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Is NOS Energy Drink Vegan? (Analysis)

Ever thought of going vegan?

Looking out for your health will always be a top priority given how unhealthy fast food and other food favorites are (on top of being bad for the environment). It’s no wonder that some people are turning to veganism. And you might be one of them, too.

Aside from planning which ones to eat, you also need something to supplement your morning exercise with, including the energy drink that goes with that, too. 

So if you’re a fan of NOS Energy Drinks, you’re probably wondering where exactly does this energy drink lie on the vegan or not scale if you’re thinking about a vegan diet.

NOS Energy Drink

For the short answer, NOS Energy drink is something you might want to try with your vegan diet, but should be taken with precaution, as some ingredients present in NOS, while nutritionally vegan, may not be ethically sourced.

What does that mean? 

It’s a long story, but I hope this article on NOS Energy being vegan-friendly may help in your journey towards a vegan diet.

What Are The Ingredients In A NOS Energy Drink?

NOS Mango Ingredient list
NOS Mango Ingredients

For reference, here’s a list of the ingredients in NOS Energy that you can also find on the back of the can. 

  • Carbonated Water
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Citric Acid
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Sodium Hexametaphosphate (Preservative)
  • Natural Flavors
  • Taurine
  • Caffeine
  • Gum Arabic
  • Potassium Sorbate (Preservative)
  • Ester Gum
  • Sucralose
  • Yellow 5
  • Inositol
  • Calcium Disodium EDTA (Preservative)
  • Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vit. B6)
  • Yellow 6
  • Guarana Extract
  • Cyanocobalamin (Vit. B12)

What Makes an Energy Drink Vegan?

An energy drink is considered vegan if it doesn’t contain any animal by-products. No matter their take on the practice, vegans will always agree on one thing: consuming animals is a solid no.

Why people make this choice varies widely between ethical and potential health benefits. 

For the sake of discussion, I’ll be focusing on the health aspect of NOS Energy with respect to it being a good substitute for vegans.

Is Sugar Vegan?

Sugar
Sweet!

Sugar is usually vegan, but not always. 

Although sugar generally comes from sugarcane and beets, it’s not necessarily vegan. To elaborate: white sugar, brown sugar, and powdered sugar are always vegan because of their plant origin. But refined sugar? Not all the time. 

See, refined sugar is sometimes processed by grinding sugarcane using animal bones, which gives them a white color. However, bone pieces are filtered out in the final product. Still, this process makes it a reason for ethical vegans to stay clear of refined sugar. 

There’s good news though! Using bone-grinding in processing sugar is becoming less common.

As for NOS Energy, high fructose corn syrup is being used, which is just sugar taken from corn starch. Hence, 100% vegan. 

Is Caffeine Vegan?

Coffee
Ever wonder what’s in it?

Caffeine is vegan on its own.

The caffeine in energy drinks is synthesized and not derived from animals and very much vegan. Caffeine in coffee, on the other hand, is derived from plants, which makes it a safe bet for anyone looking to go vegan. 

That also means black coffee is vegan unless you combine it with milk (for latte and frappe drinks).  

Is Taurine Vegan?

Taurine is actually an amino acid that helps the body retain hydration and supports the functions of the central nervous system. 

It’s also produced naturally in the body and sometimes taken as a supplement for body illnesses. So, it’s safe to say that taurine is definitely vegan.

Where Does Taurine Come From?

The confusion probably came from the origin of its name — taurus — which is Latin for bull, and it was originally “made” with bull bile

Doesn’t sound very vegan though. What happened?

Manufacturers got better at synthesizing ingredients for perishable products. It’s easier and cheaper than using animal parts, particularly parts of a bull, in synthesizing taurine.

Are Ingredients In An Energy Drink Vegan?

Most ingredients in any energy drink are considered vegan considering that they’re normally synthesized. However, there are few more ingredients that go into the drink and they’re just as important as its three main ingredients: guarana, inositol and sucralose. 

Disclaimer: I’m not a scientist and I can’t give much on the chemistry side of some items on the list. But I can share with you what I do know about these ingredients. 

Is Guarana Vegan?

Guarana is definitely vegan. It’s a kind of fruit from Brazil that’s high in caffeine and is often used in energy drinks. 

Aside from it being a good addition to NOS Energy, it also comes with health benefits such as the following:

  • Antioxidants 
  • Promotes weight loss 
  • Anti-diarrhea and Anti-constipation properties
  • Possible Boost to Heart Health
  • Pain relief
  • Antibacterial properties 

On the other hand, consuming too much of this (or food with its extract) can lead to:

  • Heart Palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Stomach Problems

And that’s just to name a few!

Is Inositol Vegan?

Rice meal
Rice is life

Also known as Vitamin B8, inositol is typically found in citrus fruits and fiber-rich foods like rice, making it a good vegan alternative for you.

Inositol is actually a sugar associated with regulating the responses of insulin and a lot of other hormones. 

Some of these hormones are also tied to mood, making them an option for complementary therapy for depression, anxiety, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) . 

Similar to guarana, there are possible physical and mental health repercussions when you take too much inositol such as:

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Possible Manic or Hypomanic episode 
  • Reduced ability to absorb essential minerals (e.g zinc) 

Is Sucralose Vegan?

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener engineered to imitate the taste of sugar. This is commonly sold as Splenda and used in products for those with diabetes.

In addition, sucralose is promoted for being 0 calories and 600 times sweeter than normal sugar, and as seen on some labels — also vegan friendly.  

However “vegan,” sucralose is often criticized for being tested on animals. It’s been reported that around 12,000 animals have died due to being used to study sucralose.  

Is Vitamin B12 Vegan?

Vegans often have trouble finding sources of vitamin B12 due to it being naturally found only in animals. 

Regardless, there are a few ways of getting vitamin B12 without consuming non-vegan products like: 

  • Marmite (yeast extract)
  • Fortified cereals
  • Soya products enhanced with vitamin B12

Does NOS Energy Contain Vitamin B12?

NOS Energy contains vitamin B12 in all of its variants. Vitamin B12 is essential for nerve tissue health, synthesizing red blood cells, and helps prevent anemia. 

That makes it important in energizing the body and the lack of it can lead to irreversible neurological problems. 

Symptoms for deficiency include:

  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Anemia 

Are “Natural Flavor” Drinks Really Vegan?

“Natural flavors” is an umbrella term that covers many things including processed food, dairy, and sometimes, in juice drinks. Some of these products aren’t vegan at all and are labeled only to attract vegan customers.

But if you do your research, you can figure which is real vegan from not. So it’s best to be critical when choosing food items for your vegan diet.

Non-Vegan Ingredients In Energy Drinks

Some manufacturers use cochineal as a food coloring and sometimes used in energy drinks. Cochineal is a small insect from the sub-tropical Americas that is being crushed to make dyes. 

Here’s an expanded list of things to look out for in the labels:

  • E120
  • Carmine
  • Cochineal
  • Cochineal Extract
  • Carmine Lake

Are Artificial Food Colorings Vegan?

Artificial Food Coloring is controversial among vegans.

Food coloring is made in a lab using isolated chemicals. They’re just like sucralose in that they are products of animal testing. 

Here’s a quick analysis of the food colorings seen in NOS products.

Food Coloring CodeDescriptionFood
Blue 1Also known as Brilliant Blue and E133 produced through oxidation reaction in a commercial lab setting. Ice Cream, Icing, Sodas, and Cotton candy 
Red 40Also known as E129 or Allura Red. It’s mostly made from petroleum. It’s been made with coal tar in the past. Sodas, Candy, Bakery Goods and Cereals. Sometimes medication too. 
Yellow 5


Like Red 40, Yellow 5 (or Tartrazine and E102) is also made from petroleum.Bakery products, Cereal, and Cosmetics. 
Yellow 6Also known as Sunset Yellow and E110, Yellow 6 is made from Petroleum products Cereals, Drinks, Cosmetics, and Bakery Goods 
Food Colorings, How they’re made, and Where to find them

All the food colorings on the table are known to have been tested on animals.

Though food colorings used in NOS Energy has vegan ingredients, they aren’t produced ethically. 

Animal Testing

mouse
Sure hope that’s not my cheese…..

Many vegans believe that brands that use animals to test their products is a form of exploitation. But what does it really mean when something is being tested on animals?

Animal testing has been around since ancient Greece. Since then, laws have been passed in the attempt to make the practice more “humane.”

There are other ways that food can be tested, and Wageningen University & Research shows us just that. If you’re vegan and would like to know more about these alternatives, check out this short clip that introduces substitutes to animal testing.

Wageningen University & Research for animal testing

Animal Testing in Sucralose (Splenda)

As opposed to other studies, some still believe that sucralose isn’t processed using animal bones.

In a study by The Vegetarian Resource Blog, they said that sucralose is vegan-friendly and doesn’t use any animals for testing.

But other sources tell us that animals (including beagles and monkeys) were used and kept in cruel conditions, too

Animal Testing in Food Coloring

Like sucralose, food colorings are also tested on animals to ascertain that it’s safe for human consumption. This is also approved by the FDA, so rest assured that you can mix food coloring in any of your food decorations and baking.

Personal Opinion

Breakfast
A nice, healthy breakfast

NOS is vegan but it has ingredients that some vegans might not be comfortable with.

If artificial coloring and sucralose don’t bug you that much, then it won’t be a problem for you. 

That said, the best way to be truly sure about a product being “vegan-friendly” is to ask the manufacturers themselves or do your own research about it.

If taken in moderation, it can give you that much-needed boost without worrying about your health or possibly consuming something that had been tested on animals. 

However, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d still refuse to take energy drinks in your diet especially that most of them are high in sugar and in caffeine.

There are plenty of ways to get energized for your exercise. Here are some suggestions to help you out: 

  • Eating a good breakfast – It might sound cliche, but being able to control what ends up on your plate and how much you eat is a good start. 
  • Tea – Tea being a mixture of boiled plants and leaves that makes it a good choice for people looking to avoid animal by-products, also including honey as your sweetener.
  • Staying hydrated – whether you need to exercise or just go about your day, you need to get at least 8-ounce glasses each day. 

About Adrian Carter

Adrian writes about energy drinks and their ingredients to shine a light on the facts behind the brand names.

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