So far, figuring out whether or not Monster Energy drinks are vegan has been one of the trickiest products I’ve come across.
There’s no easy vegan marker on cans, several products (different lines and flavors), and there are ingredients that may or may not be vegan.
To cap it off, you can’t find ingredient information for each product on the official Monster website.
So I had to do some serious digging and get in touch with Monster to clear things up as much as possible.
I’ve divided this post into the 5 main product lines that Monster sells:
- Monster Energy (the classic/original line)
- Monster Ultra
- Monster Hydro
- Juice Monster
- Java Monster
Note that ingredients do vary based on country, the ingredient information here is primarily for North America.
I’ve mentioned a few key differences in certain products in specific countries, but I recommend double checking that the ingredients are the same if you live outside of North America.
I recommend reading the whole thing, and not just skipping to a particular section. There are a few things that could be important that I mention once or twice, but haven’t repeated for the later sections.
I’ve also put together a guide to vegan energy drinks if you’re wondering about others like Redbull.
Is the “Classic” Monster Energy Drink Vegan?
Let’s start where it all began for Monster.
Here’s the ingredient list for the original Monster Energy flavor:
Carbonated water, sucrose, glucose, citric acid, natural flavors, taurine, sodium citrate, color added, panax ginseng root extract, L-carnitine, caffeine, sorbic acid, benzoic acid, niacinamide, sodium chloride, Glycine max glucuronolactone (soy), inositol, guarana seed extract, pyridoxine hydrochloride, sucralose, riboflavin, maltodextrin, and cyanocobalamin.
There’s a lot of “chemical” sounding names that you probably haven’t heard of.
I bolded a few ingredients because depending on where they come from, they may or may not be vegan. Let’s go through each one-by-one:
- Natural flavors – This is an umbrella label for a variety of ingredients, some that come from animals, and others that come from plants.
- Taurine and L-carnitine – Both of these are amino acids that are found in large quantities in red meat. However, they can also be synthesized industrially quite cheaply. Most modern taurine is vegan.
- Color added – Based on the ingredient list of other monster products, this refers to artificial colors like Red #40 and Yellow #5. Artificial colors are technically vegan, however, many vegans (like myself) avoid them due to animal testing surrounding them. These artificial colors are in every Monster Energy product, so if you want to avoid them, you can stop reading here. Otherwise, I’ll consider them vegan for the rest of this page.
So the question becomes whether or not those first 2 ingredients come from plant or animal sources.
There’s no way to know that, so I contacted Monster asking for clarification.
Here’s what I got in response:
Thank you for visiting the Monster Energy Website.
We use no animal bi-products in any of our products line. However, they are not vegan certified.
While that’s not exactly crystal clear, it can give us quite a bit of confidence that Monster uses plant-sourced ingredients in the cases above.
Keep in mind that since I’m located in North America, the response is likely tailored towards North American Monster products.
Just to make sure this applies to the whole line of products here, I tracked down the ingredients of all the flavors/variations.
I won’t go over the full ingredient list for each here, but here are the main concerns for a vegan:
|Flavor/Variation||Potential Non-Vegan Ingredients|
|Lo-carb||Taurine, Natural Flavors, L-Carnitine|
|Gronk||Taurine, Natural Flavors, L-Carnitine|
|Absolutely Zero||Taurine, Natural Flavors, L-Carnitine, L-Carnitine L-Tartrate|
|Assault||Taurine, Natural Flavors, L-Carnitine|
|Import||Taurine, Natural Flavors, L-Carnitine L-Tartrate|
|Ballers Blend||Taurine, Natural Flavors, L-Carnitine|
|Mad dog||Taurine, Natural Flavors, L-Carnitine L-Tartrate|
You can probably see the pattern, they are all basically the same formula with small differences.
Note that L-Carnitine L-Tartrate is just another form of L-Carnitine.
While there are a few ingredients that can come from plants or animals, it appears that all of the original Monster Energy line is vegan friendly based on the response I received from their customer service.
Is Monster Ultra Vegan?
Moving on to the second most popular Monster product line: Monster Ultra.
There are 6 flavors of this product:
- Zero Ultra
- Ultra Red
- Ultra Blue
- Ultra Sunrise
- Ultra Black
- Ultra Violet
This is the main instance I was talking about when I mentioned that ingredients differ based on the country it’s being sold in.
For example, in the UK (and I believe all of the EU), there is cochineal (aka E120 or carmine) in Ultra Red (Source). However, if you look at the ingredients on Amazon.com (the U.S), there is no cochineal.
This matters since cochineal is not vegan, it’s made from insects. So, Monster Ultra Red is not vegan in the EU. However, Ultra Blue appears to be fine in the EU, so it will vary by flavor.
Just be aware of these differences, since I focused mainly on North America and could have missed other flavors that had important differences.
Back to the original question here…
Looking at the full ingredient lists for these flavors (in North America), there are a few similar potential non-vegan ingredients, which can either come from plant or animal sources:
- Natural Flavors
These are the exact same potential issues as the classic Monster Energy drinks have, and they almost certainly come from the same sources.
If we trust the email response I received, then these ingredients come from plant sources.
Following that logic, all Monster Ultra flavors are vegan in North America.
While there are a few ingredients that can come from plants or animals, it appears that all of the Monster Ultra product line in North America is vegan friendly based on the response I received from their customer service. In Europe, Ultra Red at the very least is not vegan.
Is Monster Hydro Vegan?
Monster Hydro is another product line that Monster produces. There are 4 variations that it comes in:
- Manic Melon
- Mean Green
- Tropical Thunder
- Zero Sugar
Again, they have similar ingredients to each other, and are pretty similar to the other Monster products.
The only difference is that they don’t have L-carnitine.
Still, there is taurine and natural flavors. These are ingredients that can come from either plant or animals sources.
According to Monster’s customer service, these come from plant sources, so it comes down to whether or not you trust them.
It appears that all Monster Hydro versions are vegan.
Is Juice Monster Vegan?
Juice Monster comes in 3 different variations:
- Pipeline Punch
- Mango Loco
Let’s take a look at the ingredient list for Khaos:
Carbonated water, sugar, apple juice concentrate, glucose, orange juice concentrate, peach juice concentrate, tangerine juice concentrate, tangerine, citric acid, natural flavors, pineapple juice concentrate, white grape juice concentrate, panax ginseng extract, potassium sorbate (preservative), caffeine, sodium citrate, sucralose, niacinamide (vit b3), beta-carotene (vit a), guarana seed extract, l-carnitine, l.tartrate, color added, d-glucuronolactone, inositol, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vit b12), maltodextrin, cyanocobalamin (vit b12)
The other 2 flavors have similar ingredients.
The only 3 potential issues for a vegan that I see are l-carnitine and the artificial colors added (which we looked at earlier), and “sugar”.
Again, according to Monster’s customer service, the L-carnitine is almost certainly from plant sources.
The reason that sugar might not be vegan is because sugar is often processed with bone char (from bones of cows typically). It’s not the biggest issue for vegans, but many do care, so I’ll let you make up your own mind on this.
All Juice Monster variations appear to be vegan friendly if you’re okay with taking a chance on sugar.
Is Java Monster Vegan?
Finally, we have Java Monster, which comes in 3 main flavors (although I’ve seen others):
- Mean Bean
- Loca Moca
- Salted Caramel
Looking at the ingredient list of any of these, and it’s clear that they are not vegan.:
Reduced Fat Milk, filtered water, sucrose, Glucose, Coffee, Taurine…
The milk is the sole reason they wouldn’t be vegan, but I suppose they are vegetarian.
All flavors of Java Monster contain milk and are NOT vegan.
Summary: Which Monster Drinks Are Vegan Friendly?
That took a few hours to track down all that and put it together, so I hope it was helpful.
I understand that parts of it could be confusing, so just leave a comment below with any questions and I’ll try to clarify things.
Let me try to summarize everything we went over:
|Product Line||Potential Non-Vegan Ingredient(s)||Conclusion?|
|Classic Monster Energy||Taurine, L-carnitine, natural flavors||Most likely vegan|
|Monster Ultra||Taurine, L-carnitine, natural flavors||Most likely vegan|
|Monster Hydro||Taurine, natural flavors||Most likely vegan|
|Juice Monster||L-carnitine, sugar||Most likely vegan|
|Java Monster||Milk, taurine||Not vegan|
Beyond that, every Monster product appears to have artificial colors (e.g., yellow #5, red #40), which some vegans avoid.
And finally, almost everything on this page is for Monster Energy drinks in North America. There are slight variations in ingredients in other parts of the world like Europe (e.g., Monster Ultra Red has carmine, which is not vegan).
There’s definitely some uncertainty behind most of these conclusions. I’ve given you all the information I could find, hopefully in a digestible way, and it’s up to you to decide whether you feel that the drink you’re interested in is vegan or not for you.