Gone Vegan

Lindsay Hutton discovers the politics and pragmatics behind a meat and dairy-free diet.

Readers, it's day five of my vegan voyage and so far so good. I must apologize; I promised to furnish your very own vegan defense primer in this entry, but alas, my hard drive had other plans and died suddenly during an online viewing of last week's episode of The Office. Rest in peace. Steve Jobs and I need to have a little chat.

Moving forward, I wanted to share a few observations about how I've felt over the past few days. Generally, I feel fine; but I have noticed that I feel a bit funny, sort of like how one feels with a touch of caffeine or sugar withdrawal. On Saturday, I certainly began to feel aware that my body was beginning to notice something was missing. As a response, my digestive system has been requesting a bit more food, and I've tried to supplement my diet with a few more healthy fats and sugars to accomodate this. For example, a bit of organic peanut butter and celery as a mid-morning snack, and a few squares of dark chocolate (Cocoa Camino's organic dark chocolate comes in a variety of flavours, like Chile & Spice and Orange; likely some of creamiest, gorgeous tasting vegan chocolate to be had).

Also on Saturday, I decided to hit a local bar with a gaggle of chums. I'm a beer drinker (I am a Hamilton gal, after all) and as I placed my order, a friend of mine, atttempting a jibe, asked: "Lindsay!? Is that beer vegan?"

To be honest, I drew a blank. Attempting to read the ingredients on a beer bottle in a dimly lit, music club with a offensively terrible opening act isn't an easy undertaking, however. I queried the barkeep, a youngish miss clearly addicted to her hair straightener. I would gather she's a bit new to this whole customer service thing given the look she gave me. She didn't know, either (surprise surprise). I switched to gin and tonics for the remainder of the evening after asking to check out the bottle. My head didn't forgive me until well into the next day.

But yes, folks. It's true: not all beer, wines and spirits are vegan. Barnivore.com is the online project of several vegan folk who like their booze, and like it animal product-free. They submit queries to alcohol manufacturers and post the responses. Most popular brands and smaller, yet noteworthy labels are listed here.

For example, many winemakers use food-grade gelatin (a clarified animal fat derived from animals) in the wine fining (clarifying) process and have done so for centuries. Though most maintain very little of the gelatin remains in the finished product, it's still there. Many breweries utilize isinglass, a collagen derived from the swimbladders in fish, for the same purpose in beer. Most liquors are vegan-friendly, with a few exceptions.

I don't care if you're vegan or not, having one's inebriants sluiced through layers of boiled down lard is rather gag-inducing. What do you think?

Next on Gone Vegan: Lindsay's promised vegan defense primer!