Is Gatorade Suitable For Vegans? (Here’s Why It Depends)

is gatorade vegan

Gatorade is known by many to be a sport’s drink. Scientists at the University of Florida developed Gatorade to improve the performance of their football team, the Gators.

Consequently (or not), the Gators won the Orange Bowl for the first time in years.

The electrolytes present in Gatorade can rehydrate and provide you with energy. At the same time, it also contains high levels of sugar, which can lead to some health risks.

Frankly, I’ve met a few vegans, and so far all I’ve met are quite conscious about their health. Thus, even if you could drink Gatorade, I would ask you to do so moderately.

Anyway, can Gatorade be considered a vegan drink? The truth is it depends.

Let’s take a closer look to find out.

Gatorade Has Different Variations & Flavors.

gatorade

As we’ve seen with Monster, new flavors and variations sometimes mean different ingredients. So we have to ponder at look at each drink specifically.

Thus far, Gatorade has launched 7 product lines:

  • Original Thirst Quencher;
  • Flow Thirst Quencher;
  • Fierce Thirst Quencher;
  • Frost Thirst Quencher;
  • G2 Low-Sugar Thirst Quencher;
  • Zero Thirst Quencher;
  • And Organic Thirst Quencher.

Among each one there are questionable ingredients, that might rule this drink out for some vegans. I’m referring to ingredients like natural (or artificial) flavors, as well as added colors, and sugar.

Why Natural Flavors May Not Be Vegan.

natural flavors

Not all artificial flavors are vegan, unfortunately.

Some natural flavors may come either from plants or animals. According to the US FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations, natural flavors are created from substances extracted from the following animal and plant sources:

  • Fruit or fruit juice
  • Vegetables or vegetable juice
  • Spices
  • Edible yeast, herbs, bark, buds, root leaves or plant material
  • Meat, poultry or seafood
  • Dairy products, including fermented products
  • Eggs

The natural flavors are obtained by heating the animal or plant-based source. If this bothers you, and you would like to get to the bottom this, I suggest two things:

  1. You can question the company or manufacturers and ask them to be very specific;
  2. Or you can check the ingredient label for some clues.

Added flavors appear most of the time as “Natural Flavor”, but sometimes you might encounter a more specific substance. For example, a common non-vegan flavor is “Castoreum”. It’s a slightly sweet substance extracted from the anal secretions of beavers. 

This being said, I believe the majority of natural flavors derive from plants.

Why Added Colors May Not Be Considered Vegan.

animal tests

As you’re aware, artificial colors have a long history of animal testing. Scientists follow procedures designed to prove the safety of certain substances. Some say it’s necessary for our safety.

However, even if that is the case, mice, rats, and dogs are used and discarded. In most cases, they die, all for the sake of scientific advancement.

Colors are not made from animal ingredients (except carmine), so many vegans (including me) still consume products with added colors. I try to stick to a fully whole-foods plant-based diet, so it’s rare the cases where I drink things like Gatorade (and other colored foods).

Why Sugar May Not Vegan.

refined sugar

Have you heard of bone char? Bone char is a substance used to filter and bleach cane sugar, giving it a white, pristine color. (see the image above) Unfortunately, bone char is obtained by heating the bones of cattle at really high temperatures until they turn into carbon.

bone char

However, not every cane sugar is bleached with bone char, and not every sugar comes from sugarcane. Some sugar companies use granular activated charcoal to achieve the same result. And some companies use sugar extracted from sugar beets, which does not require bone char, nor granular activated charcoal.

This type of information does not come on any label. Yet we know that Gatorade (as well as other companies) get their sugar from different sources, so they’re unable to track which sugar is being used in each bottle (or product).

The Original Gatorade: A Quick Glance. 

gatorade

This one started it all, bringing Gatorade to billionaire status.

Here are the ingredients (that are pretty much similar) across every Gatorade product:

Fruit Punch: Water, Sucrose, Dextrose, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, Salt, Sodium Citrate, Monopotassium Phosphate, Modified Food Starch, Red 40, Glycerol Ester of Rosin, Caramel Color.

We can pinpoint two different added colors, a natural flavor, and sucrose.

Also note that to make sucrose, sugar goes through the same refining and washing process before it’s dissolved into syrup and turned into crystals of pure sucrose. Thus, there’s still a chance of it being filtered with bone char or vice-versa.

So, is the Original Gatorade vegan? Frankly, it all comes down to how strict you are. I personally still consume foods containing natural flavors, added colors, and sugar.

In my opinion (with all due respect), I don’t believe avoiding such ingredients will have as much impact as avoiding dairy, meat, eggs, and honey.

Therefore, I don’t think to avoid them is an absolute necessity if you want to be a real vegan.

What About The Other Gatorade Lines?

The other Gatorade products also have most of the same ingredients from the original recipe. To keep this post short, I’ve created a table to illustrate.

Gatorade:Questionable Ingredients:Conclusion:
(Flow) Blackberry WaveSugar, natural flavor, red #40.No animal ingredients.
(Flow) Kiwi StrawberrySugar, natural flavor, yellow #5, blue #1. No animal ingredients.
(Flow) Pineapple MangoSugar, natural flavor, yellow #5.No animal ingredients.
(Fierce) GrapeSugar, natural flavor, red#40, blue #1. No animal ingredients.
(Fierce) MelonSugar, natural flavor, yellow #6, red #40.No animal ingredients.
(Fierce) Fruit Punch + BerrySugar, natural flavor, red #40.No animal ingredients.
(Frost) Riptide RushSugar, natural flavor, red #40, blue #1.No animal ingredients.
(Frost) Cool BlueSugar, natural flavor, blue #1. No animal ingredients.
(Frost) Glacier FreezeSugar, natural flavor, blue #1. No animal ingredients.
(G2 Low-Sugar) GrapeSugar, natural flavor, red#40, blue #1. No animal ingredients.
(G2 Low-Sugar) Cool BlueSugar, natural flavor, blue #1. No animal ingredients.
(G2 Low-Sugar) Lemon-LimeSugar, natural flavor, yellow #5, blue #1. No animal ingredients.
(Zero) OrangeNatural flavor, yellow #6.No animal ingredients.
(Zero) Lemon-LimeNatural flavor, yellow #5.No animal ingredients.
(Zero) Glacier CherryNatural flavor.No animal ingredients.
(Zero) Glacier FreezeNatural flavor.No animal ingredients.
(Zero) BerryNatural flavor. No animal ingredients.
(Organic) Passion FruitN/A100% Vegan
(Organic) StrawberryN/A100% Vegan
(Organic) Mixed BerryN/A100% Vegan

Other than the organic Gatorade drinks, the others all have dubious ingredients. You may consider them vegan or not. It’s really up to you.

For me, Gatorade is suitable for vegan.

Gatorade Thirst Quencher Powder

gatorade powder

Gatorade isn’t only produced in liquid form.

There’s also a powder form you can mix with water to create a Gatorade drink.

If you’re a hardcore Gatorade fan, or if you need something to pump you for a workout, you can bring this powder with you to the gym. It’s pretty much like adding protein powder to water.

Gatorade Powder also contains ingredients like sugar, natural flavors, and added colors.

In my opinion, it’s vegan, but it comes down to your view on the ingredients above.

Is Gatorade Optimal For Health?

Gatorade, as well as other sport’s drinks, can lead to certain negative health risks if you just consume them mindlessly.

According to an article in Medical News Today, since it contains a high level of sugars, it may increase people’s risk of certain health conditions, including weight gain and type 2 diabetes.

It may be a good complement for athletes involved in intense exercise and activity, but I believe there are cons than pros to a drink that contains an unhealthy level of sugars.

As such, drink Gatorade (or any other drink) moderately.

Verdict: Gatorade Has No Animal Ingredients.

Gatorade has no animal ingredients.

Still, some vegans are against artificial colors, which most Gatorade products have.

Gatorade also has natural flavors and sugar, but it’s hard to trace the source, as it can be derived from both plants and animals.

If you wish to avoid any of the above, you can look at the Organic Gatorade line. We can safely say that the Organic Gatorade product line is vegan.

Thank you for reading this blog post. 🙂

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About the Author: Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than three years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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