Can Vegans Drink Beer and Wine?
Vegans are known to be the people who are into a daily plant-based diet with almost no animal products like dairy, eggs, and honey. Following this rigid yet healthy living, they are very keen and conscious of the food they eat and the beverages they drink.
But has it ever crossed your mind if vegans can also drink wine and beer? Or if there are, by any chance, certain types of beer and wine made available for them?
We are all well aware that beer and wine contain alcohol, calories, or artificial sweeteners regardless of their differences. Being two of the world’s most favorite drinks and consumed by almost half of the entire population, it begs the question. If wine is made from grapes and beer is made from barley and hops then the answer seems pretty straightforward.
The verdict: vegans can drink beer and wine as long as they are on their toes about the substances and byproducts present during the manufacturing process. In short, not all alcoholic beverages are vegan as they may contain hidden animal products that are used as a fining agent, coloring, or an ingredient in the drink.
If you are a vegan or are planning to get started into the plant-based lifestyle, take a look at the list of ingredients we prepared for you to check when choosing your alcohol at the market.
Non-vegan Ingredients In Wine & Beer
Many brewers and manufacturers use these commonly animal-derived products as fining agents to improve the clarity and filter out any impurities in the juice during the fermentation process. Some of these are being added to give flavor and a bolder or darker color to their drinks, which are mostly observed in wines.
- Isinglass: One of the most popular fining agents, isinglass is obtained from the swim bladders of a fish. It helps the live yeast in wines and in cask-conditioned beers to settle at the bottom.
- Eggs: It can’t be seen nor tasted but yes, wines do contain eggs. Albumin, an egg white protein, is often used to absorb harsh and bitter tannins during fermentation.
- Gelatin: To reduce the level of bitterness, astringency, and browning of wine, gelatin is added to pressed juice. It is derived from animal skin, bones, and cartilage.
- Honey: If you love anything about Renaissance, you’d probably have an idea that honey is fermented to make mead. It is often used as a sweetener in alcoholic beverages.
- Milk: Like egg whites, protein-rich dairy products like milk are sometimes added in the process to prevent the formation of residue in the bottom of wine bottles and cask-conditioned beers.
- Whey, casein, and lactose: Of course, when milk is used, it produces its byproducts which also play a big role in the fining stage.
- Glycerin: Derived from plant oil and/or animal fats, glycerin acts as a thickening or sweetening agent for liquors.
- Carmine: To achieve that bold color in alcoholic drinks particularly red wines, carmine, a red dye made from insects called cochineal, is added.
These substances in your beers and wines don’t hurt. However, if your body easily reacts to allergens or if you’re aiming for plant-based life, then it’s all the more reason to search for vegan-friendly alcoholic beverages.
What Makes Wine “Vegan”?
When there is a clear absence of the aforementioned compounds, that’s the only time beer or wine is considered vegan. But really, what makes a vegan beer or wine “vegan”?
Just carefully look for plant-based or clay-based ingredients that are used as fining agents such as bentonite and proteins derived from wheat, corn, legumes, potatoes, or other plants – or simply, observe the packaging and check if it has a vegan label on it. Good thing, a lot of beer and wine companies are now taking the initiative to do it.
Though less complicated than spotting non-vegan ones, finding vegan alcoholic drinks can be an added chore to your grocery must-dos. It can be tricky since not all manufacturers include its content on the product label. That’s why it is always better to check for websites or online databases that can help you out in determining which alcoholic drinks are vegan and vice versa.