Taurine is a supplement that’s often added to energy drinks like Red Bull as well as some pre-workouts and energy supplements.
But what exactly is taurine? And is the taurine found in energy drinks like Red Bull really extracted from bull urine?
I did all the research to find out the truth…
What is taurine in energy drinks?
Taurine is an amino acid that’s found in tissue such as the heart, brain and muscles. It is excreted from the body through urine, bile acids and breastmilk. Studies have suggested that taurine supplementation might improve athletic performance, which is why it’s added to energy drinks.
What is taurine made of?
Taurine is found naturally in the flesh of animals, so it’s present in meat and fish. It was first obtained by extraction from the stomach bile of an Ox in 1827. Taurine gets its name from the Latin word ‘taurus’, which means ox or bull.
Taurine is found in plants at only minimal levels. People following vegetarian or vegan diets have been shown to have lower levels of taurine. But, because our livers can produce taurine naturally, a taurine deficiency is not something that most people need to be concerned about.
If you have any concerns that you may be deficient in taurine, you should speak to your doctor.
Is taurine bull pee?
Taurine is excreted from the body via urine. As taurine-boosted energy drinks like Red Bull have been marketed to make people believe that they will be ‘strong as a bull’, it’s easy to see where the connection between taurine and bull urine has come from.
While there is taurine in bull pee, yes, this bull urine isn’t then added to energy drinks. The taurine that’s added to energy drinks and pre-workout supplements is usually produced synthetically.
Where does taurine come from?
Synthetic taurine is made in laboratories through a process called ammonolysis. First, ethylene oxide is mixed with sodium bisulfite to make isethionic acid (2-hydroxyethanesulfonic acid). Then, the process of ammonolysis starts by reacting this isethionic acid with ammonia to form taurine.
Alternatively, some laboratories produce taurine by the alkylation of ammonia with bromoethane sulfonate salts.
If that all sounds like another language then don’t worry. Basically, most taurine comes from mixing together chemicals in a lab and not from cow’s urine, milk, semen or other bodily fluids.
Is taurine vegan?
Synthetic taurine supplements are suitable for vegans and vegetarians. This includes the taurine in energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster. This taurine is made in laboratories from plant-based ingredients and does not come from animals.
However, taurine can also be produced by excitation from animal products like urine or bile. It’s possible that taurine added to cosmetics, shampoo and moisturisers could be made from animal taurine unless the product is labelled as vegan-friendly. The only way to know for sure would be to contact the manufacturer.
Is there bull urine in energy drinks?
Contrary to rumours that energy drinks contain bull pee, there is no cow urine in energy drinks. Some energy drinks contain taurine. While taurine was first extracted from ox bile in the 1800s and is excreted in urine, it can also be made synthetically in a laboratory. The taurine in energy drinks is not from animals.
Does Monster have bull urine in it?
Monster energy drinks do not contain urine. Monster contains plant-based taurine that has been synthetically created in a laboratory. While taurine can be extracted from cow urine, this isn’t where the taurine in Monster energy drinks comes from.
Does Red Bull have bull urine in it?
Red Bull does not contain bull urine. This popular energy drink contains taurine. While taurine is indeed present in bull urine, as well as the urine of other animals, the taurine in Red Bull is not extracted from urine at all – it is made in a laboratory from plant-based ingredients.
Do energy drinks contain semen?
There is an urban myth that Red Bull contains bull sperm and urine. This myth stems from one of the ingredients in energy drinks – taurine. While taurine can, in theory, be extracted from both semen and urine, the taurine in energy drinks is actually produced synthetically in a laboratory from only plant-based ingredients.
Are energy drinks vegan?
Most energy drinks are suitable for vegans. This includes all of the popular brands like Red Bull, Monster, Relentless, Rockstar and Lucozade. Energy drinks are not often labelled as suitable for vegans as they have not been certified by The Vegan Society, but they are vegan by ingredients.
There are, however, some exceptions.
Sugar – charred animal bones
In the United States, some vegans avoid consuming sugar because sugar in the US may be filtered with bone char. These strict vegans should avoid energy drinks that contain sugar. This is not a problem in the United Kingdom as all sugar is vegan in the UK.
Cochineal – crushed beetles
One animal ingredient to look out for in energy drinks is cochineal – a red food colouring that’s made from crushed insects. Cochineal may be listed under several names such as E120 and carmine.
Monster Ultra Red is an example of an energy drink that contains E120 – it is not suitable for vegans or vegetarians. This is is something to be aware of with any red-coloured food or drink.
Some energy drinks contain cows’ milk. An example would be Java Monster coffee and energy.
The Bottom Line
It’s easy to see where the rumour that taurine is made from bull urine came from. It has the same origins as the rumour that taurine is made from bull semen. Neither is correct.
With its battling bulls logo on the can, Red Bull energy drink has a clear association with bulls. Add to that the ingredient taurine, with its name that sounds like taurus and its history of being obtained from oxen, and you can see why people might assume that Red Bull contains ingredients from cows.
Taurine is excreted in urine, yes. And it would be possible for manufacturers to collect bull urine and extract the taurine from there. But they don’t.
Rather than getting cows to pee into buckets, it’s much easier to create taurine synthetically in large quantities in a laboratory.
And I’m sure that the cows prefer that method too.