Drink Diet Coke

Published on June 16th, 2014 | by Jennifer Kaplan

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Is Coca-Cola Vegan?





Coke Racks
The Coca-Cola Company claims that the “vast majority” of their drinks are vegan. Is it true? Is Coca-Cola Vegan?

While perusing Coca-Cola’s UK website the other day, I came across a page on which the company claims that the “vast majority” of their drinks are vegan. The website states that none of the Coca‑Cola and Schweppes brands beverages contain milk, eggs or any products derived from mammals. However, the website notes, vegans and vegetarians should note that a few of their beverages contain small traces of fish gelatine, which is used as a stabilizer for the beta-caroteen color. The sodas listed seemed to be available only in the UK. What about in the US?

According to a blog post by Joshua Cuellar Coke’s Sodas Are Vegan & Coke’s Juices Are Not, Coca-Cola wrote him a long email about the topic. In the email the company stated that some Coca-Cola products contain cochineal (which is listed on the label), and some products contain milk (which is also listed on the label). And, some Coca-Cola juice products contain Vitamin D3, which is derived from lanolin. Lanolin is a natural oil in the fiber of sheep’s wool. It is separated from the wool after the sheep’s hair is cut (sheared). Lanolin oil is obtainable without harming the sheep but may be an issue for strict vegetarians.

The email goes on to say that some of Coca-Cola’s suppliers use a common industry practice for grape juice clarification that does involve animal by-products. The gelatin used to clarify the juice is made from bovine skin. Make note, in the US gelatin is derived from pigs not fish and the gelatin is used for juice clarification not color stabilization. Curious.

All that said, Coca-Cola claims that in the US, the only Coca-Cola brand products that are currently produced with cochineal are Minute Maid Juices To Go Ruby Red Grapefruit Drink, Jugos Del Valle Strawberry Banana Juice Nectar, and Jugos Del Valle Strawberry Juice Nectar. And, the only currently manufactured Coca-Cola brand products that contain milk are Far Coast (World of Coca-Cola only), FUZE Refresh, and Minute Maid Fruit and Creme Swirls.

Is Cola-Cola vegan? Looks like it. But, in the end, no matter why you choose to be vegan for your health, religious beliefs, to reduce your carbon footprint or to eliminate animal suffering, Coca-Cola’s being vegan seems like nothing more than Coca-Cola conveniently exploiting their ingredient list.

What do you think? Coca-Cola veganism: Marketing ploy or corporate mission?

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About the Author

Jennifer Kaplan writes regularly about sustainable food and wine, the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for EatDrinkBetter.com and is the author of Greening Your Small Business (November 2009, Penguin Group (USA)). She was been named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. She has four kids, a dog, a hamster and an MBA - find her on .



  • Joshua Mark Voss

    If you really want to get down to technicalities, Diet Coke is sweetened with Aspartame, one of the big three artificial sweeteners produced by yours truly, Monsanto. For most of us vegetarians Monsanto does not sit well.

    • Becky Striepe

      That’s actually a common misconception. While I’m not defending aspartame, it’s no longer sold by Monsanto. They sold it to another big chemical company back in the 90s. Aspartame still has lots of issues, though, for sure!

  • Kelley

    I really don’t know why “exploiting their ingredient list” is a problem. Coke isn’t the first food or beverage company to do this. Suddenly in the past 5-10 years we have cookies, nut butters, even personal care products that are labeled “gluten free!” but have their formulas changed? No. They’re just being marketed to an emerging niche of consumers, and that is a practically ancient practice. Coke is no different and they every right to market their products to any niche they want as long as they’re being truthful. And they are being truthful here. I don’t see what the big deal is.

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