One inquisitive omnivore’s journey towards healthier and more compassionate eating…

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(ANIMAL WELFARE/VEGAN) St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. Time to dust off your best green garb, practice your blarney, and stock up on plenty of beer. Although that might be easier said than done if you’re trying to be vegan or vegetarian.

1% of all the beer in the world is consumed on St. Patrick's Day alone./ Photo credit:
Drinking green beer is a popular St. Patrick’s Day tradition, with one percent of all the beer in the world consumed on that day alone. Photo credit:

I was joking the other day when I said that I don’t need to worry about whether my alcohol is animal friendly or not—but as it turns out, I do. Many beers (and wines for that matter) are made with animal ingredients. Not only in the making of the product, like adding honey and dairy for flavor, but also when filtering the drinks prior to bottling.

During the filtering process, some companies use these ingredients to help clear particles and other impurities from their products:

  • Isinglass, which comes from the swim bladders of fish
  • Gelatin, a protein obtained by boiling cattle and pig skin
  • Egg whites
  • Bone char, basically burnt bones
  • Insects, ground up and used in dyes for coloring
  • Sea shells
  • Pepsin, a stomach enzyme usually extracted from pigs and added to beer to control foam

First of all, yuck. And secondly, what are our alternatives? Being the proud Irish girl that I am, forgoing the celebratory drink on St. Patrick’s Day isn’t really an option. Nor would I ask it of the estimated 133 million revelers expected to celebrate the day either.

Thankfully there are animal friendly beer options:

Brewmasters may include animal ingredients in their products directly or through filtration. lists vegan friendly alternatives./Photo credit:
Brewmasters may include animal ingredients in their products directly or through filtration. lists vegan friendly alternatives. Photo credit:
  • Becks
  • Blue Moon Belgium White
  • Budweiser
  • Bud Light
  • Corona
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • Sierra Nevada Stout
  • Michelob
  • Nut Brown Ale
  • Amstel Light
  • O’Doul’s Premium Non-Alcoholic Brew

Though for some people, St. Paddy’s Day wouldn’t be complete without hoisting a few of the 13 million pints of Guinness estimated to be consumed on St. Patrick’s Day. Unfortunately, not a good choice if you want to be animal friendly—ingredients like gelatin have been a part of the company’s brewing process since the 1800s.

Instead, why not try Black Raven Morrighan Stout or Moylan’s Dragoons Dry Irish Stout? They’re described as having the similar cascading affect and creamy head that Guinness is famous for, without any of those nasty animal by-products.

This is just a sampling of vegan-friendly beers. For a more comprehensive list—including wines and liquor—go to What’s  your favorite vegan beer?

— Lisa Singer, exclusive to Global Animal