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A Sip 'n' a Puff

Some people say that if you smoke and drink wine then you are not a vegan. And, to a degree, they may be right in saying so, depending on what you might be sipping on.

Animal products are used in the manufacturing process of some wines (never mind the chameleons which get accidentally harvested at some vineyards), but there are vegan wines and other alcoholic products available. Smoking is not vegan due to the tobacco industry's widespread involvement in animal testing. There is speculation that cigarettes also contain animal products but I have not found anything to confirm this.


Some alcoholic drinks contain animal products - photo courtesy of Johnny Greig:

Animal products are sometimes used in the manufacturing process of alcoholic beverages, but on occasion some are made with animal products/by-products as an ingredient of the drink itself, e.g. Campari is made with cochineal (red crushed scales of a female insect).

Below is a list of non vegan alcohol fining agents which speed up the removal of insoluble products. Clarification can occur naturally but the process is slow and there are vegan alternatives available to those below:

  • Isinglass - a form of gelatin made from the internal membranes of fish bladders
  • Gelatin - made from the collagin of animal skin and bones
  • Chitin - made from lobster and/or crab shells
  • Egg - egg whites or albumen
  • Bone charcoal - ash from animal bones
  • Casein - milk protein
  • Ox blood - not used often anymore

Dairy products and honey are also sometimes used as drink ingredients, such as in cream liqeuers.

Most likely to be not vegan are beers, fortified wines and cider. But fear not, you need not settle for straightedgedom as we have now created our own vegan alcohol sections for sifting through the nasties: wines, beers/ciders, spirits/liqueurs and other alcoholic drinks.

Also, because of Germany's 18th Century brewing purity law which requires natural clearing processes and ingredients, all lagers brewed in Germany are vegan.

We call on all governmental food and beverage agencies to bring the various alcoholic beverage industries into line with other food production industries and pass laws that require they print all ingredients on their packaging.

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Cigarettes are horrifically dangerous to our health and the health of those around us. They are killing, no! - slowly torturing then killing - our planet and the animals that reside on it. They are also routinely tested on animals.

Animal Testing

Testing the act of smoking on animals allowed the tobacco industry to hide the connection between smoking and cancer for decades since the tested beagles did not develop cancer. Although there was a clear link between smoking and cancer, doctors were encouraged to keep quiet and government was not willing to take on the tobacco companies and so the testing continued (and still does) and the public remained confused.

Cigarettes are still regularly tested on animals

In one instance, 12 out of 86 traumatised beagles did get cancer. This test was done by the American Cancer Society and was proof that smoking does cause cancer, the thousands of human smokers who had developed cancer as a result, was not enough proof it seems.

In the 1990s studies by the tobacco industry itself conducted a series of tests on animals and concluded that second hand smoke was not dangerous to your health.

Government, tobacco companies and, yes, even anti smoking groups spend millions annually, testing cigarettes on animals when human studies have shown time and time again that tobacco is harmful to your health and to those around you.

"At this very moment, pregnant monkeys at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center (ORPRC) are being kept in small, barren metal cages, their fetuses exposed to nicotine. Funded by the United States Government, ORPRC experimenter Eliot Spindel acknowledges that 'the deleterious effects of maternal smoking during pregnancy are all too well established.' Yet his 5 year study, during which he will kill baby monkeys and dissect their lungs, is funded (with tax money) through 2004."

"Animal experiments failed notoriously to demonstrate a smoking-cancer connection for over half a century . If the greatest killer of our time was promoted by physicians based on animal experiments, there is obviously something terminally wrong with the system." C. Ray Greek, MD

Health and environment

Although not strictly a vegan issue, smoking cigarettes is bad for the environment and personal health. It is estimated that in every 1 year, trillions of cigarette filters are discarded into the environment. The filter core of most cigarettes is a plastic called cellulose acetate which can take anywhere between 18 months and 10 years to decompose. Discarded cigarette filters also contain tar, arsenic and ammonia, which seep into the ground, contaminating waterways via storm drains, and causing damage and ill health to living organisms.

Of course, it is also now known and commonly accepted that smoking cigarettes and other such items can cause cancer, cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

It's not always easy to give up the things that we are used to and (to a certain degree) enjoy for the sake of another, be it for the environment, animals or fellow man. However, with a little research and preparation, you can find a favourite tipple that both you and your conscience enjoy!

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