Plant-Based Energy Drinks — Which Brands are Vegan?

Energy drinks haven’t always been the healthiest. Beverages containing up to 17 teaspoons of sugar — and two times more caffeine than an espresso — have had a hold on the market for years.

But more recently, there’s been a trend in a different type of energy drink starting to appear on the supermarket shelves.

The energy drink industry is seeing an interesting move towards more natural products — including plant-based and vegan energy brands!

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Are most energy drinks vegan?

If you’re looking to purchase a vegan energy drink, you might not know where to start.

In fact, there can be a lot of uncertainty around which energy drinks are truly vegan.

One of the biggest concerns for vegans when it comes to energy drinks is that many of them contain an ingredient called taurine. Even big energy drink names like Monster, Redbull, and Rockstar all list taurine in their ingredients.

But what is taurine?

Taurine is an amino acid that can only naturally be found in meat, fish, and dairy products.

Some research suggests that taurine improves athletic performance when consumed. It’s also claimed that, when combined with caffeine, taurine may improve mental capabilities.

And that’s exactly what energy drinks set out to achieve! So it makes sense that energy drinks companies include taurine in their products.

If you’re vegan and on the hunt for a new energy drink, you might assume that an energy drink containing taurine is a no-go. But hold up, that’s not actually the case.

Most taurine used today is actually synthetically made — and many of the big energy drink companies now use synthetic taurine, rather than the taurine found in meat. Essentially, more energy drinks are vegan than you might realize.

There are some energy drinks, however, that contain milk — so it’s always really important to check the ingredient list to make sure that the energy drink you’re buying is really vegan.

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6 indie & plant-based energy drinks to try in 2022

Zevia Zero Calorie Energy Drink

What is it? 

Zevia Zero Calorie Energy Drinks are made with zero sugar and are full of plant-based ingredients. Their key selling points are that the drinks have zero calories, contain organic caffeine, and are completely vegan.

Zevia’s zero-calorie energy drink range boasts a wide range of flavors including Raspberry Lime, Grapefruit, Mango Ginger, Kola, Strawberry Kiwi, and Pineapple Paradise.

What are the ingredients? 

Zevia’s Raspberry Lime flavor Zero Calorie Energy Drink contains carbonated water, citric acid, organic stevia leaf extract, organic caffeine, and natural flavors.

How does it give you energy? 

The ‘clean caffeine’ in these drinks is what gives you energy, without the need for tons of sugar.

Where can you buy it? 

Zevia Zero Calorie Energy Drinks can be bought through the Zevia website.

OCA Plant-Based Energy Drink

What is it? 

OCA is a plant-based energy drink that promises to offer long-lasting energy, without the crash or jitters that you might get from more traditional caffeinated drinks.

OCA energy drinks are powered by cassava root extract and contain 120mg of natural caffeine, which is the equivalent of one cup of coffee.

What are the ingredients? 

OCA’s Berry Açaí flavor energy drink contains sparkling water, organic tapioca syrup, organic agave syrup, organic gum acacia, organic acai flavor, citric acid, organic raspberry flavor, organic caffeine, and organic stevia.

How does it give you energy? 

OCA drinks contain tapioca, which is an extract from the cassava root. This is a natural source of energy that OCA says will “keep you moving to your rhythm all day long”.

Where can you buy it? 

OCA Plant-Based Energy Drinks can be bought at Grocery Outlet, or through the OCA website.

A man does yoga on a recreational fieldGURU Original Organic Energy Drink

What is it? 

GURU believes that “energy shouldn’t come at the expense of good health”. Their drinks contain only natural, plant-based ingredients.

What are the ingredients? 

GURU’s original flavor contains sparkling water, organic cane sugar, organic white grape juice concentrate, citric acid, apple acid, natural flavors, organic green tea caffeine, organic guarana extract, organic echinacea extract, and organic panax ginseng extract.

How does it give you energy? 

GURU drinks contain guarana extract. Guarana beans contain natural caffeine, which help to increase mental alertness and reduce fatigue.

Where can you buy it? 

GURU drinks can be bought through the GURU website.

Aspire Healthy Energy

What is it? 

Aspire’s energy drinks are made up of “good-for-you, natural plant-based ingredients.”

There are nine different flavors to choose from, and each flavor shares the same combination of vitamins and plant-based ingredients.

Aspire’s drinks contain no calories, no sugars, and no carbs.

What are the ingredients? 

Aspire’s Orange Pineapple flavor contains carbonated water, malic acid, taurine, citric acid, sodium citrate, calcium lactate, guarana seed extract, natural flavor, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), green tea extract, natural caffeine, choline bitartrate, vegetable juice (coloring), sucralose, L-carnitine, green tea polyphenols (EGCG), ginger root extract, niacinamide (Vitamin B3), D-Calcium pantothenate (Vitamin B5), pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), biotin (Vitamin B7) and cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12).

How does it give you energy? 

These drinks contain premium green tea and guarana seed extract, which both provide sources of natural caffeine.

Where can you buy it? 

Aspire Energy Drinks can be bought at Walmart, Safeway, or through the Aspire website.

GHOST ENERGY Sugar-Free Energy Drink

What is it? 

GHOST ENERGY drinks contain no sugar and no artificial colors. They’re also soy-free and gluten-free.

What are the ingredients? 

Some of the most important ingredients in GHOST ENERGY drinks are Carnipure L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, taurine, natural caffeine, alpha-GPC, NeuroFactor coffee fruit extract, and AstraGin root extracts.

How does it give you energy? 

The drinks “combine 200mg of natural caffeine with brain-boosting nootropics to deliver the perfect combo of energy and focus.”

Where can you buy it? 

GHOST ENERGY drinks can be bought from GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe.

Sambazon Organic Low Calorie Amazon Energy Drink

What is it? 

These are açaí berry and pomegranate organic energy drinks, containing 40 calories and 6g of sugar. Sambazon drinks are full of antioxidants and a great source of vitamin C.

What are the ingredients? 

Sambazon Organic Low Calorie Amazon energy drinks contain sparkling filtered water, organic erythritol, organic fair trade clarified açaí juice, organic invert cane syrup, organic acerola juice, organic pomegranate juice, organic & natural flavors, citric acid, organic green tea extract, fruit & vegetable juice (for color), malic acid, organic stevia extract, sea salt, organic guaraná extract, and organic yerba mate extract.

How does it give you energy? 

These drinks contain organic caffeine sources found naturally in yerba mate, green tea, and guaraná. The drinks provide about as much caffeine as two shots of espresso — so be careful!

Where can you buy it? 

Sambazon Organic Low Calorie Amazon energy drinks can be bought at Costco, Whole Foods Market, and Safeway.

Keen to find out more about your favorite food and drink products?

Here at Buffalo Market, we’re all about foods that are both good for you and good for the planet.

If you’re keen to find out more about products in your refrigerator, check out the Buffalo Market blog here for more food and beverage insights.

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