Gatorade is the most popular energy drink in the world. It was created for athletes to regain their electrolytes after a workout. You feel drained after intense exercise, sports drinks work to replace the water and electrolytes you lose while sweating. Your body’s normal fluid level is attained by electrolytes like potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. The carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and caffeine present in Gatorade help you boost again when it feels like you’ve lost energy.
We know that you wonder if it is okay for vegans to rehydrate with a Gatorade after a workout? The answer is, probably yes. In 1965, a University of Florida coach asked a team of doctors for help regarding the heat-related illness faced by athletes after tough workouts. The researchers ascertained that the heat-related illness occurs because athletes lose fluids, electrolytes, and carbohydrates when they lose sweat. A sports drink was formulated to help regain the lost electrolytes and energy and was named Gatorade.
Let’s quickly go through the seemingly problematic ingredients to get a quick idea:
Sucrose, Natural flavour, Red 40, Caramel Color. This may seem alarming. So is gatorade vegan? This solely depends on how strict you are as a vegan.
What about other Gatorade flavours?
We have listed the questionable constituents of other Gatorade products to help you ascertain more carefully.
- (Flow) Blackberry wave: sugar, natural flavour, red #40
- (Flow) Kiwi Strawberry: sugar, natural flavour, yellow #5, blue #1
- (Flow) Pineapple Mango: sugar, natural flavour, yellow #5
- (Fierce) Grape: sugar, natural flavour, red #40, blue #1
- (Fierce) Melon: sugar, natural flavour, yellow #6, red #40
- (Fierce) Fruit punch + Berry: sugar, natural flavour, red #40
- (Frost) Riptide Rush: sugar, natural flavour, red #40, blue #1
- (Frost) Cool Blue: sugar, natural flavour, blue #1
- (Frost) Glacier Freeze: sugar, natural flavour, blue #1
- (G2 low-sugar) Grape: sugar, natural flavour, red #40, blue #1
- (G2 low-sugar) Cool Blue: sugar, natural flavour, blue #1
- (G2 low-sugar) Lemon Lime: sugar, natural flavour, yellow #5, blue #1
- (Zero) Orange: natural flavour, yellow #6
- (Zero) Lemon Lime: natural flavour, yellow #5
- (Zero) Glacier Cherry: natural flavour
- (Zero) Glacier Freeze: natural flavour
- (Zero) Berry: natural flavour
- (Organic) Passion Fruit: N/A
- (Organic) Strawberry: N/A
- (Organic) Berry: N/A
Other than the organic varieties of Gatorade, (Passion Fruit, Strawberry, Berry) all others have questionable ingredients. They may or may not be considered vegan depending on how strict you are.
Gatorade Thirst Quencher Powder: Gatorade is not solely produced in liquid state. A powder form is also available which you can mix with water to create a Gatorade drink.
Now Gatorade also produces shakes and sports bars.
It is okay to raise your eyebrows about the sugar in Gatorade.
The traditional Gatorade sports drink does not include any meat or dairy products in its constituents. But it is known that they don’t answer how their white sugar is filtered. The company says that they acquire sugar from various different sources and there is no complete information about the filtration process to share with their customers.
It is a fact that bone char is used to filter a large amount of sugar in America. This porous and absorptive substance is capable of removing all dirt and impurities from raw cane sugar. Vegans have a problem with the method of production of bone char. This substance is a product of high temperature combustion of animal bones.
However, all sugar in America is not filtered using bone char and neither are animals actively killed for its production. It is important to note that many sugar factories use granular activated carbon instead of bone char. A large number of factories also get their sugar from beetroot instead.
You wouldn’t find this information regarding the sugars on any label on any bottle of Gatorade. It is true that most sports drink companies acquire their sugar from different sources and so they are unable to track which type of sugar is used for every product.
Vegans will be motivated to learn that it is however certified that Gatorade sports drinks are certified Kosher. This implies that materials like bone char are not transferred into the final product after filtration processes. The PETA website lists Gatorade as vegan in its list of vegan beverages. Vegans can confidently drink Gatorade after assimilating this piece of information.
Use of Natural flavours in Gatorade
It is well known that many natural flavors are obtained from animal-based sources. The US FDA has a Code of Federal Regulations that states both plant and animal-based sources from which natural flavors can be extracted.
These flavors are obtained by the thorough heating of the plant or animal source. Vegans should question the manufacturers about the exact source of their natural flavors so that there is no lingering confusion or guilt.
People commonly believe that the term ‘natural flavors’ implies they are obtained from plants. This is not true. You must have heard of this flavor called ‘castoreum’. Many people believe it is a vegan substance when in reality it is obtained from the anal secretions of beavers.
Some vegans may choose to eradicate natural flavors from their diet, others may continue their consumption. This is because avoiding minor substances like natural flavors will not be as impactful as avoiding the bigger culprits of animal-cruelty like meat, dairy, and eggs.
Use of Artificial colors in Gatorade
You must be very well aware that artificial colors have a long history of being tested on animals. There are specific procedures followed by scientists to test the safety of various substances. Animal testing is considered by many to be essential for the safety of humans.
However, it is ethically incorrect to forsake innocent lives for the sake of scientific advancement. The animals such as cats, mice, rats, and dogs are used for testing and then discarded.
Artificial colors are more problematic because they require testing on animals from time to time. They need to be periodically tested because they could otherwise cause serious consequences to human health.
Many vegans may choose to incorporate them in their diet any way. But they are not a healthy choice either. Colors, except carmine, are not made from animal products.
Whey in Gatorade products
Regular Gatorade products do not have the presence of any straightforward animal derived constituents. Gatorade protein powders and shakes do contain whey.
Milk protein casein may be present instead of whey, but the presence of dairy products in these foods is ascertained.
Whey and milk protein are cheap additives that greatly enhance the protein content of products.
The argument around parent companies
Vegan products are often judged by their parent companies. Even though VO5 shampoo does not test on animals, Unilever has many other products for which they definitely use animals for testing. Many vegans choose to avoid and boycott such products in order to not support the parent company in any way.
The argument is much contested but it is also true that the grocery stores that sell vegan products also sell meat products under the same roof. Companies that make almond milk are often owned by the same manufacturer that makes cheese.
We feel that more demand for vegan products will definitely urge the manufacturers to shift production in that direction.
Gatorade once answered on reddit whether they are vegan or not
The company answered a customer’s query about whether Gatorade is vegan or not. Here is what they said,
“We only use synthetic colorings, and don’t add any meat or dairy derivatives to any products (except Recover drinks and shakes, which have protein from milk); however, we don’t have the type of sugar filtration information available to share,… However, if it might be helpful to know, all Gatorade and G2 Thirst Quenchers are Kosher-certified because none of the potential filtration processes would transfer any remnants or flavours onto the sugar.”
Gatorade’s relation to health
Mindless consumption of any product can lead to serious health risks.
As it has been mentioned, Gatorade contains a high level of sugars which may increase people’s health risk of developing type 2 diabetes and may also result in weight gain.
The athletes involved in intense activity and workout majorly benefit from this excellent energy drink but we believe there are more cons than pros for unrequited consumption.
If you are a strict vegan and would not rely on minor non-vegan presence and airy promises when it comes to your food, we’d like to suggest you other options when in vegan energy drinks.
NOOMA Organic Electrolyte Drink: These drinks are well known to be organic, non-GMO, gluten free and also vegan. The fundamental constituents of this drink are coconut water and natural sea salt.
True Nopal Cactus Water: The constituents of this drink are naturally occurring electrolytes, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also vegan, gluten free, non-GMO, and Kosher.
LyteShow Electrolyte Concentrate for Rapid Rehydration: This is an all-natural concentrate for replacing electrolytes. This is non-GMO, vegan, and gluten free.
Ultima Replenisher Electrolyte Powder: This powder is mixed with water to make an ultimate replenishing vegan sports drink. It is certified to be vegan, gluten free, and caffeine free.
Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix: This is also a powder that has to be mixed with water to make an all natural vegan sports drink. It is vegan, Kosher, gluten free, and also non-GMO.
Make your own Vegan Sports Drink
Making your own homemade vegan sports drink is not difficult once you know what ingredients contain which electrolytes.
A proper vegan may not want to rely on the empty promises of all these companies with little pits and falls when it comes to explaining how true they are to vegans. It is not entirely possible to eliminate animal based products from your plate if you depend on these manufacturers who prepare your food behind a curtain.
Cane sugar may not contain traces of bone char when finally filtered but if the process of filtering involves the killing of an animal and the use of its bones, it is really a question of empathy. Though there may be many excuses by many people who still consider such sugar vegan. But maybe not. It is better to use sugar derived from beet or use unfiltered cane sugar that’ll solely rely on plants for production.
We have read the works of many nutrition experts who conclude that coconut water is the best and most reliable source of naturally occurring electrolytes. You are advised to add your own choice of other electrolyte and antioxidant rich foods to make a well-flavoured and balanced sports drink to meet your workout requirements.
Adding some citrus fruit juice, ginger, agave, or sea salt to your coconut water based drink will render it an excellent taste while making you confident in your choices.
So is Gatorade Vegan?
The truth is, it depends on how strict a vegan you are. If you are able to avoid the presence of artificial colors, natural flavors, and sugars in all your other food choices, Gatorade is the best sports drink available for you.
If the frequent preiodic animal testing required for artificial colors and the unreliable sources of natural flavours and the bone char used for filtration of sugars bother you, we’ll advice you to opt for the more dependable certified vegan sports drinks as listed above.
Like your other food choices, it is possible to make a good sports drink at home. You can always depend on yourself to uphold your promise of choosing cruelty free and sustainable food and lifestyle products.