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Is Diet Coke Vegan? The Cold Truth

Posted by Aaron Seminoff on


Diet Coke was originally launched in the year 1982 in the United States, and a year later in Great Britain. As with many other Coca Cola brand products, the basic recipe for this popular drink includes the typical sweeteners and caffeine expected of soda drinks. The question some pose is: Based on the list of ingredients listed by the company, is Diet Coke vegan? Read on and make up your own opinions.

Is Diet Coke Vegan?

In a perfect vegan world, all food and drink would be produced or manufactured without a trace of animal products in them. These include bone, gelatin, or even cochineal; a scale insect from which people make the natural drink dye called carmine.

According to the Coca Cola USA website, the ingredients contained in Diet Coke do not include any animal derivatives, including this dye, which would be used otherwise in other coke products. In a popular entry by Dr. Jose Cuellar, which was backed by Coca Cola, it is safe to say that all of the sodas from the Coca Cola line are vegan, while the fruit juices are not. 

Diet Coke Ingredients

Diet Coke ingredients

The ingredients contained in Diet Coke, as per the Coca Cola USA company website include:

  • Carbonated water
  • Sweeteners that include Acesulfame K, and Aspartame
  • Caramel color E150d
  • Caffeine
  • Citric and Phosphoric Acids for flavoring

Diet coke contains no dairy or gelatin products, no cochineal coloring, lanolin, or any vitamin content extracted from any animal derivative. Its nutritional content is:

  • Zero fat
  • Zero carbohydrates
  • Zero salt
  • Zero proteins

Based on these facts it is safe to conclude that Diet Coke abides by the tenets of veganism, in which no animal product or derivative is to be consumed or used for personal gain.

The argument from some vegan websites, as explained in Shape magazine is the potential use of ester gum, which contains glycerol, as a food stabilizer. Glycerol could come from animal products. However, Diet Coke does not contain ester gum nor glycerol as stabilizers.

Any other vegan sodas?

You would be pleased to know that Diet Coke is not the only vegan soda available. Many other sodas manufactured and produced by Coca Cola also repeat the basic recipe with no animal products involved. In fact, Coca Cola is not the only manufacturer to make sodas following the same recipe protocol. Other companies do it as well.
  • Pepsi
  • Diet Pepsi
  • Coke
  • Diet Coke
  • Mountain Dew
  • Diet Mountain Dew
  • Red Bull (Taurine content is synthetic)
  • Seven Up
  • Lipton Ice Teas 

Blue Sky sodas, which are popular in health food stores, are not entire vegan because of the cow bone char refined sugar used as sweetener. However, advocates of the drink claim that the organic version of the drink, one with no refined sugar, can be categorized as vegan.

Trader Joe’s, a whole foods brand from the USA, also produces its own line of sodas which adhere to a minimalistic list of ingredients, including basic fruit juices and fizzy water.

You can make your own sodas, too, thanks to the ubiquitous soda machines that offer instant seltzer water and some organic flavoring options, both with and without caffeine.

Diet Coke Vegan

Conclusion

Cochineal (Carmine) that is used as dye, gelatin used as stabilizer, lanolin and glycerol also used as food stabilizers, cow bone char for sweetening: all of these are elements that prevent a drink from being vegan-friendly.

This is very telling. Just because a drink labels itself as healthy or as “health food material,” such as in the case of Blue Sky, does not automatically place the drink in the vegan category.

There are other things to consider, aside from the ingredients placed on a drink, to determine the extent to which you will adhere to your vegan values. Companies may not include animal products in the manufacturing of their foods or drinks, but they may manufacture other products that may not stick to the vegan protocol 100%.

This is why it is important that you continuously do research and ask yourself what is your ultimate goal in adapting to the vegan lifestyle, and whether you will adhere as a purist or as a practitioner.

Comments or ideas? Are we missing any vegan drinks on this list? Please feel free to add them and tell us more about it. Share and make a comment below so that we can start a great conversation going on what is vegan and what is not!

Vegan Diet Coke

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