A lot of people like soft drinks, even vegans. If you are one of them, you may ask yourself “Is soda vegan-friendly?”
This article answers a lot of questions concerning carbonated water drinks and companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi. You will find out if they are suitable for vegans or not and what are they made of.
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What is Soda?
Soda, in other words, is carbonated water. Usually, companies producing this type of drinks add some sweeteners for better taste and preservatives to keep it fresh. Sometimes it also contains colourings and other ingredients.
Is Soda Vegan?
Can vegans drink soda? In order to answer the question, you have to know all the ingredients which your soda contains. Most of them are usually vegan-friendly, but some are not.
Vegan Soda Ingredients
Before start speaking about common soda ingredients, you have to know that despite their vegan status they are usually not healthy.
The most common natural and artificial sweeteners:
- Fructose. It’s a natural product obtained from fruits and berries. Scientists studied a lot of fizzy drinks, like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper and so on. Their research showed that they contain much more fructose than listed on the label. These sodas include corn syrup with a high level of fructose, which is more dangerous than sucrose. At the same time, labels usually indicate only the sugar content. That’s why most people don’t know how harmful sodas may be.
- Stevia. It’s a natural sugar substitute derived from a plant growing in South America. It’s one of the most harmless sweeteners. For example, stevia helps Sprite to reduce calories and sugar.
- Aspartame. It’s the most popular artificial sweetener adding in soft drinks. It is also called E951. Aspartame is 200% sweeter than sugar. In the human organism, it breaks down into amino acids and methanol. The last one is the most harmful. Sodas containing aspartame don’t quench thirst and leave an unpleasant aftertaste. This sweetener also leads to weight gain and can cause diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis. The vegan status of aspartame is still the focus of debate because the creators tested it on animals.
- Acesulfame potassium. This artificial sweetener is also known as acesulfame K and E950. The USA and UK considered it to be safe for people. But some scientists claim that E950 can provoke cancer and unfortunate effect on the fetus development during pregnancy.
Well, all these sweeteners used in sodas are vegan, but as you can notice most of them are not suitable for our health.
The most common additive in soft drinks is E150d or, in other words, caramel color.
It’s considered to be harmless for our body, but don’t forget, that sugar is not healthful itself.
Caramel color can cause allergy. There are also several kinds of research showing that E150D is a weak carcinogen and may lead to cancer.
In the USA the presence of E150d must be indicated on the label.
The following acids are usually used in sodas:
- Citric acid. Another name E330. If your soft drink has a citrus flavor, be sure it contains this acid. It damages your teeth enamel and increases the risk of caries.
- Phosphoric or orthophosphoric acid. You can find it as E338 on the label. Experts have found out that this acid is able to leach the body’s calcium and leads to osteoporosis and urolithiasis.
- Erythorbic acid or E315. This additive is healthy and serves as a color fixative in soft drinks. The daily intake of E315 is unlimited.
- Malic acid. It’s a food additive E296. Even though it considered to be safe, it is better not to drink a lot of soda containing this acid. Because it can disrupt the normal functioning of your digestive system.
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Common preservatives in soft drinks:
- Carbon dioxide or E290. This preservative makes your soda fizzy. It’s harmless for human health. But it’s not recommended to drink a lot of soda if you have some problems with your ingestion. E290 can provoke distension and eructation.
- Sodium benzoate or E211. It’s a widely used but a very harmful preservative. Some experts claim that E211 is able to damage DNA and for this reason causes Parkinson’s syndrome, liver cirrhosis, and neurodegenerative diseases. If your soda includes sodium benzoate and vitamin C, you should know that these ingredients react with each other. The result of their reaction is benzene, which is a hazardous carcinogen. Only one overdose of benzene causes nausea and dizziness. The regular consumption of it can be the reason for leukemia and anemia.
- Potassium sorbate or E202. It helps to extend the storage time of soft drinks. E202 is considered harmless and allowed all over the world. Its daily intake should not be more than 12,5 mg per 1 kg of body weight. In case of overdose, it can induce allergy.
- Sodium citrate or E331. You can found in carbonated soft drinks with lime or lemon flavour. Experts recognize it as potentially safe for health.
Caffeine is one of the most popular components of soda drinks. It contains in Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, and Mountain Dew.
Drinking coke you may be full of energy, but this effect doesn’t last long. In a few hours, you will be tired and irritable.
You can partially remove this feeling by retaking caffeine. In this way companies producing sodas get regular customers.
This ingredient increases the pressure on your heart and makes it beat faster. And, what is more, it causes the loss of calcium in the urine.
Non-Vegan Soda Ingredients
These additives are not vegan-friendly, but you may find them in your drink:
- Ester Gum. It usually consists of glycerol, which is sometimes of animal origin. You need 24000 pounds of fat to produce 2000 pounds of glycerol. If this ingredient presents in your soda, it’s probably not vegan.
- Cochineal. It’s a natural dye of red colour known for many centuries. Another name for it is carmine. Female cochineal insects or their eggs are the primary sources for carminic acid. People clean insects shells of viscera, dry them and treat with ammonia or sodium carbonate. If you see that your beverage contains E120, it’s not for vegans.
- Vitamin D3. Usually, it is obtained from fish oil or lanolin. The last one is wax derived from sheep’s wool.
- Honey. Some sodas may also include honey.
The Most Popular Sodas
Below is the quick review of the most popular carbonated drinks and their components. It helps you understand what soda is vegan.
Is Coca-Cola Vegan?
Coca-Cola Company says that most of their soda drinks are veggie-friendly, and don’t contain milk, eggs or other animal source foods. Is it real or not?
Let’s have a look at Coca-Cola soda ingredients:
|Caramel colour (E150d)||vegan|
As you can see Coca-Cola Classic is vegan.
There is an exciting thing about coke. According to its traditional recipe, this drink contained some common and veggie-friendly ingredients, but there was also a strange word like “Coca-Cola extract.”
This ingredient was made of cochineal. But now company representatives refuse this fact and maintain that their coke doesn’t contain any traces of carmine.
Is Diet Soda Vegan?
If you avoid food with sugar, you have to know what diet soda is vegan. The most widespread are the Coca-Cola Zero or Diet Coke.
Here are the ingredients:
Verdict: Diet Coke is vegan-friendly.
Is Sprite Vegan?
It is another favourite fizzy drink produced by the Coca-Cola Company.
Let’s look on the list of its ingredients to find out is Sprite soda vegan or not:
|Natural lemon and lime flavourings||vegan|
Verdict: Sprite is also absolutely vegan.
Is Dr.Pepper Vegan?
This carbonated soft drink is famous for its unique taste all around the world.
Let’s check out is Dr. Pepper vegan-friendly:
|Flavourings including caffeine||vegan|
Dr. Pepper ingredients are suitable for vegans.
Don’t forget that this drink may have different additives depending on the country.
Is Fanta Orange Vegan?
Fanta is one of the oldest sodas produced by Coca-Cola. Its traditional recipe was changed in 2006 to increase the sugar content.
|Orange juice from concentrate||vegan|
|Natural orange flavourings with other natural flavourings||vegan|
Is Fanta orange soda vegan? Yes!
Pay your attention, that despite natural and artificial Fanta ingredients, there is information, it may include traces of fish gelatin.
Is Pepsi Vegan?
Pepsi ingredients are similar to coke.
|Flavourings including caffeine||vegan|
Is Pepsi soda vegan? Yes!
But what is about the diet version of Pepsi? Unfortunately, it’s not vegan. According to the information, given by PepsiCo, it contains something, what people following a vegan diet should avoid. And it is bizarre that this company keeps this Diet Pepsi not a vegan ingredient in secret.
Is Mountain Dew Vegan?
Mountain Dew was created in 1940 in order to mix it with whiskey. The inventors wanted to sell the recipe of the drink to the Coca-Cola Company, but they declined the offer. Then PepsiCo has bought Mountain Dew and owns it to date.
|High fructose corn syrop||vegan|
|Concentrated orange juice||vegan|
|Calcium disodium EDTA||vegan|
|Brominated vegetable oil||vegan|
Mountain Dew is veggie-friendly.
Is 7up Vegan?
Charles Leiper Grigg created 7up in 1929. Dr. Pepper Snapple group produce this drink in the USA and PepsiCo owns this brand in other countries.
|High fructose corn syrop||vegan|
7up is suitable for vegans.
Reasons to Stop Drinking Soda
Being a vegan, it’s not only about diet and avoiding animal-derived food. It’s a lifestyle which should be healthy and eco-friendly.
Do vegans drink soda? Yes, they do. But is it good for our body?
Here are the primary health reasons why you should stop drinking soda, despite its veggie-friendly ingredients:
- It makes you feel empty. Sugar, containing in soft drinks, raises insulin level in blood. But it also lowers very fast, and your organism needs some more carbohydrates again. That’s why you may feel keen hunger after taking soda. Even diet versions of favourite carbonated drinks stimulate your appetite by increasing the level of the hormone ghrelin. Recent researches show that people who drink soda regularly, consume about 17% more calories than recommended daily intake. For this reason, soft drinks also cause weight gain.
- It damages your teeth. Sweeteners, acids and even carbon dioxide in sodas have a terrible effect on your teeth. These ingredients lead to thinning of tooth enamel and cause caries.
- It’s harmful to your liver. Sugar in soft drinks usually consists of glucose and fructose. The liver metabolizes both of them. When you consume a lot of fructose, your liver becomes overloaded and turns it into fat. This disease is called fatty hepatosis.
- Bone destruction. Large amounts of phosphoric acid and caffeine in your soda causes osteoporosis. Experts say that especially Coca-Cola and coke based drinks prevent the absorption of calcium and lead to a decrease in bone density of the hips. It’s worth noting that women are more susceptible to bone loss.
- Hypertension. As I have said, a lot of sodas contain caffeine which stimulates heart activity. In case, you drink a lot of coffee and soft drinks with caffeine, you may have a lot of problems with your blood pressure.
- Oncological diseases. Modern researches show that sodium benzoate, aspartame, and caramel colour increase the risk of cancer development.
- Allergy. Soft drinks include different types of sweeteners, colourings, and preservatives which may cause an allergic reaction, chronic rhinitis, and even asthma.
- 2 type diabetes. The risk of diabetes is higher on 26% if you drink even only one can of diet coke per day. Soda drinks can make your blood pressure high and increase the level of glucose and cholesterol in the body. All of these factors lead to the development of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
There are also some ecological reasons, why you should avoid drinking it:
- Plastic bottles and cans. Everyone knows how unrecycled plastic and cans pollutes wildlife and the ocean. Maybe you’ve heard about the Great Pacific garbage patch, which formed because of human moral irresponsibility.
- Water pollution. Some artificial ingredients do not metabolize in our organism. They get into the water supplies and then into the rivers, lakes, etc. Experts from Switzerland tested the water and found out a high level of sucralose, aspartame and acesulfame K.
- Fuel. In order to transport soft drinks, companies use a lot of fuel. Oil production harms the environment very much.
- Waste of water. To produce 2 litres of soft drink companies need about 132 gallons of clear water. When Coca-Cola began to work in India, the level of water went down in 18 feet.
Healthy Alternative to Most Sodas
Well, I think, when drinking soda, you want it to contain not only natural components, but it also should be produced without any harm to our planet.
Nowadays, there are several vegan soda brands, and Zevia is one of them. This company makes soft drinks without any artificial additives, and what is more, their manufacture and transporting are eco-friendly.
Zevia has about 14 flavors, and their ingredients differ.
For example, Zevia with strawberry taste consists of:
|Stevia list extract||vegan|
The main Zevia benefits:
- It doesn’t have any calories.
- Instead of sugar, the company uses safe stevia.
- There are no artificial ingredients.
- All Zevia sodas are gluten-free.
- These drinks are made of plant-based ingredients.
- It is kosher and vegan.
- The company doesn’t use caramel colour and high corn fructose syrup.
- Their aluminum cans are recycled.
A blender for frozen drinks will also help you to create your own drinks with the taste and consistency you need.
If you want to buy a can or a bottle of a fizzy drink, always think not only about its components but also about the methods for its producing.