Monday, August 17, 2009

Uh Oh! Does The Beer You Drink Contain Animal Products?

It was like a nightmare. It was potentially a deal breaker between me and veganism. Beer containing meat products!? There are only three forms of liquid that enter my system on a regular basis: water, green tea and beer.

It turns out that beer can contain any of the following:
  • albumin - derived from eggs or dried blood
  • casein/caseinate - derived from milk
  • charcoal - sometimes derived from bone
  • colourings - sometimes derived from insects
  • glyceryl monostearate - an anti-foaming agent that sometimes is an animal derivative
  • isinglass - swim bladders from fish
  • lactose and lactobacillus (lactic acid)
  • gelatin - made from bones, skins and tendons
  • pepsin - a heading agent sometimes derived from pork
  • sugar - white sugar is often whitened using bone charcoal

Before you panic about not being able to enjoy a cold one on a hot summer day or after the hockey game in the winter, all is not lost. It seems few beers actually use these products. Basically, they are used as clearing agents to take the blur out of beer and give it clarity. They are mostly used on stout beer. There are two websites that I have found that contain extensive lists of vegan friendly beers and breweries.

Vegan and appear to be the leaders in providing vegan/beer information to the world.

Fear not you Canadians who drink from either of the two domestic giants, Labatt and Molson, unless it is a stout beer, all their products are vegan. I prefer Polish, German and Czech beers that can be purchased from LCBO stores in Ontario. These too, are pretty much 99% vegan. An interesting fact, though, is that Reinheitsgebot, the German purity act of 1516 actually does not forbid these meat products because it is assumed that they are not part of the finished product.

So, yes, one more thing we have to be on the look out for in our quest to survive in a savage world. Be aware, as well, that wine may use the same items for the same reasons. Once again, search the web and you will easily find out if your favourite winery is vegan or not.


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