Unlike juices, which generally tend to be vegan unless sweetened with added honey or colored with an animal-derived colorant such as cochineal, alcoholic drinks are often not vegan. This comes as a surprise to many new vegans … who would have thought there would be animal products in a glass of wine or a bottle of beer?!?
Many alcoholic beverages are filtered with animal ingredients such as isinglass or bone char. Although only trace amounts of these ingredients may remain in the final product, the fact is animal bodies were used to filter these products; it’s best to find alcohol which does not use isinglass or bone char in the filtering process. You’ll also want to watch out for other animal ingredients which occasionally appear in alcohol such as eggs, cream, milk casein, honey, fish oil, gelatin and bone marrow.
Finding a vegan beverage may seem a bit daunting, especially since ingredients are often not listed on the label so it will require a bit of research. There are plenty of vegan alcoholic beverages out there, though. For beers, a useful tip is to buy beers brewed in Germany. Because of strict German purity laws, German- brewed beers are not refined with isinglass. The drawback here is the high environmental costs of importing. Home brewing minimizes transport and allows one to control the ingredients and methods of production, and there are brew kits which do not use animal ingredients. Some non-animal alternatives include limestone, bentonite, kaolin and kieslguhr (clays), silica gel and vegetable plaques.
For a very handy, ever-evolving list of vegan alcohol, take a look at Taste Better’s guide to vegan alcohol. They are compiling a list of beer, wine and liquor brands and have researched whether each item is vegan or not. You could also contact your own local breweries and vineyards and ask them about their production methods. Even if they are not presently vegan, phone calls from vegans like yourself may get them thinking about it.
One final caveat: if you are going to drink alcohol, please remember to do so responsibly and avoid excess. Even if the beer you’ve been drinking is vegan, driving home drunk or drinking to excess can result in harming other animals, including humans.
And by the way, in case you ARE concerned, theres an App for that:)
www.barnivore.com is a great vegan alcohol website that will absolutely download to any smartphone the most current updated list so staying mindful “on-the-go” is not a problem.