Is Gatorade Vegan?
We live in a world where so many things are processed and refined, and animal products can creep up in the most unexpected places. People who practice veganism spend time and effort to ensure they use only animal-friendly products. They don’t want to eat or drink anything made from innocent creatures.
At first glance, a bottle of a sports drink seems like a no-brainer — there’s no beef in that, right? But is Gatorade vegan? Are there products or processes that could take it off the menu in a vegan household?
This article looks at this issue in depth.
What Are Sports Drinks, and Do You Need Them?
Most of us know the satisfying experience of chugging from a bottle of Gatorade after a hard workout (or a long day of yard work). While it may be the taste of your favorite flavor that’s so good, your body also wants what’s in that bottle.
Sports drinks contain water, which we all know is intrinsically crucial to our health and well-being, but other additives include carbs and electrolytes. These are things like potassium and sodium that our bodies need but lose a considerable amount of when we work out or work hard.
So, a sports drink replenishes minerals in our bodies and rehydrates us after we sweat a lot of that stuff out.
Do You Need Them?
Our bodies constantly lose water. We sweat, sure, but there’s also water vapor in our breath, so with every exhale, we lose a tiny amount. The elimination of waste sends a lot of water out of our bodies.
So, without sweating a whole bunch, you still need fluid replacement. Generally, you should be drinking fluids throughout the day. Just how much is up for debate, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has conducted studies that found U.S. adults drank about 39 ounces of water daily.
Add the sweat and hard physical work of exercise, and you need even more fluids, plus the minerals that come out in your sweat.
Sports drinks help replace those electrolytes, but you can also get them by eating well, which, one would assume, you already do since you’re concerned enough about your health to be exercising in the first place.
Drinking water and eating well will replenish the fluids and minerals you lose, so you won’t fall into ill health if you avoid sports drinks. However, they’ll rehydrate and replenish your body a little faster. As we already mentioned, sports drinks do a great job of making you feel less exhausted right after a workout.
Gatorade History and Vegan Status
When you play football, you sweat considerably. When you do it in the heat and humidity of Florida, you sweat even more.
In the 1960s, coaches at the University of Florida wanted to find a way to combat the performance decreases they saw in their players as practices and games wore on. The players were losing fluids, salts and electrolytes, and plain water wasn’t keeping up with their hydration needs.
So the coaches went to some university scientists to develop a drink that would rehydrate and replenish the players faster than plain water. The Florida mascot is the Gator, so Gatorade sprang into existence and quickly became popular.
But Is Gatorade Vegan?
When asking the question, “Is Gatorade vegan,” one should consider Gatorade contains no animal products — a lack of meats, obviously, but it also comes without or gelatin products — so in that sense, the drink is vegan.
However, some vegans have an issue with Gatorade for a few reasons.
Some artificial colors come from animals. Certain red hues, for example, come from a Peruvian insect called a cochineal (though scientists are perfecting an animal-friendly version). The majority of artificial colors don’t come from animals, though.
Some vegans stand against artificial dyes and coloring because they’re almost all associated with animal testing. Blue #1 and blue #2 are entirely free of animal products, but researchers have fed animals enough of each color to kill them and ascertain a maximum intake amount.
One of the key ingredients in Gatorade and other sports drinks is sugar. Since you need to replace carbs after a workout, the sugar stands as an essential part — it provides those much-needed carbohydrates.
But most refined sugars use bone char during the refining process, and it’s usually derived from cattle bones.
Organic sugars generally don’t use bone char, and some manufacturers also avoid it. However, there’s no way to know what kind of sugar got used in the batch of Gatorade you’re drinking. If the use of animal products in some ingredients is an issue for you, then Gatorade shouldn’t be your drink of choice.
In yet another case of not knowing exactly what’s what, natural flavorings can be misleading. Technically, a natural flavor is derived from any number of sources — fruits, vegetables, roots, and other plant materials. According to the FDA, its primary function has to be for flavoring rather than nutritional value.
Food producers might derive some of those flavors from meat, eggs and dairy. Unless the ingredient list on any food product specifically states that the natural flavors are vegan or animal-friendly, you can’t trust for sure that they are.
Vegan Alternatives to Gatorade
Is Gatorade vegan? If it’s not vegan enough for you, you’ll have to find a better alternative. Here are three of them.
Roar Organic Vitamin Enhanced Beverage
Roar Organic’s sports drink is a good source of vitamin B-complex and vitamins A, C, and E. Unlike many sports drinks, it also contains antioxidants, which help our bodies fight off the dreaded free radicals.
Specifically designed to be free of artificial flavors and coloring, Roar Organic’s Vitamin Enhanced Beverage is also designated as vegan-friendly (and gluten-free).
It comes in four flavors, which is refreshing to learn after finding out there are no artificial flavors involved.
Rejoy Plant-Based Sports Drink
One sure-fire way to avoid vegan-unfriendly ingredients is to find a plant-based drink. Rejoy has created several flavors of a sports drink made entirely from plants. The company even prides itself with how you can pronounce all the ingredients in a can of the product.
Designated as plant-based and vegan-friendly, Rey’s sports drink can be a tasty alternative to other sports drinks that may or may not be animal-friendly.
NOOMA Organic Electrolyte Sports Drink
No added sugar means no risk of bone char. NOOMA also went to the trouble of avoiding artificial sweeteners, which many sugar-free drinks contain (they can also be animal-unfriendly).
NOOMA’s sports drink uses coconut water (technically a juice), which contains electrolytes. While it doesn’t hydrate better than water, coconut water alone contains enough electrolytes to be comparable to a sports drink like Gatorade.
NOOMA’s Organic Electrolyte Sports Drink also uses Himalayan pink salt as a source of sodium, something else your body craves after a good, hard workout.
Gatorade has been available for nearly 60 years, and the many other sports drinks that followed have also risen in popularity. Sports drinks are popular because they, for the most part, do what they advertise — rehydrate and replenish salts, minerals and electrolytes.
When asking the question “is Gatorade vegan,” the issue is clouded by how strict a particular vegan might be with his diet. Gatorade doesn’t contain any animal products. In that sense, it’s vegan.
However, some of its ingredients may or may not be animal-friendly. In the end, the individual vegan will need to make his own choice.