When it comes to following a vegan lifestyle, many people will immediately associate it with food. However, you need to take far more into consideration than that. Vegan clothing, vegan beauty and vegan household products are all now readily available on the market, enabling you to live a vegan ethos in all areas of your life. One of the most commonly misunderstood products that people find when it comes to being a vegan is alcohol. Read on and find out everything you need to know, with our vegan booze guide.
A Guide To Vegan Booze
Firstly, is it vegan?
For many, alcohol is a difficult one to determine whether it’s vegan or not, with many people assuming that many spirits, wines and beers are already vegan. And although some are, there are lesser-known ingredients used in many products, that are animal or animal-derived. Having a strong understanding of exactly what commonly animal-derived ingredients are often present in alcohol is essential for anyone wanting to adopt a vegan lifestyle. However, the ingredients list found on almost all alcohol packaging tends to be full of jargon that is easier to ignore.
What are the most common animal and animal-derived ingredients in alcohol?
Albumin – This is a protein that is usually derived from eggs or dried blood. When used in the form of egg whites, it is often used to ‘clear’ wines.
Casein – This is a protein that is more commonly used in wines. It’s usually derived from cow’s milk.
Charcoal – Many companies will pass alcohol through wood charcoal as part of a filtration process, however, some also use charcoal that is derived from animal bone.
Carmine – Used to colour liquors and spirits such as Campari, Carmine is derived from the bodies of dried beetles. You may also find it on an ingredient list as Cochineal, Crimson Lake, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470, E120, and Carminic Acid.
Glyceryl monostearate – This is an anti-foaming agent that can be man-made but is sometimes derived from animal fat.
Lactose – Also know as lactobacillus or lactic acid, this is usually derived from the milk of cows.
Gelatin – Gelatin is unlikely to be found in spirits, but has been known to be used in ciders and is produced from animal bones, skin and tendons.
Pepsin – This is often derived from pigs and is used as a heading agent.
Sugar – This is less common, but some companies will whiten sugar using bone charcoal.
Honey – Spirits are highly unlikely to have honey in them, it is derived from bees.
Chitin – This is made using the shells of crustaceans.
Isinglass – This is commonly used in wine and beer as a filtration process and is made from the swim bladders of fish.
How to know what booze to buy
When deciding on your drink, remember that spirits are most likely to be vegan, with beer and cider coming second and wine proving to be the most difficult vegan alcohol to buy. Barnivore is a great resource for checking if your booze is vegan.
When you’re shopping in the supermarket, making a decision is much easier and you can look out for the vegan logo, or any vegetarian or vegan-friendly text. In many cases, if it’s vegetarian, it will most likely be vegan too.
When you’re at the pub or a bar, it can be more tricky, however. In these cases, we recommend opting for spirits that require less processes, such as gin, vodka, rum or whiskey.
What’s your favourite vegan tipple? Let us know in the comments section.
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