You Can Be Vegan and Drink Your Brewski, Too

I ran a poll to help me decide what my next blog should be about and the results are in!

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Okay, ya alchies. Here you are!

I’ve found that the majority of non-vegans have a negative view that vegans are always missing out on all things enjoyable in life. I know this may be a little shocking… but I promise you, we’re not. Personally, I’ve found that I enjoy my food, drinks, and overall life more ever since I started making more conscious decisions.

Although I don’t drink very often, I do still indulge in the occasional cold beer(s). This tends to come with some judgment. I’ve been called a hypocrite for preaching healthy living, but still choosing to drink alcohol from time to time. Here’s what I have to say to that:

Hush. Stop distracting from the cause.

Many people believe that a vegan life is a life of restrictions. I am here to show you that this is just simply not true. With that being said, here’s a bit of experience I’d like to share with you regarding veganism and beer.

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OH, man. This photo was taken at a lovely little craft beer bar called Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor in NYC. My husband, Manuel (I’ll probably definitely mention him a lot on this blog), and I walked there from our wonderful Airbnb that was just a few blocks away. This location had a variety of craft beer and vegan food on the menu so you can bet we were enjoying ourselves quite a bit. It also happens to be located right by Columbia University. The college vibes were strong and we absolutely loved it. Side note: This was actually just hours before we headed over to Central Park where Manuel proposed. This memory is so, so dear to me!

What made this experience even better is that we were sippin’ on vegan-friendly beers. How do I know that? I’ve got one (clickable) word for ya… Barnivore.

At the early stages of my plant-based life, I had absolutely no idea that some beer wasn’t vegan. The main ingredients that came to mind when I thought about beer were: malt, hops, and yeast. So when I discovered that animal products were used in the brewing process, you best believe I was thrown off (and frankly grossed out). Fish bladder (isinglass), gelatin, egg whites, and insects, amongst others, are often used in the either the brewing process or final stages for filtering (adds clarity to beer and extends shelf-life), sweetness, foam, and coloring (this is where the insects come in).

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Image courtesy of radnatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I first discovered this, it was in my earlier days as a vegan. I didn’t consider myself a strict vegan, nor did I ever plan on becoming one. I had just turned 21 and my compassion hadn’t yet extended to fish or insects. I also just didn’t feel like putting in the work to research every single time I wanted to put down a cold one… especially once I was already buzzin’. I mean, c’mon.

I didn’t want to make being vegan too hard on myself. I especially didn’t want to make the lifestyle seem hard to the people around me. In my mind, the more work you threw into it, the less likely you were to influence anyone else to join the movement. This is still an important lesson that I keep in mind because I truly believe it’s all about baby steps.

If someone is willing to stop eating meat and dairy, but still wants to drink beer that was filtered with fish bladder, I’ll still take that as a win. I feel that as long as you are doing what you can to live more consciously, and know that there’s always room for improvement, you’re doing the world some good.

In order to improve personally, I took another step. I began using Barnivore to help weed out the non-vegan beers. It’s a great online alcohol directory that you can utilize should you ever wonder if the alcohol you’re thinking about drinking is vegan-friendly. I’ve found that most beers I type into the search are vegan-friendly. The one downside I’ve come across is that some entries haven’t been updated in years.

Let’s go back to Arts and Crafts Beer Parlour where I pulled this up:

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May 2012 was quite some time ago, and their process could have definitely changed in the last 5 years. This is where I had to make a decision. Do I consume without knowing for absolute sure that this beer is vegan? Or do I say no?
I drank the damn thing. And another couple after that (the journey from the bar to Bow Bridge in Central Park was quite memorable I might add).

If you do find yourself taking advantage of this online resource and want to be 100% sure, it’s always best to actually reach out to the breweries yourself. Barnivore even makes it extremely convenient to do so with this link.
I emailed 10 Barrel Brewing post-NYC and it resulted in this:

Hey Julie,
Juliana here with 10 Barrel. I’ve spoken with my team and we’ve found out some more information for you regarding our beers!
The majority of 10 Barrel’s beers that you’ll find on shelves are vegan, and in the pubs it’s a case by case basis, as some beers chocolate or lactose. If you visit one of 10 Barrel’s pubs you can ask a server or bartender to guide you in choosing a vegan beer option. If you have a specific 10 Barrel brand in mind, we’re happy to answer that specific question on whether or not it is vegan.
We hope that this helps you Julie. If you have any more questions or concerns please feel free to drop us a line at any time.
Cheers,
Juliana

I forwarded this onto Barnivore and they have since updated the company profile on their site.

When it comes to being vegan and drinking, I’ve accepted that I won’t always have the answer right as I am looking up at a menu that’s scribbled in chalk. I tend to stick with the breweries that I know are vegan-friendly, such as Sierra Nevada and Lagunitas. However, as a fan of trying out new craft beers and checking in on untappd, I do make a decision without always having all of the information. Of course, if the beer obviously has a milk product or honey in it, it’s a hard pass for me.

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If I am given the choice between a vegan beer and a non-vegan beer, I will choose the vegan beer 100% of the time. I choose to support the company that makes the conscious decision to not use animal products in their process. Because of people making the same choice as myself, more and more breweries are switching to a vegan-friendly process by using products such as bentonite or sieves for filtering.

While going vegan wasn’t the main reason behind their switch, Guinness has finally finished phasing out isinglass. This was huge news in the beer world and I absolutely love that it has more people questioning exactly how their beer is produced. I encourage you to do the same. This is how we make change happen, people! We cast our vote for a better world by being aware and making mindful decisions.

The bottom line is that we do not need to exploit animals of any kind in order to create a good beer. So, drink responsibly and consciously. Ask questions, look into the process, and always stop to think about how you are casting your vote. You’ll continue to learn that your choices, even the small ones, impact so much more than just yourself.

Stay woke, friends.

-Julie

For more resources, check out:

Vegan.com
NoMeatAthlete.com
Barnivore.com


Follow me on Instagram @sentientjewel!
View my previous post here.

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