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Beer-Drinking Vegans Rejoice!

Beer-drinking vegans no longer have to worry about what’s in their Guinness. 

Beer-drinking vegans can breathe a sigh of relief. Beer giant Guinness has stopped adding isinglass, a gelatin made from the swim bladders of sturgeon and cod, to its signature brew. Isinglass is often used in beer and wine production as a clarifying agent, attracting waste solids like yeast and pulling them to the bottom of the barrel. Egg whites are also commonly used. Vegan and eco-conscious imbibers are increasingly determined to know exactly what’s in their tipple of choice, but alcoholic products are currently the only consumables not required to list their ingredients on their labels, apart from the sulphites that keep wine fresh.

Proponents of so-called “natural wine”—made with little or no additional materials—are pushing for full disclosure. They’d like consumers to be made aware of some other ingredients used by big commercial wineries, which might include preservatives, sugars, stabilizers, acid, flavours, texture enhancers, and other compounds. But regulating bodies vary widely in scope and rigour, and terms like sustainable, organic, biodynamic, natural and vegan are often vaguely defined, or contradictory.

If a fertilizer made from manure is used to make biodynamic wine, can it be called vegan? Is “sustainable” a declaration of zero-carbon outputs from field to table, or is it just that the irrigation water is reused?

Be forewarned that we may be in for a litany of new verbiage and icons on our drink labels to ward off confusion—or incite it. — Dick Snyder



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