Is Soda Vegan? (Mountain Dew, Sprite, Pepsi, etc.)

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Verdict: Most Soda is vegan.

Summary:

  • Sodas that are vegan include Coca-Cola, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, Pepsi.
  • Mountain Dew is technically vegan, but does have artificial colors, which some vegans avoid.

The short answer: Many sodas are vegan, but some are not.

Similarly, some energy drinks are vegan, but some are not.

The rest of this post will show you what non-vegan ingredients to look out for in soda, and which of the most popular sodas are or are not vegan.

Non-Vegan Ingredients in Sodas

sodas

There are 4 main things to look out for in soda ingredient labels:

  • Ester gum – It’s a stabilizer made from glycerol (a sweetener). Glycerol can be made in a lab, but most companies use glycerol derived from animals. If you see ester gum or anything related to glycerol on the ingredients label, it’s probably not vegan (unless explicitly specified). It’s most commonly used in orange sodas, like Sunkist Orange soda. This is also the reason that some gum bases are not vegan.
  • Cochineal – A red food dye obtained from bugs. I know some vegans have different opinions on whether insects are vegan or not, but most would say they’re not.
  • Vitamin D3 – The vitamin D3 is usually derived by oil from sheep’s wool and is not vegan. This is pretty rare, and more common in sports/energy drinks.
  • Honey – Quite rare, but I’ve come across a few specialties sodas that include honey.
  • Natural Flavors – Most natural flavors are vegan but some are not. In the context of soda ingredients, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that they are not derived from animal products.

One other ingredient I would like to point out is caramel color, a common ingredient in soda. While some caramel color isn’t vegan, the majority is and I will assume that it is vegan for the rest of this page.

Which Major Sodas Are Vegan?

The good news is that most of the sodas you can name off the top of your head, while not healthy, are in fact vegan.

Let’s go through them one-by-one. Keep in mind that ingredients may differ by country and flavor, I’m only going over the most popular varieties, with ingredient lists coming from the manufacturers’ websites.

Is Coca-Cola Vegan?

coca colar

Here’s the ingredients list of the original Coca-Cola:

  • Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors, caffeine.

There are no obvious animal products on that list. The only ones we can’t be sure about are “caramel color” and “natural flavors”, although I’d expect them to be vegan here.

Luckily, on the FAQ page of one of Coca-Cola’s websites, they’ve clearly stated that most of their products have no animal products. Refer to the excerpt below (click to enlarge):

coca cola message saying that other than a few products containing gelatin, the rest have no animal products

That’s enough for most vegans to feel confident about drinking any flavor of Coca-Cola.

SUMMARY

Based on the ingredients list and a public statement, all flavors of Coca-Cola appear to be vegan.

Is Sprite Vegan?

sprite

Let’s have a look at the ingredients in Sprite:

  • Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium citrate, sodium benzoate.

Again, no obvious animal ingredients in sight.

The only questionable one is the “natural flavors” again, which may or may not be vegan (it’s an umbrella term for many flavoring ingredients). However, as we went over at the start of this post, it’s pretty safe to assume it is vegan.

SUMMARY

While we can’t be 100% sure, we can be pretty confident that Sprite is vegan.

Is Dr. Pepper Vegan?

dr pepper

Here’s the ingredients list of Dr. Pepper:

  • Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate (preservative), caffeine.

The ingredients are almost identical to Coca-Cola.

Again, we can’t be 100% sure that the natural flavors and caramel color are vegan, but it’s a pretty safe bet in this context.

SUMMARY

There’s a very high chance that Dr. Pepper is vegan-friendly.

Is 7up Vegan?

7up

Again, let’s look at the ingredients in 7up:

  • Filtered carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, potassium citrate, natural flavors, calcium disodium edta

Note that there are no obvious animal products in it. There are natural flavors, like there are in almost every other soda, but it’s pretty safe to assume that those are vegan here.

SUMMARY

There’s a very high chance that 7up is vegan.

Is Pepsi Vegan?

pepsi can

Considering Pepsi is so similar to Coke, you can probably guess the outcome:

  • Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, sugar, phosphoric acid, caffeine, citric acid, natural flavors.

Pepsi themselves have said that Pepsi and Pepsi max are both vegan, but diet Pepsi is not.

However, that was a few years ago. I contacted Pepsi’s customer support (July 2019), and received an even better reply:

pepsi vegan chat

According to the support rep, none of Pepsi’s products contain any animal products or by-products.

SUMMARY

According to the ingredients list of Pepsi, plus the customer service representative I contacted, it appears that all Pepsi products are now vegan.

Is Mountain Dew Vegan?

mountain dew can

Now let’s look at the ingredients of Mountain Dew:

  • Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, concentrated orange juice, citric acid, natural flavor, sodium benzoate, caffeine, sodium citrate, erythorbic acid, gum arabic, calcium disodium edta, brominated vegetable oil, yellow 5.

Super long ingredients list, but noobvious animal products, and I couldn’t find anything else that suggested otherwise. Again, we’ll assume that natural flavors are vegan-friendly here.

The one potential issue is “yellow 5,” which is an artificial color. Artificial colors are a grey area for vegans, as they are often tested on animals.

You’ll have to make your own decision on whether or not you’re okay with it.

SUMMARY

Mountain Dew appears to be vegan, but contains artificial colors that strict vegans may avoid.

Is Irn Bru Vegan?

I’m not sure if Irn Bru is considered a soda (it’s not really a thing here in Canada as far as I know), but it seems like it would be.

You can see my post on if Irn Bru is vegan for a detailed explanation, but the short story is that most ingredients are vegan, but the artificial coloring in it may be a deal-breaker for some.

Conclusion: Is Soda Usually Vegan?

Most sodas are in fact vegan.

If you want to be 100% sure about any soda being vegan, you’ll need to contact the manufacturer directly.

Again, the sodas you need to be most careful of are flavored ones, especially orange flavors.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

6 comments

  • You can go to both pepsi and coke directly and find out that neither of the colas are vegan. They contain fish gelatin. It’s used as a color stabilizer….

    • I know that was true in the past, but based on my interactions with their support I don’t believe this is true anymore.

      Do you have a current source for this?

  • Thank I been wonder whether or not Mountain Dew was vegan or not mainly because of yellow number…I’m a vegetarian a but have been think about go vegan…ice cream is a big deal breaker for…I love it…but can stand see incarcerated…I’ve work on a diary farm so know can and most likely miss treated…any how thank you for informational article…