Animal Ingredients Lurking In Your Alcohol

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A bottle of beer or that must-have margarita has been a staple evening kick-starter for as long as your adult life. However, if you’ve chosen a vegan lifestyle it may come off as a shock that most of your alcoholic drinks are packed with or use animal by-products. Going on a night out and ordering drunkenly at the bar is now something that requires a little bit more thought. Fret not, our vegan alcohol guide below gives all information about the animal ingredients along with vegan alternatives.

When you order a white wine to pair with your vegan-fish dish at a fancy restaurant, you never expect an actual fish sneaking-in in your glass of wine. Most of us are unaware of this and it’s understandable why drinks are so often overlooked as non-vegan. After all, who would have thought there would be animal ingredients in their drink?

Unless the bottle says the drink is vegan, labels and packaging are our only means to fill us in on what is inside that bottle. But when it comes to alcohol that may not be enough. This is because there may not be a trace of any animal ingredient in the actual drink, animal by-product may have been used in the manufacturing process. Wine and beer are clarified after fermentation and some of the most common ingredients used in this process include isinglass (from fish bladders), gelatin (made from bones), egg whites, sea shells, chitosan (made from crustaceans). Beer is possibly the main alcoholic drink that’s most notorious.

Many of the ingredients are labelled in an unrecognizable way, so take the time to find out what you need to be looking for that will distinguish one from the other. The processing aids, known as fining agents, come under names such as casein (a milk protein), albumin (egg whites), chitin (fiber from crustacean shells), carmine (food coloring from a species of insect), gelatin, pepsin, fish oil and isinglass.

Fortunately, breweries are coming up with new, ethical ways of producing some of the world’s most loved tipples. There are many vegan alternatives to commonly used animal ingredients, such as carbon, bentonite clay, limestone, kaolin clay, plant casein, silica gel, and vegetable plaques. This means grabbing a pint at the pub isn’t something you need to kiss goodbye to just yet.

Often, breweries that use a natural process find that their beer has a fuller mouth feel, a natural sheen and an even better smell and taste too. While you’re at it, give organic booze a shot too, they’re better for health.

Picking a Vegan Booze: Your Guide to Vegan Alcohol

Becks, Budweiser, Carlsberg (EU only) Heineken, Corona and San Miguel in a bottle are all vegan-friendly and so is Amigos, the famous tequila flavored beer.

Cider is one that people presume is vegan, because its fruit based, but Rekorderlig and Kopparberg are surprisingly filled with gelatine and therefore aren’t even safe for the vegetarians amongst us. Luckily, Thatcher’s, Strongbow (apple, pear and citrus edge) and the Pear, Peach, Raspberry and Elderflower Stella Artois are all good and Bulmer’s pear is another great option you can have too.

For those who are looking to share a bottle of wine for an intimate dinner with your loved one, I can tell you that the popular favorites such as Echo Falls, Gallo’s and Jacob’s Creek along with the majority of I Heart are not suited to a vegan diet. Maybe it’s time to get looking for a new wine?

St. Patricks Day can no longer include the traditional pint Guinness, unless it’s been brewed in Australia, as they use animal derived ingredients in their brewing process {although we’ve heard they removed isinglass from their manufacturing process and is now vegan, we are yet to receive confirmation from the company about it}.

Guinness recently released the following statement:

“The first stage of the roll out of the new filtration system concentrated on Guinness Draught in kegs. The brewery is delighted to confirm that this phase of the project is complete and all Guinness Draught produced in keg format at St. James’s Gate Brewery and served in pubs, bars and restaurants around the world, is brewed without using isinglass to filter the beer.”

Spirits are often safe, with the likes of tequila (without the worm) Sambuca, vodka, rum and whiskey being mainly okay, but be aware of those that are flavoured, as this is often when the unsafe ingredients make an appearance. Gordon’s gin and tonic is still on the menu and a classic Jack Daniel’s and Coke is fine, as long as you avoid the honey version.

Don’t worry about your mixers though, Pepsi, Coke, lemonade and fruit juices are all fine to accompany your drink, but concentrated fruit juices do need to be checked as they may be distilled through non-vegan ingredients or contain other animal ingredients like carmine and omegas from animal sources.

For those of you who find that when they go to bars, it’s the cocktail menu they look for more than the wine list, don’t be worried. Cocktail lists often highlight their ingredients, so it’s much easier to figure out what you can order, but steering clear of anything creamy is always a safe bet and if a taste of summer is what you fancy, Malibu and PIMMS are vegan, so you don’t need to miss out on these summer essentials. Ladies, your favorite Baileys has finally launched a vegan version of their popular drink using almond milk; it’s called Baileys Almande.

Still unsure? Download an app like Veggiebeer or use that’ll help you find out if the brand you go-by is safe or not. But for now, pass those tequila shots!

Written by Shannon Blanks
Shannon is a 22 year old vegan living in London who regularly spends her weekends on cooking courses, visiting the latest vegan hotspots or strolling around food markets. She has a love for reading in parks on sunny days and as a typical northern lass loves pie, mash and gravy

One thought on “Animal Ingredients Lurking In Your Alcohol

    Alastair says

    I’ve been planning to quit Alcohol for quite some time, now hve a gud reason too. didn’t know tht even alcohol cud hve animal products… its crazy, aint it?

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