Vegan culture is very popular currently and more and more people are trying to find out if their every day food and drink contains animal products.
There are lots of foods you would not have thought you would need to consider this in. Wine is a surprising one for me. Is it vegan? Why would it not be and how would i check? Is non alcoholic wine vegan?
Many non alcoholic wines are vegan but not all. Some specifically label themselves as vegan but others don’t. Non alcoholic wine may be filtered to clarify it using animal products such as isinglass or casein. You can check the vegan status on barnivore.com.
For a better understanding of why animal products in a food or drink might be an issue it’s a good idea to look at veganism.
We can see what a vegan can and cant eat, why wine may have animal products used on it, what it can be replaced by and how to check your non alcoholic wine is vegan or not.
Ive written about non alcoholic vegan beer as well. It shares many similarities but there are some important differences. Check them out here.
To buy Halal Wine in the USA, follow this link for Halal Wine Cellar and use code OPENINGTHEBOTTLE for 10% discount.
There are some brilliant non alcoholic wines on Amazon, you can check them out via this link
What is Veganism?
Veganism is becoming more popular with many influencers endorsing the lifestyle. You will surely have heard of it but exactly is it?
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.
Their aim was simply not to consume dairy, eggs, or any other products originating from animal. 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 will summarise some of them into 3 categories.
Health benefits always rank highly in any chosen diet, especially so in 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
It is an impressive list and enough to sway many to a vegan lifestyle.
Many people choose to avoid animal products because animal agriculture can have a huge impact on the environment and natural world.
If we look at animal agriculture, it contributes up to 65% of global nitrous oxide emissions, 35–40% of methane emissions, and perhaps 9% of carbon dioxide emissions. Not rookie numbers.
Nitrous oxide, methane and CO2 are 3 of the most important greenhouse gases we hear so much about.
Additionally, 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.
There are plenty of ethical arguments around using animals or animal product in food. Many vegans have strongly held beliefs around all animals right to life.
This leads them to choose to refrain from eating animals or animal products, especially 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.
Is non alcoholic wine vegan?
Yes and no, both or either! Basically non alcoholic wine, like any wine can be vegan but many aren’t. It’s important to understand why a wine might not be vegan and what the industry are doing about it.
What animal products might be used to make wine?
Animal products are used to clarify wine. When wine is fermented, it will naturally contain a lot of particulate matter. This is serious proteins, yeast and small organic matter.
The substances used for this filtering are called fining agents.
The fining agents stick to small particles in the wine and make them big enough to filter out. The process of clarifying a beer of the particulates is called flocculation.
Do you want to feel a bit sick, well isinglass is made from the swim bladders of certain fish (often sturgeon). Its basically fish guts!
It is still used today because its actually very good at flocculation. Isinglass use is still prevalent in winemaking.
In cold beer it works to grab and bind proteins and other particulates that would make the beer hazy. They can all then settle faster. It is made by boiling various connective tissues of cows and pigs.
Casein is the protein found in milk. Once again i can bind floating particles to settle them faster.
As with the other fining agents, the protein in egg whites can bing the particles for removal. It would be more heavily used in wine making.
Chitosan is a positively-charged fining agent made of chitin, typically from the shells of crustaceans and other shelled microscopic sealife. One excellent property of Chitosan is that it does not require tannins to work properly, allowing its use in white wines, ciders, meads, and more.
How are vegan wine filtered?
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
Carbon (activated charcoal) is used to remove colour – decolorizing carbon, and to remove off-odours such as oxidation, and is usually used in conjunction with PVPP as oxidized white wines generally show a brown tinge. It is used in the medical world to bind certain toxins if a patient overdoses.
Polyclar, the brand name for PVPP plastic particulate, is a unique fining agent that absorbs phenolic compounds and unwanted tannins as well and deactivates oxidative enzymes within the wine. It is especially useful for removing oxidative odors and preventing browning in whites and reds, especially when used in conjunction with activated charcoal.
Are natural wines vegan?
All natural wines are vegan but not all vegan wines are natural.
Natural wines are unfiltered so no finings have been used therefore no potential animal product has been used.
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 wine is vegan?
We have seen that it can be very difficult, if not impossible to see if an animal product was used in a wine, just from the label or packaging.
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 done the legwork for you. They’ve contact 10s of thousands of companies. When you search for a wine (or food), it lists all the subtypes and if they are vegan friendly or not. When you click on the wine you can see all the correspondence with the companies the recommendations are based on.
Does being vegan affect the taste of the wine?
Not at all! You will have drank lots of examples of vegan wine and just not known. For both normal wine and non alcoholic wine the substance used to clarify the wine doesn’t flavour it. Now you know what the fining agents are, you may prefer yours without the fish guts?!