Monday, May 26, 2008

My friend Jack, who is vegan, recently informed me about the use of animal products -- particularly gelatin -- in beer production, and how it's low on the radar of most folks.

While I'm not at all vegan (or even vegetarian for that matter) I am friends with many people of both persuasions (hey, more sausages for me!). Out of respect for my friends' dietary choices and their full enjoyment of a cold one, this is of concern to me.

Also, it's not just veggies who get the shaft when beer companies use animal products rather than say, the more innocuous seaweed, as their clarifying agent. It's also bad juju for folks who follow kosher Jewish dietary restrictions (forget about having certain beers with a grilled cheese!), some followers of Hinduism, and folks who do not eat beef products, or who avoid certain types of beef (gelatin being of particular concern). It is also off-putting to folks like me who see using animal products in this case as unnecessary and strange, as well as sneaky and insensitive on the part of breweries to not be more forthright with consumers -- even if, admittedly, people with dietary restrictions should be vigilant.

I don't understand this choice by breweries, even if it is a cost-cutting measure, again because there exists a less controversial alternative in seaweed. By using animal products they are alienating a small but significant portion of their market, and by keeping it on the down low they're opening themselves up to lawsuits.

Anyway, lucky for you the internets are here so you can find a safe beer for your next mixed-diet BBQ!

And what do you know? NorCali craft beer represent! Yay for two of my favorites -- Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in the town of my collegiate alma mater, and the Bay Area's finest Anchor Brewing Company -- being given the all-clear.

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Blogger Mark said...

It's also pretty much standard practice in the wine trade, too.

May 26, 2008 at 12:29:00 PM PDT  
Blogger saudade said...

Yeah, I was really surprised! That site I mention for beer also has a wine section, as well as one for liquor. Sake is apparently a big no-no for vegetarians.

May 26, 2008 at 12:39:00 PM PDT  

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