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Being vegan is not always easy, with products promising natural ingredients only to have revealed that certain elements contain traces of animal by-products. Popular energy drinks like red bull are so widely consumed, that it’s curiosity combined with slithers of desire to join this club, that I’m sure most of us have wondered whether Red Bull is suitable for vegans and vegetarians, and just what exactly is used to make this energy boosting drink?
Table of Contents
What Exactly is Red Bull?
Red Bull is a carbonated energy drink that contains caffeine, as well as other energy-boosting compounds including several B vitamins and taurine. While the exact ingredients in every can might vary across other countries, but normally they include:
- Carbonated water
- Baking soda
- Citric acid
- Magnesium carbonate
- Artificial flavours
- Natural flavours
Red Bull also sells sugar-free options such as Red Bull Zero and Red Bull Sugarfree, which use artificial sweeteners to replace sugar. Essentially the ingredients used in a Red Bull can are designed to give you an energy boost, which might come at a disadvantage in the long term.
Artificial Colours Aren’t Vegan
A major issue amongst the vegan and vegetarian community is the excessive use of artificial colours in many foods, especially energy drinks such as Red Bull, Monster, Gatorade and more. Unfortunately each of these popular drinks has a long background of animal experiments that end in doom for the animal being experimented on. This is a tricky issue because many would argue that testing products on animals is a necessary evil, when putting it against the health and safety of humans consuming these products.
What About the Natural Flavours?
Natural flavours can be obtained from an animal or plant-based source. Natural flavours are typically extracted from the following sources:
- Fruit or fruit juice
- Vegetables or vegetable juice
- 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 extracted through heating or roasting.
Is the Sugar in Red Bull Vegan?
Normally the sugar in red bull is vegan, although this isn’t always the case. During the refining stage, some manufacturers use bone char, which is a substance used to filter bleach cane sugar so that it transforms into a pristine white colour. Bone char is obtained by heating the bones of cattle at higher temperatures. However some companies don’t use bone char and rely on granular activated charcoal instead.
Additionally bone char is only used on sugars that are extracted from sugar cane. But the sugar found in Red Bull is commonly extracted from beets. However, when in doubt, opt for the sugar free Red Bull or energy drink options.
What is Beets Sugar?
Beet sugar is refined sugar made from sugar beet (Beta Vulgaris) a plant with conical-shaped white room and long, bushy green leaves. The sugar beetroot is high with sucrose and is used to create white sugar, also known as refined sugar, table sugar or granulated sugar.
Beet Sugar vs Sugar Cane
Normally sugar comes from two sources: sugar beet and sugar cane, both containing the exact same compounds and blend in commercial sugar packages. However, there are differences between the plants and their sugars. These include:
- Appearance: The root of the sugar beet grows underground, whereas the sugar cane grows above ground.
- Growth: Sugar beet grows in temperate climates in North America, Europe and Russia. Sugar cane grows in tropical climates in Brazil, India, Southeast Asia, and the Southern US.
- Production: Beet sugar is made using a process that involves thinly slicing sugar beets to extract the sugar juice, the juice is purified and heated to create a concentrated syrup, which is crystallised to form granulated sugar. Sugar cane is produced using a similar method, but sometimes processed using one char, which helps bleach and filter white sugar.
Ingredients in Red Bull
Knowing the ingredients is one thing, but their purpose is what could help us understand the potential need for them. After all every product extracts flavours from many sources for good reason. Here’s what a typical can of Red Bull energy drink contains:
- Magnesium Carbonate
- Citric Acid
- Pyridoxine HCI, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate
While sugar is often extracted from animals – mainly the charred bones of animals. This is not the case with the sugar used in Red Bull. Red Bull’s sugar comes from beets instead of bone char, making it completely vegan.
This substance is used in Red Bull for the purposes preserving the artificial colour used in Red Bull, as well as making it more nutritious – and it’s also extracted from plants.
Citric Acid allows Red Bull to be stored for a long time while also providing it with a slightly acidic flavour, that makes it exceedingly appealing. It’s mostly taken from bacteria and vegetables.
Pyridoxine HCI, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate
All of these substances are variations of vitamins used in Red Bull and are made with synthetic materials and processes making this completely vegan and suitable for vegetarians.
Many consider Red Bull as non vegan because it contains taurine, mistaking this ingredient to be extracted from bull semen. Which is a myth, the taurine in Red Bull is synthetically produced, and used as a physical stimulant in caffeine.
Types of Red Bull Flavours
Red Bull comes in a variety of flavours, catering to all those who have an individual preference, some may lean towards the sugar-free flavours, whilst other prefer to enjoy the entire sweetness of this energy boosting drink. Lets take a look at these different flavours:
- Red Bull Energy Drink
- Red Bull Sugar Free
- Red Bull Yellow Edition
- Red Bull Summer Edition
- Red Bull Purple Edition
Red Bull Energy Drink
The original Red Bull energy drink is the one many are familiar with. This drink has almost as much caffeine present in its liquid depth, as a cup of coffee, with its sugar levels being almost identical to those found in a glass of orange juice. Furthermore, one can of Red Bull energy drink provides important B vitamins, as well as the amino acid taurine, all of which are extracted from plant-based substances, consequently making this drink vegan and vegetarian friendly.
Red Bull Sugar Free
The sugar free options for Red Bull energy drink, do not limit the richness of this heavily caffeinated drink in any way. Instead of the sugars being extracted from beets in the sugar varieties of Red Bull, one can of Red Bull Sugar Free contains sweeteners such as Acesulfame K and Aspartame both of which contain minimal to no calories in order to sweeten the Red Bull Sugar Free energy drink. Both of these sweeteners are synthetically produced, allowing vegans to enjoy this energy drink in abundance.
Red Bull Yellow Edition
This Yellow Edition of Red Bull is quite different from its other varieties, by acquiring a more tropical taste, though most of its ingredients remain the same. Apart from the artificial colourings, there are no other ingredients in Red Bull Yellow that could potentially push this energy drink into a grey area, in terms of being suitable for vegans. This variety of Red Bull produces an intense fruity flavour, contrasting to its other varieties, though the caloric and sugar levels are identical to the original version, this drink is also safe for vegans or vegetarians to consume.
Red Bull Summer Edition
The Red Bull Summer Edition is the perfect flavour for those who prefer a little cold and refreshing caffeinated beverage first thing in the morning. The peachy flavour is perfect for those who don’t particularly prefer the slight acerbic taste of the original Red Bull. Fortunately the Summer Edition of this Red Bull Energy Drink is entirely vegan friendly, though it contains artificial colour, which can be questionable, overall the drink does not contain any elements of animal-derived ingredients.
Red Bull Purple Edition
Another exceptional fruity drink is introduced to the Red Bull collection. The Red Bull Purple Edition is especially flavoured with acai berry, a refreshingly caffeinated drink, providing an almost identical effect to that of a cup of steaming coffee. Like the other varieties of Red Bull, the Purple Edition is also vegan, apart from the artificial colouring which Red Bull performs animal tests with.
Why Artificial Colours aren’t Vegan?
Unsurprisingly Red Bull contains artificial colourings, but because this drink doesn’t contain any elements of animal-derived ingredients, many are left scratching their heads due to the artificial colours that would have been tested on animals, before the energy drinks were sold at your local supermarket. So are the artificial colours vegan or not? This is where the lines become a little grey for a vegan. Essentially the most common type of food colouring that you’ll find in food and drinks is artificial colours which include: Red 40, Blue 1 and more.
However, artificial colours are a standing issue in the vegan community for a variety of reasons. With the artificial colours being created in commercial labs from isolated chemicals or are derived from a by-product of petroleum. Though, from an ethical perspective these dyes are all routinely tested on animals, such as mice and rats before being good enough to add to sell to manufacturers, who create products that will soon be purchased.
It is important to know that the testing isn’t carried out by the food manufacturers that use these colours in their ingredients. Instead, animal testing is conducted by researchers to try to prove whether they are safe or dangerous to consume in different foods. Majority of vegans are content with eating products that contain artificial colours, but stricter vegans are strongly against them, as they are tested on animals, potentially hurting them placing artificial colours into the animal cruelty category.
Best Energy Drinks for Vegans
With Red Bull being the world’s most well-known energy drink brand, containing zero animal products, it is enjoyed by many who acquire that special gut punched boost of energy first thing in the morning. With that being said, there are some vegans who prefer to steer clear of this particular energy drink due to the artificial colours present in it’s ingredients, so let’s explore the vegan alternatives:
- TENZING Natural Energy Drink
- Carabao Energy Drink
- Limitless Natural Energy Drink
TENZING Natural Energy Drink
A great healthy alternative to excessively sweet energy drinks is this delicious plant-based energy drink, with no artificial colours, the energy boost is solely derived from plants, a no brainer really. With natural caffeine, and energising vitamin C, this energy drink will have you itching to start your day, minus the fear of having consumed a drink that might have included elements of animal cruelty. This drink contains a fantastic 48 calories per can with no artificial sweeteners or additives, you can enjoy on the go!
Carabao Energy Drink
An apple flavoured energy drink available in a delicious variety of flavours such as, green apple, mixed berry, orange blast, and original energy flavour. You can glug this energy drink before an intense workout, with only 4 calories per can, containing zero sugar, its absolutely vegan and vegetarian friendly.
Limitless Natural Energy Drink
Conquer your eventful days with a can of Limitless Energy Drink to send you on your way. Made with 100% vegan-friendly ingredients, this won’t have you wavering from your morals, this energy drink uses the most natural ingredients, to provide you with an almost identical burst of energy to Red Bull energy drink. The distinct flavourings of all these natural drinks are derived from natural flavourings of exotic fruits and berries.
So is Red Bull Vegan
This would depend on how strict of a vegan you are. Although most of the ingredients are plant-based with non animal-derived ingredients, the artificial colours found in all varieties of Red Bull, is where the controversy arises. When vegan and in doubt, always opt for the vegan alternatives.
Why is Red Bull not Vegan?
Although there are no animal products in Red Bull, there are however, artificial colours in Red Bull, which some vegans don’t consider to be vegan-friendly.
Which Energy Drinks are Vegan?
When looking for vegan alternatives to Red Bull, try some of these: Emerge, Lucozade, Monster, Rockstar and GURU.
Is there Animal Product in Red Bull?
This drink is suitable for vegans, because it does not contain animal-products.