Friday, March 16, 2012

5 great vegan drinks for St. Patrick's Day

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, the helpful folks over at The Barnivore Vegan Alcohol Directory (, ask the following question:
"Is your booze vegan? It might seem weird at first, but your favourite drink might have more than just alcohol in it.

Brewmasters, winemakers, and distillers may include animal ingredients in their products directly, or they might use them in the processing and filtration.

When making the product, dairy, honey, and other things are ingredients in the final recipe.
When filtering the drinks prior to bottling, companies can use things like isinglass (from fish bladder), gelatin, egg whites, and sea shells, among other things. These products grab onto the impurities and make it easier to catch them in the filters, though there are many animal-free alternatives in use."
You can't see these ingredients, and you can't smell or taste them, and they don't show up on the label, so the only way to find out is to ask. What a chore! Thank heavens for the folks of Barnivore, they've created a directory with the answers from the makers of more than 6,000 alcoholic beverages. Now you can celebrate St. Patrick's day with confidence.

Here's my Top 5 picks from Barnivore:

#1 George Killian's Irish Red
(I haven't been able to confirm Killian's Irish Stout is vegan)

#2 Rogue Irish Lager

#3 Michelob Irish Red

#4 Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey

#5 Jameson Irish Whiskey

I've chosen these based on their Irish-ness, high confidence that they are vegan, and because they are commonly available. Just remember, you don't have to drink all 5 to have a good time ;)

There are many other vegan beers out there, many from microbreweries too numerous to mention here. When in doubt; stick to the Irish Reds, Irish Lagers, and Irish Whiskeys. Still not sure? Ask the brewer when you get the chance, and add your findings to the directory.

What's NOT a vegan-friendly choice this St. Patrick's Day?

Guinness Stout - There is great confusion surrounding whether Guinness is indeed vegan friendly. It is certain that Guinness in the UK is made using isinglass as a fining agent. However, in North America, Guinness is made in Canada, and the brewers there claim they don't use isinglass. However, I'm not convinced, because I don't know what they're using as a replacement for isinglass. The company (like many others) makes no promises about this; it is subject to change over time and depending on the regional distributors.

Murphy's Irish Stout - Isinglass is used as a fining agent.

More Helpful Guidelines
  • Many stouts contain lactose, a milk derivative (especially any stout described as a "Milk Stout" probably really does contain dairy products).
  • Most beers that have been conditioned in a cask or firkin are traditionally filtered using isinglass.
  • Honey beers, honey stouts, and all mead contains honey.
Cheers and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Smug Vegan re: Mercy for Plants

Anonymous Flame Baiter (Internet_Dude) wrote:
Why do vegans feel so smug about killing poor defenseless plants that have no mouth to scream? They suffer, too!
Sigh. The topic of mercy for plants comes up repeatedly... of course it is just flame bait but I will bite.
  1. Since plants have no brains, no families, no faces, and no emotions, I believe it's safe to assume they aren't suffering.
  2. Furthermore, many plants give freely of their fruits & vegetables without needing to be killed.
  3. Those plants that do need to be killed for harvest were about to die anyways (it's called "winter" and these plants are called "annuals")
  4. Harvesting vegetables and grains kills bugs. So sorry, this is a practical reality. Buy organic to reduce the impact on insect species, and see #5.
  5. Finally, if you truly do believe in mercy for plants; then you should still be vegan or vegetarian, because livestock eat far more plants than humans do.
There is no mystical "circle of life". Killing and suffering are not necessary or unavoidable, and manure is not needed to make great compost. Animal agriculture is simply not necessary. You can't end animal suffering through "moderation"; you can only end it through animal welfare reform, enforcement, and ultimately boycotting animal products!

So, to answer your question, Anonymous Flame Baiter, we vegans are smug because not only are we right ;) but there is also no burden of suffering from choosing to "kill" and eat plants.