No matter what your diet is, unless you are teetotal, you will want to have an alcoholic beverage every now and again. However, even with alcohol, it is worth being vigilant, as you never know what they are putting in it.
Vegan alcohols include certain:
Which are free from animal products, much like the food that we all eat.
Do you know the most common ingredient in alcohol that is not vegan-friendly? I do! It is isinglass, which is made from the dried-up sim bladders of fish, as well as gelatine from boiled bones, ligaments, and flesh, casein, which comes from cows’ milk, as well as albumin from egg whites.
It is so weird to think that some ciders, beers, and wines include animal products, but they truly do. So many ingredients are hidden, so I am here to tell you what’s okay, and what is not!
How Come There Are Some Beers, Cocktails, And Wines That Are Not Vegan?
There are some wines, beers, and ciders that are not vegan thanks to products used in fibration processes such as casein, isinglass and gelatine. There can also be flavourings such as honey, and some cocktails even rely on eggs and milk. Some even use castoreum which is a musky flavouring that comes from castor sacs near the anal glands of a dead beaver.
How gross is that?!
What Is Isinglass?
Isinglass is the most common non-vegan product in alcoholic beverages. It comes from dried swim bladders of fish. It was originally taken from sturgeon, then cod, and now from tropical fish as well.
This is a type of collagen that produces fruit jellies, long before gelatin was commercialised.
Now, instead, it is used in filtration and is used in alcoholic drinks to create a finish less cloudy.
Yes, it is literally just used to make the drink look pretty. *Cue eye roll*.
Are There Vegan Alternatives?
There are plenty of ciders, wines and beers that settle on their own, meaning they actually do not need any extra filtration. This is actually a more traditional, and ideal brewing process, and is still very popular. However, there are still vegan alternatives to isinglass, such as carrageenan which comes from pea protein and Irish mosses.
Flavourings, there are plenty of vegan flavours that can spice up your beverage without any animals being hurt to do so. Many brewers will make their own unique flavours using hops blends, but you can also find other vegan options in berries and citrus fruits.
It turns out there is plenty of vegan alcohol that you can buy at the stores.
Of all the beers there are, there are some which are popular.
Of these are cask ales, Isinglass is often used in cask ales as it helps to speed up the clarifying as it is produced. This basically just means that it makes the yeast found in beer settle to the base faster.
There will be many vegan non-casked beers, which are used for cans, bottles and kegs, which are often made without isinglass.
With so many vegan beers, it is hard to know where to begin, so instead of going on a tangent I will provide you with some of the names of popular vegan beers
What Ales Are Vegan:
- Moor Beer Nor’Hop
- Badger Fursty Ferret.
- Bombardier (bottled only).
- Freedom Lager.
- Red Stripe.
- Beavertown Neck Oil IPA.
- Brewdog Punk IPA.
- William Brothers Rubus, Grapefruit IPA.
And Vegan Stout:
- Sam Smith Stout.
- Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.
You might think wine is vegan, but sometimes it isn’t, once again thanks to the finishing process, just the same as beer. Wine naturally goes through the fining process and can get that same clear finish.
However, some manufacturers do not like the time it can take to get this, so they will speed it up with fining agents, one of which is albumin which comes from the white of an egg.
While they are removed afterwards, there are still traces in the wine after the process is completed, so it is best to know what is vegan and what isn’t ahead of buying.
- Waitrose La Croix D’Ardit Bordeaux.
- Exquisite Argentinian Malbec.
- Yellow Tail Shiraz.
- Sainsbury’s House Sauvignon Blanc.
- Estevez Chilean Pinot Grigio.
- Saint Clair ‘James Sinclair’ Sauvignon Blanc.
- Sainsbury’s Bordeaux Rose tastes the Difference.
- Tesco Italian Rose Blush.
- Conti Friuli Veneto Blush.
- Cava Brut.
- Organic Prosecco.
- Canti Prosecco.
Things are just the same for ciders, however, instead of isinglass, some of the flavoured ciders like Rekorderlig and Kopparberg will have gelatine in them. However, flavoured ciders are still around, in Thatchers, Old Mout, and Stowford Press, traditional Scrumpy is also a way to go.
Traditional Scrumpy is actually cloudy anyway, so you get rid of the whole problem there anyway! Here are some alternative options for you:
- Thatchers Cider.
- Stowford Press.
- Savanna Cider.
- Old Mout Cider.
- Orchard Pig.
- Aspall Cider.
Liqueurs & Spirits
Pretty much every spirit and liqueur is vegan, this includes gin, vodka, whisky, rum and so on. Spirits are made by taking grain or sugars and fermenting it to create alcohol, which is distilled to remove extra water and make it stronger, so finding agents are not needed.
The only part that may not be vegan is flavourings such as honey in whiskey and bourbons. The other exception is Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur, which has dairy in it.
Here are some spirits and liqueurs which are 100% vegan!
- Baileys Almande (made with almond milk).
- Russian Standard Vodka.
- Monkey Shoulder Whiskey.
- Mount Gay Rum.
- Jack Daniels.
- Sipsmith gin.
- Don Julio Tequila.
There are quite a few cocktails which contain animal products strangely enough, and most of the time it is milk that is the culprit.
However, your local watering hole should let you know what cocktails are and are not vegan on their menu. However, here are a few for your peace of mind:
- Vegan Baileys.
- Old Fashioned.
- Cranberry Mojito.
- Bloody Mary (only if made with vegan Worcestershire sauce)
- Passionfruit Martini (without the prosecco, unless it’s specifically vegan-friendly.)
Why Is Liquor Not Vegan?
Some are vegan, but there is also quite a lot of liquor that is not due to the filtering process before the beverage is bottled, which usually includes isinglass, gelatine, egg whites and so on.
Is There Raw Vegan Alcohol?
Pretty much every brand of hard liquor will be vegan, this includes gin, vodka, bourbon, whiskey, and rum.
Best Vegan Gluten-Free Alcohol
One of the best vegan gluten-free alcohols is the Baileys almande Almond Milk Liqueur, it is much like the typical Baileys Irish Cream in its decadence, but it is vegan and made with almond milk and is also gluten-free!
There certainly are vegan-friendly alcohols out there. However, if you are buying them from the shop, watch out for those ingredients: casein, isinglass and gelatine, and of course sweeteners like honey.