should be aware that Zero Sunshine and Multi V flavors of Glaceau Vitaminwater contain vitamin D from Lanolin in sheep wool and so are not vegan. These two flavors are just available in the UK.
Gatorade, Powerade and Propel Fitness Water are all listed on PETA’S list of approved vegan beverages. Potential non-vegan ingredients to watch out for in sports drinks are:
- Vitamin D as they often contain Lanolin as is the case with Sparkling Ice;
- Sugar processed with bone char; and
- Artificial colors (as these are tested on animals – this may be a deal-breaker for some vegans but not others).
Can Vegans Drink Energy Drinks?
As a general rule, vegans can drink most Energy Drinks. The Taurine (an amino acid associated with improved athletic performance) found in most major energy drink brands is synthetically made and is therefore vegan.
The main ingredient found in some energy drinks that some vegans object to is artificial color as this is routinely tested on animals.
You can read more about it here – Are Energy Drinks Vegan? Complete Guide To Finding Out.
Can Vegans Drink Juice?
Believe it or not, “juice” is a drink that can often be not vegan! 100% juice is of course always vegan, but the following ingredients are sometimes added to juice making it not vegan:
- Vitamin D3 – is often made from Lanolin – a grease that sheep secrete to make their wool waterproof. Lanolin is high in vitamin D3 which is why it is used as a fortifying ingredient in some juices. Avoid any juices that are fortified with vitamin D3;
- Fish – avoid any juices that are labeled as heart-healthy as they often have fish oils added to them. This is the case with Tropicana Healthy Heart which contains dish oils and gelatin. These fish oils provide the omega 3 making the juice heart-healthy;
- Carmine – be careful of any red-colored juices as they may have carmine added to give it its red hue. Carmine is essentially crushed bugs. Here in the US, it has to be labeled as carmine or cochineal on the label. An example of a juice that contains it is Minute Maid Ruby Red Grapefruit Drink;
- Fish Bladders. Sometimes apple juice is filtered using fish bladders to give it that clear and transparent appearance.
You can read more about the surprising number of juices that are not vegan here:
Can Vegans Drink Squash?
Vegans can drink most squashed but should be aware that Kia-Ora Orange Squash No Added Sugar and Schweppes Orange Squash are not vegan as they contain fish gelatin. These are used as a stabilizer for the beta carotene color. These are just sold in the UK and Ireland so if you live there watch out for those squashes
Can Vegan Drink Ginger Ale?
Vegans can drink most ginger ales. Most brands use high fructose corn syrup (which is vegan) to sweeten their ginger ales. The main potential non-vegan ingredient in ginger ale is ‘natural flavors’ as this could potentially include honey.
You can read more about it here – Is Ginger Ale Vegan? Everything You Need To Know.
Can Vegans Drink Coffee?
As a general rule, coffee itself is vegan (except for Kopi Luwak or as it is also known Weasel Coffee). Coffee is simply the by-product of roasting coffee beans from the Coffea plant.
As a general rule, to order vegan coffee in a coffee shop make sure to substitute dairy milk for plant-based milk, hold the whip, avoid any toppings and avoid most sauces such as caramel, white chocolate, and pumpkin spice.
Any specialty drinks or drinks with “fun” or different sounding names such as an “Irish Nut Caramel Whip” should always be doubled checked with the barista. If you want to know how to exactly order a vegan coffee every time, then check out my guide for ordering vegan coffee here – Is Coffee Vegan? How To Find Out The Truth.
You can read the following posts on the best vegan drinks at the main coffee chains:
- Vegan Drinks at Dunkin’ Donuts – How To Actually Order Vegan
- How To Order Vegan Starbucks Drinks Every Time
- Which Dutch Bros Drinks Are Vegan? The Complete Guide
- Vegan Drinks at Peet’s Coffee – How To Know What’s Vegan
- Vegan Drinks At Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf – How To Order Vegan
- Vegan Drinks at Costa – How To Always Order Vegan
- The Top 10 Best Vegan Drinks at Tim Hortons
Can Vegans Drink Tea?
As a general rule, traditional pure Tea made from the Camellia Sinensis plant is vegan. This is because it is simply leaves brewed in water. However, these teas can be made non-vegan with the addition of dairy milk or honey.
Separately, Herbal Teas are not made from Camellia Sinensis. Instead, they are flavored teas made from fruits, flowers, spices, and herbs. Some Herbal Teas are not vegan (the non-vegan herbals teas will often, but not always, have honey in the name). You can read more about it here – Is Tea Vegan? Time To Know The Complete Facts.
Can Vegans Drink Milk?
Vegans cannot drink dairy milk as it comes from cows. In fact, vegans cannot drink any milk which comes from an animal (such as goat milk). There is a huge selection of vegan milk available nowadays – usually made from nuts or seeds. Oat, almond, soy, and coconut milk are very widely available. If you fancy drinking a slightly more unusual vegan milk then check out the posts I wrote on:
- Best Flax Milk Brands You Need To Know About
- How To Find The Best Hemp Milk Available
- How To Pick The Best Vegan Half & Half Milks
- What Is The Best Cashew Milk Out There
- How To Pick The Best Macadamia Milk
Vegan Alcoholic Drinks
In this section, I will be talking about alcoholic drinks. Like the above section for non-alcoholic drinks, I will go through all the main categories of alcoholic drinks and let you know exactly what vegan versions of the drinks you can drink.
I have already written a post on this which you can read here What Alcoholic Drinks Are Not Vegan? The Complete Guide, but below is a summary of what alcohol vegans can drink.
Can Vegans Drink Wine?
Most wines are not vegan due to the use of non-vegan fining agents in the wine filtration process. However, there are vegan wines out there, and increasingly we are starting to see vegan wines even be labeled as vegan. You can read more about the different varieties of vegan wine here:
- 13 Of The Best Vegan Red Wine By Grape Varieties
- The Best Vegan White Wines And Where To Buy Them
- 10 Of The Best Vegan Rosé Wines (including Sparkling & Boxed)
- 5 Vegan Boxed Wines You Need To Try (& Those To Avoid)
- The Best Cheap Vegan Wines Under $5
- Best Vegan Organic Wines (and How To Know What To Look For)
- The Best Vegan Wine Subscriptions and Vegan Wine Gifts
- Over 100 Of The Best Vegan Wines
- Is Champagne Vegan? Revealing The Truth Behind The Bubbles
Can Vegans Drink Beer?
Most beer is in fact vegan. This is because unlike wine most beer is not fined. You can read more about it here: Is Beer Vegan – Introducing The Secret To Finding Out. Also, if you live in the UK make sure to check this post out: Vegan Beer UK – How To Pick Vegan Beer in the UK. If you shop at Trader Joe’s make sure to check this post out: 10 Vegan Beers at Trader Joe’s You Need To Try.
Can Vegans Drink Liquor?
Most liquors are vegan. In fact, a rough and ready calculation of vegan vs non-vegan liquors on Barnivore.com shows the following:
|Liquor||% Not Vegan||% Vegan|
If you would like to read more about whether liquor generally is vegan, you can here: Is Liquor Vegan? How To Actually Pick Vegan Liquor. As a general rule most, unflavored clear liquors are vegan. Now let’s dig into the six main liquors one by one.
Can Vegans Drink Vodka?
Most unflavored and fruity vodkas are vegan. The main non-vegan vodkas to watch out for are those that are creamy flavored (e.g., chocolate, coffee, coconut, and caramel) as they contain dairy and honey-flavored vodka as they contain honey. Occasionally a vodka is fined with non-vegan fining agents, but this is rare.
You can read more about it here – Is Vodka Vegan? Hidden Surprises To Know About In Vodka and 10 Vegan Vodkas Brands You Need To Know.
Can Vegans Drink Tequila?
As a general rule, most tequilas are vegan. The only non-vegan tequilas to watch out for are cream tequilas which contain cream, as well as the occasional brand such as Tres Agaves which states their Tequilas are not vegan. Oh, and tequila does not contain worms.
If you want to learn more about Tequila I cover everything you need to know in these two posts: Is Tequila Vegan? How To Really Pick Vegan Tequila and 10 Vegan Tequila Brands – Vegan Tequila Brands You Need To Know.
Can Vegans Drink Brandy?
Most brandies are vegan. A small number of brandies are not vegan due to the following ingredients:
- Cochineal (crushed bugs), most commonly used in cherry brandy products;
- Non-Vegan sugar; or
- Non-vegan fining agents are used in production.
You can read more about it in Is Brandy Vegan? How To Always Pick Vegan Brandy post.
Can Vegans Drink Whiskey?
Most whiskey is vegan. The main non-vegan whiskies are whiskey creams that contain dairy and those that contain honey. You can read more about it in Is Whiskey Vegan? How To Actually Pick Vegan Whiskey post.
Can Vegans Drink Gin?
Most gin is vegan. The main non-vegan ingredient that can be found in gin is honey. There are a few gins that contain ants, cochineal (crushed beetles) for color or have been filtered with non-vegan fining agents but this is rare. You can read more about it here – Is Gin Vegan? How To Really Tell Vegan Gins Apart.
If you are a fan of the classic G&T then be warned – Schweppes tonic is not vegan. That means be extra careful to choose a vegan tonic for that mixer.
You can find out why Schweppes is not vegan in our post: Is Coca-Cola Vegan? Secrets To Know About Coca-Cola Drinks and for tonic water alternatives read: Is Gin Vegan? How To Really Tell Vegan Gins Apart.
Can Vegans Drink Rum?
As a general rule, most rums are vegan. The main reasons for some rums not being vegan are honey or dairy as well as non-vegan sugar. It tends to be flavored rums that sometimes are not vegan – most clear unflavored rums are vegan. You can read more about it here – Is Rum Vegan? Surprises You Need To Know About In Rum.
Can Vegans Drink Cocktails?
Most cocktails are vegan as-is. The main non-vegan ingredients to watch out for in cocktails are non-vegan liquors, egg whites, anchovies, dairy, and non-vegan sugar. Virtually any cocktail can be made vegan if you want to know how you can read my post – Vegan Cocktails – How To Always Get A Vegan Cocktail.
If you are interested in whipping up delicious vegan cocktails, then make sure to check out the posts I have written on vegan cocktails:
- Vegan Bloody Mary – Everything You Need To Know To Make The Best Vegan Bloody Mary;
- How To Make Vegan Rum Cocktails;
- How To Make Vegan Whiskey, Gin, Amaretti & Pisco Sours;
- How To Make Vegan Vodka Cocktails; and
- How To Make Vegan Gin Cocktails (Fizz, Sours, G&T, Martini & Negroni).
What Drinks CAN Vegans Have – The Final Sip
What drinks can vegans have? The great news is that as a vegan you can have A LOT of drinks. This is especially the case for sodas. A lot of mainstream drinks like Cocoa-Cola and Pepsi are vegan (the exception is Diet Pepsi in the UK) but there are a few cases where drinks like orange juice are not vegan due to the presence of fish oils for extra Omega-oils. As for Alcoholic Drinks – it is wines that can present the biggest issue for vegans. Most beers will be vegan, and if the liquor isn’t cream-based, most liquors will be completely vegan. This is because the distillation process doesn’t require the use of fining agents. The great news is that manufacturers are increasingly trying to “veganize” drinks. More recipes are changing to accommodate vegans and labels are becoming more and more vegan friendly – even in the very traditional wine space.
…Now I Know.
Beverage makers may change ingredients and/or manufacturing processes. Always double-check ingredients before purchasing any beverages.
Please Drink Responsibly.
Like What You Are Reading
Need to know more? Think your favorite beer or wine is vegan? How about that morning coffee you always have or your favorite Starbucks drink – think those are vegan? Time to find out – check out some of my other posts below: