The first thing you realise when switching to a vegan diet is the prevalence of animal products. Sometimes, this fact makes perfect sense: you can't have a chicken pot pie without chicken. But bone marrow in your wine: is that necessary? No is the answer, which is good news for vegans who would like a little tipple.
As plant-based diets increase in popularity, vegan variants of common foods and drinks are more readily available. As with faux-meats and chocolates, vegan alcohols are becoming increasingly accessible.
Some alcoholic brews, like many pure spirits, have always been vegan and are just starting to shout about it. Others, such as Guinness, have updated brewing processes to remove the needless use of animal products. In other cases, new breweries have been established that focus on eco-friendly practices and plant-based products.
Whether you’re a vegan looking for a new favourite drink or looking to treat your plant-based friend, below you'll find a list of the best vegan-friendly beer, wine and spirits.
Whichever you go for, we know that you'll find them tasty as we were lucky enough to taste them all.
Looking for something specific? Click below to jump ahead:
The best vegan beers: Tested, recommended
Popular favourites: Lager, ale and cider
These beers are mainstream beers that are accessible and vegan-friendly. These are great to get in for get-togethers.
Our favourites vegan beers:
After a long history of using animal products in its brewing process, Guinness has finally removed them, making Ireland's favourite stout a vegan-friendly delight.
Brewdog Punk IPA
One of the biggest names in the IPA revolution, Brewdog like to do things differently; they brew one of the tastiest pale ales on the market and adhere to carbon-neutral practices. We also recommend: Brewdog Elvis Juice
London-based brewer Camden combines Helles and Pilsner hops to create an incredibly drinkable beer and fresh beer. We also recommend: Camden Week Nite
Beavertown Neck Oil Session IPA
Easy to drink for vegans who like a little fresh zing in their beer, Neck Oil is a tasty session beer good all year round. We also recommend: Beavertown Gamma Ray American Pale Ale
Kona Brewing Co. Longboard Island Lager
Smooth, light and flavourful, Longboard Island is a delicious drink for vegans. It stands up as a session beer or as an accompaniment to food. We also recommend: Kona Big Wave Golden Ale
Duvel Belgian Strong Ale
Donu2019t be fooled by the small bottles. This strong ale from Belgian brewery Duvel packs in all the flavour you need.
The best wines: Tested, recommended
Sea Change Otter Label Spanish Red and White Wine
Sea Change Otter Label range is delicious. The Chardonnay is delicate, light and fruity. The red Bobal is bursting with strong tannins and a dark fruit vibrancy. Sea Change also aligns with other valuable causes: it doesnu2019t use plastics in its packaging and a portion of the sale goes directly to fund ocean conservation projects and charities.
Domaine Coulombaud Organic Vin de Provence Shiraz Red Wine
An award-winning Shiraz that is warm, dark and fruity. It also has a pleasant spice finish. For meals, it's best paired with deep flavours and spicy cuisine.
Domaine Coulombaud Vin De Provence White Wine
Delicate, dry and refreshing, the Domaine Coulombaud is pressed to please. Served chilled, this white has a subtle apricot note that goes well with fresh meals.
MONTRUBI Black Spanish Red Wine
A bottle of award-winning wine from MONTRUBI, Black is a celebrated wine full of force and flavour. Violet and blackberry combine into a smooth drink with plenty of character. For best results, serve slightly chilled.
Domaine La Chautarde Rosu00e9 2020 Cu00f4teaux Varois en Provence Rosu00e9 Wine
This is one of the best light Rosu00e9s around at a staggeringly acceptable price. Expect a pleasant dry taste with hints of peach, strawberry and raspberry.
The best spirits: Tested, recommended
M&S Vegan Chocolate & Coconut Cream Liqueur
Marks & Spencers has created magic in a bottle. More than just a vegan alternative to everyone's festive-favourite Bailey's, this drink tastes like liquid joy. Imagine a cold hot chocolate - this is just as thick and creamy but tastes excellent over ice.
The Public Spirit Original Spiced Rum
All pure, untampered with rum is free of animal products. The Public Spirit is our favourite option of all though. We donu2019t know what spices are in it (they keep that a secret) but we know the result: warm caramel deliciousness. Bonus: The Public Spirit donate a quarter of the proceeds to UK-based causes and charities.
East London Gin
Unless there are animal-based additives mixed in, gin is vegan. But life is too short for bad gin, so we recommend picking up this East London Gin. Smooth and aromatic, citrus and juniper make themselves known before spices deliver a delicious finish.
Bright orange and bittersweet? It must be Aperol, which is perfect in a spritz. Just make sure that whatever youu2019re mixing in is vegan too.
El Jimador Tequila Blanco
Good quality tequila is made from one ingredient only: Blue Agave. El Jimadoru2019s tequila is double-distilled and extra fresh, with zest and spice to spare. Mix into a cocktail or sip over ice.
Jack Danielu2019s Old No.7 Tennessee Whiskey
The ubiquitous bourbon loved by all is officially acceptable to the vegan lifestyle, which is no bad thing. A classic that is great over ice or with a mixer.
Why are some alcoholic drinks NOT vegan?
While almost all alcohol is made from plant-based materials, some manufacturers introduce products animal products as part of its processing.
What animal products are used in non-vegan alcohols?
Drinks that are not suitable for vegans but are for vegetarians have likely seen honey, egg or milk at some point in the process. Drinks that aren’t suitable for vegans or vegetarians will have been processed using fining substances derived from bone marrow, crushed insects, fish bladders or gelatin.
What non-vegan ingredients should I look out for?
Not all manufacturers, wineries or breweries include information about whether a product is vegan or non-vegan. However, if you read the ingredients, you can sometimes work it out for yourself. Some, such as honey, milk or cream, are real giveaways, while others are partially disguised behind technical terminology. These include:
• Isinglass - Fish bladder
• Cochineal/carmine - Insect shell
• Chitin - Insect shell, shellfish, fish
• Albumin - Eggs
• Casein - Milk
• Whey - Milk
• Lactose - Milk
• Gelatin - Animal skin, ligaments, bones
In alcohol, what do animal products do?
Unless an animal product has been used to flavour a specific drink (i.e. honey whiskey or milk stout), then the animal product has likely been used in the fining process.
Fining is a process that clears and clarifies a liquid - unfined wines and beers appear cloudy. Fining agents cling to unwanted elements within the alcohol. By doing so, the fining agent increases the size of the molecules, which allows them to sink or be caught in a filter. The result? Clear liquid.
Vegan alcohols either don’t use any fining agent or use a non-animal alternative, such as limestone, vegetable caseins or carbons. The choice to use a non-animal alternative may not be for ethical reasons - many brewers argue that different fining agents alter the taste in unwanted ways.