Probably the world’s most famous soft drink Coke is instantly recognizable all over the globe. The Coca-Cola brand manufactures a lot of different beverages so which ones can vegans enjoy?
We will take a look at some of the most popular drinks made by Coca-Cola and ask is Coke vegan?
Coke contains carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors and caffeine.
Apart from the generically labeled ‘natural flavors’ the rest of the ingredients seem to be obviously suitable for vegans to consume.
In fact on their UK website Coca-Cola states that the vast majority of their drinks are suitable for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet. They then go on to list around ten drinks that are not suitable for vegans.
However, there is little information about vegan suitability from the US site. And the only other site that mentions non-vegan Coca-Cola products is the Australian one.
So is there reason to believe that US coke is not vegan? Probably not, but we can give you a list of products that you should look out for next time you are buying any type or brand of soda.
Gelatin is used in the food and drinks industry as a stabilizer, a gelling agent and a thickener. Traditionally, it was made from pork.
The use of fish gelatin was introduced to protect Jewish and Muslim consumers who do not eat pork for religious reasons.
In some Coca-Cola products fish gelatin is used to produce the beta-carotene color for the drink.
This is primarily used in their Lilt and Schweppes brands, which are primarily sold in the UK and in Ireland.
The coke that is sold in the US is vegan but some of the company’s juices do contain a coloring called cochineal. This coloring is derived from bugs which bear the same name.
They live on the cactus plant and are harvested mainly in Peru to be used as coloring in food and drinks.
The Coca-Cola company produces juices under the brand name Minute Maid and Jugos Del Valle.
Both of these brands make juice which contain cochineal and therefore are not suitable for vegans.
These are the Ruby Red Grapefruit drink from Minute Maid and the Jugos Del Valle Strawberry Banana Juice Nectar, and Strawberry Juice Nectar.
Some of the juices manufactured by Coca-Cola have added vitamin D3.
While this may seem like a good thing and relatively harmless, if you are vegan you should be aware that this D3 is derived from lanolin.
Lanolin is a naturally occurring and moisturizing wax that is extracted from sheep’s wool. So any juices which contain this form of vitamin D3 would not be suitable for vegans.
From the above information we can conclude that the original coke from the Coca-Cola company in the US is vegan.
As we have seen the ingredients of Coke are all clearly identified except perhaps for the ‘natural flavors’ which seems to be a generic label.
These flavors could come from animal sources just as easily as from plant sources. So how can we be sure that they are vegan?
However it has been revealed that these natural flavors are citric acid, sugar, herbs and cocaine. So they are all natural plant based ingredients, if also a little eyebrow raising.
Diet Coke has much the same list of ingredients as its original counterpart.
The main difference is the substitution of aspartame for the original’s high fructose corn syrup in order to make the beverage a diet drink.
There is the addition of potassium benzoate which is there to protect the taste of the soda. All of the ingredients in the natural flavors included in Diet Coke are considered suitable for vegans.
Coca-Cola Zero Sugar
Coca-Cola Zero Sugar has all the same ingredients as Diet Coke with a couple of additions. The added ingredients are potassium citrate, and acesulfame potassium.
Acesulfame potassium or Ace K is a calorie-free, synthetic sugar substitute and potassium citrate is a salt.
So both are vegan friendly and contain no animal derived ingredients. This means all Coca-Cola Zero Sugar drinks can be consumed by vegans.
Cherry & Vanilla Coke
These flavored coke drinks are made with all the same ingredients as original coke but obviously have different flavorings added.
These are included under the general heading of ‘natural flavors’ discussed previously.
While vanilla and cherry are both naturally occurring plants we assume that the actual flavorings are chemically produced.
Nevertheless, it is stated that these natural flavors are vegan friendly so safe for vegans to drink.
Coca-Cola Products Containing Milk
Currently the only manufactured products that contain milk and therefore unsuitable for vegans are Coca-Cola’s Far Coast, FUZE Refresh, and Minute Maid Fruit and Cream Swirls.
In the UK, Coca-Cola bought out the Costa Coffee chain, the largest in the country and second largest in the world.
They produce a couple of ready to go coffee drinks namely the Costa Coffee Ready-to-Drink Caramel Latte and Costa Coffee Ready-to-Drink Latte.
Both of these contain milk and so are not suitable for vegans.
As a rule Americano coffee does not contain milk however Costa Coffee’s Americano may contain some traces of milk which can happen during production.
The company has stated that in the past some suppliers were using gelatin from bovine skin in the practice of clarifying grape juice. However, they did not specify which juices it applies to.
Although, there currently does not appear to be any grape juice used in any of their sodas.
Being vegan means being informed in the choices that we make about the food and drinks that we consume.
We hope this guide to whether Coke is vegan has helped inform you about sodas in general and coke in particular.
It seems that we can continue to enjoy Coke knowing that this soda is suitable for vegans while also being aware of the products to avoid.