We explore why booze tends not to be vegan friendly
Whether you're vegan or omnivore it may come as a surprise to you that your favourite tipple probably isn't vegan friendly.
By Alex Watson | November 15th '19
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Well, it did to me. I've recently discovered there's actually tonnes of things flying around that are not even the slightest bit vegan (or even vegetarian) friendly that would definitely take you by surprise. Interestingly, I found out that booze is often a difficulty for the vegan folk. On initial thought, it's difficult to ponder how rum might have animal produce in. But after a bit of extra research, I've discovered that in actual fact, alcoholic drinks are actually rarely vegan. As I delved into the deep dark depths of the internet, I found myself pretty quickly in a minefield of misinformation and a fair few confused posts lacking a strict understanding of what is and what isn't vegan-friendly. Let's clear a few things up. By UK law, any alcoholic drink over 1.2% alcohol by volume does not need a list of ingredients on the bottle. That makes it pretty difficult to decipher whether or not your favourite gin is vegan or not. Or for that matter, whatever the heck else is in there. There's 2 main ways alcoholic drinks can contain animal products. Firstly through actually containing animal products such as honey as an ingredient. This is the most obvious, a natural sweetener that's often included in many flavour profiles. Or secondly, and the most surprising, is the animal products used throughout the production process. Before bottling, spirits are filtered, but what they are filtered through might come as a shock to you. More often than not a substance called 'isinglass' is used to catch impurities and leave a refined spirit. Isinglass is made from fish bladders. Sometimes other filtering processes use gelatine, albumen (egg whites), sea shells and an array of other animal products to purify the alcohol. Everything from wine to beer and rum to vodka all often use animal products. Even though you think wine might be vegan, it just comes from grapes, right?! Wrong. To get clarified wines the drink goes through a 'fining' process and the (pretty gross) inglass is typically used. It's not a completely necessary process, you can wait for wine to naturally clear but that takes about a month and clearly we're all far too impatient for that aren't we? Especially when it comes to wine. Beer comes in a wonderful array of types from ale to lager to pale ale each with different processes. The general rule of thumb is to steer clear of craft or draft real ales, however as more of the world turns vegan more and more companies are embracing plant-based brewing options. Even Guinness recently opted for the vegan way of life. A considerable amount of ciders unfortunately have an added sprinkling of gelatine so most aren't vegan or veggie friendly so it's worth checking all the labels.