Continuation of the glossary of animal-based fining agents:
Carmine: When you find out what carmine is, a glass of Campari and lime may make your skin start to crawl. That’s because carmine is derived from the bodies of dried cochineal beetles, and is used to color Campari and many other beverages. Carmine is also called Cochineal, Cochineal Extract, Crimson Lake, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470, E120, and Carminic Acid.
Casein: Casein is a protein derived from milk. This substance is also used in cosmetics, hair products, beauty masks, some pharmaceuticals and foods, although they may be marked “dairy free.”
A note about blood as a fining agent: Thankfully, the use of blood as a fining and coloring agent has been outlawed in the United States and France, but you may still find this used in some Mediterranean countries.
It is also worth noting that some alcohol – liqueurs in particular – may have non-vegan sugar added at the final stage of preparation. Non- vegan sugar is filtered through bone char.
So… Wondering what you can drink without imbibing animal products? As a general rule of thumb, spirits are most likely to be vegan, followed by beer and cider, with wine coming up last for cleanliness. There are no absolutes though when it comes to alcohol, so unless the company specifies that they are vegan or you’ve contacted the company yourself, I wouldn’t risk it. Thankfully you’re not alone in your search, as there is a rather long list available online at Barnivore.com of “vegan alcohol” to get your search started.
It is important to be aware though that the questionnaire Barnivore asks contributors to send companies before submitting their vegan listing does not specifically cover the addition of non-vegan sugar. Hopefully, the Barnivore questionnaire will soon start to cover this concern as well.
This online list was/is only made possible because vegans and conscious consumers out there have written to companies inquiring about the contents of their products and then submitted the answers from said companies back to Barnivore. So if you have a favorite brew or Bordeaux, it’s worth checking on the list. If the beverage you’re looking for isn’t on the list at all, it’s worth writing to the company and sending your response back to Barnivore (check on the next page to see how to do this). Most companies are used to these inquiries nowadays and it’s much better to be safe than sorry when it comes to blood and tendons making it into your drink. Contacting companies about the non-vegan contents of their products does more than help you decide what to purchase and imbibe. It also shows the company that this is a growing concern and encourages them to seek vegan alternatives.
Next: How to submit a new listing to Barnivore.