Skip to Content

Can Vegans Drink Alcohol? Or is Vegan Alcohol a Myth?

It seems a bit silly to ask the question, “can vegans drink alcohol”, right?

Well, you might be surprised, but not all alcohol is vegan. This may be confusing since most alcohol is made with vegan ingredients like grapes, grains, potatoes, and sugarcane.

So, what makes alcohol not vegan? In nearly all cases, it has to do with what is added to alcohol that makes it not vegan.

So, before you grab that cocktail, check out this handy guide to vegan alcohol.

Can Vegans Drink Alcohol?

Non-vegan Cocktail

Before panic sets in, let’s be clear. Yes, vegans can still drink alcohol!

Being vegan need not stop you from partying or enjoying a glass with dinner! There are many accidentally vegan alcoholic drinks, as well as a whole range of vegan beers, vegan wines, and vegan liquors.

That said, some alcoholic beverages are not vegan. There are two reasons that could make your next sip not vegan.

First, alcoholic beverages may be mixed with or contain animal products like cow’s milk or cream, egg whites, or honey.

Second, and this is the more difficult one to spot, alcohol may not be vegan because of how it is processed and made. This is the case with some wine and beer.

Note: Being vegan is not about perfection. It’s about doing your best. So, don’t let the information in this guide get you down. It’s meant to be helpful, not judgmental. For more on what it means to be vegan look at this article on what veganism is.

Is Wine Vegan?

Vegan Alcohol Guide - Can Vegans Drink Alcohol?

When it comes to wine, the fining process is to blame. In short, fining is the process of clarifying wine and removing unwanted materials.

While cloudy wine is in no way harmful and wine will eventually self-fine, manufacturers are keen to speed up the fining process. So, they use fining agents to smooth out these hazy molecules in young wines. Fining agents are added to the liquid and the larger molecules are attracted to these agents, helping to filter them out more easily. Unfortunately, many of these fining agents are not vegan.

Wine producers use non-vegan processing aids like albumin (egg whites), gelatin, casein (milk protein) and isinglass (fish bladder). Eventually, all of these are removed along with the hazy molecules. However, traces of the fining agent may be absorbed into the wine during the refining process and remain in the final product.

Is Beer Vegan?

Most of the time beer is vegan.

Very few beers contain animal products as their official ingredients. Some beers do contain honey or rarely milk products. However, some beer manufacturers also use animal products as part of the filtering process.

Similar to young wine, young beers can look cloudy. While the beer naturally becomes clearer over time, beer manufacturers add refining agents such as gelatin and isinglass (fish bladder) to aid the filtering.

While these refining agents are removed afterwards, small amounts of gelatin and isinglass may have been absorbed in the beer. Thus, making it not vegan.

Also, frustratingly, beer manufacturers are not required by law to list which agents were used, which makes it impossible to detect by simply looking at a beer can ingredient list.

Which Alcohol is Vegan Alcohol?

Despite these pesky non-vegan filtering agents, there are still plenty of alcoholic drinks that vegans can enjoy!

Currently, there are positive trends brewing in the alcohol industry. There has been a shift in both the wine and beer industry to use more natural methods. A number of vineyards are allowing their wines to self-clarify which does take longer but means more vegans can drink them!

Companies are waking up to the demand for vegan products too, and are now trying to cater for it. Even Guinness changed its refining process to make their famous dark stout vegan!

So, if Guinness is now vegan, which other beers are vegan? Which vegan wine can you take to your next dinner party?

Here is a list of some delicious vegan beer, vegan wine, and vegan liquor. There is plenty of vegan alcohol for you to enjoy! Just remember to drink responsibly!

Vegan Beer

flight of vegan beer

Thirsty for some vegan beer? Here are some delicious vegan pale ales, vegan lagers, vegan pilsners, vegan stouts, and even vegan beer festivals for beer lovers!

Vegan Lagers

Lagers are the most popular beers in the world. Many of us enjoy the crisp and light taste of a lager. Here are some vegan lagers you can enjoy.

Japanese lagers safe for vegans to pair with their vegan sushi include Sappora, Kirin, and Asahi.

If you are looking for an American lager to go with your next Beyond Burger, grab a Sam Adams Boston lager, City Steam Colt Lager, and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

For vegans visiting or living in, Europe, Czech beers like Pilsner Urquell, Bernard, and Budějovický Budvar are all vegan! Heineken, Stella Artois and Kronenbourg are all vegan too. If you’re in Germany or Belgium, go crazy. Due to their strict laws, animal products can’t be used as fining agents.

Vegan Pale Ales

Any pale ale lovers here? Luckily, there are quite a few vegan pale ales to choose from.

Pale ales differ to lager as they are brewed with top-fermenting yeast compared to a bottom-fermenting used to create lager. Top-fermenting yeast prefers mid-range room temperatures. These warmer temperatures tend to give ales more spicy and fruity flavors compared to lagers.

Popular American pale ales include Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Bear Republic Racer 5, Torpedo IPA, Harpoon IPA and Lagunitas IPA.

Vegan Stouts

Do you prefer something stronger? Then a stout may be your preferred beer. If so, opt for a Heavy Seas’ Peg Leg Imperial Stout, Anderson Valley Brewing Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, Sierra Nevada Stout, AleSmith Brewing Company Barrel-Aged Speedway Stout, or a Goose Island.

Vegan Wine

women drinking vegan wine

Are you a wine lover? Then you’ll be happy to hear that there has recently been a movement toward more natural winemaking methods across the globe. That means, more vegan wine options!

Instead of using animal products to aid the filtering of young wines – winemakers have been experimenting with fining agents such as bentonite (clay), and activated charcoal, both of which are vegan-friendly.

Vegan Red Wine

Do you prefer a red wine? As a vegan you can enjoy a tasty full-bodied red from Frey Vineyard from California. They market themselves as America’s first organic and biodynamic vineyard, and all their wines are vegan.

Canadian red wine from Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards is also vegan.

Vegan White Wine

Are you more of a white wine lover? There are plenty of tasty white wines for vegans.

Cycles Gladiator produces a few tasty vegan white wines. A spokesperson said “We don’t use the byproducts of any creatures in anything we produce, unless you count the millions of little yeasts we force into suicidal servitude. Oh, and grapes.”

Vegan Prosecco

For those extra special occasions, treat yourself to a vegan sparkling wine. You can enjoy a 100% organic and vegan Prosecco from Bellissima Prosecco.

Christie Brinkley’s eco approach means that even the packaging uses organic ink and environmentally-friendly material.

How to Spot a Vegan Wine

This shortlist literally scratches the surface of vegan wines.

Luckily, wine producers are starting to catch on and know that the vegan wine market is growing. So, you can often find a label marked with a handy dandy vegan logo. Sometimes it may appear on the front of a bottle, and sometimes you’ll find it on the back label.

Vegan Liquors and Vegan Cocktails

Vegan Cocktail

Luckily finding out whether liquor is vegan or not is much more straightforward than it is with beer and wine. Most liquor is vegan, unless it explicitly states that it contains honey, eggs, or milk.

For example, vegans can enjoy most bourbons, whiskeys, schnapps, rum, tequila and vodkas. Even some creamy liquors such as Tia Maria are accidentally vegan. You can also get a vegan version of Baileys!

When you are at a cocktail bar, make sure you always ask what is in a cocktail. Most cocktails at bars are made from scratch and can be adapted to your needs. For example, ask which milk is used in a bar’s piña colada. Traditional piña coladas are made with coconut milk but some bars use cow milk since it’s cheaper.

Additionally, many trendy cocktails, especially sours, contain egg whites. You can simply ask them to omit the egg whites to make it vegan. If you’re really lucky you’ll visit a super clued in cocktail bar and they’ll have aquafaba on hand as a substitute so you can enjoy your foamy cocktail as it was intended.

Useful Vegan Alcohol Resources

If you are not sure whether an alcoholic drink is vegan, check out this super useful website Barnivore. Barnivore describes itself as “online directory of vegan and vegetarian beer, wine, and liquor.”

They list over 47,000 different types of alcohol! You can see a huge amount of vegan drinks on Barnivore. It’s a great resource for vegans. 

Vegans Can Drink Alcohol!

Vegans Drinking Alcohol

As you can see, the answer to “can vegans drink alcohol”, is yes!

There are plenty of options. You just have to do some research or ask some questions.

So, crack open that beer, pop that cork, or mix up that cocktail, and feel good knowing your next drink is a vegan drink.

Jesse Ford

Wednesday 4th of March 2020

I like how you mentioned that a shift has been made in the wine and beer industry to ensure they use more natural methods when making alcoholic beverages. My wife and I are considering looking for a vegan spirit because we're thinking about inviting some of our friends over to our home who don't consume animal products. I think it's a good idea to shop from a reputable retailer that gets their spirits from a brewery that uses the most natural methods possible.