If you have just turned vegan, it might be hard for you to know which is the right food for you. You will need to let go of many favorite food items. In addition, there are several dietary restrictions that you need to follow.
Vegans need to find food item alternatives that could come close to their favorite food items. Whether it is snack items, beverages, or regular food items, there are alternatives for everything.
Cream soda is one such beverage that may not be healthy but is undoubtedly famous.
The first cream soda recipe that was published in 1852 had eggs and milk. However, in current times the recipe has changed to a great extent.
Is Cream Soda Vegan?
The cream soda you buy from stores is generally vegan. Different brands make cream soda. Almost 90% of them do not contain eggs, milk, or any animal ingredients. Hence, if you opt for store-bought cream soda, it will suit vegans. There have been several discussions to understand whether cream soda is vegan-friendly.
The reason lies in the difference between store-bought and restaurant-served cream soda and the production process.
Cream Soda Ingredients
The ingredients present in cream soda differ for each brand. Even though the base ingredients are the same, there are certain different ingredients used. Here we have taken ten of the most popular brands that make cream soda and their components.
- Cane Sugar / High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Caramel Color or Artificial Colors (Red 40 etc.)
- Artificial & Natural Flavors
- Carbonated Water
- Quillaia Extract / Yucca Extract
- Citric Acid
- Sodium Benzoate (preservative)
However, certain ingredients might have questionable vegan status. Therefore, let us look at specific components to understand if they are vegan or not.
Questionable Ingredients Present in Cream Soda
The list mentioned above contains ingredients that most popular brands use for making cream soda. However, there have been several questions regarding the vegan status of specific components. Therefore, we have shed more light on six ingredients to understand their vegan-friendliness better.
Cane sugar may not be an ingredient that strict vegans consider an actual vegan ingredient. This is because non-organic cane sugar is often filtered with bone char. This is done to make the cane sugar whiter.
Even though many vegans will let this slight diversion slide, it may be a significant thing for strict vegans.
The name may say caramel, but there is no natural caramel. This means that the ingredient does not contain any dairy, which makes it 100% vegan. Instead, the name is given due to the caramel color derived from heating sugar, mainly corn.
Artificial colors are very commonly available in red and orange cream sodas. These colors are not derived from animals but are made synthetically. That is why they are considered to be vegan.
However, one major issue with artificial colors, which makes many vegans boycott them, is animal testing. Artificial colors are animal tested to understand their safety. This does not sit well with many vegans.
Sodium Benzoate (Preservative)
Sodium benzoate is a preservative that is present in many carbonated drinks. This ingredient is purely made from synthetic ingredients, which makes it completely vegan. The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) states this ingredient as vegan.
Quillaia or Yucca Extract
Both yucca and quillaia are plants, so there is no real question about them not being vegan. Hence, there is no major problem or question with their vegan-friendliness.
The term natural flavor is generally very vague since it could mean anything. For example, natural flavors could also mean animal ingredients such as milk. However, if a product contains any milk ingredient, it would be mentioned.
This is because milk is an allergen and should mandatorily be specified in the packaging. Since nothing is mentioned, the term natural flavor should not bother you much.
Top 10 Brands That Offer Vegan Cream Soda
- A&W Cream Soda
- Barr Cream Soda
- Dr. Pepper and Cream Soda
- IBC Cream Soda
- Barq’s Cream Soda
- Virgil’s Cream Soda
- Crush Cream Soda
- Scarlett Cream Soda
- IBC Cream Soda
- Stewart’s Cream Soda
Is It Safe for Vegans to Consume Cream Soda?
Primarily, since store-bought cream soda has all vegan ingredients, it is safe for vegans to consume. However, restaurant-served products are another story. Most restaurants serve cream soda with dairy ice cream. This automatically makes the product non-vegan.
You can ask the restaurant to serve original cream soda without the ice cream. However, there may be concerns of cross-contamination, which may not be acceptable to some vegans.
You also need to stay away from any cream soda mixes that may contain dairy. These could include ice cream soda, ice cream soda, etc.
Apart from the ingredients, several other factors could give rise to this discussion.
Production of Different Brands
The brands that we have mentioned here produce vegan cream soda. The ingredients used are either synthetically derived or plant-based. However, there is also the use of cane sugar filtered with bone char.
Not all brands use cane sugar and instead go for high fructose corn syrup. Brands like Barr, Crush, IBC, etc., use cane sugar. This may be an issue for strict vegans who see it as having used animal products.
You will not find any brand of cream soda listed in PETA’s list of vegan beverages. This can be due to the use of animal bone char in processing cane sugar. Moreover, the absence of natural flavor specifications may also be a reason.
Strict vegans may do well not to consume cream soda from brands that use bone char to filter cane sugar. However, vegans who are flexible with these slight uses can choose from any of the mentioned brands.
Problems With Cross-Contamination
Cross-contamination is another issue that can be very important for some vegans. In beverage companies, cross-contamination mainly occurs in the production line using milk or other non-vegan-friendly ingredients. Even though cream soda might not have sugar, other beverages produced by the company may do.
One example of this would be AG Barr, which produces vegan-friendly beverages and beverages containing honey and milk, suitable for vegetarians.
Most vegans let go of this minor issue since it is impossible to tell how it is manufactured. Companies may or may not follow strict production rules for vegan-friendly products.
Several experts have mentioned the lack of product isolation during the production process. This means that all the products are manufactured using the same machines for vegan and non-vegan products.
Cross-contamination may not be a massive issue for some vegans. However, others might not be comfortable with it. Therefore, there are certain brands of cream soda that strict vegans would prefer to avoid.
Another issue that arises is the lack of proper product information. For example, the brands we have mentioned here use natural flavors. However, the type of flavor is not mentioned. This incomplete information can raise questions since many vegans are strict about what they consume.
Though products containing allergens, glutamates, and animal products are specified in the packaging, the source of natural flavors remains unidentified.
Is Cream Soda Healthy?
Soda or any other carbonated drink, in general, is not stated as healthy. You should consume them in limited amounts since they contain cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, soda water, artificial flavors, etc.
None of these ingredients are healthy for your body and should always be taken in moderation. However, you can always check out the nutritional facts provided by each brand in their packaging.
The nutritional value of cream soda will more or less be the same for each brand. Most brands have 0 g total fat in their cream soda. The difference mainly lies in the number of carbohydrates and sugar content used in the beverage.
Cream soda can be considered a vegan beverage due to the presence of vegan-friendly ingredients. However, there is always the question of cross-contamination, incomplete ingredient sources, and bone char which might not make it favorable for all vegans.
The decision to consume cream soda depends entirely on you. There are many brands that you can choose from, which might make the selection easy. However, there are several factors that you cannot control, one of them being product isolation.
While drinking cream soda can cause no harm, it is better not to do it regularly.
That said, the question of nutritional values and health arises, which might change your consumption pattern for soda beverages such as cream soda. Carbonated drinks are better if consumed in moderation to ensure good overall health.