While gin’s star continues to rise, so does the amount of us switching to a vegan lifestyle. The number of vegans in the UK quadrupled between 2014 and 2019, and record numbers took part in Veganuary in 2021. Being vegan no longer means being limited, and there aren’t many of life’s pleasures that don’t have a tasty plant-based alternative.
With that in mind, thoughts turn to our favourite drinks! Where does gin sit on the vegan friendly scale? Well, it’s good news!
It seems a little odd at first to think any drink might contain animal products. After all, no one scours the bottle’s ingredients list for meat! The key reason many alcoholic drinks are not vegan is because animal derivatives are often used to filter them after they have been fermented. Some products used in this process are isinglass (from the swim bladder of a fish!) as well as gelatine (animal bones and ligaments), casein (dairy) and even albumin, from egg whites. Sometimes refined sugar – refined using charred animal bones – is used in drinks such as beer and wine.
And gin? *Drumroll, please!* We’re delighted to say that the vast majority of gins are vegan! With any spirit, it’s the distillation part of the manufacturing process that makes the drink more likely to be classified as vegan. Distillation results in a clear spirit – think gin, vodka, white rum, etc. There’s no need for non-vegan products to come into play during that process, so almost all gins are free of animal products. Hurrah!
Only 5% of the world’s gins are marked as non-vegan, according to Barnivore. Where a non-vegan product is used, that product is usually honey – for flavour. Very rarely, isinglass is used, but this is used as part of the filtration stage, and rarely used in gin-making.
Sing Gin is vegan! Our grape alcohol is fermented and then distilled. The lack of filtration means no animal products are required or added. We rectify our gin with botanicals, such as flax, orange peel, the all-important juniper, and mint. If you’re looking for vegan-friendly gin gifts, we offer a range of luxury vegan gin hampers.
While it’s great to think that 95% of gins are vegan, you wouldn’t want to become complacent and find one in your glass that doesn’t meet with your ethics! Some examples of popular gin brands that are vegan are Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, Hendrick’s and Gordon’s.
Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger Gin can’t be classed as vegan, due to the use of isinglass. It’s also worth keeping a sharp eye out for beeswax used as a botanical – rare, but a reason for vegans to opt for a different brand.
Ah, we know what you’re thinking… is that beautiful pink colour from beetles? Don’t worry, pink gin’s cheerful hue usually comes from the addition of red berries such as strawberries or rhubarb. Because in rare cases a colour is added to pink gin, though, it is worth checking for cochineal. Where this happens it tends to be in cheaper drinks, so it’s always worth spending your money on one where real thought and care have been given to its contents.
While any product’s ingredients must be stated on the label, it’s worth being aware that where non-vegan substances are used in the manufacture of alcohol, this doesn’t have to be declared.
Despite labels not always telling the full story, drinks manufacturers are pretty geared up for veganism and other dietary requirements these days. Annual growth in global food and beverage launches that had vegan and plant-based claims grew 58% between 2015-2019, according to Innova Market Insights.
Some products are certified by the Vegan Society, but as this can be an expensive mark to attain, there are still many vegan products that won’t be obviously so. Check the product’s website and by all means ask the manufacturer to confirm. Ask whether the product is manufactured as vegan, as well as the finished product being vegan. You can also make use of sites such as the above-mentioned Barnivore, which is crowd-funded and to which you can submit your own listings to help other vegans out. Handy!
Not all spirits are vegan, but in the same way as gin, any clear, distilled spirit is much more likely to be vegan than say, beer, because of the way it is made (no filtering!) Generally speaking, you’ll be fine with gin, vodka and white rum, but always check to be sure.
Where a drinks product isn’t vegan, canny manufacturers are working to make their ranges more inclusive. Baileys released Almande, a dairy-free version of their much-loved Irish Cream, for example, made with soy and almonds. Stick with clear spirits, though, and you’ll have plenty of both mainstream and artisan options to explore.
While hearing your favourite gin is vegan might have you sighing with relief and reaching for an iced glass… wait – what about the tonic water?
Tonic water is made from carbonated water, quinine (from the bark of the cinchona tree), flavourings and sweeteners. Sometimes that flavouring can be honey, as in the case of Schweppes Indian Tonic water. So if you’re vegan, that’s one tonic water to avoid.
There are plenty of tonic waters readily available that are vegan, though, such as Fever-Tree (our tonic water of choice for our cocktail recipes and in our hampers) so again, check your labels and ask the manufacturer if you’re not sure. We’re positive you’ll still find plenty of delicious mixer options that do fit the bill.
All in all, it’s great news for vegans on the gin front! As gin grows ever more popular, and the number of us pursuing a vegan lifestyle increases, gin can remain very much part of your life. We’re proud that our gin is among those that can be enjoyed by vegans and non-vegans alike! Join the party!
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