12 July 2011

TDIV Q&A: I like to have a drink once in awhile but is alcohol vegan?

One aspect of our dietary and conscious lives that we may not consider is our consumption of alcohol and its effects on animals. Alcohol, in many instances, is not vegan.

Most of us just want a cold refreshing beverage to pair with the beach, the sun, a grill, or friends, or a perfectly paired glass of wine with our entrée.

And honey isn’t the only non-listed ingredient in our beverages—the use of animal products goes much deeper than that.

The refining and anti-foaming agents chosen are used to speed up the clarifying process and to capture floating sediment from brews, especially yeasty dark ales.

Some of these refining agents are pretty gross. Actually, they all gross me out. Isinglass is derived from the bladders of fish, gelatin is extracted from the collagen of animal skin and bones, and chitin from shellfish is also used, as well as bone charcoal, egg whites, and cochineal or carmine, which is a dye from crushed beetles.

Beers, ales, whiskies and brandies which have been “cask conditioned” are rarely vegan, let alone vegetarian, and the same goes for fortified port wines. Barnivore has a comprehensive, detailed list of wine, beer, liquor, etc. and why it is or is not vegan, with responses from the brewers directly.

Remember that these agents aren’t considered “ingredients” as they are used purely for fining purposes, so the manufacturers do not have to add them to their list of ingredients, though most alcoholic beverage companies do not list them anyway.

Just remember Barnivore, it's an excellent way to check your booze!

Submit your questions to TDIV Q&A. All questions are posted anonymously.

Kelly Beth | @veganbotanicals
Kelly Beth is a smiley vegan herbalist and wanderer, and currently resides in Boulder, Colorado with her fiancé and kitty (kitty face). She created twig & leaf botanicals, a vegan & organic herbal apothecary 3 years ago to bring healthy, plant-based alternatives to mainstream medicine and home care. Follow Kelly Beth on her blog and Facebook.

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