The sports drink Gatorade comes in a variety of different flavors and styles, and each is aimed at helping you perform better — or recover faster — when playing sports or working out. But is Gatorade vegan? Or will it not work out for you if you’re on a vegan diet?
From its original Thirst Quencher drink to performance powders to energy gels, there’s a Gatorade product for just about anyone living an active lifestyle.
But what if you live a vegan one? Can you still enjoy this popular sports drink?
The short answer is that original Gatorade sports drinks are vegan, as they do not contain any animal products or additives.
But there are some ingredients in Gatorade that may concern vegans. And some other items in the Gatorade product line are not compatible with a plant-based diet. Read on to find out more.
What is Gatorade?
Gatorade began as an experiment in the 1960s to help college athletes at the University of Florida recover faster from the energy-sapping heat and humidity they were playing and practicing in. The university’s mascot is the Gator, hence the Gatorade name.
The drink includes electrolytes like sodium and potassium that can help the body replenish fluids lost during physical activity.
Now the original beverage sits alongside a wide range of Gatorade products — including endurance powders, energy drinks, protein bars and shakes, and more — designed for all sorts of active lifestyles.
Let’s take a look at what’s in these products and whether they’re vegan or not.
What is in Gatorade sports drinks?
The main list of ingredients in the popular Gatorade Thirst Quencher energy drink include (they can vary depending on flavor and style):
- dextrose (a type of sugar)
- sucralose (a type of sugar)
- citric acid
- sodium citrate
- monopotassium phosphate
- gum arabic (source of fiber)
- glycerol ester of rosin (a food stabilizer)
- natural flavor
- food dyes (like red 40, blue 1, and yellow 5)
While none of these ingredients is derived from animals, some of them may give you pause if you’re vegan — in particular, natural flavorings, artificial colors, and artificial sweeteners.
Some natural flavors for example can be made with extractions from poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy products. And a range of added colors, while not derived from animals, have previously been used in animal testing.
While Gatorade doesn’t list whether the ingredients in their drink fall into these categories, it is something to be aware of if you’re vegan.
One ingredient that does raise eyebrows is sucralose, an added sugar that has been linked to extensive animal testing. So while the ingredient itself does not contain animal products, it still may run afoul if you’re a strict vegan.
In addition, other sugars are often bleached with the use of bone char. This substance derives from cattle bones and it helps give sugar its bright white color. That said, not all sugar is processed this way and it’s unclear whether the sugar in Gatorade is or isn’t.
So, are Gatorade sports drinks vegan?
Along with the original Thirst Quenchers, Gatorade’s line of sports drinks includes:
- Gatorade Zero (no sugar)
- Gatorade Fit
- Gatorade Organic
- Gatorlyte Zero
- G2 (less sugar)
None of these drinks contains animal-derived ingredients or animal by-products, so each of these can be considered a vegan sports drink.
What other Gatorade products are vegan?
Gatorade also makes other energy and recovery drinks, chews, gels, gummies, and electrolyte powders.
Most of these do not contain products derived from animal sources, so they are considered vegan-friendly.
Which Gatorade products are not vegan?
However, some Gatorade products are not vegan. These include:
- Gatorade Super Shake
- G ESSNTL Whey Isolate Protein Powder
- Gatorade Zero with Protein Powder
- Gatorade Recover Protein Powder
- Gatorade Protein Bars
They contain whey protein, which comes from milk. And the Super Shake also notes milk protein isolate in its ingredients list, another animal product.
In addition, Gatorade makes various Muscle Milk brand products that are not vegan, as they also contain whey and milk protein.
Yes, Gatorade sports drinks, shakes, and other products are gluten free as they do not contain any gluten-containing ingredients. So they are considered safe for those with Celiac disease or another gluten sensitivity.
Gatorade Thirst Quencher drinks, gummies, gels, and electrolytes are dairy-free. Gatorade protein powders, protein bars, and its Super Shake are not strictly dairy-free because they contain whey protein, which comes from milk. While they are still suitable for those with lactose intolerance as they have low levels of lactose, they may be unsafe for those with dairy allergies.
These organic Gatorade drinks replace many of the sugars and artificial sweeteners found in regular Gatorade with organic sugar. A 500ml bottle has about 29 grams of sugar and 120 calories.
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