It often comes as a surprise to both vegans and non-vegans alike that some boozy beverages contain much more than just alcohol. Whether you like a tiny tipple on the weekend or are a sucker for a pub lunch, there is a chance that your drink could have a variety of animal products in it including milk, eggs, fish, honey and even animal bone (gelatine)! Some of these ingredients are put in to add to the taste such as honey, and some are used during processing to give a clearer colour such as gelatine. Trying to find the vegan tipples on the supermarket shelves, in pubs and at bars can be like finding a needle in a haystack but knowing where to look can help you avoid those pesky animal products.
Beyond the Baileys
Why isn’t all alcohol vegan?
From wine to whiskey we assume that if these drinks don’t have lumps of steak in them or aren’t obviously made with milk such as Baileys, they must be fine, right? Wrong. There are many hidden reasons why alcohol might not be vegan, including gelatine, Lactose and Isinglass. For beer lovers, it is usually the Isinglass – the clarifying process whereby the beer is filtered through a fishes Swimbladder – which makes it non-vegan. For wine connoisseurs, Lactose and sometimes even Fish can be the one to catch you out. For the spirit lovers out there, the vast majority are naturally vegan.
Top Tip: Many wines have a “vegetarian” if not “vegan” label, and as long as there is no Lactose in the ingredients, any veggie wines are likely to be vegan. Non-UK European beers are more likely to be vegan (e.g. Heineken and Stella Artois), but make sure online before diving in!
Wine Cellars & Supermarkets
What can I buy from the shop?
When it comes to doing a vegan shop in any supermarket, the choice varies a fair amount no matter what you are buying. This is true with vegan alcohol too although most supermarkets and shops (big and small) have something to offer – and since Veganuary the number has increased significantly. Co-op and Ocado are known for housing many vegan foods and drinks, and that’s true of vegan booze too, with Co-op offering many labelled wines. If you shop online, you can take advantage of discount codes for Sainsbury’s and use their online search tool to find vegan booze straight away and save on the drinks you want; be it big brands or own brand brews.
Top Tip: Most online supermarkets have search filters, so you can see what’s vegan straight away! Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Ocado have this feature, as well as “party pack” deals for bigger savings.
What’s in my pint?
There is nothing worse than being on a night out with friends or a pub lunch with the family, you get to the bar and all of a sudden… you don’t know what you can have. With handy websites such as Barinvore.com you can see easily what is and isn’t vegan; booze-wise. From Gordon’s G & T to Brewdog Pale (which are both vegan, by the way!) you can type in any boozy beverage and get the red or green light in an instant via their site or mobile app. The great thing is, it’s so quick and simple that you can search multiple drinks; so if you don’t like one, or ones a bit too pricey for your tastes, you can find one to suit you without hassle.
Top Tip: Stay up to date! Things change quickly, especially when it comes to veganism. We were recently treated to a lovely surprise as Guinness turned vegan at the start of 2018, having previously been filtered using Isinglass. Check regularly to see if there are any changes and don’t be afraid to get in touch with the company if you aren’t sure.
When you first discover how many ways in which your drink can be non-vegan, it can be daunting trying to find out what you can and can’t have. However, with the development of modern technology comes lots of handy ways in which we can easily see what’s on offer, saving us a whole bunch of time and money. Making use of the comparison tools and online voucher codes means you have the freedom to find the drinks which suit your tastebuds and budget. From the handy vegan search tools of online supermarkets to the traffic light system of Barnivore, you can be in the know wherever you go.