One common concern of those following a vegan lifestyle is whether they are getting enough minerals and vitamins in their diet.
VitaminWater and vitamin-infused drinks often appear to be convenient options here. But, is VitaminWater itself vegan or not? It is often difficult to know for sure with the absence of clearly demarcated vegan labeling.
What is VitaminWater?
VitaminWater or Glaceau VitaminWater is water enhanced with vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes owned by Coca-Cola. It comes in two variations – regular and zero sugar and is available in many flavors like refresh (tropical mango), focus (kiwi-strawberry), go-go (mixed berry). The flavors vary from country to country.
Nutritional Facts And Ingredients
Marketed as a “nutrient enhanced water beverage,” the flavored water contains 0-130 calories across its range. Though some ingredients vary across flavors, we’ve jotted down ingredients of one each type – regular and zero sugar.
Refresh Tropical Mango
It includes reverse osmosis water, which is common to all flavors. It also contains crystalline fructose, cane sugar, vitamins C (ascorbic acid), B3 (niacinamide), B5 (calcium pantothenate), B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), B12(cyanocobalamin), E (alpha-tocopheryl acetate), electrolytes (potassium phosphate, magnesium, and calcium lactate), lycopene, citric acid, β-Apo-8′-carotenal (color), and natural flavors.
Zero Sugar Revive Fruit Punch
It includes reverse osmosis water, which is common to all flavors. It also contains erythritol, mono and di-potassium phosphate and electrolytes (magnesium and calcium lactate), citric acid, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vegetable and fruit juice for color, stevia from the leaf for sweetness, natural flavors, vitamin b5 (calcium pantothenate), vitamin b3 (niacinamide), gum acacia, vitamin b6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), glycerol ester of rosin, and vitamin b12 (cyanocobalamin).
Vegan Or Not Vegan?
After diving through the nutritional facts and ingredients, it’s time to address the elephant in the room. Is VitaminWater vegan?
VitaminWater lacks any vegan symbol that answers the question. It can be challenging to see what the complex ingredients may contain. Coca Cola’s website claims that a “vast majority” of their beverages fit vegans and vegetarians. It enlists the drinks that contain animal derivatives, which includes two flavors of Glaceau VitaminWater – Zero Sunshine and Multi V.
It states that some of their drinks have traces of fish gelatine, which they use to stabilize beta-carotene color. They mention that some variants of VitaminWater range “may contain” vitamin D sourced from lanolin from sheep’s wool. But neither of these flavors are available in the US.
In the US’s products currently available, we couldn’t find any form of vitamin D fortification. And as far as the added flavors are concerned, Coca-Cola claims that they are natural flavors derived from fruits and vegetables alone.
Even though we found “glycerol ester of rosin” to be a common ingredient in multiple flavors, it appears to be sourced from plants and is thus vegan.
The regular version of VitaminWater contains fructose, which is just another name for refined sugar. As commonly known, sugar may be refined with bone char while processing, so it may not contain bone char, but the process may involve it. But then again, that is the case with every food product that contains refined sugar. Plus, for a sugar-free experience, VitaminWater has its zero sugar range.
All in all, the VitaminWater range in the US seems to be vegan. No animal products like meat, gelatin, milk, eggs are mentioned in the ingredients list. The micro-ingredients like color, vitamin fortifications, and flavors also appear animal-free. But, they haven’t been explicitly labeled as such by Coca-Cola.
Animal Cruelty And Coca Cola
When it comes to treating animals right, Coca-Cola is not the name that comes to our mind. Historically, Coca-Cola was infamous for conducting taste and color testing on animals, including rodents. But under pressure from PETA, it had stopped funding or conducting experiments on animals back in 2007.
In June 2019, undercover footage by Animal Rights Movement (AMR) exposed animal cruelty in Fairlife’s supplier dairy farm – Fair Oaks Farm. Fairlife is Coca-Cola’s joint venture with Select Milk Producers. Cows were seen being beaten and tortured in America’s “Disneyland for agricultural tourism.” Following this, lawsuits were filed against Coca-Cola along with others.
Coca-Cola issued a statement saying that it neither conducts nor directly funds tests on animals. They immediately stopped sourcing milk for Fairlife from Fair Oaks Farms and conducted its independent third-party audit to check animal cruelty.
More recently, in November 2019, Ingredion Incorporated, one of Coca-Cola’s biggest suppliers of corn syrup, also ended testing on mice after talks with PETA.
VitaminWater sounds to be brimming with health, but it is not the case to many people’s surprise. The company was sued in 2009 for deceptive health claims.
Firstly, VitaminWater contains nearly 30 grams of sugar or fructose alone, roughly half the amount of Coca-Cola itself. Overconsumption of fructose can lead to anxiety, sugar crashes, jitters, obesity, heart issues, increased blood pressure, risk of type 2 diabetes, and stroke, among other things.
Secondly, it contains most of those macronutrients that an average American diet already includes, like vitamin B and C.
It also contains vitamins A and E, potassium, manganese, chromium, zinc, magnesium in smaller quantities. It lacks crucial nutrients like Omega 3 or B12 that vegan diets may lack. Consuming vitamins B and C in excess does not have any additional health benefits. Also, excess consumption of vitamins A and E present in certain VitaminWater flavors can be harmful to the body.
Plus, it makes no sense to consume sugar-laden water in return for vitamins already present in commonly available natural foods. Eating whole foods and even taking healthy vegan supplements for deficient vitamins is much better than drinking these sugar drinks marketed as mineral-rich water.
To Sum Up
Coca-Cola-owned Glaceau VitaminWater is a mineral and vitamin-rich beverage. As far as US products are concerned, VitaminWater is vegan. But that doesn’t guarantee health. It is still loaded with unnecessary sugar and may not have the essential nutrients in the desired quantity. When it comes to loving animals, the company doesn’t have the best of records, and in some variants available in UK and Canada, the flavors are not vegan.
Whether you have adopted a vegan lifestyle for health reasons or moral and ethical concerns, VitaminWater isn’t the best choice. Your normal unflavored water serves the best when it comes to maintaining health, and you can always supplement your diet with healthy vegan whole foods and vitamin supplements like Omega 3 and B12.