Which energy drinks are vegan? What the heck is taurine and is it really made from bull testicles? Are the BCAAs in energy drinks really sources from animals?
If you’ve ever wondered whether energy drinks are vegan or not -- you came to the right place.
Read on for the ultimate guide to vegan energy drinks!
What Does It Mean To Be Vegan?
First things first, what exactly does it mean to be vegan, anyway?
Vegans don’t eat anything that comes from animals. This means that besides not eating meat, vegans will also avoid foods such as eggs, dairy, and even honey. Many vegas take this method beyond their diet as well and avoid wearing or using animal products as well, such as wool and leather.
Why might someone go vegan, you ask?
The way someone chooses to eat is entirely up to personal preference. While there are many benefits to consuming food like dairy and eggs, there is also quite a bit of research showing that a vegan diet can help do the following:
Reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering your cholesterol levels.
Promote weight loss.
Manage diabetes by lowering A1C levels
Lower your risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer.
Okay, So Are Energy Drinks Vegan?
Across the spectrum, not all energy beverages are vegan, and this is why:
Many popular coffee drinks like cappuccinos, macchiatos, and lattes contain cow’s milk. Milk is a pretty common ingredient found in energy drinks, too, especially in flavors emulating coffee.
Popular caffeinated iced tea energy drinks often utilize honey -- disqualifying them from a vegan diet. Bees pollinate flowers and produce honey, so most vegans avoid the sweet sticky substance.
Many energy beverages on the market today may seem vegan, but they usually contain animal products in some way, shape, or form. For example, common thickeners like gelatin are animal-based, so every label should be thoroughly examined.
Everyone is different, but depending on how strict your adherence to the vegan lifestyle is, there are some ingredients in leading energy beverages you may object to and will most certainly want to avoid:
Artificial Colors: Believe it or not, most artificial colors have sadly been tested on animals.
Glycerol Ester of Wood Rosin: While this plant-based additive may seem a little odd to be on the list, the sad truth is that it may actually contain some animal products.
Added Sugar: Bone char from animals is commonly used in the energy drink sugar-refining process.
BCAAs: Branch chain amino acids can sometimes be produced by animals so you should move forward with caution.
The Great Taurine Debate
When trying to determine whether a certain energy drink is vegan or not, taurine is often an ingredient that is up for debate. You see, taurine is an amino acid and amino acids are organic compounds that are crucial to a functioning human body. You get the amino acids your body needs by eating whole foods or by producing them yourself. Taurine can, in fact, be made by the human body, but some individuals are unable to create it on their own.
Taurine has a pretty interesting reputation to say the least. Due to the name’s similarity to the Latin Taurus, meaning “bull”, quite a few rumors have circulated that taurine comes from bull urine or even semen -- yikes!
However, this honestly couldn’t be further from the truth! Many animals and certain types of sea critters are capable of producing taurine. Other than the name, taurine is only associated with cattle because back in the day, it was first isolated from ox bile.
While it offers great benefits to the body, taurine is not an essential acid -- this means we can live without it.
Although testing on taurine is still ongoing, it’s thought to improve exercise and performance while protecting your muscles, which is why many popular energy drinks use it. However, this is up for debate because there is also research suggesting taurine added to energy drinks has no benefit at all.
Synthetic taurine is widely available, but as a consumer, it can be a little challenging to identify which brands use animal-based taurine and which use lab-made taurine. The jury is still out on whether this controversial ingredient is truly vegan or not.
Pay Attention To Sweeteners and Additives
Sweeteners are another part of the energy drink label that can be pretty tricky. As we mentioned a little earlier, honey is a common alternative sweetener to sugar. The bee-produced product, however, is not vegan.
Tasty agave syrup, on the other hand, which is almost identical to honey, is entirely plant-based and safe for vegans.
Other artificial additives and sweeteners can pose negative health effects. Some are even tested on small animals, striking them from vegan consideration.
Some of the best-certified vegan sweeteners include:
Brown rice syrup
...and just good old plain fruit! Proper Wild’s clean energy shots, for example, are fully sweetened by fruit and fruit alone. Our three delicious flavors include peach-mango, ginger, and blackberry, and only contain real juices with zero grams of added sugar with absolutely no artificial sweeteners.
How Can You Be Sure Your “Vegan” Energy Drink is Really Vegan?
What if there’s a questionable ingredient or two on the label of your favorite energy drink? Should you still purchase it? We would advise you not to unless you want to risk potentially falling off-track as a vegan.
Instead, it’s much better to hold off on making the purchase, head home, and reach out to the beverage company directly. Whether you call, shoot them a quick email, or send a message over social media, don’t be afraid to ask about the ingredient you are curious about. Most brands should be happy to answer questions of this nature.
If you happen to get the answer you were looking for, that your drink is in fact vegan, then go ahead and proceed. Otherwise, stick with energy drinks that you know to be 100% vegan, like the energy shots found at Proper Wild.
A Final Word
Everyone could use a boost to help them out of an energy slump from time to time. But if you’re a vegan, what drink do you reach for? Coffee has sugar and milk, so energy beverages seem like the obvious choice. Still, whether these are vegan is still up for debate as some ingredients are most certainly vegan while others are not.
Rather than choosing a questionable energy drink from the shelf, try one of our 100% plant-based energy shots that are entirely vegan. These tasty shots have a short, simple list of healthy ingredients and are flavored with real fruit juices with zero grams of added sugar and absolutely no animal by-products.