Pepsi is a carbonated beverage that is beloved by both the young and old. If you live a vegan lifestyle, you may be wondering if you can still enjoy this while sticking to your diet choices.
A standard can of Pepsi contains around 135 calories, so it will need to be drank in moderation to avoid going over your daily limit. While Pepsi Max contains only 1 calorie per 330ml can, and Diet Pepsi contains 2 calories, this doesn’t mean they are suitable for drinking in large quantities. The sweeteners and other additives are not healthy for you. All soft drinks should be consumed in moderation in line with a healthy vegan diet.
Pepsi is a sweeter drink than its Coca Cola rival. It tends to contain less sodium and more sugar. Pepsi is also sweetened by citric acid which gives it a slightly citrusy tang. Citric acid is a natural ingredient which comes from citrus fruits, so it’s completely fine for vegan consumption.
Ingredients may vary depending on flavor and country of production.
Is Pepsi Vegan?
The answer is both yes and no. Pepsi themselves have stated that their products are entirely suitable for vegetarians and that, apart from Diet Pepsi and Diet Pepsi Caffeine Free, they are also vegan friendly too.
Pepsi can be enjoyed on its own, and also as a mixer. Vegans who enjoy drinking a spirit with Pepsi will also be pleased to know that most spirits are suitable for vegans. The exception here is any that are cream based or contain honey. Otherwise, there is no reason why you cannot responsibly enjoy an alcoholic beverage using the standard or Max varieties of Pepsi.
While it is standard for a vegan or vegetarian to judge whether a product is suitable for them by scouring the list of ingredients, this does not give any further information regarding Pepsi.
For the normal and Max varieties, the ingredient list seems to be, as Pepsi have stated, vegan friendly. However, when you browse the Diet varieties, this becomes incredibly unclear. The ingredients appear to be the same, yet PepsiCo do not class them as vegan.
When comparing Pepsi Max and Pepsi Diet, the only difference seems to be that the diet variety contains an acidity regulator in the form of sodium citrate. This is not seen within the Max ingredient list. A quick search finds that sodium citrate is vegan, being the salt extracted from citric acid that gives a sour taste, hence its street name of sour salt.
Otherwise, the general list of ingredients for Pepsi varieties include carbonated water, sugar, caramel e150d color, phosphoric acid, caffeine, and other flavorings. None of these, at face value, seem to be ingredients that are off limits to vegans. Even caramel e150 is a vegan friendly colorant, having not been made with animal products or tested on animals.
In 2017, a spokesperson for Britvic, the company that produces Pepsi in the UK, stated that these were not vegan, however the reason why was a commercial secret. Due to this, people are still no closer to discovering why the beverage is not suitable for them.
The closest a vegan would be able to get to Diet Pepsi would be Pepsi Max, which is also sugar free, but contains additional sweeteners and a higher quantity of caffeine to stay as close to the original flavor of Pepsi as possible. This means that it would not taste the same, however would ensure that you don’t have to compromise on your morals or lifestyle choice.
Pepsi vs Coca Cola
There has been a long-standing debate on whether Pepsi or Coca Cola are better, and fans of each can be divided by the popular drinks. In terms of their vegan status, both have drinks that are suitable and ones that vegans should steer clear of.
PepsiCo produces brands such a Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Lipton’s Iced Tea, and Tropicana Juice. Some products, such as Tropicana, Lipton’s Iced Tea, and some Pepsi flavors, are vegan friendly. Others, such as Mountain Dew, are ambiguous due to certain ingredients possibly coming into contact with animal products somewhere down the line. With Pepsi itself, it is just the Diet varieties that are out of bounds.
Is Coke Vegan?
Coca Cola company produces brands such as Coca Cola, Lilt, Fanta, Sprite, and Monster Energy. All of the Coca Cola drinks themselves are vegan, including the diet varieties. This gives it an edge over Pepsi. Monster Energy and Sprite are also proudly vegan. Coca Cola company have stated that Lilt is not vegan as it contains animal derivatives. Finally, Fanta appears to be vegan, however some vegans may find issue drinking it as, while they come from a vegetable source, they are a product of animal testing from the colors added.
Coca Cola have stated that their non-vegan products are due to fish gelatin being used as a stabilizer for the beta-carotene color. This, again, gives Coca Cola an edge over Pepsi, as they give consumers the information regarding why they should steer clear of the product.
Obviously, the best and healthiest vegan alternative to Pepsi would be standard water, however people drink soda for its taste rather than health benefits.
The first alternative you could look into, rather than name-brand Pepsi, would be to create your own soda. This way, you can ensure what ingredients are going in, as well as the calorific content. To do so, you can make your own syrup using fruits, spices, sugar or sweetener (depending on if you wanted to try and recreate a diet variety), water, and gum Arabic, which works similarly to gelatin but comes from plant fiber as opposed to animal matter. This syrup can then be added to sparkling water, seltzer water, or tonic water to give you a fizzy cola-flavored soda product.
Creating your own soda can be tricky, particularly if you lack experience in the kitchen. It may take several attempts to get the flavoring right to suit your tastes. It also takes time to prepare, meaning you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the beverage spontaneously the same way you could if buying or storing cans of drink.
Secondly, if you don’t have the time or know how to create your own, there is always the option of purchasing soda products that are both vegan and do their bit for the world. Companies such as Lemon-Aid produce products from all-natural ingredients that are vegan friendly and ethically sound. This means that, while no animals were used or harmed during their production, the farmers and environment are also looked after and protected. These types of sodas can be good for the ethical vegan who wants to do their part when buying a drink, rather than simply purchasing a beverage that funds a multi-million-dollar corporation.
Overall, a vegan consumer can drink Pepsi, so long as they stick to the regular of Max varieties. If you would prefer the diet variety, you would have to switch to Coca Cola or another vegan product to maintain your vegan lifestyle. Making it yourself is a possibility, but it would be up to you to consider whether the time and effort are worth the end result. Otherwise, if you truly wish to stick with the Pepsi brand, Pepsi, Pepsi Max, and some other PepsiCo products are still available to you.