Vegan culture is on the rise and more people are trying to find out if every day food and drink is vegan. There are lots of food stuffs you would not have thought you would need to consider this in. Certainly gin and non alcoholic drink was one for me. Is it vegan? Why would it not be and how would i check? Is non alcoholic gin vegan?
In general non alcoholic gin is vegan. The distillation process clarifies the gin so animal finings are not needed for flocculation. Some flavoured non alcoholic gins may contain honey or food dyes so you need to check the label carefully. You can check the vegan status on barnivore.com.
For a full understanding as to what a vegan can and cant eat i’ll go through the topic in a step by step manor. We will look at what may appear in gin, what it can be replaced by and how to check your non alcoholic gin is vegan or not.
What is Veganism?
Veganism has became extremely popular with many celebrities endorsing the lifestyle. You will definitely have heard of it or are practicing it, but what is it exactly?
The term “vegan” began back in the 1940s when a small group of vegetarians split from Leicester Vegetarian Society (UK) to form the Vegan Society.
The stated aim was not to consume dairy, eggs, or any other products of animal origin. This was in addition to to eating meat which is the basis of a vegetarian diet.
The “Vegan” name is just a combination of the first and last letters of “vegetarian.”
Veganism is currently defined as a way of living that attempts to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, be it from food, clothing, or any other purpose.
Why choose to be a vegan?
There are many reasons to choose a vegan diet, i’ve lumped them into 3 categories that best fit.
Many people choose to avoid animal products because animal agriculture can have a large impact on the environment
As an example, animal agriculture can contributes up to 65% of global nitrous oxide emissions, 35–40% of methane emissions, and perhaps 9% of carbon dioxide emissions. Large numbers in anyones book.
Nitrous oxide, methane and CO2 are 3 of the most important greenhouse gases harming the environment.
Furthermore, animal agriculture tends to be a highly water-intensive process. Up to 50 times more water than is needed to produce a like for like quantity of beef vs cereal.
Animals also need large areas to graze which can lead to deforestation, loss of natural habitat and native species.
Health benefits always rank highly in any chosen diet, and none more so than vegan.
- Higher in certain nutrients such as plant antioxidants but also fibre, magnesium and potassium
- Weight loss. Yes a vegan diet without animal fats will help you lose weight and have a lower BMI
- It can help prevent Type 2 Diabetes with better insulin regulation
- Can protect vs cancer? WHO say you can reduce your risk by modifying your diet
- Want reduced heart disease? Plant based diet has you covered.
- It can reduce arthritic pains in your joints
So as you can see, this list of heath benefits is enough to sway many to a vegan diet.
Last but not least is the ethics of using animals or animal product in food. Many vegans have strongly held beliefs around all animals right to life.
Due to these beliefs, they choose to refrain from eating animals or animal products when ready plant based replacements are there.
The other objection can be with the psychological stress that modern farming and slaughter can put on animals and a want to avoid contributing to this.
So is non alcoholic gin vegan?
Nearly all alcoholic gins and non alcoholic gins are vegan friendly. There are enough exceptions to the rule for you to want some more information on what animal products might appear in the product or be used to make it. You’ll also want to know how to check.
What animal products might be in non alcoholic gin?
It is unusual for a company to use animal products to flavour or colour their gins but there are exceptions. I will run through some out might come across.
It is no surprise that honey can be used to sweeten a gin or add some complexity of flavour or aroma.
Carmine is the red colour which accumulates in the shell of pregnant scale insects (Dactilopius coccus). A liquid extract is obtained from such dried female insects and then mixed with alumina to produce the alumina solution of carminic acid which is the main colouring agent in carmine.
Eh yes, you read that right. There is a gin on the market (no non alcoholic version that i know of) that uses ants as a flavouring for their very expensive gin. Needless to say, “Anty Gin” is not vegan
Oh and Anty Gin is over £200 a bottle so i’ve not gone to the trouble of trying it!
What animal products might be used to make non alcoholic gin?
Rarely a gin might need a “fining” agent added post distillation.
“Finings” are used to filter gin of fine organic matter the distiller doesn’t want you to drink. The process of clarifying a gin of the particulates is called flocculation.
Isinglass is made from fish swim bladders, usually from a sturgeon. The poor sturgeon obviously doesnt survive the process and you end up with some fish guts in your gin. Lovely.
In cold gin it works to grab and bind proteins and other particulates that would make the gin hazy. They can all then settle faster. It is made by boiling various connective tissues of cows and pigs. Any better than fish guts? Im not so sure.
Beeswax isn’t used as a fining agent but some gins use it to seal the cap on the bottle.
Which gins may have animal products in them?
The following gin brands would not be vegan-friendly for the reasons mentioned above. Keep an eye out for these brand names whenever you go out for drinks.
● Anty Gin (ants)
● Old Tom Gin (honey)
● Archie Rose Distiller’s Strength Gin (honey)
● Greenhook Beach Plum Gin (uses gelatin for the filtration process)
● Nosferatu Blood Orange gin (carmine for coloring)
● Herno Juniper Cask Gin (no non-vegan ingredients, but the cap is sealed with beeswax)
● Tarquin’s British Blackberry Gin (honey)
● Whitley Neil (some of their gins contain isinglass)
● Anther Anther x Taxi gin (honey)
How are vegan non alcoholic gins filtered?
In general, non alcoholic gins don’t need filtered after they have been distilled. The distillation process usually stops any particles getting into the final product. If they need further fining there are plenty of plant or plastic based methods.
Bentonite is a clay consisting mostly of montmorillonite. It forms a paste with water and is used as a fining agent.
It is a swelling clay, so has the ability to absorb large quantities of water. This increases its volume by up to a factor of x8. Bentonite has the property of adsorbing relatively large amounts of protein molecules from aqueous solutions
Can you tell from the label?
In Canada and the USA, there is no requirement to list ingredients on the label, this can clearly make it difficult to see if a product is vegan. In The UK, there is a required allergy declaration for milk and eggs. However, if it is not at the set detection level, they are exempt from these labelling requirements.
Isinglass and gelatin are specifically exempt from these allergy labelling requirements so do not have to be listed.
One obvious tell tale sign a product is vegan friendly will be “Vegan” put somewhere prominent on the label.
How to find out if a non alcoholic gin is vegan?
It can be difficult to tell from a label alone if any animal products were used. Seemingly 99% of gins and non alcoholic gins are vegan friendly tho. There are other alternative to try and find more information.
You can contact a company directly or check out their website for more information. This can be time consuming and you may not get the response you want.
Luckily there are 2 fantastic resources…
- Vegaholic app (app version on Barnivore)
Barnivore is a superb resource where a group of people have gone to the trouble of contacting companies for you. They’ve contact 10s of thousands of companies across the food and drink industry. When you search for a gin (or food), it lists all the subtypes and if they are vegan friendly or not. When you click on the gin you can see all the correspondence with the companies the recommendations are based on.