What is Vegan Alcohol and Should I Be Drinking It?

You’ve seen the drink responsibly tagline, but is it time to drink socially responsibly?

Many bars and restaurants may be closed around the country, but that hasn’t stopped us from wanting our glass (or two) of wine. In fact, alcohol sales are soaring amidst the global pandemic. As we continue to enjoy our favorite cocktails from home during our virtual hours, some of us may want to consider what exactly is in our glass.  Do you know if you’re drinking vegan or not? And if not, should you be?

But All Alcohol is Vegan, Right?

If you assumed that all alcohol must be vegan, turns out, you’re wrong and you’re not alone if you believe that alcohol does not – or should not – contain any animal-based products. There are countless wellness websites, blogs, and special interest groups which extol the benefits of vegan liquor.

So what is vegan alcohol? It doesn’t contain any animal products in its ingredients or production processes. Egg, gelatin (derived from bone marrow), honey and dairy often appear on the ingredient lists of non-vegan alcohol products. Even a lesser-known known ingredient, isinglass, derived from fish bladder, is also frequently used as a fining agent. In fact, many non-vegan ingredients in alcohol account for “fining agents.” These are an additive used to make so much of the alcohol we consume taste and appear more drinkable, increasing the clarity and enhancing the flavour and aroma modern alcohol has made us accustomed to drinking.

So, How Do I Know the Alcohol I’m Drinking is Vegan?

Determining whether or not an alcohol product is vegan can be tricky as manufacturers aren’t always required to list their ingredients on the packaging. Though some products will specify that their product is vegan, you can investigate for yourself by checking out the product’s website or asking a server when you find yourself ordering something that you’ve never tried before. Alternatively, there are various online platforms designed to inform drinkers of their options, giving both examples as well as recommendations on some of the best options currently available.  

The site LiveKindly shares a “Vegan Alcohol Guide” and includes some of their top picks for best vegan beers and wines. Surprisingly, Baileys Irish Cream liqueur even makes an appearance on the site with a dairy-free, almond-based alternative to the traditional cow’s milk blend. Additionally, the site Food52 has compiled an extensive list of vegan beer, wine, and spirits (spoiler alert: you’ll be pleased to know that Moet is indeed vegan).

But, if you’re looking for the ultimate vegan alcohol bible, Barnivore.com is the way to go. A simplistic website to navigate, the front page asks the forthright question: “Is Your Booze Vegan?” The site boasts over 50,000 products in their database which can help guide you, perhaps, to new consumption decisions.

Is Vegan Alcohol for Me?

First, self-educate and decide what you do and don’t want in your body.  Recently published vegan-food author, Jamie Kough, stated: “As a vegan, I usually have to do research before consuming anything I can’t make myself.” This is an excellent way to approach vegan drinking as well.

Answering the question of whether vegan or non-vegan alcohol is the better way to go is a conclusion to come to after considering your mind and body’s physical and ethical needs. There’s no doubt that as interest in adopting a vegan lifestyle grows, new vegan-alcohol options produced by more organic means do too, often incorporating the old philosophical adage, “less is more.”

Written by Ea Madrigal

Ea Madrigal

2 thoughts on “What is Vegan Alcohol and Should I Be Drinking It?”

  1. What an informative and thoughtful piece! Can’t take any product for granted! Read and asks lots of questions! Thank you Ea for sharing with us vegans some wonderful options on the market.

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