Alcohol is made with different ingredients depending on its type. Here is a detailed overview of common types of alcohol and their vegan status to help you make informed choices.
Is alcohol vegan?
No, most alcohols are not naturally vegan. However, some are vegan-friendly. The ingredients of alcohol play a significant role in whether it remains vegan.
Alcohol is made by fermenting and distilling natural grains, fruits, or vegetables. The process of fermentation is generally what makes an alcohol non-vegan. Nevertheless, there are other factors that can affect the vegan status of an alcoholic beverage.
Non-vegan Ingredients of alcohol
During fermentation, many manufacturers add animal products as fining agents. Here is a list of the most common non-vegan ingredients in alcoholic drinks.
1. Dairy products
Dairy products like milk, butter, or cream may be added to certain types of alcohol in order to enhance taste and flavor. As a result, some beers and liqueurs may contain traces of dairy, which makes them non-vegan.
2. Whey, casein, and lactose
These are the by-products of milk and are often used in alcoholic drinks for various purposes. Whey and casein are used for fermentation, distillation, and fining, while lactose is used for sweetening.
Egg whites are sometimes used to remove impurities during the brewing process. Typically, egg white protein called albumin is often used as a fining agent.
Honey is widely used in meads, PubMed: Developments in the fermentation process and quality improvement strategies for mead production (an alcoholic beverage made with honey, water, and yeast) and some other liqueurs. Unfortunately, since bees produce honey,it is not vegan-friendly.
Gelatin is usually made from animals’ skin, tendons, and bones. It is often used to remove haze-causing proteins from beer and wine.
Not only is gelatin a non-vegan ingredient, but it has also been observed to negatively impact the nutritional quality of wine. A study PubMed: Investigation of the effect of gelatine, egg albumin and cross-flow microfiltration on the phenolic composition of Pinotage wine found that gelatin can decrease the concentration of important phenolic compounds in wine. Phenolic compounds provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
Isinglass is a type of gelatin derived from fish bladder membranes. It is commonly used as a processing aid during wine production PubMed: Characterization, antigenicity and detection of fish gelatine and isinglass used as processing aids in wines. Therefore, most wines have traces of isinglass and are not vegan.
Tips for buying vegan alcoholic drinks
When you are on a vegan diet, you need to be careful about the food and drinks you consume. Here are some tips to help you buy vegan alcohol.
1. Look for vegan labels
Many alcoholic beverages are now labeled as vegan. If a product is labeled vegan, you can be sure that it does not contain animal products. This is an excellent place to start when looking for vegan alcoholic drinks.
2. Check the manufacturer’s website
If you cannot find a vegan label on a product, the next best thing to do is check the manufacturer’s website.
Most manufacturers will have a list of product ingredients on their websites. This will allow you to see if the product contains any animal products.
3. Check the ingredients
Unfortunately, this can be difficult because ingredients are often listed by their scientific name.
However, there are some common animal-derived ingredients that you can look for, such as gelatin, casein, and whey. The product is not vegan if you see any of these ingredients listed.
List of vegan alcohol brands
Most distilled spirits and liqueurs are vegan as they do not use animal products during fermentation. However, some manufacturers may add honey or cream to them, which makes them non-vegan.
Here is a list of some widely available vegan alcoholic beverages:
Vegan beers are generally made without any animal products during the brewing process.
Here is a list of popular vegan beers available on the market:
- Budweiser (except Budweiser Clamato Chelada)
- Badger Fursty Ferret
- Coors and Coors Light
- Corona Extra and Corona Light
- Guinness draught and Guinness original
- Red Stripe
- Moor Beer
- Michelob Ultra
Note: Cask ales, honey beers, meads, and some fruit beers may contain honey, isinglass or gelatin and are therefore not vegan.
Wine is made from fermented grapes and is usually vegan. However, the final product may not be vegan if it has been fined with animal-derived fining agents.
Thus, here is a list of some widely available vegan wines:
- Vegan red wine: Red Truck Wines, Yellow Tail Shiraz, Waitrose La Croix D’ardit, Bordeaux, Exquisite Argentinian Malbec, Charles Shaw
- Vegan sparkling wine: Organic Prosecco Canti Prosecco, Cava Brut, The Vegan Vine, Lumos Wines, Frey Vineyards
Ciders are made from fermented fruits and are usually vegan. However, some manufacturers may add honey or cream to them, which makes them non-vegan.
Here is a list of some widely available vegan alternatives to ciders:
- Aspall Cider
- Orchard Pig
- Orchard Pig
- Savanna Cider
- Stowford Press
- Thatchers Cider
Spirits and liqueurs like vodka, gin, rum, and whisky are usually vegan as they do not use animal products during fermentation. They are distilled from fermented grains, fruits, or vegetables. But, some manufacturers may add animal-derived ingredients to them.
Thus, here is a list of some widely available vegan spirits
- Absolut Vodka
- Beefeater Gin
- Mount Gay Rum
- Don Julio Tequila
- Monkey Shoulder whiskey
- Jack Daniels (except the Tennessee Honey variety)
Note: There is an exhaustive list of vegan drinks on the market. However, the varieties mentioned above are some of the most commonly available ones.
With vegan food becoming popular, many companies now offer vegan options for most of their products, including alcohol. Ideally, the best way to find out if an alcoholic beverage is vegan is to check the manufacturer’s website for a list of ingredients.