Answer: It depends. Gatorade and its many flavors and variations don’t come from animal sources. However, it has certain ingredients that spark lingering confusion in many minds.
Are you tired after that vigorous workout you have just done? Was your morning jog worth it, and has it effectively kickstarted your day?
A chill, refreshing Gatorade right now sounds good. I would undoubtedly like one. Gulps of instant-packed energy – yes, please!
Hold on, is Gatorade vegan?
Gatorade is the most popular choice in energy drinks these days. But can vegans like you and I have one?
With the growing consciousness toward health and fitness, the consumption of energy drinks is also spiking. Many follow up a gym workout by sipping their preferred sports drink. However, you may be concerned about whether vegans can consume Gatorade. This popular sports drink is found in almost every grocery store and supermarket. Gatorade is available in around 80 countries.
You might have already figured out that Gatorade does not contain obvious non–vegan products such as milk, meat, or other dairy products. Are the other ingredients used vegan? Read on to find out.
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Is Drinking Gatorade Healthy?
Gatorade is undeniably the most popular energy drink out there. Is it a healthy choice, though?
It may interest you that Gatorade was created primarily to serve health purposes. In 1965, the University of Florida’s coach called upon a team of doctors to find a remedy to treat heat sickness conditions. Many athletes face such conditions after vigorous exercise. Somebody then found that athletes lost body fluids along with carbohydrates and electrolytes in the form of sweat.
The doctors whipped up a drink to replace lost electrolytes and carbohydrates while keeping athletes hydrated to deal with this. This drink became the infamous Gatorade sports drink that most of us enjoy.
So, it is good to drink Gatorade after you exercise. It is essential to keep yourself hydrated after your workout. Water could easily do this for you. However, Gatorade contains electrolytes like sodium and potassium. These electrolytes help to balance your body fluids. Additionally, the carbs in Gatorade provide energy. This sports drink helps you to refuel and rehydrate effectively.
The drink does contain less sugar in comparison to soda. But does that make it right for your health?
Gatorade is essentially an energy drink for athletes. Let’s be honest, how many of you have had a Gatorade even if you have never played sports in your life?
Well, most people who drink it at least once a day are not as physically active as they should be. Moreover, many children drink it during lunch or after sports practice. Lately, Gatorade has become the new hangover cure.
Gatorade’s Thirst Quencher contains 36 grams of sugar for a 20 – ounce serving. The good news is that this is less sugar per ounce than your average soda. It is, however, not exactly healthy.
The extra calories can contribute to weight gain. Ouch! The excess sodium intake could lead to an increase in blood pressure over time. Gatorade’s high sugar level can also increase the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
It is also worth making note that Gatorade comprises food dyes. These include Red No. 40, Blue No.1, and Yellow No. 5. While these may not sound much more than some random color codes, they are very unhealthy. These artificial dyes come from petroleum, and they may cause cancer.
So, Gatorade may offer to complement water for athletes involved in vigorous exercise and physical activity. Although, if you are not into strenuous exercising and are generally less active physically, it is best to avoid such extra sodium intake throughout the day.
In any case, it is best to keep the consumption of Gatorade to a moderate level.
What Are the Different Ingredients and Are They Vegan?
Yes, you may be delighted to know that the original version of Gatorade sports drinks is vegan, according to its ingredients. Gatorade claims they do not add meat or dairy derivatives to their products.
However, it does contain some ingredients which might be non–vegan. These include sugar, natural flavors, and artificial colors. While this may make you skeptical, the PETA website includes regular Gatorade sports drinks as a vegan in its vegan beverages. This piece of information makes many vegans confidently consume Gatorade.
Do be aware that the company has also started making protein shakes. These have milk products in them and are not vegan.
You might have come across different colorful packs of Gatorade energy drinks in the racks of your supermarket. You may wish to choose your favorite one or try out something new. However, you need to know that these different products may sometimes come with ingredients other than those used in the original Gatorade.
Gatorade comes in many variations and flavors. It can be challenging to choose which flavor or version is vegan and which isn’t.
There are currently seven variations of Gatorade available. These are:
- Original Thirst Quencher
- Frost Thirst Quencher Frost
- Fierce Thirst Quencher
- Flow Thirst Quencher Flow
- Zero Thirst Quencher
- G2 Low – Sugar Thirst Quencher
- Organic Thirst Quencher
These names may suggest different ingredients. Each of these also offers a wide range of flavors.
But you may be surprised to know that most of these energy drinks contain the same ingredients. These include sugar, sucrose (this comes from sugar), natural flavor (most of which are not specified), and artificial colors (Yellow 5, red 40, caramel color).
Most of these contain artificial flavors. Organic Thirst Quencher, however, is made with organic cane sugar and natural organic flavor. These are vegan ingredients.
So, besides organic Gatorade drinks, other variations have questionable ingredients for vegans.
Are you still confused? Let me break it down for you.
How About the Sugar Used in Gatorade?
Sugar is generally not counted as vegan by many vegans. The reason is that refined sugar is filtered using bone char.
The sports drink company has been questioned several times about its sugar. Gatorade maintains that they can neither confirm nor deny whether the sugars used in their drinks have bone char. The company gets sugar from several different sources. They do not have the required information regarding the filtration process.
This raises many doubts. We use bone char to refine sugar because it can eliminate possible contamination and other unclean substances. The refinement process is responsible for sugar’s pure, crystal-white color.
Vegans, on the other hand, do not approve of this method. Bone char comes from heating cattle bones at very high temperatures until they turn into carbon. However, bone char is not the only method in the sugar refinement process. Many factories use granular activated carbon in place of bone char.
Also, sugar does not always come from sugarcane. Another popular alternative is using sugar obtained through the beetroot. This alternative does not require the use of bone char. Unfortunately, this kind of information is not on the labels of Gatorade bottles. It is not mentioned on the labels of other company products as well.
Many huge companies like Gatorade do not track which sugar goes into each product.
However, you may be glad to know that Kosher has certified Gatorade. It proves that their filtration processes do not transfer remnants or flavors into their final product.
Are the Natural Flavors Used Vegan?
There is a common misconception that natural flavors come only from plants. This is not true.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that plants and animals can be the sources used to extract natural flavors. Substances that pull natural flavors range from fruits, vegetable juice, and herbs to meat, poultry, and dairy products.
So, unfortunately, not all-natural flavors used are vegan.
Such added flavors mostly appear as “Natural Flavor” on labels. There is no specific information about the particular substance used or its source. To put your mind to ease, you could enquire with the manufacturers regarding the particular source.
You could also look at the ingredient label for some clues.
For example, one of the typical natural flavors is Castoreum. It is a popular non–vegan substance. This sweet substance comes from beaver secretions. This way, spotting some flavors and looking them up could be helpful. Similarly, Gatorade’s orange flavor variants contain glycerol ester of rosin. This substance is said to have the potential to be from plant or animal sources.
Some of you may wish to eliminate natural flavors. At the same time, some of you wouldn’t mind them. Many consider such ingredients to be minor. Eliminating more prominent sources like meat and dairy is more critical.
Are Artificial Colors Vegan?
Gatorade contains artificial colors such as Red 40, Yellow 6, and Blue 1.
You may not be delighted to hear this, but these artificial dyes come from coal tar. Well, at least they don’t come from insects or any animal parts and derivatives.
However, bear in mind that animals are often used to test artificial colors for any side effects. Scientists follow specific procedures to check the safety levels of these substances. These prior checks are necessary tests to ensure the well-being of humans.
It is, however, unethical to use innocent creatures for such experiments. Many animals, including mice, cats, dogs, and rats, are used for such testing and later abandoned. Artificial colors get tested periodically. We do it to ensure no severe side effects for human beings. Such repeated testing on animals makes artificial colors all the more problematic.
Many vegans eliminate artificial colors from their diet. Some vegans may opt to include artificial colors in their food consumption. Except for a substance called carmine, artificial colors are generally not derived from animal substances. So, many vegans do not mind consuming products with artificial colors.
Gatorade once confirmed that they use only synthetic colorings in their sports drink. They do not add meat or dairy derivatives to their sports drinks.
Is Gatorade considered vegan? Well, the answer to this is subjective.
Gatorade and its many flavors and variations don’t come from animal sources. However, it has certain ingredients that spark lingering confusion in many minds.
Some vegans are against sugar consumption, natural flavors, and artificial colors that come with most Gatorade products. It isn’t easy to trace the source of these substances and the methods used to process them. It entirely depends on how strict of a vegan you are. These ingredients would not be a problem for some of you as they are not animal-derived products. To others, it would not be okay.
If you wish to avoid the above ingredients, you could opt for Organic Gatorade products (Passion Fruit, Strawberry, Berry). This variation can be safely considered vegan. If you are a strict vegan, you may consider other completely certified vegan energy drinks.
Remember that living your best and healthy vegan way of life is not all about sports drinks. It is more about a lifestyle with whole plant foods. So do not get too worried.