Day 19: Is your booze vegan?

After recently realising that veganism isn’t just about food, and despairing about it in my Day 9 post, there seems to be another area that I neglected so far. Worrying about drinks as well? That would just be too much, I thought. Not much to worry about anyway. That is, until my dear kitchen neighbour A. proclaimed he was not impressed with my half-veganism, as he called it. How could I call myself a vegan, but just live oblivious to the whole world of non-veg-friendly drinks?

There are the obvious ones: advocaat, cream liqueur, creamy cocktails. This is a shame since I quite like Bailey’s, Amarula and the like. I did find this site, Castle Glen. They promise that all their products, even the “Cream” liqueurs, are dairy-free and egg-free. Unfortunately, they are set in Australia, but they do have the option of ordering online on their website (not that I am that desperate for cream liqueur at the moment, but who knows what will happen?)

The less obvious yet more important ones are, of course, the clear liquids: Beer, wine, spirits.

The main problem is that other than labels on foodstuffs, labels on drinks hardly ever contain information on the veganism of the content. When I first came to the UK, I found it hilarious that they would bother labeling things like, tomato juice or mash potatoes as ‘suitable for vegetarians’. Nowadays, being much more aware of all the random side-products and ingredients you can unexpectedly find in many items, I am thankful for that and am waiting for Germany to start a similar system. Either way, such labeling is hardly common for drinks – making it much more difficult to become a clear idea of what’s ok and what’s not, and also making living in denial much easier.

Bottle

Why are many drinks not vegan? The most common reason are non-vegan finings. These are added to many beers and wines during the production process to purify the beverage. They cling on to any impurities in the drinks, and therefore makes it easier to remove them.
One of the most common non-vegan ingredient is Isinglass. It’s derived from fish bladders (Ew… exactly.) Another common example would be Chitosan, made from the shells of shrimps, or Gelatin.
In most drinks, these are almost completely removed after the purification, making them vegan at least. (even though some ales and Guinness still contain quite a bit, arguably making them even non-vegetarian).
So, if these finings aren’t used, does this mean vegan wine equals impure wine? Luckily not. There are many alternatives to the common findings which are used for vegan wines today, such as Irish moss.

For any aspiring vegan(or anyone who’d rather their wine wasn’t drenched in pieces of shrimps or fish bladder), I have good news: There is help!
Your ultimate guide is barnivore.com. They have a comprehensive listing of pretty much any brand you can imagine, listing exactly whether it’s vegetarian, vegan or neither. I was also pretty impressed with Tesco’s Online Wine Overview. They have clear symbols to show exactly which wine is vegatarian or even vegan. Very handy I think.

Interesting reads on the topic:

To be honest, I am a bit unsure about how to handle this new information. What does this imply for vegans? How to tell what wine is vegan in the supermarket, if the label won’t even tell you? Will a waitress know if the Red she’s serving is vegan? I surely wouldn’t have, back in my days as a waitress.
I think for now I will try to check out online lists, read up on barnivore, and try to get a general idea of which drinks are okay and which aren’t. We will see how that goes…

Prost!😉

2 comments
    • Haha😀 Home-brewing isn’t really feasible at the moment, but I will keep it in my mind…. Thanks for the link, too!

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