If you’ve recently gone vegan and are discovering the world of meat and dairy-free eating, then there are so many exciting food and drink options to explore. But what happens when you head to a bar or fancy your favourite Friday night tipple?
There’s nothing worse than checking a label on a drink and realising that it’s not vegan-friendly. Beers, wines and spirits sometimes have hidden animal products such as isinglass (a substance obtained from fish bladders) egg whites or gelatine, so it can be a minefield trying to figure out what you can and can’t drink.
If you’re a vegan and looking to enjoy a glass or two, what CAN you try?
We’ve noted down which drinks are safe, and which have hidden ingredients you’d rather leave out of your diet. Cheers to that!
Let’s start with the good stuff.
The good news? Gin is VEGAN. Yes, ladies and gents - if a simple gin and tonic is your cocktail of choice, then you’re absolutely in luck. Tonic water doesn’t contain any animal produce, nor does the gin you add to it.
Likewise, you’ll be safe with naturally clear spirits such vodka, tequila and rum because these undergo a different type of filtration process to beers and wines.
Most spirits are safe for consumption, BUT there are two caveats to watch out for: namely cream-based liqueurs, and honey.
It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that liqueurs with a milky base such as Bailey’s Irish Cream or Hotel Chocolat’s Salted Caramel Vodka aren’t suitable when you’re ditching the dairy. Malibu Original (Coconut) is also not vegan due to one of its sugar suppliers using a process that isn’t considered vegan-friendly. But if you’re craving a creamy drink, then you don’t have to miss out. Bailey’s Almande is their dairy-free alternative and is packed with almond and vanilla for a nutty and smooth fix.
The main one that might catch you out is honey. Honey is added to a number of spirits as a flavouring, so if you’re ever unsure, just check the label. Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey, we’re looking at you!
Fun fact: Out of all the spirits, tequila is the most likely to be vegan. If you’re ever unsure when faced with a cocktail menu, opt for a margarita!
Whilst some beers are vegan, not all of them are. Some beers use a product called isinglass during their filtering process, which you only get from dried fish bladders. Not for us.
Luckily, there’s enough out there on the market that you can still take your pick of the bunch when you head to the pub. The most popular beer brands served in the UK that also happen to be vegan include:
Budweiser and Bud Light
Coors and Coors Light
Guinness (Yes, really! They changed their recipe and became vegan in 2018 after 259 years of brewing).
Of course, you don’t have to settle for standard. Our Jake’s IPA and Lager and Northern Monk IPAs are independent brewers who take pride in their refreshing recipes and are all vegan, so you can enjoy that fresh taste of a good pint without any hidden nasties. Check out our Beer Vegan Hamper here.
Wine & Prosecco
It would be very easy to assume that all wine and sparkling wine is vegan. After all, wine is a drink made from pressing grapes - seemingly not an animal product in sight! But whilst wine itself is purely fruit-based, the fining agents used to bring clarity to the drink might not be. During its fermentation, wine can become hazy in appearance from the molecules that develop as a natural by-product of the process. The only way to extract these molecules - and get the crystal clear wine we’re so used to seeing in our bottles - is by using fining agents. A lot of effort to keep up appearances! Traditionally, egg whites are used in the fining process for red wine, and milk proteins for white wine. And whilst these animal products are removed from the finished wine, there may be tiny traces of the animal product absorbed along the way.
So how do you pick a vegan wine or prosecco? Vegan wines are made slightly differently and this process is becoming increasingly popular as more of us turn to a dairy-free lifestyle. Look out for the term “Unfined” or “Unfiltered” on your bottles, as these wines are produced without fining agents. You can also look for the Vegan Society's logo on the label, as this means it's had their seal of approval.
We use Hush Heath Estate for our wine hampers, and they confirmed that their processes are fully vegan. A tried and tested brand that we’ve loved for years!
Looking for the perfect vegan hamper? Speak to our team and we can put together a bespoke gift packed with tasty vegan treats and tipples.