What Is Taurine?
Taurine is a naturally occurring compound found in fish and meat that is most commonly found as a major ingredient in energy drinks. Taurine is found in the large intestine where it is a major component of bile. It accounts for about 0.1% of the human body. This type of Taurine is not vegan. Check out these organic vegan energy drinks.
But, that isn’t the only kind of Taurine there is. In fact, it is more common to find synthetic Taurine in energy drinks. This synthetic Taurine is created in a lab as the direct result of a chemical reaction.
Using synthetic Taurine is cheaper than using the naturally occurring variety so many times the energy drinks which can sometimes contain as much as 2000mg per serving. While the average omnivore consumes 60-200mg every day through the meats they eat. Vegans consume almost no Taurine except through energy drinks.
The Rumors About Taurine
Taurine has some rumors around it that almost seem convincing, putting a lot of doubt in the minds of Vegans over whether it actually is an animal product. The rumor says that Taurine comes from the testicles of bulls or their semen. Sometimes the rumor will even go so far as to say that some company called the “Longhorn Cattle Company” did tests on Red Bull and found it contains bull semen. Of course, there is no Longhorn Cattle Company and Red Bull doesn’t contain bull semen.
Where does this confusion come from? First look at the word Taurine. ‘Taur’ in latin means bull and anyone familiar with Latin may also recognize that the -ine suffix means something that came from the root. So Taurine is literally saying it comes from bulls. Why the testis? For added shock value, of course.
There’s actually a very good reason Taurine is named what it is. When it was first discovered in 1827 by German scientists they found it in ox bile. At the time, of course, there was no synthetic version of it yet. Not knowing that it could be found in all animals, including humans they called it Taurine.
Other Uses for Taurine
Thousands of tons of Taurine is produced every year for a variety of purposes. Almost half of it is made for pet food. House cats cannot create the compound themselves and require a dietary source of it. Without Taurine, a cat’s retinas degenerate, eventually causing blindness. It also results in hair loss and tooth decay.
Taurine is also added to baby formula because it is present in breast milk and it is believed that premature infants lack certain enzymes required to produce Taurine naturally. However, this has not been studied enough to be conclusive.
Taurine is also used in contact lens solution. However, it is more commonly used to help maintain skin hydration and some damage to hair. You can also find it in some medications like the antimicrobial Taurolidine.
Identifying Synthetic Taurine
Unfortunately, there is no label requirement for synthetic Taurine to be labeled any differently than biosynthesized Taurine. Even going to the website for companies isn’t enough. The best way to find out if it is synthetic or not is to do a bit of research. Luckily for you, we already did some of the work for you. Take a look at this article on Monster Energy drinks being vegan.
While knowing 100% that the Taurine you’re consuming is synthetic can be difficult and may require emailing the company. The cost difference between synthetic Taurine and biosynthetic is so high that it is pretty safe assuming the Taurine in your little energy drink is the synthetic variety.
So is Taurine Vegan? Yes and no. As always you need to look carefully and do a bit of research into each company to see what they say about their product being vegan. But chances are pretty high that the Taurine in your energy drinks is artificial just from a cost saving point of view.
Up Next: Is Monster Vegan?