Most new vegans look at me in total surprise when I start talking about vegan alcohol. I understand that though because it also never crossed my mind that alcohol couldn't be vegan.
Isinglass is used in the refinement process of some alcoholic brands and is a form of gelatin prepared from the internal membranes of tropical fish bladders. Remember that isinglass isn't an ingredient as such as it is used purely for fining purposes - so the manufacturers do not have to mention it in their alcohol ingredients list (most brands do not include an ingredients list on their brands). However there are many brands of vegan alcohol out there so do not fret!
Isinglass finings are used during the processing stage in the British brewing industry to help clear beer of cloudy yeast extracts. This method is used particularly in the production of cask conditioned beers (real ale to you and me), although some brands are available which do not use isinglass in this process.
Basically, the isinglass finings stick to the live yeast in the beer and turn it into a jelly like substance which then settles at the bottom of the cask. This method is used to accelerate the process of clearing up the beer, and if left to itself, the beer would clear naturally - although this takes some time.
Non cask beers which we get in cans and bottles are often pasteurized and filtered which means the yeast in these beers tends to settle at the base of the storage tank naturally. Therefore, the liquid from these beers can often be filtered without using isinglass. Of course, that doesn't mean to say that they are not made with isinglass.
Most supermarkets and off licences will sell particular brands of vegan beer so it is easy to get hold of if you know which brands to look for.
I think it's a pity that we have to search for vegan alcohol when the fining process does not need to use animal based fining products as there are other ways to clarify and clear the end product. Hopefully, manufacturers will realise this some day!
Traditionally egg white or fresh slaughterhouse blood was used in the fining process of cider making, although dried blood is rarely used anymore. Isinglass is rarely used as a fining agent in cider making as it has the wrong pH properties and so gelatin (the collagen inside animal bones) is used in the fining process instead. There are some brands which do not use gelatin in the fining process though so if you are a cider drinker, then you will find a few brands to suit you.
Most spirits are vegan although campari contains cochineal so isn't suitable for vegans. Also watch out for some whiskies and brandies which may have been conditioned in casks using an animal derived filtering process.
Isinglass is also used in the fining process of a lot of wines. Also, some red wines contain cochineal (also called carmine, cochineal and carminic acid) which is a red dye made out of crushed beetles. Thank goodness for vegan wine is all I can say!
Some companies use bentonite or kaolin in wine refining. These are two minerals which are suitable for vegans. Also some wines are filtered manually without the use of any fining products. Vegan wines sometimes use beetroot powder to add colour to their red wines. Much healthier I think!
Organic wine isn't always vegan wine either. Organic wine is made without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides but they can still be fined using animal derived finings.
You can also find vegan champagne as well as vegan wine.
Jump Down To More Information On Vegan Wine.
The biggest list I can find for vegan alcohol is this one which you may find useful. A few supermarkets do label their own brand of vegan alcohol as being suitable for vegans which is obviously very handy.
Also, if you cannot find a particular brand on the link above, you could email the company as they are usually very good at replying to questions about dietary requirements I find.
More Information On Vegan Alcohol:
Fortunately for vegans, it is becoming increasingly easy to find vegan alcohol and vegan food - particularly in large cities. While it can still be difficult due to the high volume of chain eateries without vegan options, recent health trends (again, particularly in larger cities) have brought along an increase in the number of vegan options available to the public. However, it can still be difficult to find certain foods and drinks suitable for vegans - such as fine wine.
The selection you find at Marks & Spencer wines online includes a number of suitable options for vegans - which some people may find surprising.
Here are a few things to know when looking for vegan wine:
Some people may be surprised that certain wines are not technically okay for vegans to drink. Unfortunately however, animal ingredients are often used in the process of creating wine. This may be unexpected, as wine comes directly from grapes, and many people falsely assume that it is a totally natural product. However, the use of animal parts in the creation of wine renders that wine off limits to strict vegans, meaning that an alternative is necessary.
Fortunately, the animal ingredients used in creating wine are relatively simple, and there are suitable substitutes that are not off limits for vegans. Because of this fact - and because not that much changes in the creation process – you can find a large selection of vegan wines available that tastes the same as non vegan wine. In fact, the differences are so small and the tastes so similar, that you do not necessarily have to find a “vegan wine section” to find vegan wine: chances are some of the wines you normally drink may be made with vegan friendly methods anyway. Of course, if you consider yourself a strict vegan you can always inquire as to whether or not a particular wine is suitable for your style of eating and drinking. As I have mentioned before on my website, the big organisations usually have a ready to send off list of products suitable for us vegans.
Finding wine does not need to be a huge problem for vegans. Again, some of the basic wine you may be familiar with seeing in the store or even buying and drinking may be perfectly fine for vegan consumption. However, for people who take their diets seriously and wish to stick to vegan principles and practices, a bit of information on what sorts of wine are suitable for vegans can be helpful. Just know that in most cases, there are perfectly normal and delicious wines out there for vegans.
AND M&S label their wines as being suitable for vegans - which, of course, us vegans love (I wish all organisations did this - when will the penny drop?).
Plus did I mention that M&S have a Fixed Cut Off Date on their cosmetics and beauty products? This means that they will not use any ingredients tested on animals after a certain date.
The FCOD is very important because a company can mark their products as not being tested on animals, even though they could still be using new animal tested ingredients.
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