What do you do when your values collide? I’m vegan and I’m an athlete. Sometimes these two parts of me are at odds with each other. Vegans don’t use any animal products, and this is important to me from a health, environmental, and an ethical perspective. Being active is also important to me for fun and overall well-being. It’s easy to be vegan by not eating animal ingredients such as chicken, turkey, or other products that clearly come from sentient beings. Animal-based ingredients such as whey are also easy to spot and substitute with plant-based protein such as pea or soy. Ingredients with multiple potential origins can be tricky. For example, the amino acid leucine commonly comes from duck feathers, but can also come from plants!
When I started working with GU, I learned that not all our amino acids were vegan. I love GU, but I couldn’t compromise my vegan values. Luckily I didn’t have to stop consuming GU for long, because our amazing GU Research and Development department began making me special batches of vegan GU in the lab. After field testing confirmed the vegan gel performed just as well, we decided to convert all GU Energy Gel to a vegan formulation.
GU’s values drive us to do what is best for the athlete, and we know science has proven amino acids provide tremendous benefits to athletes. We also are beginning to look more closely at our impact on the external environment, and how we can be as natural and sustainable as possible without compromising athletic performance.
So this is an especially happy Earth Day for GU. We are all on a journey to do the best we can. I sometimes consume products with animal ingredients by accident, and GU is still striving to improve our environmental footprint. But we both are committed to doing all we can to make the best decisions that align with our values.
— Jessica Carroll, GU Employee since 2013
Editors Note: While we are very proud to now offer vegan GU Energy Gel, we have much work to do in making our entire product line more sustainable. GU Energy Chews, GU Roctane Energy Drink, GU Hydration Drink Tabs, and GU Hydration Drink Mix are made with vegan ingredients. GU Roctane Energy Gel and GU Recovery Drink include ingredients that are not vegan.
We are working hard to update our formulations across the board to balance sustainability with performance. We aim to make all of our products as sustainable as possible, while not compromising athletic performance. GU is a work in progress and we plan to be more open about what we are and are not doing to lessen our impact going forward. Please share your feedback!