How to Enjoy Vegan Boba Drinks
Over the last decade, bubble tea beverages with chewy tapioca balls (aka “boba” or “pearls”) at the bottom have exploded in popularity. Maybe you’ve heard people talking about boba or seen it listed on café and restaurant menus but you aren’t totally sure what it is. Or maybe you’ve been on the boba train for a long time but you wonder whether it’s compassionate to animals.
We’re here to answer your most pressing questions about boba and let you know how to enjoy delicious vegan versions.
What Is Boba, Anyway?
The small, chewy “pearls” usually found at the bottom of bubble tea are boba. The trendy drink originated in Taiwan in the 1980s and quickly spread throughout Southeast Asia. It can be made as a creamy mix of classic flavors like Earl Grey, Thai, and jasmine tea or as a mixture of fruit juice and green or black tea. People often drink bubble tea with a thick straw to suck up boba with each sip.
But Are Boba and Bubble Tea Vegan?
Boba’s chewiness might raise red flags for a compassionate consumer like you due to gelatin’s similar texture. Gelatin is made by boiling the bones, skin, and tendons of animals like horses, cows, and pigs. 🤢 We don’t blame you for avoiding products with gelatin—no one wants to sip up cruelty while they’re having a delicious treat.
But we have good news! Boba is made of tapioca starch from the cassava root, so it’s totally vegan. 🙌 So you can officially add it to your list of scrumptious vegan treats.
Aside from the boba itself, bubble tea is typically made two ways—as a fruity drink or a milky drink (although some people like to blend the two together). The fruity or slushy versions are almost always vegan, since they’re typically made with a fruit-based syrup.
The milky version of bubble tea is sometimes made with cow’s milk by default, but many shops offer nondairy milk.
Ask your local boba shop or café to make your bubble tea with all-vegan ingredients. If the location doesn’t offer nondairy milk or creamer, contact the owner to explain why having vegan bubble tea is important to you—and head to a store that offers better options. Vegan boba drinks don’t use honey, either! Bubble tea is more popular than ever, so finding a vegan version shouldn’t be too hard.
If all this talk of boba is making you hungry for more vegan cuisine, order a free “Guide to Going Vegan” from peta2.
You’ll have access to delish vegan recipes, nutritional tips, and all the information you need to transition to a healthy, happy, animal-friendly life.