Vegan Drinks at Taco Bell – yes, Taco Bell. Who doesn’t love a Taco, especially on a Tuesday (that’s Taco Tuesday, the day we dedicated to eating Tacos if you didn’t know). But, what about how you wash down your favorite Taco? Well, that’s why today we are going to break down everything you need to know about ordering vegan beverages from Taco Bell – the “fast food” chain that popularized Tacos across the United States. Fun fact, when Taco Bell originally opened in 1962 the Tacos cost 19 cents. Full disclosure, before moving to Southern California I must admit Tacos were not really a big part of my life, something which quickly changed. Whilst this is not a food blog, there is a whole range of amazing vegan tacos available, and having researched Taco Bell they have a lot of ways you can vegan-ize their food so big thumbs up to them. Anyway, back to the drinks. Similar to what I have done for McDonald’s, in this blog we are going to break down all the vegan drinks at Taco Bell so you can always be sure to have the perfect beverage to go with your Tacos.
What Drinks Are Vegan At Taco Bell?
There are vegan drinks available at Taco Bell. Taco Bell’s popular Mountain Dew Freeze does not contain any animal-derived ingredients and is vegan. In comparison, Taco Bell’s Wild Strawberry Freeze contains confectioners glaze and is not vegan. Taco Bell also has some vegan fountain sodas, as well as vegan hot and iced coffee, and vegan iced tea.
Taco Bell and Pepsi
We can’t talk about Taco Bell without mentioning Pepsi. In 1978, Pepsi purchased Taco Bell for a whopping (at the time) $125 Million. If you read my post on Vegan Drinks at McDonald’s (Vegan Drinks at McDonald’s – The Complete Guide For Vegans) you will know that McDonald’s loves Cocoa-Cola. Well, at Taco Bell it is the opposite. Taco Bell (not unsurprisingly) loves Pepsi. This means most of the drinks you are going to find at Taco Bell will be Pepsi branded drinks.
- Is Coca-Cola Vegan? Secrets To Know About Coca-Cola Drinks
- Is Pepsi Vegan? Secrets To Know About Pepsi Drinks
Vegan Drinks at Taco Bell – Are the Freezes Vegan?
To start with, I wanted to talk about one of the most popular drinks at Taco Bell – the Freezes. Freezes, if you haven’t tried one, are frozen brightly colored slushy-style drinks. Taco Bell have four flavors of Freezes – Cherry Twilight, Wild Strawberry, Blue Raspberry, and Mountain Dew Baja Blast. Looking into these flavors there are a couple of potentially non-vegan ingredients you need to know about from the get-go.
1. Natural Flavors:
All four Freezes contain natural flavors. Natural flavors can either be from animal sources or from plant sources, so you never truly know if natural flavors are vegan or not. Honestly, with regards to Taco Bell’s Freeze I wouldn’t worry about natural flavors – since all the Freezes are fruit flavors it seems unlikely they would not be vegan (although there is always a chance they could come from honey). Natural flavors would be more of a potential concern if the flavor itself is a creamy style flavor like caramel, toffee, butterscotch, etc. I go into detail on what you need to know about Natural Flavors in my posts Is Root Beer Vegan? Unlock The Hidden Root Cause and Is Cream Soda Vegan? Unlock All You Need To Know.
2. Artificial Colors
Unsurprisingly all four freezes contain artificial colors (I mean what did you expect – have you ever seen a blue raspberry in real life?!). Artificial colors in terms of ingredients are vegan as they are made in a lab. Artificial colors are, however, routinely tested on animals, so some strict vegans avoid them.
Taco Bell Freeze – Individual Flavor Break Down
In this section, I will break down each of the four Freezes flavors.
|Vegan Taco Bell Freezes||Taco Bell Freezes that Contain Sugar||Non-Vegan Taco Bell Freezes|
|Baja Blast Freeze*||Cherry Twilight Freeze*||Wild Strawberry Freeze (contains confectioner’s glaze)*|
|Blue Raspberry Freeze*|
*All Taco Bell Freezes contain artificial colors.
Is Taco Bell’s Cherry Twilight Freeze Vegan
Cherry Twilight Freeze is basically Taco Bell’s Blue Raspberry Freeze (see below) with cherry syrup added. The Blue Raspberry Freeze is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, but the cherry syrup contains sugar. You never know if sugar has been processed with bone char or not. Some vegans avoid sugar (and will only have sugar labeled as organic, raw, or beet) whilst others are fine with consuming it. For the Cherry Twilight Freeze whether it is suitable for you depends on if you are comfortable consuming sugar (and artificial colors).
Is Taco Bell’s Wild Strawberry Freeze Vegan
This is the only Freeze flavor that is explicitly not vegan as it contains confectioner’s glaze. Confectioner’s glaze sounds pretty and vegan, right? Wrong. It is basically shellac which is hardened lac bug secretions. Not vegan.
Is Taco Bell’s Blue Raspberry Freeze Vegan
The Blue Raspberry Freeze is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup so does not contain potential bone char processed sugar. This is as long as you are a vegan who is fine with artificial colors. If you are then you can enjoy a Taco Bell Blue Raspberry Freeze.
Is Taco Bell Baja Blast Freeze Vegan?
Is the fan-favorite Mountain Dew Freeze vegan? Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup so does not contain potential bone-char sugar. If you are a vegan who is comfortable consuming artificial colors, you can enjoy a Taco Bell Baja Blast Freeze.
Vegan Drinks at Taco Bell – Fountain Drinks
Since being owned by Pepsi, Taco Bell only carries a selection of PepsiCo fountain sodas. A few things you need to know about Pepsi brand drinks:
- Most of the PepsiCo fountain drinks are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup rather than sugar so no bone char concerns in most of the fountain drinks.
- Some of the drinks contain natural flavors. This is the description of natural flavors on PepsiCo’s website:
“Natural flavors are obtained from essences or extracts of substances found in nature such as spices, fruits, fruit juices, vegetables, or herbs.”
Based on the above two points and my previous research on Pepsi Drinks (see Is Pepsi Vegan? Secrets To Know About Pepsi Drinks) I think it can be assumed that any natural flavors are vegan.
Now let’s look at each one individually.
Is Pepsi Vegan?
Pepsi is vegan. You can read more about it here – Is Pepsi Vegan? Secrets To Know About Pepsi Drinks.
Is Pepsi Zero Sugar Vegan?
Pepsi Zero Sugar is vegan.
Is Diet Pepsi Vegan?
Here is where it gets a bit more complicated. The following statement can 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 due to “commercially sensitive” information.
There is also 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 (as the drink formulas can change from country to country). 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.”
Based on this it is looking like Diet Pepsi here in the US is vegan, but Diet Pepsi in the UK is not vegan. It looks like the fountain Diet Pepsi at Taco Bell is vegan then.
Is Mountain Dew Vegan?
Three are four Mountain Dew fountain drinks available at Taco bell – Mountain Dew, Mountain Dew Baja Blast, Mountain Dew Baja Blast Zero Sugar, and Mountain Blast Kickstart Orange Citrus. Mountain Dew does not contain any ingredients derived from animals. However, Mountain Dew does contain artificial colors which some vegans avoid as they are routinely tested on animals.
The only one of the four Mountain Dews that is sweetened with sugar (rather than high fructose corn syrup) is the original Mountain Dew. As already discussed, this could be a deal-breaker for some vegans due to the potential for sugar to have been processed with bone char.
I also noticed that the Mountain Dew Kickstart Orange Citrus contains “glycerol ester of rosin“, which I know potentially is not vegan. I found the following definition of “glycerol ester of rosin” on PepsiCo’s Website:
“Glycerol Ester of Wood Rosin is a purified rosin from pine trees that is combined with glycerin to form glycerol esters to make it more soluble.”
So far so good – that sounds vegan. But then I found the following definition of glycerin on PepsiCo’s website:
“Glycerin is a simple polyol compound that can be sourced from plants or animals and can be used in creating flavors.”
Suddenly it doesn’t look so vegan. I have emailed PepsiCo asking if the glycerin in their glycerol ester of rosin is vegan. I will update this if I hear anything useful back.
Is Sierra Mist Vegan?
Sierra Mist is vegan.
Is Gatorade Vegan?
There is G2 Gatorade Fruit Punch on the Taco Bell drinks menu. Normally Gatorade is vegan – Regular Gatorade is even listed on PETA’s list of vegan beverages. However, because this is a different variant of Gatorade I decided to investigate further. I discovered that G2 Gatorade Fruit Punch contains sugar (which could be an issue for some vegans) as well as glycerol ester of rosin (which based on the above may also be a potentially non-vegan ingredient.
Is Brisk Mango Fiesta Vegan?
Brisk Mango Fiesta is another fountain drink that contains glycerol ester of rosin which could be not vegan. I will update this post if I hear back from PepsiCo on the glycerin in their glycerol ester of rosin.
Is Tropicana Pink Lemonade Vegan?
Tropicana Pink Lemonade is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. It contains red 40 which may be an issue for some vegans due to animal testing. It also contains glycerol ester of rosin which as discussed above can be either from animal or plant sources.
There are several Tropicana drinks that are not vegan (mainly due to cochineal and fish) – PepsiCo has disclosed that these drinks are not vegan. However, Tropicana Pink Lemonade has never been flagged by PepsiCo as one of their non-vegan drinks (see my post Is Pepsi Vegan? Secrets To Know About Pepsi Drinks) which makes me think that the glycerol ester of rosin may be vegan. Again, I will update you if I hear anything back from PepsiCo on this.
Are the Teas and Coffees at Taco Bell Vegan?
Taco Bell has three tea/coffee drinks on the menu – hot coffee, iced coffee, and Lipton Unsweetened Iced Tea. I must admit I find it a bit off Taco Bell offers hot and iced coffee, but I guess it is because they also offer breakfast items. The good news is that it looks like all of the teas and coffee at Taco Bell are vegan – as long as you get them with plant-based milk (which Taco Bell does not do) or black.
This is rainforest-certified vegan coffee, so yes, it is vegan as long as you get it with plant-based milk (which Taco Bell doesn’t do) or black. If you would like to read more about if all coffee is vegan, (which it isn’t always) you can here – Is Coffee Vegan? How To Find Out The Truth.
This is an iced version of the above rainforest-certified vegan coffee. It is vegan, as long as you get it with plant-based milk (which Taco Bell doesn’t do) or black.
This is just made of water, orange pekoe and pekoe cut iced tea. It is vegan. If you would like to read more about if all tea is vegan, you can here – Is Tea Vegan? Time To Know The Complete Facts.
Vegan Drinks at Taco Bell – The Final Sip
Writing this blog, there are a lot of similarities to the article I wrote on McDonald’s (Vegan Drinks at McDonald’s – The Complete Guide For Vegans). I mean, honestly, what were you expecting? Taco Bell is a chain of 7,072 stores owned by PepsiCo. That said, if you avoid the Wild Strawberry Freeze (because that contains lac bugs) a lot of the remaining drinks are vegan at Taco Bell. I personally, consider that a win. You can even grab yourself a black coffee there – though that is not unusual. I am yet to find out how black coffee could not be vegan. No, wait, I lie. The world’s most expensive coffee, Civet Coffee, turns out is not vegan because it is produced from Weasels. You have literally heard of everything now. On a side note, we should support Taco Bell for giving the option for a lot of their food to be vegan-ized. Thank you, Taco Bell.
…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
Want to know what is and is not vegan at other coffee chains and restaurants, such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coffee Bean, Dunkin’ Donuts, Peet’s, or Dutch Bros. If you do, then check out my other posts below:
- Vegan Drinks at McDonald’s – The Complete Guide For Vegans
- Vegan Drinks at Dunkin’ Donuts – How to Actually Order Vegan
- Which Dutch Bros Drinks Are Vegan? The Complete Guide
- Vegan Drinks at Peet’s – How to Know What’s Vegan
- Vegan Drinks at Philz – How to Actually Order Vegan
- Vegan Drinks at Panera – How to Know What Is Vegan
- Vegan Drinks at Coffee Bean – How to Order Vegan
- How to Actually Order Vegan Starbucks Drinks
- Is Starbucks Pumpkin Spiced Latte Vegan? The Amazing Truth