Is Gatorade Vegan and Cruelty Free? The Discouraging Truth

July 29, 2023

Trying to figure out whether Gatorade is vegan can be difficult.

Makers of sports drinks often mask their ingredients behind vague terms such as “natural and artificial flavor,” and even when they do provide a full list of ingredients, it can be difficult to determine which ones are truly vegan.

To ensure that you are only consuming food and drinking beverages that align with your vegan diet and lifestyle, I’ve investigated the ingredients and production processes of Gatorade.

Here’s what I found out.

Is Gatorade Vegan?

No. Gatorade sports drinks are not vegan, or at least, not the vast majority of them. Gatorade is a popular sports drink formulated by doctors at Florida State University in the 1960s. Unfortunately, vegans cannot drink Gatorade, or at least, not most flavors.

Refined cane sugar is present in the majority of this popular sports drink’s flavors. Sugar is frequently bleached with bone char to make it whiter. The powdered form of animal bones known as bone char is used as a decolorizing agent.

Unless products use organic cane sugar, also sometimes called “raw” or “unrefined,” it’ll be refined sugar and it’s likely that bone char was used in the production process.

There is, however, one flavor of Gatorade, the Gatorade Zero, that does not contain sugar. Instead, it uses artificial sweeteners. This variant of Gatorade is vegan.

Is Gatorade Sports Drink Cruelty Free?

No. Gatorade is not cruelty free.

Gatorade drinks are not tested on animals at any point in their production. They do, however, contain artificial coloring in their formula, ingredients that are routinely tested on animals to ensure safety.

Animal testing is a cruel and outdated practice that frequently results in the disfigurement, misery, or death of defenseless animals. There are alternative methods that do not require the use of animals and are more humane. So there is no reason for any food or beverage brands to continue these inhumane practices, and that includes the makers of sports drink products.

What Is Gatorade Made Of?

Here are the ingredients of Gatorade Thirst Quencher Fruit Punch:

  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Dextrose
  • Citric Acid
  • Salt
  • Sodium citrate
  • Monopotassium phosphate
  • Modified food starch
  • Natural flavor 
  • Glycerol ester of rosin
  • Red 40
  • Caramel color

Let’s break down each ingredient of Gatorade:


Water is used as the main ingredient in all Gatorade drinks. It is a vegan ingredient.


Refined cane sugar is present in the majority of Gatorade drinks. Sugar is frequently bleached with bone char to make it whiter. Sugar is not vegan unless it is raw, unrefined, or organic.


Dextrose is a simple sugar that is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, providing a quick source of energy. Dextrose can sometimes be filtered with bone char. It is probably safe for vegan consumption. However, since the possibility exists that bone char is used in the production process, many vegans avoid this product.

Citric acid

Citric acid is used as a preservative and gives Gatorade its tart flavor. Citric acid is vegan.


Salt is used to replenish electrolytes and improve the taste of the drink. Salt is vegan.

Sodium citrate

Sodium citrate is used to regulate acidity and also improves the taste of the drink. Sodium citrate is vegan.

Monopotassium phosphate

Monopotassium phosphate is used to replenish electrolytes. Monopotassium phosphate is vegan.

Modified food starch

Modified food starch is used as a thickener. Modified food starch can be made from wheat, corn, or potatoes and is therefore vegan.

Natural flavor

Natural flavor can come from a variety of sources, both animal and plant based. Natural flavors can be either vegan or non-vegan depending on how they are sourced. The natural flavor of Gatorade is likely vegan given the nature of the product.

Glycerol ester of rosin

Glycerol ester of rosin is used as an emulsifier. Glycerol ester of rosin is a vegan ingredient.

Red 40

Red 40 is an artificial coloring that is frequently tested on animals. Red 40 is a vegan ingredient, but it is not cruelty free.

Caramel color

Caramel color is used to give Gatorade its color. Caramel color is usually made from refined sugar, which is typically not vegan because of the bone char used in the refining process. Unless the sugar is labeled as “unrefined,” “organic,” or “raw,” then the caramel color is probably not vegan friendly either.

Why Isn’t Gatorade Vegan?

Gatorade is not vegan because it contains refined sugar, which is not a vegan-friendly ingredient. Sugar is often bleached with bone char, which is made from animal bones. Sugar is not vegan unless it is raw, organic, or unrefined.

Is Gatorade G2 Vegan?

No. Gatorade G2 contains refined sugar.

This popular energy drink is not safe for vegan consumption.

Is Gatorade Fit Vegan?

Yes. Gatorade Fit does not contain any animal-derived ingredients.

This sports drink is safe for vegan consumption.

Is Gatorade Endurance Gatorlytes Vegan?

Yes. Gatorade Endurance Gatorlytes sports drinks do not contain any animal-derived ingredients.

This vegan sports drink is safe for vegan consumption.

Is Gatorade Zero Protein Vegan?

No. Gatorade Zero Protein contains whey protein isolate.

This sports drink is not safe for vegan consumption.

Is Gatorade Super Shake Vegan?

No. Gatorade Super Shake sports drink contains milk protein and refined sugar.

This sports drink is not safe for vegan consumption.

Are Organic Gatorade Drinks Vegan?

Yes! Organic Gatorade drinks, such as the Mixed Berry and Strawberry flavors, contain only organic vegetable juice and organic cane sugar.

This energy drink is safe for vegan consumption.

Vegan Sports Drink Alternatives

If you really need an electrolyte or energy drink and want to maintain a vegan lifestyle, there are many vegan alternatives to Gatorade on the market. Here are some of my favorite vegan sports drinks:

These are all vegan-friendly and gluten-free energy and sports drinks that can be consumed without guilt. Pick one that sounds good to you and enjoy!

Final Words

So there you have it! Is Gatorade Vegan? Unfortunately, no, Gatorade is not vegan. Most flavors of this famous sports drink contain refined sugar, and some even have milk or whey. However, there are many vegan-friendly sports drinks on the market that can be just as satisfying. So if you’re looking for a vegan alternative to Gatorade, try one of the options I listed above. And, as always, be sure to double-check the ingredients list to make sure the product is indeed vegan before consuming it.