Is Soda Vegan? How to Choose a Plant-Based Carbonated Drink

Nothing tastes better than a fountain-chilled soda. The fizzy bubbly pairs perfectly with the syrupy sweetness, but vegans will wonder if there’s any animal food left in that delicious fizz.

Overall, carbonated drinks are considered vegan food. That sweet goodness is often derived from vegan-friendly corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. This is a plant-based food that is commonly processed using non-vegan bone char.

Learn more about what’s in your cup with our guide to vegan sodas.

Why Almost All Soda Is Vegan

While the overwhelming majority of ingredients in various soft drinks are plant-based, some ingredients put veganism on hold. may be included.

Here are some common vegan and non-vegan ingredients found in the most popular soda brands.


A by-product of the meat and seafood industry, non-vegan gelatin is collagen extracted by boiling the connective tissue of beef, poultry, pigs, and fish. Although rare and not found in the most popular soda brand products, a select number of soft drinks use this animal product to stabilize food coloring.


Honey is a by-product of bees. Vegans concerned with animal welfare view beekeeping as exploitation of animals and refrain from honey.

Other vegetarians agree that bee labor produces far more than its byproducts.Bees are responsible for pollinating one-third of all food grown for humans. . Even plant-based foods like almonds and avocados cannot exist without commercial bee pollination, questioning the definition of vegan food.


Sugar is derived from the vegetable sugar beet and sugar cane. For this reason, vegans who follow a “practical and possible” lifestyle view sugar as an acceptable food. points out the processing of sugar in

Cane sugar is regularly tumbled with bone char, a by-product of the meat industry. The only exception is 100% USDA certified organic sugar, which is always vegan. The beet sugar never goes through his second refining step, so it’s always vegan. In general, foods labeled with the generic term “sugar” contain both vegan beet sugar and non-vegan cane sugar.

high fructose corn syrup

A sugar commonly added to processed foods, high fructose corn syrup is a type of corn syrup and potato syrup. This vegan-friendly sweetener is processed by enzymes, converting about half of the glucose into fructose.

natural flavor

Natural flavors are of plant, fungal, or animal origin. Raw materials are heated to extract the essential ingredients and added to processed foods. Because of the soft drink’s sweet and fruity flavor, soda’s natural flavor comes from plants, so it’s vegan-friendly.

artificial fragrance

Federal regulations consider flavors created in a laboratory from chemical sources (including unsustainable petroleum) to be artificial flavors. But at the molecular level, these food additives are indistinguishable from natural flavors. Even the “cream” in cream soda comes from synthetic sources, unless the soda label includes a milk allergy warning.

artificial color

Popular artificial colors such as Blue 1, Yellow 5 and 6 Lake, and Red 40 are derived from petroleum-based sources, giving some environmental vegans pause.

caramel color

Caramel coloring is different from caramel candies, which often contain non-vegan butter or cream. The coloring comes from heated sugar and water and is generally considered vegan.


Carmine is a non-vegan red food coloring made from the waxy cover of female cochineal scale insects. The demand for carmine in cosmetics and food requires tens of billions of cochineal each year. According to the Allergy Labeling Act, Carmine Also cochineal extract Must be explicitly stated on the label. It’s rare to find carmine in today’s sodas, even in the red varieties that most often use artificial colors.


Some sodas contain glycerin or glycerol, also listed as ester gum. This food additive can be derived from both plant and animal sources, but generally food sources are plant-based. Glycerin sources in cosmetics are derived from animal fats.

did you know?

Bottled water isn’t the only cause of widespread plastic pollution. In 2022, the nonprofit Break Free from Plastic named Coca-Cola the worst plastic polluter for the fifth year in a row. Pepsi is second. Last year, Coca-Cola launched a limited edition of nearly 100% plant-based plastic bottles, but the company does not make low-carbon bottles available for purchase. The company has also committed to using 50% recycled packaging by 2030. Similarly, Pepsi recently committed to using 20% ​​recycled packaging by 2030.

But as Treehugger has extensively reported, a small percentage of plastic is recycled, and solving the plastic problem will require a change in consumer culture.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do vegans drink soda?

    They do! Vegans have the option of drinking almost any carbonated beverage on the market. Even for vegans who avoid sugar due to the potential use of animal products during processing, there are unsweetened and corn syrup sweetened varieties to suit your needs.

  • Which soft drink is not vegan?

    In the US, almost all sodas are vegan. However, in the UK, Diet Pepsi is not vegan due to undisclosed ingredients. Similarly, some Coca-Cola products in the UK contain fish gelatin.

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