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As per this Wikipedia article many wines are apparently made using a catalyst that is an animal byproduct. The finings settle to the bottom and are removed. So when consuming the wine, there are no animal products in it. Would this be considered vegan?

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    This is answered by another Q&A but that one's asking about "vegetarian" rather than "vegan" -- what are our community thoughts on whether it's a duplicate or just highly similar? – Erica Apr 18 '18 at 13:09
  • @Erica I guess the question here is whether something that does not contain animal ingredients in measurable quantities but uses them deliberately in its manufacture is considered vegan... that comment on the answer is more pertinent than the answer itself to this I think. Maybe this question makes space for a different kind of answer compared to the other one. I'm not sure – Zanna Apr 18 '18 at 13:40
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    There will always be trace quantities of the animal product remaining in the wine, even once it's "all" been removed – David Richerby Apr 18 '18 at 17:55
  • Possible duplicate of Why are a lot of beer and wines non-vegetarian? – Nic Apr 18 '18 at 18:12
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    I am voting to leave this question open as I agree with Zanna's thought that this question makes space for a different kind of answers. – Alexander Rossa Apr 18 '18 at 19:48
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The Vegan Society UK currently defines veganism as a lifestyle which seeks to avoid exploitation of animals and further clarifies that this means the avoidance of animal products and byproducts.

One thing all vegans have in common is a plant-based diet avoiding all animal foods such as meat (including fish, shellfish and insects), dairy, eggs and honey - as well as products like leather and any tested on animals.

Based on this definition, any wines that use animal parts such as isinglass (fish swim bladders) as catalysts or finings would not be considered suitable for vegans because the process causes unnecessary harm to animals. There are many wines that are made without using animal parts as ingredients or in processing, and Barnivore is a great resource for identifying those wines.

Many vegans will also avoid mead wine because it is created by fermenting honey with water and honey may be an ingredient of concern for vegans. It is interesting to note that early in the history of the Vegan Society the focus was exclusively on animal ingredients in food and didn't extend to concerns like leather or honey, so at the time mead would have been considered suitable for vegans.

Personally, I make a point of selecting vegan-suitable wines when I'm the one purchasing, but when somebody else is offering me a glass of wine I won't reject it based on the possibility that animal products may have been used in the process.

  • I would argue that this definition is incorrect and does not match the commonly understood dictionary definition (see e.g. Merriam Webster, OED, etc.). Vegans also include people who avoid animal products for health reasons, religious reasons, etc. The term is not just limited to those who choose the diet for ethical reasons. – JBentley Apr 18 '18 at 23:40
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    @JBentley Your interpretation, written as an answer to this question, would be a valuable addition to the site. The definition I have provided may not be your favourite but it is one that is widely recognized. – Nic Apr 19 '18 at 0:48
  • Wine is also made with sugar which could be not vegan/vegetarian due to the bleaching with bone char. Also, Barnivore asks for the ingredients of the wine but, as they point out on their FAQ page, they don't go to the extend of asking whether the glue used for the labels is vegan. – Petar Vasilev Apr 28 '18 at 17:19
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No, that wine would not be considered vegan.

The relevant question to ask yourself in general is not: Are there animal parts in this food?

Instead, the question to ask is: Were animals used at any point in the process of creating this food?

  • Would yeast count as an animal/animal parts? – BruceWayne Apr 18 '18 at 17:34
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    What does this mean for plants grown with manure? – carrizal Apr 18 '18 at 17:36
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    @BruceWayne Yeast are fungi. – SevenSidedDie Apr 18 '18 at 17:49
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    @Carrizal that veganism is avoiding animal commodification as far as is possible and practical, and that if you decide that plants grown with manure isn't either of those, then it's not vegan. – Adonalsium Apr 18 '18 at 18:03
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    @carrizal Indeed. It's impossible to totally avoid harming animals. Somebody once told me you can't grow soya without killing mice and it's easy to imagine other examples. For whatever reason, even many vegetarians are sufficiently grossed out by the processes used in winemaking to demand product labelling. But people don't think much about what died or was tormented so the grapes could grow... I think ethical veganism is aspirational. It is an effort, a gesture, towards non-violence. It will not work as an absolutist position. – Zanna Apr 18 '18 at 20:59
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Veganism is not about what vegans eat. That is to say, what they eat is a major consequence of veganism, but it is not the primary concern. Instead, a vegan's goal is to try to eliminate unnecessary animal suffering caused by humans.

Given this, the reason that vegans don't eat animal products is because purchasing animal products economically supports animal suffering. Similarly, purchasing leather products economically supports animal suffering. And likewise, wine processed using animal products is not vegan, because purchasing it economically supports the purchase of those animal products, which in turn supports animal suffering.

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    Veganism is about different things to different people. Some are avoiding animal products in their food for health reasons, while some are primarily concerned about the ethics of unnecessary animal suffering or climate change. Some who identify as vegan would find the wine acceptable to their world view, others would would not. – Mark Stosberg Apr 18 '18 at 23:24
  • If someone maintains a vegan diet only for health or environmental reasons, they are not a vegan in the original sense. A few terms that could be used to describe such people are: plant-based, strict vegetarian, or even vegan, for convenience. However, if a product is to be considered vegan, it should be vegan in the original sense. – Vaelus Apr 18 '18 at 23:45
  • @Vaelus Take a minute to google the "No True Scotsman" fallacy. – SGR Apr 19 '18 at 10:25
  • Thanks, @SGR. The biggest gains for vegan ideals will come from a broad shift in meat reduction, not a few "True Scotsman" vegans who perfectly match all the original criteria. – Mark Stosberg Apr 19 '18 at 15:46
  • I should clarify. If a product is to be considered vegan, it should use the strictest common definition of vegan, so that it is suitable for the vast majority of vegans. In this case, it happens that the strictest definition is also the original definition. – Vaelus Apr 20 '18 at 0:51
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I recently took a trip on British Airways; the wines on offer were labelled as either "suitable for vegetarians" or "suitable for vegans and vegetarians." I assume the former had been fined with egg whites or similar.

But clearly according to at least some authorities not all wine is suitable for vegans.

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Would you eat bread sliced with a knife that just sliced a steak or cheese? This bread is no longer strictly vegan. I believe this to be the same principal as the wine you brought up, in essence this wine is NOT vegan, as some form of animal product has been used in the making of the wine even if this product is not an ingredient in the wine, this is similar to our sliced bread.

If no animal products are used in the making of this wine, then this wine would be considered vegan friendly.

Not sure if your wine is vegan friendly? There's a helpful online directory to help.

Edit: There are many reasons (such as ethics, health or religion) as to why someone chooses to have a vegan diet. My summary may not cover every ones personal reasons.

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    I appreciate your response, but the fundamental difference with your bread analogy is that with the bread, there is no intent to add non-vegan remnants to the bread. In the wine situation, animals were intentionally killed in order to produce that wine. The way I approach following a vegetarian lifestyle is by asking myself, "Will my actions promote the further suffering of animals?" I do hear what you're saying though. It would, at the very least, be rude, to cut a steak and then with the same knife slice bread to serve to someone on a vegan diet, not to mention the potential health concerns. – SquidInc. Apr 18 '18 at 21:08
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    @SquidInc. You're assuming that veganism is only concerned with ethical considerations ("does it harm an animal?") but some choose the diet for other reasons, such as health or religion. In these contexts, the intent is irrelevant: the food either contains animal products or it does not. – JBentley Apr 18 '18 at 23:44
  • I've amended my answer to clarify that each person have their reasons for choosing a vegan diet, as such my answer may not cover every situation. – Violet Flare Apr 19 '18 at 13:32

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