One of my favorite things about being vegan is that I am constantly learning new things. Whether it’s about where my food comes from or how to make a better meat substitute, there’s always something new to learn. And for a while now, I’ve been spending a lot of time focusing on alcohol (hello 21!) and where I want to fall on whether I want to keep it vegan or not.
Right now, you might be thinking, how can alcohol even be vegan? It’s just alcohol! Well, allow me to break this down in terms of types of alcohols.
- Wine: Wines go through a process called fining, which essentially works to make the wine clear and bright. If left alone, wines will go through this process by themselves, however, companies will often add ‘fining agents’ to help the process. Some fining agents include casein, albumin, gelatin and isinglass, which come from milk, eggs, animals, and fish bladders, respectively. Although these agents make it in very tiny amounts to the final product, it technically makes most wines not vegan.
- Beer: Some beers have honey and milk, which are items usually included in the name. However, some beers also use isinglass (fish bladder parts) in their production, which precipitates in tiny amounts into the final product.
- Hard Liquor: These are mostly vegan, unless they are cream-based or have honey, which is usually included in the label.
So that’s a little run down of why some alcohols are not vegan. Now that that’s out of the way, allow me to discuss my views on this aspect of ~veganism~.
I eat vegan for the planet, since a vegan diet has a much lower impact in terms of emissions than an omnivorous one. However, I still want friends, and due to my past with various toxic food behaviors, I don’t want to harp on the idea of limiting myself in what I can eat.
Many of my friends and family pass around alcohol and drink it socially. I am not one for the all night benders, but a glass of wine to celebrate a night with loved ones is always welcome. And it’s due to this relationship I have with alcohol that I have chosen not to drive myself crazy with choosing vegan alcohols. If I want to drink a beer with my parents, I’m not going to drive them crazy for a vegan one. If I go out with friends and we share a wine bottle, I’m not going to force a decision based on whether it’s vegan or not.
Another thing I noticed is I very rarely buy alcohol myself. I just rarely feel a hankering for a glass, and when I do, I am usually out for a meal. So I figure if I ever want to buy something to bring home, I can go out of my way and choose something vegan. But hell, if I drink once or twice every two months, then what’s the point of driving myself up the wall on this tiny detail?
Now, I know some people would argue that by not actively choosing a vegan option, I am killing animals that are being used to make my wines and beers. But I have no desire to drive loved ones up a wall, or myself up a wall, to create a perfect vegan lifestyle. I am doing the best I can, with my social and monetary limitations, and my impact is minimal when I chose non-vegan drinks.
Wherever you fall on this debate, I encourage you to do some research – what’s the impact of your drinks? If you’re vegan, do you want to push yourself and find vegan alcohols? How do you go about navigating this issue? Let me know! I would love to hear your takes!