It started off a lunch time like any other. I was browsing the internet, this particular day I was looking at recipes. I would never actually make any of them, but it's fun to pretend I'm the kind of person who would make her own seitan just to make seitan medallions smothered in wild mushroom sauce. Anyway, I came across an article on wine and read it. It was a life-changing moment. Or, at least, life-complicating.
Apparently the production process for wine, beer, and liquor often involves animal products and by-products. Things like gelatin, eggs, and something called isinglass can all be used in wine and/or beer. Now, as a lacto-ovo vegetarian I'm not overly perturbed by egg or milk ingredients in my drinks (so I can still drink Baileys), but I would be concerned about gelatin or things made from animals. Some companies say these things are used, but then filtered out, so the final product doesn't actually contain gelatin, for example. But does that matter, really? It was used to make the product, and I know that (now), so I shouldn't drink it. I mean, if the tofu production process involved the use of animal meat that was later removed, I totally wouldn't eat it, you know?
Isinglass, I was mortified to find out,is made from the swim bladders of fish. The Wikipedia entry contains the sadly ironic note that “isinglass was originally made exclusively from sturgeon, especially Beluga sturgeon, until the 1795 invention by William Murdoch of a cheap substitute using cod.” God. Fish are so screwed.
I've got 6 bottles of wine at home ready for the holidays, but there's no reason to panic until I find out which alcoholic drinks I need to give up. I found a site, Barnivore, that has a database of which drinks are vegan friendly. It's very useful. All the hard liquor I enjoy is safe. The few brands of beer I like are safe. One of the bottles of wine I have at home is not. The other bottles are from local wineries, so I emailed them to ask about the animal content of their wines. I haven’t heard back yet, but fingers crossed. If they don’t respond I’ll be forced to accost them in person at the market, and picket their stalls accordingly.
There are just so many hidden animal products in stuff. My brother’s current favourite joke is, when I’m over at his place, to ask if I like something, then say “the secret ingredient is bacon!” For all I know, this may be true and I just don’t know it. I can only take so much.