I am not a big drinker of booze, and as a health and nutrition researcher, I actually don’t recommend the consumption of a lot of alcohol, especially high-calorie nutritionless beer. But color me surprised when I found out that a drink that wasn’t milk, isn’t vegan.
You would not think it would be possible for a drink like a soda, or a tea, or a beer, to not be vegan, because why would they use animal products in such a drink? I never understood why all drinks of this nature were not vegan, but then I found out why: Tradition.
For 256 years Guinness used a filtration method that involved Isinglass, a gelatin-like substance created from the dried bladders of fish. This filtered out particles of unwanted products in the brew, such as yeast. Guinness made a statement about the change, stating:
“Isinglass has been used widely within the brewing industry as a means of filtration for decades… However, because of its use we could not label Guinness as suitable for vegetarians and have been looking for an alternative solution for some time.”
Guinness will be rolling out with the new vegan-friendly filtration process in early 2016, they have yet to explain how the new process will work, however.
Guinness is not the only product that strangely has animal products in it. Sugar is often bleached using charred animal bones as it is a cheap and effective way of doing so, and many otherwise plant-based food products are strangely made with animal products in order to make them taste better. I personally tried to have a can of refried beans a couple days ago, and then realized I couldn’t because the beans contained lard. Rally’s/Checkers, a fast food restaurant chain, fries all of their products in beef tallow, making even the fries, mozzarella sticks, and the apple pie, inedible for even lacto-ovo vegetarians.
So it makes me happy that Guinness is jumping on the train and changing their practices to allow for vegan-friendly booze, even if I will probably never drink it.