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When people decide to cut out animal products they often have to think hard about what they choose to eat. That means cutting out ingredients like gelatine, cheese and meat.

But what about what they drink?

Why are some drinks not vegan-friendly?

Alcoholic drinks are not naturally vegan. As Dominika Piasecka, spokesperson for The Vegan Society explains, animal products can be introduced in a drink’s production process.

“Some alcoholic drinks may not be suitable for vegans because of the filtering process prior to bottling,” she says.

“Companies may use isinglass (a substance obtained from fish bladders), gelatine, egg whites, sea shells and other animal products which capture impurities.”

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How can I find out which alcoholic drinks are vegan?

Dominika says that naturally clear spirits that undergo a different type of filtration, like vodka and white rum, are “generally vegan-friendly.”

However, the best way to make sure that a drink is 100% vegan is to ask the manufacturer.

“There’s already a comprehensive online directory at Barnivore where vegans submit replies from manufacturers which are then double checked by those behind the website,” she says.

“Some alcoholic drinks are also labelled – look out for our Vegan Trademark which guarantees that no animal products have been used.”

Use our calculator to find out the calories and units in other drinks here

Vegan friendly doesn’t mean risk free

Many people choose a vegan diet for health reasons. But just because vegan beer or wine contains no animal products that doesn’t mean it’s healthier than other types of alcoholic drinks. This is because it is the alcohol they contain which poses the biggest risk to your health.

The UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) low risk drinking guideline for both men and women is that to keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.

What’s more, the risk of developing a range of health problems (including cancers of the mouth, throat and breast, and heart and liver disease) increases the more you drink.

Find out what 14 units looks like

Regularly drinking more than the unit guidelines can also lead to weight gain. Alcohol can be high in calories, which could increase your waistline. Plus, it can also affect your appearance in other ways, from causing puffy, dehydrated skin to spots.

So, if you’re exploring vegan wine, spirits or beer it’s essential to understand the guidelines. That way you can protect your health, as well as animal welfare.

Tips on staying inside the low risk drinking guidelines

  1. Make some space. If you regularly drink as much as 14 units a week, it's best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days. That’s because if you have one or two heavy drinking episodes a week, you increase your risk of death from long-term illness and injuries. 
  2. Have dry days. If you choose to drink alcohol, try some dry days where you give it a miss altogether. Find out more about alcohol-free days
  3. Understand what’s in your drink. Our Drinkaware Track and Calculate Units app is an easy way to work out how many calories and units you’re consuming each week. Download it for free today.
  4. Check out vegan choices. From juices to smoothies and sophisticated soft drinks there’s plenty of vegan-friendly alcohol-free drinks to choose from. Look for The Vegan Trademark to ensure it’s animal product-free. 
  5. Cut down together. Cutting down with your partner can mean a healthier lifestyle for you both. Find out how to make it happen.