Is alcohol vegan and can vegans drink alcohol without compromising their ethical lifestyle? Why is wine not vegan? In this article, I will get into the difference between alcoholic beverages, explore what makes some unsuitable for vegans, and identify vegan-friendly options.


Vegan diet and alcohol

Before getting to the actual answer of “Can vegans drink alcohol” let’s revise what is actually a vegan diet and why there might be confusion about alcohol and veganism. Someone who follows a vegan diet or vegan lifestyle is an individual who completely abstains from any animal harm, and use of animal products in all aspects of life, including diet, clothing, and everyday products. This, of course, reflects on food and beverages.

And I think everyone knows what is alcohol. A good ol’ Google says alcohol is a drug – “an intoxicant found in alcoholic drinks”

Is Alcohol Vegan?

Despite alcohol being mostly made from plant-based sources such as grains, fruits, and vegetables, certain factors can make specific alcoholic beverages non-vegan. Let’s see the main reasons why some alcohol isn’t vegan:

1. Animal-derived Ingredients

Some alcoholic drinks, certain wines, beers, and spirits, may contain animal-derived ingredients. Common additives include gelatin, isinglass (derived from fish bladder), egg whites, and casein (a milk protein). These substances are used for various purposes such as fining agents to clarify the liquid or to enhance certain flavours and textures.

The picture below shows Hardy’s Chardonnay Semillon containing egg and milk as the main ingredients.

2. Non-vegan Production Processes

When it comes to crafting certain alcoholic drinks, it’s worth noting that some methods might not align with vegan principles. Take wine and beer, for instance. In their refining process, animal-based fining agents are sometimes used to get rid of impurities. What’s more, certain breweries and distilleries might use animal-derived substances in their filtration systems or during fermentation.

3. Honey and Other Animal Products

Certain alcoholic beverages, such as mead and some craft beers, may contain honey as a sweetening agent. While some individuals who follow a plant-based diet may choose to include honey in their diet, vegans don’t support honey production and bee exploitation.

Vegan-Friendly Alcohol

Despite the challenges of non-vegan ingredients and production methods, many alcoholic beverages are ‘accidentally’ vegan or can be produced using vegan-friendly alternatives. Here are some examples:

  1. Pure Spirits:
    Many distilled spirits, such as vodka, gin, rum, and tequila, are typically free from animal-derived ingredients. During the distillation process, alcohol is separated from the raw materials, resulting in a pure, animal-free product. However, it’s essential to confirm that no animal-based flavourings or additives have been introduced during or after distillation.
  2. Vegan Wines:
    An increasing number of winemakers are adopting vegan-friendly practices by not using traditional animal-based fining agents in favour of plant-based or synthetic alternatives. These wines are often labelled as “vegan-friendly” or “unfined and unfiltered,” indicating that no animal products were used in their production.
  3. Craft Beers:
    While some beers may contain non-vegan ingredients or undergo non-vegan production processes, many craft breweries offer vegan-friendly options. These beers often rely on natural clarifying agents or skip the fining process altogether, resulting in a beverage that is suitable for vegans. You can always check with the brewery or search online that can help identify vegan-friendly beer options.

Read more about Hidden non-vegan ingredients


Is Wine Vegan?

“Popular animal-derived fining agents used in the production of wine include blood and bone marrow, casein (milk protein), chitin (fibre from crustacean shells), egg albumen (derived from egg whites), fish oil, gelatin (protein from boiling animal parts), and isinglass (gelatin from fish bladder membranes).” (Peta.org, “Is wine vegan”)

But depending on the brand, some wines are vegan. (See a couple of paragraphs below on how to find vegan wines.)

Can Vegans Drink Beer?

Isinglass and gelatine are the most popular non-vegan ingredients when we talk about beer.

To clarify, Isinglass is a form of collagen obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish. And gelatine is made of animal bones, cartilage, and skin. They may use the bodies of cows or fish.

Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? 

But as mentioned, some brands are vegan.

Popular vegan beers list:

  • Heineken
  • Guinness
  • Corona
  • Budweiser
  • Becks
  • Stella Artois
  • Carlsberg

How to check if your alcoholic drink is vegan?

Nowadays, some alcoholic drinks, especially wine and beer have a vegan symbol on the product but for most of them, you will need to find out yourself.

The ingredients list will, for example, mention eggs but you won’t be able to find out the filtration process on the label.

One of the best websites to check if your alcoholic drink is vegan is Barnivore.com.

You can search their database by brand and find out if your drink is vegan. It will even list brand products for each country.

Alcohol in restaurants and bars

This might get a bit tricky since you won’t always know which brand of alcohol the restaurants or bars use, as it’s often not listed on the menu. You can ask staff members to provide more details about specific drinks and feel free to do your own research using resources like Barnivore or good old Google.

Summary – Can Vegans Drink Alcohol?

In conclusion, many alcoholic drinks are vegan nowadays, but some may require a bit of digging to confirm. Personally, I tend to stick to the ones I know are definitely vegan. With a little effort, it’s entirely possible to enjoy a wide range of vegan-friendly options. By understanding the factors that make certain alcoholic beverages non-vegan and actively seeking out alternatives that align with vegan principles, you can still enjoy your favourite drinks without compromising your ethical values. Use Google or Barnivore.com to make sure your alcohol is vegan.


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