A Guide to Alcohol for Vegans: Are Hard Seltzers Vegan?
Veganism is more than a trend among Millennials. It is a philosophy that shows genuine compassion for all living creatures with whom we cohabit our planet, Earth.
It dates back to the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras of Samos, at around 550 BC. Pythagoras argued that killing and eating animals is unhealthy both for our body and soul. Around the same time, Buddha was also praising a vegetarian lifestyle, asking his followers to avoid consuming the flesh of other sentient beings.
The stats around vegetarianism and veganism are mind-blowing. About 7.2 million adults in the UK are currently following a meat-free diet (2021 stats) and the number continues to rise. As of early 2021, there are over 79 million vegans in the world.
After these figures, it’s no wonder why the food and beverage industry around the world has started taking veganism seriously.
Big supermarket chains allocate huge shelves and ambient aisles to vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free products. Plant-based savoury, snacks and sweets have never been more readily available. But what about vegan alcohol?
Is Alcohol Vegan?
Even though alcohol is suitable for vegans, not all alcoholic beverages are cruelty-free and plant-based. A surprising number of beer, wine and spirit manufacturers often use non-vegan ingredients in the production and filtering process.
Filtering - or ‘fining’ - is an essential part of the brewing process. It removes proteins, tannins and other organic compounds to create a pure, clear beverage. But filtering usually relies on animal products (also called fining agents), such as:
- Fish bladders (AKA isinglass) - taken from cod and sturgeon
- Gelatine - made by boiling the bones, tendons, cartilage and skin of animals, like cows and pigs
- Casein - a milk protein found in cow’s milk
- Sea shells
- Egg whites
Alcoholic beverage producers do not have to list these ingredients on the drinks’ labels. That's why finding vegan alcohol can be pretty tricky at times.
As the vegan alcohol market is soaring, beer, wine and spirit makers have started adding the vegan-friendly logo on the bottles and cans. This way, it’s easier for vegans and all health-conscious drinkers to spot the alcoholic beverages made meat-free and opt for them!
In general, beers, wines and spirits that don’t contain dairy or honey and are produced without animal-derived fining agents can be vegan-friendly.
Following the growing demand for vegan spirits, many beer brewers, winemakers and other alcohol producers have turned to plant-based alternatives for ‘purifying’ their beverages. Pea protein, Irish moss (carrageenan), beet and clay are some of the most common vegan fining agents.
Are Hard Seltzers Vegan?
Most hard seltzer brands do not contain animal ingredients. Instead, these trendy and refreshing beverages blend:
- Sparkling water
- Gluten-free alcohol base
- Fruit flavour
But just like with other alcoholic drinks, animal-derived ingredients might creep into the production and filtration process of hard seltzers too. On top of that, some alcoholic sparkling waters include cane sugar. This type of sugar is usually filtered with bone char that comes from boiling the bones of cattle.
So how can you know if the cooling alcoholic seltzer you’re craving for is vegan? Here are three tips for checking if a spiked seltzer brand is suitable for vegans:
- Look for the vegan logo. Most hard seltzer producers add the vegan-friendly symbol on the label. Others might include text explaining that the beverage is vegan. So check out the label first!
- Head to the brand’s website or ask the producer. A reliable way to find out if the hard seltzer you want to taste is vegan is to reach out to the manufacturer directly. Most brand websites include a contact form for customer enquiries.
- Read the allergen statement. Many people are allergic to eggs, fish, shellfish and dairy products. Brands usually list common allergens used during production. If the label of the hard seltzer brand you hold refers to any of the above allergens, you’d better look for another brand.
Are Served Hard Seltzers Vegan?
The innovative British hard sparkling water includes the four-times distilled ServedPure™ spirit that comes from pure wonky beet. The wonky beet is locally sourced in France and produces a crystal clear, ultra-clean tasting spirit that will make your taste buds sing! No animal-derived fining agents such as gelatin or isinglass are used in the Served product range.
Besides, the spring water of all Served hard seltzers flows out of the crystal clear springs in rural Staffordshire, UK. It’s then naturally filtered through grey and red sandstone to create a delicious, natural, light and refreshing alcoholic beverage.
Contrary to alcohol manufacturers who use animal-derived flavour enhancers, such as castoreum and honey, Served has chosen to infuse its seltzers with wonky fruits such as limes and raspberries. That’s where the crisp, light flavour and natural sweetness of Served hard seltzers come from!
To sum it up, the Served alcohol is:
- Extremely light in calories
- With zero refined sugar or carbs
You’ll find an exhaustive list of all ingredients used for the production of Served hard seltzers on the products’ labels.
Is tequila or vodka suitable for vegans?
Bartenders love to blend tequila or vodka with hard sparkling water. But are these hard liquors vegan?
Translucent distilled spirits can be vegan, depending on the way the alcohol is produced. A cream-based liqueur or a spirit made with honey are obviously not suitable for vegans.
Here’s a list of other vegan spirits. Many of them can be perfectly combined with hard seltzers to create top-class cocktails:
- Canadian, Scotch, Tennessee & Irish whiskey (without honey)
The Bottom Line
Many alcoholic beverages, including hard seltzers, beers, wines and spirits are vegan friendly.
However, it’s common for alcohol producers to use animal products to filter and clarify the drinks. These animal-derived fining agents are not always listed on the labels. This happens because the European and US-based manufacturers are not obliged to list all the ingredients used during the alcohol filtering process.
Consumers should check the bottles or cans for the vegan logo. Or you can contact the producer via the brand’s website to make sure you can enjoy a 100% vegan alcoholic beverage.