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Wine et al

It's odd the questions you get asked when you are a vegan-vegetarian. One of the most frequent goes something like:

"Of course I suppose you don't drink (alcohol – wine – beer – whatever beverage is being offered)?"

Well ... yes ... I do! I drink quite a lot of wine and enjoy it immensely. Now wine isn't necessarily always strictly vegan – in fact it is seldom vegan. White wines very often use egg or milk products or isinglass (made from the swim bladders of fish) as finings (to clear the wine). And reds tend to use crushed up beetles, bone gelatin or dried blood.

Even beer need not be vegan – best British bitter is often fined with isinglass. Guinness is not vegan ..... (now there's a blow!). Campari contains cochineal (basically ground up beetles). Not all vodka is vegan... and the list goes on.

So life has to be a compromise. The line between vegan and non vegan is not absolute (honey for example?). We all make our choices.

When I can, I buy vegan wine. At out local supermarket there is a decent red – "Our Daily Red" it's called - a nice name. It's organic, vegan and sulphite free. And it's $7.99 a bottle!

When I can't, then I drink and enjoy a non-vegan wine. I will tend towards reds, because if I have to make a choice, I would go for ground up beetles rather than egg or milk products – egg and milk production causing so very much animal misery and hardship. One hopes that the beetles are killed quickly and relatively painlessly .....

The quantities of animal product per bottle is of course quite small. But think of the total number of bottles produced. And so many things can contain animal products that it is hard to think about it all the time:

Sugar, breakfast cereal, potato chips – all can (but don't necessarily) contain animal products. Some 'E' numbers are animal: 120, 542, 631, 901, 904, 920 certainly are. 101, 101a, 153 ,203, 213, 227, 270, 282, 302, 322, 325, 326, 327, 333, 341a, 341b, 341c, 404, 422, 430, 431, 432, 433, 434, 435, 436, 470, 471, 472a, 472b, 472c, 472d ,472e, 473, 474, 475, 476, 477, 478, 481, 482, 483, 491, 492, 493, 494, 495, 570, 572, 627, 635 can be of animal derivation.

So it's a mine field! My answer is to be content with the choices I make. They are my choices, no one else's. And it's myself that I have to answer to.


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