Is Alcohol Vegan?
Alcohol is made from fermenting the sugars in plants, so most people eating a plant-based diet assume that it’s vegan. Unfortunately, that’s not always true. While alcohol certainly can be vegan, that doesn’t mean that it always is.
Why Are Some Alcoholic Beverages Not Vegan?
Leaving beer or wine to ferment in a keg is vegan. Bacteria process the sugars in the liquid and produce alcohol as a byproduct. Brewers and winemakers then stop the process at the optimal point, bottle their products, and sell them to the public.
However, there are often other elements of the process, particularly filtering prior to bottling, that are not vegan. The reason is this: many producers use a substance called isinglass derived from fish bladders because it is so effective at removing impurities from alcoholic beverages. They may also introduce other non-vegan elements, including sea shells, egg whites, and gelatin (though these rarely make it into the end product in ingestible form). Therefore, vegans have to be careful.
Which Alcoholic Drinks Are Vegan?
In general, beers and wines are the least vegan, and spirits are the most vegan, though it depends on the products themselves. Spirits tend to be more vegan-friendly because they use different filtration methods (ones that don’t rely on the aforementioned fish bladders). They’re also considerably simpler to make.
Many manufacturers now put the vegan label on their products to show they are cruelty-free, however, some are still considerably behind the times and don’t do this. If you aren’t sure whether a product is vegan or not, call the manufacturer to ask.
Alternatively, you can now consult one of the many websites that list vegan-friendly alcoholic beverages. Here you should be able to find most major brands and product lines.
Beware Of The Risks
While beer, wine, or spirits might be vegan, that doesn’t mean they are any healthier than conventionally-made alternatives. All three are potentially addictive and put you at risk of outpatient treatment for alcoholism.
In the past, officials recommended that people drink alcohol in moderation. However, science now says that consuming no alcohol at all is the best policy. The less you consume, the lower your risk of disease falls.
Drinking regularly dramatically increases the risk of throat and breast cancers, and puts you at a higher risk of heart and liver disease. These risks increase as you drink more, starting from a low level.
If you drink above the guidelines consistently, you are more likely to put on weight. Your appearance will also change and you may start to look puffy and dehydrated.
Can Vegans Drink Alcohol?
In a nutshell, yes, but it depends on the way it was made. In principle, vegans can consume all hard liquors, including gin, whiskey, vodka, bourbon, and rum. Manufacturers distill these using non-animal processes. Just be careful of specialty liquors as these can sometimes contain honey to make them a little sweeter.
Vegans can also drink beer and wine, but they should check the label. Both these drinks can involve the use of animal products, even if they don’t make it into the final product. Remember that most wines and beers use animal products, so you’ll have to check the label carefully.
Tips For Finding Vegan Alcohol
If you decide to drink, here are some tips for finding vegan alcohol.
Look for vegan label symbols: Companies usually tout the fact that their drinks are vegan. Therefore, always look for the vegan label on the bottle.
- Look for a carmine statement: Brands operating in the U.S. have to disclose whether their products contain carmine, a type of animal extract.
- Check allergens statements: You can also sometimes tell whether vegan alcohol has animal products in it from the allergen statement. For instance, if you see milk or shellfish highlighted in bold, it suggests that these entered the process at some point.
- Ask directly: Another option is to simply call the manufacturer and ask them yourself. Most have customer service teams you can contact to collect this type of information.
- Check vegan databases: As discussed above, you can also check vegan databases. These contain links to products that are vegan, including alcoholic beverages.
Here’s the bottom line: yes, alcohol can be vegan, but that doesn’t mean you should drink it often. Most people focusing on their health keep alcohol to a minimum, perhaps only drinking it on special occasions.
In most cases, animal products don’t make it into the final beverage (with the exception of honey and milk liqueurs). However, they are involved in the process (as they are with many other goods).
Last Updated on November 2, 2022