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Wait… alcohol isn’t vegan?
It’s something that many new vegans don’t even consider, but unfortunately, alcohol can have hidden animal products. Beer can be filtered/fined with isinglass (from fish bladders), wine can contain crushed insects for colouring, and liqueurs sometimes have dairy in them.
However, this isn’t a post to focus on the negatives! Learner Vegan does have another page on hidden ingredients if that floats your boat. Here, we’d like to ensure sure your drinking antics match up with your morals.
So what are my top tips for getting your hands on vegan alcohol?
Keep A Mental List Of Common Vegan Alcohol
Most bars have at least a similar base range of drinks. For example, Smirnoff / Grey Goose vodka, gin, alcopops and common beers such as Carling. There will always be a little variation, but you can usually guarantee the basics will be there to buy. But are any of those drinks vegan? Knowledge is power!
Here is a short list of common vegan alcohol brands that are 100% vegan:
- Smirnoff – Ice, vodka (red/blue/black).
- Gin – Gordon’s, Bulldog, Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater.
- Carlsberg – UK, smooth draught, edge, export, special brew.
- Corona beer.
- Absolut vodka.
- Coors original beer.
- Heineken – all.
- Blossom Hill wine – sparkling zinfandel, chenin blanc (2007 S.Africa), shiraz (2007 S.Africa).
- Bailey’s almande. P.S. if drinking at home, M&S also do a similar creme liqueur that is cheaper.
- Besos de Oro Creme Liqueur – this product is only available online but tastes amazing! It’s also a little cheaper than Bailey’s so give it a go.
- Bacardi – breezers, silver.
- Jack Daniel’s – black label, gentleman Jack, single barrel select.
EDIT: it was announced on 20th March 219 that all Rekorderlig Cider drinks will be vegan for the summer. That’s every flavour! Give it a few weeks for them to appear on the shelves.
Common non-vegan alcoholic drinks to avoid:
- Carling – original, chrome, black label, zest.
- Smirnoff Espresso.
- Coors light beer.
- Echo Falls wines.
- Blossom Hill wine – white grenache, pinot grigio (2007 Italy),
- Bailey’s original.
- Jack Daniel’s – Tennessee honey, Tennessee rye.
By printing these put or making a mental list, you can easily spot those trusty vegan drinks behind the bar. The lists are of course not extensive, so if your favourites aren’t on here, do find out if they’re cruelty-free!
Know Your Go-To Vegan Drinks
A little research goes a long way. We all have a favourite drink (sangria, anyone?) and it’s worth finding out now if yours is vegan. Nobody wants to be standing at a crowded bar on a Saturday night, analysing labels or conducting Google searches.
If your favourite bars are unlikely to have a vegan version of your favourite tipple, consider what they do have that tastes good to you. Mix it up a little! There will usually be something similar for you to substitute like a different brand of vodka. You could even use it as an excuse to try something new. Revisit your mental list of vegan drinks and pick one. If it’s a quiet night, ask the bartender too – you never know how much knowledge they have! As a last resort, go for a Smirnoff vodka and lemonade. At least then, you can relax and avoid a stressful night out.
Look For The Logo
Unfortunately, finding a clear vegan logo on drinks isn’t as easy as food – most alcohol doesn’t have any vegan labelling, despite being vegan. The beverage world is somewhat behind in this respect, but it is slowly improving! It’s still worth a look for a label anyway. Some supermarkets (Co-operative and Marks and Spencers Food particularly) have a higher percentage of vegan-labelled drinks, which makes life much easier. Co-operative is, in fact, becoming quite known for its own brand vegan wines, so make use of it if you have one nearby!
Utilise Your Vegan Internet Community
Perhaps you’re in an unfamiliar bar, or just want to know if a very specific drink is vegan-friendly. As always, the internet is here to help! Do be aware though that ingredients in drinks can change, so make sure whatever website you land on has up-to-date information.
My go-to source of information is always the Barnivore website – a vegan beer, wine and liquor guide. It has a database of 43,791 products (and counting!) as well as a handy search engine. The information on there is kept very up-to-date and you can even use their ‘Ask a Company’ tool if your chosen drink isn’t in their database. You can also download printable lists of cruelty-free beverages. If you’re on the go, it’s so easy to load up on your browser and search for a keyword. Bookmark it!
If you prefer apps, you can download veggiebeers. It’s not quite as comprehensive as Barnivore, but still useful.
Don’t forget that you can also utilise Amazon to order drinks for dinner-parties and entertaining. They often have offers on too! They currently have £5 off Kraken Black Spiced Rum and £11 off a pack of 12 craft beers from HonestBrew (cost £24.90). You can impress your friends with some rare and new finds!
I hope this quick and easy post helped as a starting point!
What’s your favourite vegan tipple?
P.S. Please drink responsibly!