I’ve recently written about Icees, a similar line of frozen carbonated beverages. Slurpees is another popular brand of slushy-like beverages, but they’re sold exclusively at 7-Eleven stores. A lot of vegans grew up consuming the tasty drinks and want to know if they can continue to do so after switching to a 100% plant-based diet.
Are they vegan? Yes, Slurpees are generally vegan. They have a number of flavors on offer, and all seem to be some combination of water, HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup), citric acid, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate (to protect taste), plant extracts, yucca extract and Red 40.1,2
Hunting down the ingredients was not exactly straight-forward. Since they’ve revamped their website, it’s nigh impossible to find individual ingredients panels for each flavor.
Thankfully, most Slurpee flavors make use of commonly available drinks like Fanta and Hawaiian Punch—as opposed to using their own proprietary syrup blend. For this reason, we need only look to the ingredients panel of the drinks used.
Vegan Slurpee Flavors
The exact formula is unknown, but the basic recipe includes some combination of carbonated water, sucrose or HFCS (depending on the country of origin), phosphoric acid, caffeine, natural flavorings, and caramel color.3,4
While some soda’s put out by Coca Cola contain animal-derived products, Coca Cola itself is considered vegan.5
This has been a point of confusion for some, especially since the brand mentioned that a few of their UK flavors contain fish gelatin to help stabilize the beta carotene. While beta carotene (preformed vitamin A) is a plant-based compound it is sometimes stabilized with animal products like fish gelatin.
The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) reached out to the company to confirm which products contain the stuff and were told that only Lilt, Lilt Zero, Kia-Ora Orange Squash, Kia-Ora Orange Squash No Added Sugar, and Schweppes Orange Squash contained the additive.6
So, we’re good to go here, as none of the above flavors are available for Slurpees—at least, in North America.
Another popular Slurpee variety. Dr. Pepper boasts of something like 23 flavors. That’s 23 chances that there might be some animal-derived ingredient in the beverage.
Thankfully, the drink only contains carbonated water, HFCS and/or sugar, caramel coloring, artificial and natural flavors, phosphoric acid, sodium benzoate, and caffeine—all of which are vegan.
If the caramel color caught your eye, fear not. It’s completely vegan-friendly. This is confusing because caramel itself tends to be made from a browning reaction using lactose which is the simple sugar present in milk. Specifically, milk is heated to evaporate the water while browning the sugar.
Caramel color, on the other hand, is typically made by performing the browning reaction with other simple sugars like fructose, dextrose, invert sugar, etc.7
So, it’s a vegan-friendly food colorant.
Fanta, Kiwi Strawberry
This one only contains water, HFCS, citric acid, sodium benzoate, natural and artificial flavors, caramel colors, and Red 40.8
Red 40 an azo dye—a type of dye that is produced as a byproduct in the petroleum industry—so it is fine for vegans.9
There is a food coloring agent known as Red 4 or carmine, that imparts a lighter shade of red, but is derived from beetles.10,11
Because the two dyes share a similar name and color, Red 40 is often confused for Red 4. But, you can rest assured that Red 40 is suitable for vegans.
Ingredients for this one include carbonated water, sugar and other sweeteners (sucralose, acesulfame K), orange juice from concentrate, citrus fruit from concentrate, citric acid, carrot and pumpkin extracts, potassium sorbate, malic acid, sodium citrate, guar gum (as a stabilizer), natural orange flavorings, other natural flavorings, and ascorbic acid.12
This is one of the only non-carbonated versions of the Slurpee. It contains water, HFCS, fruit juice concentrates (apple, clarified pineapple*, passionfruit, orange), fruit purees (papaya, apricot, and guava), ascorbic acid, citric acid, natural and artificial flavors, acacia gum, pectin, ester gum, Red 40, Blue 1, sucralose (an artificial sweetener), potassium sorbate, and sodium hexametaphosphate.13
*Sometimes the word “clarified” can be a red flag because most wine manufacturers use various animal-derived ingredients for the clarification process.
However, it seems that juice manufacturers often make use of membranes made of synthetic materials.14,15
There is, of course, some level of risk. But fruit juices are considered vegan by most standards. If you’re an extra prudent vegan, you may want to reach out to Hawaiian Punch manufacturers directly or opt for another flavor.
Ingredients for this one include treated water, HFCS, orange juice from concentrate, citric acid, natural flavors, quillaia extract, caffeine, sodium benzoate (preserves freshness), sodium citrate, calcium sodium EDTA, erythorbic acid, Yellow 5, brominated vegetable oil, and gum arabic.2
No problems here.
Yellow 5 is also an azo dye, so it’s 100% vegan-friendly.16,17
Other Vegan Flavors
The above list doesn’t exhaust all of the Slurpee flavors currently available.
Other vegan flavors include:
- Diet Coke
- Wild Cherry
Anyway, the above will hopefully give you an idea as to why Slurpees are considered vegan. If you’re ever unsure about a certain flavor, just check out the ingredients panel for the specific soda flavor.
Are There Any Non-Vegan Flavors?
I’m unaware of any flavors currently available that are known to be non-vegan. But, that’s bound to change sooner or later, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for new flavors that emerge.
Like with Icees, there’s apparently an oranges and cream variety of Slurpee.18
I couldn’t find the ingredients in this case.
The Icee flavor did not list any animal products, but I still recommended that folks steer clear of that flavor. And I’d suggest the same for Slurpees.
Cream-flavored products are usually a no-go for vegans.
That’s it for the vegan status of Slurpees. Thanks for reading.
You may also want to check out the following related articles:
- The Sugar And Chemicals In Your Free Slurpee Nancy Huehnergarth – https://www.forbes.com/sites/nancyhuehnergarth/2016/07/11/the-sugar-and-chemicals-in-your-free-slurpee/#7fe8ff2e1733
- Slurpee. https://www.caffeineinformer.com/caffeine-content/slurpee-frozen-drinks
- Coca Cola. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coca-Cola#Ingredients
- Questions Answered. https://web.archive.org/web/20100515103118/http://www.letsgettogether.co.uk/DetailQuestionAnswer/QuestionID%3D2-color%3Ddf0f0b
- Is Coca-cola Suitable For Vegetarians/vegans?: Coca-cola Ie. https://www.coca-cola.ie/faq/coca-cola-drinks-suitable-for-vegans-and-vegetarians
- The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog. https://www.vrg.org/blog/2012/02/15/beta-carotene-in-us-beverages-not-stabilized-with-gelatin-unlike-some-products-in-the-uk/
- Camel Color. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caramel_color#Production
- Fanta, Kiwi Strawberry. https://www.coca-colaproductfacts.com/en/products/fanta/kiwi-strawberry/fountain-drink/
- Is Red Dye 40 Toxic? https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/is-red-dye-40-toxic
- Bug-Based Food Dye Should Be Exterminated, Says CSPI. https://cspinet.org/news/bug-based-food-dye-should-be-exterminated-says-cspi-20060501
- Carol Potera. DIET AND NUTRITION: The Artificial Food Dye Blues. Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Oct; 118(10): A428. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2957945/
- Fanta Orange. https://www.coca-cola.co.uk/drinks/fanta/fanta-orange
- Hawaiian Punch Fruit Juicy Red Punch. https://www.heb.com/product-detail/hawaiian-punch-fruit-juicy-red-punch/30382
- Lucia Maria Jaeger de Carvalho, et al. Clarification of Pineapple Juice (Ananas comosus L. Merryl) by Ultrafiltration and Microfiltration: Physicochemical Evaluation of Clarified Juices, Soft Drink Formulation, and Sensorial Evaluation. J. Agric. Food Chem. 19984662185-2189. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/jf970793h
- “No Gelatin” State Leading Apple Juice Companies. https://www.vrg.org/blog/2013/02/28/%e2%80%9cno-gelatin%e2%80%9d-state-leading-apple-juice-companies/
- Committee on Food Chemicals Codex (2003). Food chemicals codex (5th ed.). Washington, DC: National Academy Press. ISBN 9780309088664.
- Diet and Nutrition: The Artificial Food Dye Blues. Carol Potera. Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Oct; 118(10): A428. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2957945/
- A definitive ranking of the 10 best Slurpee Flavors. https://splinternews.com/a-definitive-ranking-of-the-10-best-slurpee-flavors-1793849118