The popular energy drink that is supposed to give you imaginary wings and help you to power through the day… Is the original Red Bull drink vegan?
If you check the Q&A on the official Red Bull site for America, their team has answered for vegetarians (not vegans) that “only non-animal ingredients” are included in their famous drink. However, the spartan one-sentence response naturally only tells part of the tale.
But what’s the real story? Is Red Bull Vegan?
What Are the Ingredients in Red Bull?
The original Red Bull – there are many new flavors released by the company – has a few interesting ingredients.
Carbonated water and sugar are present. But so are citric acid, baking soda, and taurine. Plus, there is some magnesium carbonate in there for good measure.
Additionally, Red Bull includes both artificial colors and natural flavors too. And this is where the trouble starts.
Artificial colors – which we cover fully in the next section (below) – are dyes that have been tested on animals at some stage. The company may not have been directly involved because independent research is performed by outside labs in support of the industry. But it is a known fact.
Natural flavors is an umbrella term that may include spices, plant sources, vegetables, eggs, and dairy products, and potentially poultry, meat, or fish/seafood too. Because the ingredients may just be listed as “natural flavoring,” it’s unclear exactly what is included, which is not great if you are trying to stick to a strict vegan diet.
Are Artificial Colors Vegan?
Artificial colors are not strictly speaking considered vegan. Though it’s fair to say that it’s a hotly contested topic.
The majority of artificial colors today are created using plant-based ingredients, rather than from animal products. However, some laboratories test artificial color ingredients on mice, rats, and other animals.
Even if the food and drink companies do not perform the testing themselves, they still use these artificial dye colors in their products. For beverage companies, it alters their appearance to make their drinks more visually appetizing.
The situation creates a bit of a dilemma for vegans.
Also, some artificial coloring has been found or is suspected of causing health issues. This aspect led some European countries to ban a few of from foods and drinks sold in their respective countries.
For vegans, artificial colors and animal testing is problematic. Red Bull uses artificial colors in their drinks. Should they boycott their range of energy drinks or still imbibe them?
Also, the reality for vegan energy drink consumers is that few vegan energy drinks pass muster. The industry as a whole does use artificial colors. Avoiding artificial colors means saying no to consuming energy drinks.
Taking a step back to view the bigger picture, unless everyone stopped consuming these products, the testing of color dyes on animals would certainly continue. So, consuming a Red Bull doesn’t directly contribute to more testing going on. It would happen, either way, so taking a stand morally or ethically changes nothing.
Therefore, it’s more of a personal decision based on what you’re comfortable with rather than forcing a change through consumer activism.
So, Is Red Bull Vegan?
The answer to whether Red Bull is vegan is a mixed one.
The primary ingredients appear to be vegan. The trouble is mainly with the artificial flavors and coloring. While it appears only non-animal ingredients are included in its composition, the drink isn’t labeled as vegan.
If you look at the more recently released Organics by Red Bull range, it has a USDA Organic certified logo on the front of each 8.4 FL. OZ. can. It doesn’t have any artificial colors either. The marketing confirms it uses natural flavors from plant extracts (also printed on the can’s label). While it isn’t stated as vegan, this range is considered to be so.
Doesn’t it stand to reason that if Red Bull was organic, vegetarian, or vegan, the marketing or the blurb on the can would confirm it? We think it would, if only because it would attract more buyers. In the end, you’ll need to reach your conclusion.