Is Red Bull Suitable For Vegans? (3 Reasons Why It May Not Be)

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Red Bull gives you wings to fly, or at least that’s what the commercial says.

As an energy drink, it’s among the most popular with 5 billion cans being sold annually throughout the world. Red Bull also has its name tied to sports such as biking, motorsports, surf, and even air sports. There’s even a Formula One team called Red Bull Racing.

Red Bull is marketed as a way to improve energy and boost mental and physical performance.

But is Red Bull vegan? Let’s have a closer look.

What is Red Bull?

red bull
Photo by Vegan Foundry

Red Bull is a carbonated beverage that contains caffeine, as well as other energy-boosting compounds, including several B vitamins and taurine.

While the exact composition may vary between countries, the ingredients usually include:

  • Carbonated water
  • Sugar
  • Baking soda
  • Citric acid
  • Magnesium carbonate
  • Taurine
  • Artificial colors
  • Natural flavors

Red Bull also sells sugar-free options such as Red Bull Zero and Red Bull Sugarfree, which use artificial sweeteners (aspartame and acesulfame K) to replace sugar.

Overall, the ingredients in a Red Bull are designed to give you an energy boost, which may come at a cost in the long term.

Too Much Red Bull May Have Negative Repercussions

Just like any energy drink, Red Bull contains many crappy ingredients.

While it’s rare, excessively drinking Red Bull may lead to a heart attack or even death. In fact, this has occurred in cases where young men reportedly drank energy drinks regularly and in excess.

But of course, this is the worst-case scenario.

At the same time, we should be cautious because the side effects can also be daunting. Regularly consuming Red Bull (or other energy drinks) can increase the risk for conditions such as:

  • High blood pressure and heart rate
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Tooth damage
  • Kidney health
  • Caffeine overdose and toxicity.

It’s high in sugars and has little nutritional value. While I understand the love for Red Bull, you can always find healthier alternatives to boost your energy levels, such as coffee or caffeinated tea.

If you absolutely love Red Bull, please drink it moderately.

Why Redbull May Not Be Vegan.

From what I’ve checked, there are a few ingredients that place Red Bull on the grayline. However, this may depend on your own personal view.

For example, are you fine with not eating animal-based ingredients, but are cool with wearing polyester-made clothes? Each time you wash clothes made from polyester, micro-plastics flow through the waterways into rivers and oceans, eventually putting marine’ lives at risk.

If you’re a stricter vegan, you may not be fine with having artificial colors on a product.

Artificial Colors Are Tested On Animals

This is a big issue in the vegan community.

Artificial colors are in many foods, especially energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster, Gatorade, etc. And sadly, each one has a long background of animal experiments, where it never ends well for the one being experimented on.

This is a tricky issue because it’s argued that animal testing is a necessary evil. After all, the purpose behind it is to prove the safety or danger of such substances.

Some people also suggest this is a one-off thing.

However, I’ve found this isn’t the case, at all.

Artificial colors are periodically tested, and you can see tests done in plain 2017 and 2018.

They run experiments because artificial colors are linked to controversial health effects, which is the reason why laboratories insist on periodically making tests.

In other words, I don’t think these tests will stop anytime soon.

Important fact: Red Bull GmbH company continues to support tests on animals, according to this blog post by PETA.

What? Natural Flavors Are Not Vegan?

Natural flavors can be derived from an animal or plant-based source.

The U.S FDA’s Code Of Regulations points out that natural flavors are typically extracted from the following 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
  • And even Eggs.

These animal or plant-based sources are obtained through heating or roasting.

One fairly common natural flavor is “Castoreum”, a substance extracted from the beavers. Though, most likely, the majority of flavors are plant-based.

If you can’t tell it apart from the label (which isn’t simple to figure out), my suggestion would be to contact the company or manufacturer for more information.

Feel free to read more about natural flavors in this blog post we’ve written.

*I’m presently waiting for customer service to fill me in on this, so I’ll most likely come back to this page to update it.

What About Sugar? Is It Vegan?

Refined Sugar

Fortunately, the sugar in Red Bull is vegan.

However, the reason I’m adamant about questioning sugar is that this isn’t always the case.

During the refining stage, companies sometimes use bone char, a substance used to filter and bleach cane sugar, conferring it a white, pristine color. Companies obtain bone char by heating the bones of cattle (mostly cows and pigs) at high temperatures.

It’s also crucial to mention, that some companies do not use bone char, and rely on granular activated charcoal instead.

In addition, bone char is only used on sugar derived from sugarcane. Another most common source of sugar is beet sugar which doesn’t follow the same “bleaching” process.

*According to Red Bull’s website, the sugar contained in their drink is extracted from beets, therefore it is considered vegan.

Feel free to contact the company or manufacturer to ask any additional questions you may have.

Additional information: You can also try sugar-free options such as Red Bull Zero and Red Bull Sugarfree. They have artificial sweeteners instead of sugar.

Misconception: Taurine Is Extracted From Bulls

Taurine is an amino acid, but not an essential one. In other words, our body doesn’t require an external source of taurine because our body naturally produces it.

Contrary to rumors, this amino acid isn’t extracted from bull urine or bull anything. It’s just that the name derived from the Latin word Taurus refers to ox or bull.

Additionally, the taurine in most supplements and energy drinks is created synthetically in labs. Though you can naturally obtain it from certain animal foods and a restricted range of plant-based ingredients.

Verdict: Red Bull Doesn’t Have Animal Ingredients

While Red Bull doesn’t contain flagrant animal-based ingredients, most of the Red Bulls have artificial colors, an ingredient many vegans are against. What’s more, the Red Bull company actually supports animal testing.

Other than that, I don’t think Red Bull has any flagrant ingredient you should worry about.

However, if you want to abandon all of the three ingredients mentioned in this blog, you can always buy an Organic Red Bull can. Though, to be frank, I’ve seen more affordable drinks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Red Bull Contain Alcohol?

Red Bull does not contain alcohol, not even a tiny percentage of alcohol. However, it does contain a stimulant in the form of caffeine that is capable of energizing you.

Does Red Bull Have Caffeine?

Yes, Red Bull has about 30 mg of caffeine in 100 grams of product, so for example, a small can contains 77 mg of caffeine, which is considerable. 

Are Red Bull Cans Recyclable?

Red Bull has their beverage in aluminum cans, a type of metal that is infinitely recyclable and that is included in state bottle deposit laws. 

Can Red Bull Expire?

Yes, Red Bull does expire. In fact, if you look closely at the cans, you will find an expiry date printed that is usually between 18 and 24 months after the date it’s produced. 

Is Red Bull Halal?

As far as I know, Redbull contains no alcohol or animal products of any kind, and the only stimulant is caffeine. While it isn’t particularly healthy for you in excess, the effect isn’t all that different from strong coffee, so it’s not haram. 

Some people question taurine, but according to Red Bull, taurine is synthetically derived, which means the drink should be halal. However, if you’re in doubt and feel like you can’t trust this brand, the best option is to simply avoid it. 

Is Red Bull Healthier Than Monster?

Unfortunately, both brands are equally unhealthy. In terms of calories, protein, carbs, and caffeine, the two brands are roughly equal, and they’re also pretty high in added sugars, which account for the vast majority of their carbohydrate content.

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for over five years! I've set up this blog because I'm passionate about veganism and living a more spiritually fulfilling life where I'm more in tune with nature. Hopefully, I can use Vegan Foundry as a channel to help you out on your own journey!