Why Isn’t Diet Pepsi Vegan? Here’s What We Know

Diet Pepsi is a rare example of a soda that isn’t vegan-friendly


3 Minutes Read

Two cans of non-vegan soft drink Diet Pepsi lying on a bed of ice Many people will be unaware that Diet Pepsi is not suitable for vegans - Media Credit: Steve Cukrov / Alamy Stock Photo

Going vegan is always a learning curve, and most people encounter a vast range of foods and drinks they had no idea contained animal ingredients. Soft drinks are a key example. While most are perfectly fine for plant-based diets, some mainstream sodas – including Diet Pepsi – are unsuitable for vegans.

Diet Pepsi, created by PepsiCo and drunk all over the world, was launched in 1962. It was the first diet soda to be distributed on a national scale in the US, and it’s now available in cans, bottles, and from taps. Like Diet Coke, the sugar-free drink was created as a lower calorie alternative to its sister drink – in its case Pepsi. 

Many vegans will have been completely unaware that Diet Pepsi contains animal products. A huge number of people will likely have unknowingly drunk the hugely famous drink over the years. Mistakes happen to us all, and there’s no shame at all if you have. If you want to know more about the reason why you should avoid Diet Pepsi in the future, however, read on…

Why isn’t Diet Pepsi vegan?

A billboard advert for non-vegan drink Diet Pepsi
Richard Levine / Alamy Stock Photo Diet Pepsi is hugely popular and drunk all over the world

PepsiCo addresses the fact that the drink isn’t vegan on its website. In the FAQs section, it has a question reading: “Is Pepsi suitable for vegetarians / vegans?”. To this, the company singles out Diet Pepsi as the only one of its products that isn’t vegan (although it’s thought to be fine for vegetarians). 

The reason why, however, remains a mystery. PepsiCo previously confirmed that Diet Pepsi contained an ingredient that renders in non-vegan, but it hasn’t stated which ingredient this is. 

“Diet Pepsi is only suitable for vegetarians as it contains traces of ingredients that are not suitable for people following a vegan diet,” a spokesperson told Metro in 2017. According to reports, the company did not want to reveal details due to “commercially sensitive” reasons. 

Plant Based News has contacted a spokesperson for PepsiCo for clarification, and we will update this article when we hear back. 

Are other Pepsi drinks vegan?

If you’re panicking that you can no longer enjoy your favorite soft drinks, we have good news – all other Pepsi drink products are thought to be vegan-friendly. If you’re a Pepsi fan who enjoys low sugar options, you can choose Pepsi Max over Diet Pepsi. 

The full list of vegan-friendly Pepsi drinks is below: 

  • Pepsi
  • Pepsi Max
  • Pepsi Max Ginger 
  • Pepsi Max Cherry
  • Pepsi Max Raspberry

What other sodas aren’t vegan?

Pepsi and other vegan soft drinks being served via tap
Adobe Stock Not all soft drinks and sodas are vegan-friendly

There are a few more sodas that are surprisingly not vegan-friendly. Pepsi’s rival company Coca Cola, as well as a number of other companies, do occasionally put animal products in certain drinks (though big name offerings like Coke, Diet Coke, 7 Up, and Fanta are vegan).

Popular non-vegan soft drinks include:

  • Lilt and Lilt Zero (they contain a “small amount” of gelatin, meaning they also isn’t suitable for vegetarians)
  • Sunkist Orange Soda (contains gelatin)
  • Monster coffee-flavored energy drinks (contain dairy)
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