Monday, January 2, 2017

Can a Vegan have a Coke with a Friend?

The other day I had a hankering for a soda.  This doesn't happen often.  I don't usually drink carbonated beverages.

My next thought was, of course, whether sodas are vegan.

I did a quick Google search and found a source that claimed that most sodas (pop, soda pop, whatever you call them) are not vegan because they contain ester gum which they said could come from an animal source.  I could find no proof of this claim, however, so I discarded it. (To clarify:  I've seen ester gum as an ingredient in some sodas but I cannot find anything that informs me it might come from an animal source and not a plant source.)

I was still left with my original question.

I scanned labels at the grocery store and didn't recognize many of the ingredients. I could have chosen to look up each of these but I thought, perhaps, the companies themselves could provide me with better information - if they didn't decide it was some sort of state secret or too much effort to go to.

I began with the Coca Cola company mostly because I prefer their products, when having a soda. (I'm sure it has to do with the marketing. Don't argue with me.)  I looked over their website and found that they have a complete list of all their ingredients here where you can see what those odd sounding, confusing items are!  This is great!  Except... I'm lazy.  So....   I used their contact form and asked which of their products were vegan.

I received a terrific and detailed response from a man who identified himself as David and called me Ms. Cathryn so I believe he is from the south.

Here is what he wrote:
For the most part the brands of The Coca-Cola Company in the United States do not contain ingredients derived from animals.  However, there are a few products that contain ingredients such as cochineal* (which is listed on the label) and products that contain milk (which is also indicated on the label) that are derived from animals.  
In the U.S., Minute Maid Juices To Go Ruby Red Grapefruit Drink contains cochineal*. 
Also in the U.S., Coca-Cola brand products that contain milk are Odwalla Protein Monsters and some Odwalla Food Bars, Illy and some Minute Maid Smoothie Mixes. 
Some of our juice products contain Vitamin D3, which is derived from lanolin.  Lanolin is a natural oil in the fiber of sheep's wool.  It is separated from the wool after the sheep's hair is cut (sheared).  Lanolin oil is obtainable without harming the sheep but may be an issue for strict vegetarians.
Additionally, some of our suppliers use a common industry practice for grape juice clarification that does involve animal by-products.  The gelatin used to clarify the juice is made from bovine skin.
So!  Most of their products are fine!  Watch out for red or orange drinks which may contain cochineal and products that contain milk.  (so... read the label)  Additionally, watch for juice products that contain Vitamin D3 if you don't use anything from wool and any containing grape juice.

I'm pleased!  I can, indeed, have that Coke when I feel like it on occasion!

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*A cochineal is an insect that some red food coloring is made from.

Image Is By Ben Franske (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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