If you’re anything like me, when you made the noble leap into veganism, your head was preoccupied with an endless list of foods that you can no longer eat, but it’s also crucial that you err on the side of caution when it comes to your favorite tipples as well.
That’s not to say you won’t be able to find any vegan booze in your locality, as there are tons of beverages that are naturally vegan-friendly — Hooray! But you don’t want to get caught out by the few that aren’t.
So, to keep you, your diet, and your morals on track, let’s discuss what alcohols will definitely be vegan, what alcohol will definitely not be vegan, and which beverages it pays to be suspicious of.
Is Wine Vegan?
Brace yourself, because I’m about to blow your mind… most wine is not vegan. Now, I know what you’re thinking… dairy in wine? Gross! Well, yep, that would be gross, but it’s not dairy you vegan oenophiles need to worry about.
Actually, scratch that, it is sometimes, but not in the way you might think. The problem with wine is that something known as isinglass is used as a filter during the vinification process, and guess what?
It’s a kind of gelatin extracted from fish bladders. Yep, you read that right… fish bladders! Sometimes casein (a milk protein) or egg whites are used in place of isinglass, so that’s three strikes and wine. Is. Outtahere!
Just kidding, there are plenty of wines out there that are totally cruelty-free in both production and composition.
The problem is that, unless it has that glorious little V somewhere on the bottle, you can’t tell if a wine is vegan or not, because companies aren’t required to explain the manufacturing process (see our guide on how to tell if wine is vegan) .
So, in summation here, it’s best just to drink wines that are explicitly advertised as vegan. If there’s no V, I’m afraid it’s time to put the bottle down and walk away, and that goes for all wines too, even rosé.
Is Beer Vegan?
Beer may not be vegan because of both the production and the ingredients (see more about which beers are vegan here). Much like wine, non-vegan gelatin may be used as a fining agent to expedite the clarification process, thus increasing productivity and boosting profits.
I know, I know… this is jarring information, but I have some good news for you. Generally speaking, keg, bottle, or canned beer will be vegan, unless of course, they contain any non-vegan ingredients.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t tread carefully when picking your sudsy snack, but it’s mostly beer on tap you should be worried about.
Still, no matter the beer, you need to keep an eye out for ingredients like whey (a milk protein), lactose (a milk carbohydrate), and honey (you know this one, I’m sure).
Then, too, be vigilant around beer with particularly wacky flavors. Some will contain ingredients like milk, chocolate, or even egg. Some of the mass-market beer you can always count on for a cruelty-free buzz includes:
- Budweiser — King of beers indeed!
- Coors — Unless you order in the UK
Is Ale Vegan?
When it comes to ale, which, just like lager, is a type of beer, we have all the same things to worry about.
Do some research on the production process of any ale you think about drinking, and as manufacturers often include wacky ingredients for eye-catching, off-the-wall flavors, be sure to read ingredient lists.
Is Cider Vegan?
For the most part, cider isn’t quite as problematic as wine or beer for us vegans, but don’t let your guard down. Even though it’s mostly composed of fermented fruit, sometimes manufacturers do use non-vegan filtration processes during production.
Similarly to wine, you likely won’t find any information about the production process on the box, bottle, or can, so my advice here is simply to look out for that lovely V. Alternatively, have a quick look online and check if the cider in question is vegan.
Side Note — Don’t just check if a brand is vegan, as a single manufacturer is likely to produce multiple vegan and non-vegan products simultaneously.
Instead, research the drink specifically. Take into account the name of the drink and how it’s stored, i.e. can, bottle, box, keg, cask. Before we move on to the liquor section of this guide, let’s take a look at some of the popular vegan ciders on the market:
- Magners — Pear only
- Old Rosie
- Strongbow — Cross contamination warning on website, but nothing serious to worry about
- Stowford Press
- Brother’s Cider
Are Liquors & Spirits Vegan?
Rejoice, all my hard booze homies — almost all liquors and spirits are completely, 100%, unequivocally vegan! This is because these powerful drinks are distilled rather than fined, so problematic filtration processes don’t even enter into the equation — Hooray!
Now, before you pull a cork and celebrate this vegan victory, I wouldn’t be doing my job here if I didn’t remind you that you should still be checking ingredient lists, even when it comes to liquor and spirits.
Manufacturers like to throw in the odd sneaky non-vegan ingredients from time to time. Honey is a popular addition, especially in bourbon, and some creamy liquors (I’m looking at you, Baileys!) of course contain dairy.
As long as you do your due diligence, there’s no reason why we vegans can’t still enjoy…
Side Note — Some people are wary of tequila due to rumors the mezcal worm is used in its production, but this is a rarity. Only the tequila drink actually called mezcal uses this moth larva.
Within all subcultures and ideologies, the matter of label permanence is always an issue. For example, doing one empowering thing for woman-kind does not a feminist make.
Rather, to earn this label, someone has to make an ongoing effort to further the cause, and the same applies to veganism — It takes work! We can never let our guard down.
Veganism is an endless struggle towards higher morals and a more synergistic relationship with nature. It can be easy to forget to research a drink, (especially if you’re already a couple drinks deep), but remember… you have to constantly earn the title of vegan. So, keep your wits about you, and party on, cruelty-free style!
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