Is Pepsi Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

September 29, 2023

Identifying whether Pepsi is vegan can be a challenging endeavor.

The difficulty often arises from long lists of ingredients that are difficult to identify or understand.

This article aims to uncover the truth and support you, our conscious reader, in your commendable vegan lifestyle.

Is Pepsi Vegan?

No, it doesn’t appear that Pepsi is vegan because the sugar is processed using bone char, a decolorizing agent derived from animal bones.

While the sugar itself doesn’t contain any animal remnants, the processing method can be a concern for strict vegans.

Pepsi itself defines vegan as foods that contain no “ingredients such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, gelatin, milk, animal enzymes, sugar refined with animal bone char, and honey.” It then goes on to list its vegan products, of which Pepsi Original Cola is not one.

Therefore, it stands to reason that Pepsi’s cola drink definitely contains sugar processed with bone char.

Is Pepsi Cruelty-Free?

Pepsi does not directly test on animals or use animal-derived ingredients in its formula. However, what it does include are GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. GMOs are tested on animals, you see, in order to establish that they are safe for human consumption.

The GMO ingredients in Pepsi are sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and citric acid, which is usually extracted from corn, a common GMO crop.

What Is Pepsi Made Of?

Pepsi, one of the world’s most popular soft drinks, has a range of ingredients that give it its unique taste. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Carbonated water
  • Sugar
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Caramel color
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Caffeine
  • Citric acid
  • Natural flavor

Carbonated Water

Carbonated water is simply water where carbon dioxide gas has been dissolved under pressure. It’s the fizziness in fizzy drinks like Pepsi and Diet Coke. It’s vegan and cruelty-free.


Sugar is a sweetener derived from plants like sugarcane or sugar beet. However, it’s worth noting that some sugar processing methods use animal bone char, but the exact recipe and process for Pepsi remain commercially sensitive. Generally, sugar is considered vegan, but processing methods can vary.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener made from corn. Like sugar, there’s a potential concern that HFCS might be processed using bone char, although it’s less common than with sugar. Generally, HFCS is considered vegan, but the processing method can vary. It is, however, almost invariably GMO.

Caramel Color

Caramel color is a type of coloring made by heating sugar. It doesn’t involve animal ingredients or by-products in its production. Caramel color is vegan, providing the sugar isn’t processed with bone char.

Phosphoric Acid

Phosphoric acid provides a tangy or sour taste in soft drinks. It’s derived from mineral sources and doesn’t involve animal ingredients or by-products in its production. Phosphoric acid is vegan.


Caffeine is a stimulant often derived from plants like coffee beans or tea leaves. It doesn’t involve animal ingredients or by-products in its extraction or production. Caffeine is vegan.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is often derived from citrus fruits like lemons and oranges. It’s used to provide a sour taste in foods and drinks. Citric acid is vegan because it’s derived from plant sources, usually GMO corn.

Natural Flavor

Natural flavors can be derived from both plant and animal sources. In the context of soft drinks like Pepsi, the natural flavors are typically vegan. However, without specific information from the manufacturer, it’s hard to determine the exact source of every natural flavor.

Pepsi Varieties

Pepsi’s product variations are all unfortunately not vegan.

  • Pepsi Zero Sugar, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Zero Sugar Mango, Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry, and Diet Pepsi Caffeine Free may be vegan because they don’t include sugar processed with bone char. However, they’re not cruelty-free due to the inclusion of aspartame, which undergoes animal testing.
  • Pepsi Real Sugar raises concerns due to the potential use of sugar processed with bone char.
  • Nitro Pepsi Vanilla, Nitro Pepsi, Pepsi Mango, Pepsi Wild Cherry, and Pepsi Zero Sugar Wild Cherry, while not containing aspartame, have unspecified natural or artificial flavors, the origins of which might be a concern for some vegans.

All these Pepsi drinks are GMO, which means they all contain ingredients that are tested on animals.

Vegan Alternatives to Pepsi

If you’re exploring other vegan-friendly beverages, there’s a plethora of brands available:


Due to the use of sugar processed with bone char, a by-product of the livestock industry, Pepsi might not be suitable for those on a strict vegan diet.

While Pepsi does not directly test on animals, it does include ingredients that are tested on animals, including GMOs.

In the vast world of options, it’s crucial to be informed and make food and drink choices that align with individual values and beliefs.