Back in 2014, this page featured a short upbeat guide to vegan alcohol choices, with the main message being that it’s easy to find great vegan booze. A few years later the page became popular with Google.
With that popularity, I’ve decided, comes responsibility. I’m not a teetotaler by any means, and I think alcohol when consumed responsibly can enhance some beautiful moments. But it also wrecks lives—a simply massive number of lives. Yet because alcohol is widely legal and heavily advertised, too often it gets a free pass when it comes to being held accountable for the damage it produces. People assume that because most governments permit its use, and because it’s entrenched in most cultures, alcohol must be fairly safe. Nothing is further from the truth. When it comes to its ability to wreck lives in any number of ways, alcohol is among the most dangerous of all drugs. And if there was ever an apt occasion to use the word sobering, it would be in reference to alcohol statistics.
So, before we look at the terrific booze choices available for vegans, here’s a quick review of some unhappy statistics regarding alcohol. In the USA alone, alcohol kills 88,000 people annually—that’s nearly thirty 9/11 terrorist attacks’ worth of deaths every single year. This figure includes the nearly 20,000 Americans who die each year from alcohol-related liver disease, and more than 10,000 killed in drinking-related auto accidents. Regular drinking is also linked to colon cancer.
Worldwide, the fatality total is appalling. According to the World Health Organization:
In 2012 about 3.3 million deaths, or 5.9% of all global deaths, were attributable to alcohol consumption.
Impairments in judgement and reduced inhibitions brought on by alcohol make this drug a key factor in countless crimes. Numerous studies have found that alcohol is associated with about half of all cases of domestic violence and sexual assault.
So if you’re going to use alcohol, please be careful. Many people who don’t give this drug adequate respect lose everything. If nothing else, bear in mind that there are long-term costs associated with even moderate alcohol consumption, especially where cognitive decline is concerned.
So, with all that said, it’s prudent to taper each unit of enthusiasm for alcohol with about ten parts restraint and caution. I’ll leave you with some thoughtful guidance from Bill Hicks.
Now that I’ve assuaged my conscience by offering the requisite cautions, here’s what you need to know about vegan alcohol choices.
Vegan Beers, Wines, and Hard Liquor
It’s easy to find vegan alcohol, but you have to do some research since beer and wine can be processed using animal products such as isinglass, egg whites, or gelatin. Unfortunately these ingredients are never listed on the labels, since alcohol is commonly exempt from the labeling requirements of other food products. You can check the vegan status of most popular beers and wines on Barnivore, which does an amazing job of maintaining a current and comprehensive vegan booze list.
Fortunately, virtually every brand of hard liquor—bourbon, whiskey, vodka, gin, and rum—is vegan. Nearly all distilled spirits are vegan except for cream-based liqueurs and products that mention honey on the label.
Here are some of the most popular vegan alcohol brands:
- Budweiser (except their horrifying Clamato variety)
- Coors and Coors Light
- Miller Lite, High-Life, & Genuine Draft
- Pabst Blue Ribbon
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
- Charles Shaw (red wines only)
- Frey Vineyards
- The Vegan Vine
- Red Truck Wines
- Yellowtail (red wines only; not white or rosé)
A handful of rums and whiskeys are made with honey but when that’s the case it’s usually part of the product’s name. Pretty much any liquor that’s translucent and doesn’t contain honey will be vegan.
- Bourbon (typically made in Kentucky)
- Canadian Whiskey
- Irish Whiskey
- Schnapps (Oh, God)
- Scotch Whiskey
- Tennessee Whiskey