Not All Orange Juice is Vegan!



Do you drink orange juice and are vegan? Well, I am here to tell you that you should not be buying store bought OJ. If you find yourself confused, then let me tell you that not all orange juice is vegan. Here is another revelation. Most orange juices contain carmine, fish oil, gelatin and lanolin, all of which are animal products. We can blame the uninformative advertising and the obscure “Ingredients” section on the packaging.

Commercial Orange Juice Is Not Vegan

I would avoid drinking most types of commercial juice as a vegan, someone who does not consume animals in their diet. After all, these juices contain additives, including animal products. Furthermore, these are not identified on the “Ingredients” portion of the packaging. Often, only stating it to be “by-products.”  These “by-products” are chemically-manipulated from other sources that do not come from oranges. Here are some of the details for a few additives that we vegans should keep an eye out for:

Carmine: Insect-Based Food Coloring Animal byproducts in my OJ?

Most commercial orange juice also contains carmine, which is a food coloring derived from the crushed cochineal beetles. Yes, I said beetles. It causes orange juice to look more orange than its original yellowish color. Insects also count as animals, so vegans avoid products that contain carmine. I do find it disturbing that it is so easy to gloss over these ingredients.

Gelatin: Collagen from Animals

Gelatin is another way of saying “proteins from animal collagen.” These jellies are a big “NO” to vegans, and the bad news is that most commercial orange juice contains them. After all, it is a convenient method of adding substance and for making the juice shine more. Unfortunately, even if these were indicated in the “Ingredients” section, any uninformed individual would not realize it comes from animals. Cow, chicken, fish and egg shells are the different sources of collagen that is used.

Lanolin: An Animal Source of Vitamin D3

Whenever I see a beverage, or any other food enriched in vitamin D, I would recommend any vegan to refrain from consuming that food. After all vitamin D, specifically vitamin D3, comes from lanolin which is a wax that animals secrete to produce wool. Lanolin also comes from fish oil. What makes this worse is that stating whether it is vitamin D2 or D3 is not necessary. So, the food manufacturers can evade the question by stating “Vitamin D-enriched.” To be fair, they do have good intentions since natural orange juice lacks vitamin D content. However, vegans will probably still want to avoid any vitamin D-enriched commercial orange juice.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fish Lurking in Your OJ?

Another common additive for processed juice is omega-3 fatty acids since it improves overall heart health. However, I have unfortunate news for vegans, these fatty acids most commonly come from fish oil. Thus, it is something we have to be aware of and avoid despite the benefits. There are many plant based sources for omega-3, however, like flax seed oil and walnuts. So, we can definitely get the healthy benefits of omega 3 elsewhere and not in our juice.

How to Make Vegan Orange Juice

If you were to ask me how I would find an orange juice that is suitable for vegans, a clear answer to that is, “make your own.” Honestly, all one has to do is to purchase oranges and then toss them into a juicer. Voila, you’ll have your vegan orange juice, that tastes way better too, in no time. Not only that, but you reduce the degradation of the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, etc. that happens in  commercialized juicing.

Now, there is another dilemma, since natural orange juice is lacking the extras that were added into the store bought juice; I would begin the customization of your juice. Keep in mind that this is not some kind of vegan protein powder. If you are wanting those extra benefits you can do so by replacing those animal additives with something acceptable for a vegan. First, if coloring is a big concern for you I would mix the freshly make OJ with a vegan red food coloring just so it turns orange. Next, agar-agar powder would work as a gelatin substitute since it comes from seaweed, but honestly I just love it straight and pure… As for vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, I would get the former from sunlight exposure or vegan approved supplement and adding a little dose of flax seed oil to my juice will give me the latter.

Now, thanks to your juicer and these few ingredients you have a rich, yet vegan, orange juice. And if you are not satisfied, all you need to do is combine other fruits, along with your oranges, for more health benefits and a richer taste.


Overall, I’d never drink commercial orange juice again, since most are infused with animal products. Instead of buying orange juice, I recommend making them with a juicer using oranges and a few more ingredients as vegan additives for the extra vitamins.