Coca-Cola is simply the best known soft drink in the world. It was created more than 130 years ago and is currently present in 200 countries and at more than 24 million points of sale.
Its parent company, The Coca-Cola Company, is also the owner of other well-known soft drinks such as Fanta, Sprite and Schweppes.
Over the years Coca-Cola has been launching new formulas of the product that meet the interests of consumers.
In the United States you can find the Original Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Caffeine-Free Coca-Cola, Diet Coke Caffeine-Free, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Coca-Cola Cherry, Coca-Cola Vanilla, and other special versions with lemon, lime, and coffee.
With so many different varieties, is the world’s best-selling soft drink suitable for those who follow a vegan diet? If you are a big fan, and what you want to know is if there are animal ingredients inside the drink, then you can rest assured because Coca-Cola contains no animal ingredients.
However, for those who follow a vegan lifestyle, there are several reasons not to consume products from large multinationals like The Coca-Cola Company. As the article unfolds I will explain why.
What is Coca Cola Made Of?
Coca-Cola Original: water, sugar, carbon dioxide, caramel coloring E-150d, acidifier: phosphoric acid and natural flavors (including caffeine)
Diet Coke: water, carbon dioxide, caramel color E-150d, sweeteners: sodium cyclamate, acesulfame K and aspartame, acidifier: phosphoric acid, natural flavorings (including caffeine) and acidity regulator: sodium citrate.
On first reading of the label we see that there are no ingredients of animal origin, such as milk or other derivatives. However, there are 2 ingredients that may raise a concern: the caramel colorant E-150D and the natural flavorings.
The caramel dye E-150D (ammonium sulfite caramel, class IV) is widely used in the production of soft drinks and well known for its negative role on health, however, it is not of animal origin. Caramel is usually produced by heating sugar, however, in the production of E-150D, ammonium sulfite is used, which makes it potentially carcinogenic.
The natural flavorings seem to be the secret of the recipe, and can be of vegetable or animal origin. Because they are not described on the label, the only option left to us is to contact the brand.
In conversation with Coca-Cola via online chat, it was clarified that none of the products that the Coca-Cola Company sells in the United States contain ingredients of animal origin and that the formula of Coca-Cola is the same in all countries.
So you can rest assured that whether you are in the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil or traveling the world, Coca-Cola will not include animal ingredients.
Recommended Read: Can Vegans Drink Sprite? Here’s What You Need To Know!
Is Sugar Really Vegan?
Sugar is usually vegan ingredient, however, that may change depending on how it’s filtered.
Sugar from sugar beets is always vegan, whereas cane sugar may in some countries, and in some factories, be processed using charred cattle bones. You can learn more about this topic in this post about refined sugar.
When it comes to Coca-Cola, although the formula is the same between countries, the source of the ingredients may be different. For example, in the United States corn syrup is used while in Europe sugar is used. This is good news as far as sugar is concerned, as the United States is one of the countries where it is allowed to use charred bones for processing.
Recommended Read: Are Monster Energy Drinks Suitable For Vegans?
Colors and Animal Testing
The colorings in Coca-Cola are not of animal origin.
The truth is that most colorings are not of animal origin, but they will always be related to animal suffering.
Unfortunately, for there to be so many colored foods on the market today, a lot of animal testing was conducted for safety reasons.
Even today, some dyes are often tested on animals, as is the case with allura red AC (E129).
Although it is difficult to avoid all the foods that contain dyes, it will always be a healthier and more ethical option to do so.
Recommended Read: Is Fanta Suitable For Vegans?
The Coca-Cola Company
The soft drink Coca-Cola is the first product of the company, but today Coca-Cola is a huge multinational behemot that sells more than 500 products and is present in more than 200 countries.
Despite its history of animal testing, at present, Coca-Cola claims not to test its products on animals.
The Coca-Cola Company does not conduct any animal tests and does not directly fund any animal tests on its beverages.
Some governmental agencies require animal tests to demonstrate the safety of some ingredients. We encourage our partners and research organizations to use alternative testing methods whenever and wherever such testing is both available and accepted by governments.
We also support research to develop alternatives to animal testing through our sponsorship of the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing at Johns Hopkins University.
Coca-Cola Company (source)
In short, the company does not test its products on animals or fund such tests. However, there may be animal testing of some ingredients when government agencies require it.
It is not perfect, but it is a big step away from the cruelty that this company funded in the past.
Sponsorship of Animal Events
Unfortunately, Coca-Cola still sponsors events that use animals as a means of profit, entertainment, or as a sport. In several of these events animals suffer and many end up dying.
In order to better understand Coca-Cola’s collaboration in events that use animals, I contacted Coca-Cola, where I was provided with the following information:
We agree that animals should be treated humanely. Before we sponsor events featuring animals, the event organizers and management must show that they have policies and procedures in place to provide access to veterinary care and support the humane treatment of their animals. We also require event organizers to comply with any local, state, and national laws.
The system which includes independent bottling companies, may support local events and attractions involving animals, such as rodeos, livestock shows, races, and similar events, circuses, zoos, aquariums, animal parks and theme parks with animal shows. At all such events and attractions, the system supports the proper treatment and welfare of animals.
Contract language referring to the humane treatment of animals must appear in all event and attraction sponsorship contracts so as to be consistent with the policy/guidelines.
So yes, Coca-Cola can sponsor events that use animals, such as rodeos, shows, races, and similar activities.
According to the research I did, there are several rodeos in North America that use the Coca-Cola logo as their sponsor, such as:
- Calgary Stampede
- Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
- Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo
- Cheyenne Frontier Days
- Georgia National Rodeo
- Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo
Are rodeos really that bad?
It is impossible to believe in a positive version you might hear regarding rodeos as these events always have an ugly side to them.
Standard rodeo events include calf roping, steer wrestling, bareback horse and bull riding, saddle bronc riding, steer roping, and the barrel race.
The animals are bred in captivity for the purpose of being as rough and violent as possible for men to demonstrate their bravery and dominance, creating an entertainment show where profit is generated.
Many of these animals are not aggressive by nature and are physically provoked to exhibit “wild” or more violent behavior.
Many of the animals used in rodeos are severely injured and die. Peta has published an article about the cruelty of rodeos, listing instruments of torture that are used and explaining how some of the most frequent injuries happen and how some of the animals actually die.
Bulls are target animals for predators, and they like to be part of a herd as this helps them feel safe. They are afraid of unfamiliar objects, situations, smells, sudden movements, noises, and situations where they are isolated and lonely.
The bulls used in these events are bred to be violent and have the ability to jump. A tightly packed saddle is used so that the bull has the need to jump. By watching videos of bull riding we can see that even after the human falls to the ground, the bull continues to jump, as it is trying to free itself from the suffering that the sedan causes it.
In addition, even if it’s against the law, in many events these animals are mistreated before going into the arena to make them more aggressive. They use objects like electric rods, spurs, and may even use sticks or physical force in the form of kicks, creating an environment in which the animal live in fear.
These sponsorships are still happening, but Coca-Cola seems to be “hearing” the protests and taking action accordingly.
According to Peta, Coca-Cola recently ended its sponsorship of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, a long-distance dog sled race where dogs are subjected to extreme conditions and many end up dying.
Alternatives to Coca Cola
Wewi is a great alternative to Coca-Cola, as it is a vegan brand that creates drinks with organic ingredients and no preservatives or artificial ingredients.
Created in the UK, Whole Earth sells a coke-like drink that is vegan and made with natural and organic ingredients.
The soft drink Coca-Cola can be considered strictly vegetarian, since no variant includes animal ingredients.
Coca-Cola, as well as other drinks from the same parent company, cannot be considered vegan, since there is animal suffering associated with it. The two main reasons are:
- Coca-Cola sponsors events that use and/or abuse animals, such as shows, rodeos, races, and so on;
- Animal testing may be performed to demonstrate the safety of some ingredients when required by law.
By buying these products we’re helping them generate a profit, which these companies also choose to use in sponsoring animal cruelty events. Therefore, this product is not considered vegan.
I hope I’ve helped =)