Is Your Alcohol Vegan?



Many people, vegan or not, are surprised to discover that there is a plethora of animal-based products that can be found in alcoholic beverages.

Wondering what these unappetizing byproducts are doing in your drink? Most are used for “fining”* or coloring, although there are plenty of vegan options for filtering and coloring out there. The main culprits making it into our drinks today are: Isinglass, carmine, gelatin, egg whites, seashells, honey, milk, casein, and even blood.

Naturally, you already know what milk and honey are, but before I move on to how to find byproduct-free alcohol, let me clarify what a couple of these other fining agents are.

*Fining is the process by which alcohol is filtered or “refined” during brewing.

Glossary of animal-based fining agents:

Isinglass: Isinglass is the reason that your favorite bartender should be asking if you want a slice of orange or a bit of fish bladder in your Sangria. It is a form of collagen prepared from the swim bladders of fish.

Gelatin: We’re all familiar with this “harmless” sounding ingredient that’s used in candy, Jello and other such products. But did you know that gelatin is an animal protein derived from the skin and connective tissue of pigs and cows. Bleck!


Next: Carmine, Casein and ‘Which Alcohols Are Safe to Drink?’




Image: Danilo Rizzuti /


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 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.



Image: Graeme Weatherston /




Below is the simple process Barnivore contributors go through before submitting a new listing to the website. This questionnaire can be found on the Barnivore site in a number of different languages as well. As I said on the pervious page though, it is important to go a bit deeper than this questionnaire, specifying any concerns about animal products not only being added during processing, but also to the raw ingredients being used.  Don’t let the legwork deter you; it’s pretty simple and fast once you get down to it.


“Barnivore relies on input from readers like you to check (and double check!) with your favourite drink makers to see what’s in their products.

Please use email to contact companies. We know Twitter’s cool, but it doesn’t archive the same way and we’ve found that 140 characters isn’t enough to get a reliable answer. If a company isn’t responding to mail, tweet to tell them to check it, but we won’t accept Tweets as official answers at this time.

Checking with a company is simple. All you need to do is send them an email with one of our standard questions (see below) and forward us the response so we can add it to the list and help the rest of the world enjoy vegan drinks!

If you get a response that isn’t awesome, please (politely!) let them know how you feel! We’ve got a sample response you can use (English only for now, hint hint…) here.

Along with your submission, be sure to include the Company’s name, mailing address, email and phone number so we can make your update faster. Seriously, finding that stuff sometimes takes longer than emailing the company in the first place, and we get a lot of submissions, so this will really help us out! If you are submitting a “double check” to a company that already exists on Barnivore, then don’t worry about it!

The Question


Hi, I’m helping to update an online directory of vegan-friendly alcohol, and I was hoping you could provide some information about [BRAND NAME].

Does [BRAND NAME] contain any animal ingredients (such as milk, eggs, honey, etc) or are animal products used in the processing/filtration of the product (such as isinglass, gelatin, etc)?

Also, is your product manufactured anywhere else in the world (by a sub-licensee, for instance) that might use a different processing system? *



*I would suggest inserting this line into your email [Does the product use refined sugar that may have been processed using bone char?]

I hope this helps your piece of mind as you enjoy a vegan friendly beverage and encourages you to dig a bit deeper when it comes to both your food and drink – Salute!




Image: digitalart /


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R1 years ago


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R1 years ago


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R1 years ago


Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Calum Health
health truth5 years ago
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Diane L.
Diane L6 years ago

Wow, what a novel. I must say, Cody, a discussion that has run it's course and somebody "new"comes in and posts 4 long rambling comments, one after another, I feel compelled to check their profiles to see where they're coming from. Hmmm, the subject is alcohol, and here you are, 18 years old, and an apparent expert on the subject? How is that, can I ask?]]]

Every single ONE of your points about why human aren't omnivores (yes, we ARE!) and are herbivores, has been explained, hashed and re-hashed a dozen or more times, if you bother to read past comments from other members, all has been hashed and re-hashed a dozen times or more. Whether you chose to agree or not agree, that's your call but it's really boring to re-read what is now months' old stuff andstated so many times and disputed even more, your opinions are just a slightly differely worded version of the "same ol".

Cody L.
Cody Lupardus6 years ago

(cont 4) can also expose the carnivore/omnivore lie by examining how each society, culture, race, religion and ethnicity justifies eating certain animals because they like some animals and dislike others, acquiring a taste for some and an aversion to others. These discriminatory discrepancies wreak of fake carnivorism/omnivorism.

If people from all walks of life ever sat down together for a meal, veganism is the only meal that would not offend anyone. At this table of peace, Americans would say, "We're not eating dogs, cats and horses, right?" Muslims and Orthodox Jews would say, "You're not feeding us pork, tonight?" Indians sit down and say, "We're not eating beef, right?" Cows are sacred animals in India. Seventh Day Adventists, Buddhists, Hindus, Jains and Rastafarians would take out all the other animal products because all are vegetarian, with most being vegan. Atheist vegans take out any other animal product you might think of. The only thing left to eat that everybody could agree upon would be stir-fried tofu or some other vegan meal.

If humans want to be ethical creatures, then we have to be ethical to other species even if they don't have the mental capacity to return morality to us. We already act ethically towards humans who are incapable of understanding ethics and returning morality, so this isn't even a radical stretch. Human babies don't understand ethics. Most severely mentally retarded people don't understand ethics. But that doesn't give us the right

Cody L.
Cody Lupardus6 years ago

(cont 3) There are no claws on the human hand, although claws are a trademark of the carnivore and the omnivore.

When we drive down the highway and spot a dead animal on the side of the road, I'm quite sure people don't get excited, start to salivate, come to a screeching halt, jump out of the car, scare the crows away and start munching directly on the dead animal. Real carnivores and omnivores eat dead animals on the side of the road. We always cook meat before eating it, even though lions don't have gazelle barbeques in the jungles of Tanzania. All carnivores and omnivores eat bloody, raw, bacteria-laden flesh right from the bone. This includes the eyes, nose, face, toes, tail, anus, inner organs, blood and the fur. Humans have to cook specific parts of the dismembered animal so we don't become violently ill. We also don't possess the Ph balance in our stomach to break down raw, bacteria-laden flesh.

To prove beyond a reasonable doubt that humans are herbivores, remember the two-year-old in the crib with the bunny rabbit and the apple comment in the opening ethics section? Understand humans have no carnivorous or omnivorous instincts whatsoever when we're born and growing up. There isn't a speck of carnivorism nor an iota of omnivorism in us. We acquire a taste for animal products after they're forced down our throats during childhood.

I can also expose the carnivore/omnivore lie by examining how each society, culture, race, religion and ethnicity justifies eating

Cody L.
Cody Lupardus6 years ago

(cont 2) The relatively short intestinal length in carnivores and omnivores, along with the relatively smooth interior surface, allow rotting animal flesh, animal protein, cholesterol and saturated fat to pass through quickly; that is why it's impossible for any real carnivore or omnivore to get clogged arteries. Clogged arteries, however, kills 50 percent of all meat-eating humans!

Dr. William Castelli, director of the Framingham Heart Study, supports the aforementioned findings with additional claims about human cancer rates dropping 60 percent if people stopped eating meat, cheese, milk and eggs.

Humans and other herbivores have carbohydrate digestive enzymes in their saliva, meaning our bodies were created for fruits and vegetables. Animal products have no complex carbohydrates, which is why carnivores and omnivores lack carbohydrate digestive enzymes in their saliva. Human teeth are broad, short, blunt, flat and spade-shaped like the teeth of other herbivores, not the fanged-mouths of carnivores and omnivores. Herbivores have canines, incisors and molars, which are used for ripping rough fruits like apples and carrots, or nuts.

If your lower jaw moves from side to side—and you grind and chew your food—then you are an herbivore. The jaws of carnivores and omnivores only move up and down, vertically. They don't chew, just rip and swallow. Humans sweat through their pores to cool down. They don't pant like dogs, cats or lions. There are no claws on the hu

Cody L.
Cody Lupardus6 years ago

(continued) professor at Baylor University, states, "Human beings are not natural carnivores. When we kill animals to eat them, they end up killing us because their flesh—which contains cholesterol and saturated fat—was never intended for human beings who are natural herbivores." Dr. Milton Mills wrote an indisputable essay about human physiology as well. In their book The Vegetarian Way, nutritionists Virginia and Mark Messina compiled an easy-to-understand chart comparing human bodies to those of herbivores, omnivores and carnivores. That chart is shown just below:
Chart comparing natural herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, and humans

Let's compare the bodies of humans and herbivores to the bodies of carnivores and omnivores. First, the length of intestine in humans and other herbivores falls somewhere between 7 and 13 times the length of the trunk/torso section of the body. In contrast, the length of intestine in carnivores and omnivores is only 3 to 6 times the length of the trunk/torso. (The length of trunk or torso is used as the means of comparison rather than overall body length or height because humans are bipedal animals whereas most nonhuman animals are quadrupeds.) Moreover, the interior surface of human intestines is rather heavily fluted and striated, whereas the interior intestinal surfaces of carnivorous and omnivorous animals tend to be smooth in comparison. The relatively short intestinal length in carnivores and omnivores, along with the relati