Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 45: Vegan Alcohol

    After talking to a waiter who introduced the idea of vegan alcohol, as well as a comment from one of my readers I have decided to do a little bit of research on the subject. I found this great article on vegan alcohol on the website "Your Vegan Guide" which went in to depth on the different types of animal products used when processing alcohol.

     The most common use of animal products in alcohol is the use of isinglass in the refinement process. Isinglass is a form of gelatin made up of internal membranes from tropical fish. Since Isinglass is not an ingredient in the alcohol, and is just used in the refining process, it isn't required to be listed on the ingredient label.

   In beer isinglass is used to help clear the beer of cloudy yeast extractions. This method is primarily used in the process of cask conditioned beer. For those of you beer drinkers out there, don't fret, for it is possible for beers to be filtered with out the use of isinglass. Here is the long list of vegan beers from a website I found, which also has links verifying each of their claims.

    Cider traditionally used egg whites or fresh slaughter house blood in the refining process of cider making, but dried blood is no longer used anymore. Now gelatin, which is the collagen inside animal bone, is used in the fining process instead.

     The good news here is that most spirits are vegan, although some campari contains cochineal as well as some whiskies and brandies may be conditioned in casks using a animal derived filtering process.

    Wine for the most part are the most non-vegan friendly alcoholic beverages on average. Isinglass is often used in the fining process of various wines, and some red wines contain cochineal (also called carmine, cochineal, and carminin acid) which is red dye made out of crushed beetles. Many vegan red wines use beetroot powder to add color instead of cochineal, which I definitely think is the better way to go. Also don't be fooled by organic wine. Many organic wines are not vegan for they still are often fined using animal derived products.

     For those of you that are no wondering "what am I going to drink now", there is this wonderful site Barnivore that lists different types of vegan beer, wine, and liquor.

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