Is Coca-Cola Vegan? Here’s What You Need To Know About Soda Ingredients

Is Coke vegan or vegetarian? Coca-Cola produces a number of sodas and other drinks, but not all are suitable for plant-based diets


4 Minutes Read

A selection of cans of vegan fizzy drink Coca Cola Here's what we know about whether Coca-Cola is vegan-friendly - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

Could it be that the ingredients in the world’s most popular fizzy drink are off-limits for vegans and vegetarians? The title is held by Coke, made by Coca-Cola, with its iconic red branding and a taste known all over the globe. The beverage giant is also behind favorites such as Fanta, Dr Pepper, Lilt, and Powerade.

Some of the Coca-Cola Company’s most renowned sodas contain animal-derived ingredients, and are therefore not vegan. So is Coke and its ingredients vegan-friendly? And, what soda ingredients make drinks not suitable for vegans?

Coca-Cola history

The Coca-Cola drink was born way back in 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia. Pharmacist Dr John Stith Pemberton crafted the syrup, serving it inside a jug down the streets outside Jacob’s Pharmacy.

Since then, there have been many iterations, such as Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, and flavors like cherry, lime, mango, and vanilla.

Now, the Coca-Cola Company has hundreds of brands and products to its name, including soda, juice, kombucha, tea, coffee, water, and flavored alcoholic beverages. These are sold in more than 200 countries and territories.

Over 2022, the company pulled in a staggering $42 billion in revenue.

Is Coke vegan?

Coca-Cola confirms on its website that its classic drink of the same name is indeed vegan-friendly.

Writing about whether the ingredients of Coke are vegan, it states:

“The vast majority of our drinks, including Coca-Cola, are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.”

Coke ingredients explained

A case of Coke, a soda made by Coca-Cola that is vegetarian and vegan
Adobe Stock Each can of Coca-Cola Classic contains more than 30 grams of sugar

Coca-Cola Classic contains six ingredients, though the drink is around 90 percent carbonated water. Coke’s ingredients also include sugar, caramel color, phosphoric acid, caffeine, and a blend of secret natural flavors.

On the surface, it would appear that these are vegan drink ingredients.

There is some confusion, however, about whether Coke is actually a suitable soda for vegans. This is due to the fact that it contains sugar (around 39 grams in each can).

Is sugar vegan?

In some parts of the world (including the US), sugar is occasionally considered unsuitable for vegans. This is because it can be made using animal bones.

Some sugar is not vegan or vegetarian
Adobe Stock Some sugar contains bone char

Bone char, as it’s often known, is added to achieve a white color. But it’s unlikely you’ll find it listed on the box of your favorite brand. The char, also called “natural carbon,” comes from the bones of slaughtered cows.

Despite brown sugar not needing white coloring, some brown sugar producers still use bone char.

A gray area of veganism?

Some vegans may avoid ingredients that are connected to animals in any way — such as sugar and even some fruits and vegetables. But this view isn’t necessarily shared across the community.

A widely used definition of veganism comes from The Vegan Society, a 79-year-old charity working on accelerating the movement.

“Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose,” the definition reads.

PETA has also weighed in on the matter. It has proclaimed that eating vegan isn’t necessarily about “perfection,” and that you shouldn’t “stress too hard” about sugar if you’re unsure exactly how it was produced.

Bottles of vegan and vegetarian fizzy drink Coke, made by Coca-Cola
Adobe Stock Coca-Cola is widely considered to be a vegetarian and vegan drink

What Coca-Cola drinks aren’t vegan?

While Coke’s ingredients are widely considered vegan, some of Coca-Cola’s most well-known drink brands aren’t. These include Lilt and some Schweppes products, as they contain fish gelatin.

The following products contain animal product ingredients, and are therefore not vegan:

  • Barista Bros
  • Costa Coffee Ready-to-Drink Caramel Latte
  • Costa Coffee Ready-to-Drink Latte
  • Costa Coffee Ready-to-Drink Americano
  • Glaceau Vitaminwater Zero Sunshine and Multi V
  • Honest (Lemon and Honey)
  • Kia-Ora Orange Squash No Added Sugar
  • Lilt
  • Lilt Zero
  • Schweppes Indian Tonic Water
  • Schweppes Orange Squash

Vegan soda options at Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola confirms that most of its drinks are vegan-friendly. They include:

  • Appletiser
  • Coke Classic
  • Coke No Sugar
  • Coke Raspberry
  • Coke Vanilla
  • Coke Zero
  • Diet Coke
  • Dr Pepper
  • Fanta Orange
  • Fanta Jelly Fizz
  • Fanta Passionfruit Cream
  • Fuzetea
  • Glaceau Smartwater/Vitaminwater
  • Grapetiser
  • Lift
  • Oasis
  • Powerade
  • Rose’s
  • Sprite

Does Coca-Cola test on animals?

In the past, Coca-Cola was reportedly involved in controversial production practices, such as force-feeding rats its “caramel color.”

But back in 2007, Coca-Cola said it would stop conducting and funding animal tests. In a letter shared by PETA, the company stated: “The Coca-Cola Company does not conduct animal tests and does not directly fund animal tests on beverages.”

Moreover, it said it would send letters to partners and research organizations insisting they use alternative methods.

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