When making the switch to a vegan diet, it can be easy to overlook non-food items. When it comes to drinks, your favourite soft drinks and alcoholic beverages alike may not be vegan friendly. This can be both because of the ingredients contained within them as well as the manufacturing processes. Because drinks do not always have clear labelling, both in terms of the ingredients they contain as well as whether they are vegan friendly, it’s important to do your research before buying them.

In this post, we will look specifically at beers sold in the UK to give you the lowdown on which ones are vegan and which you should avoid.

Why is beer not always vegan friendly?


Beer is typically made from water, hops, yeast and barley malt which makes it naturally vegan. However, it is, unfortunately, the case that some producers of beer add finings during the brewing process. Finings are used as part of the filtration process to remove organic compounds or to improve flavour, aroma or clarity.

However, finings are not vegan friendly or cruelty-free. This is because they are typically animal-derived. There are several ingredients to watch out for in beers – as well as other alcoholic drinks such as cider or wine – if you are following a vegan diet. These are:

  • Isinglass – this is derived from the bladders of fish
  • Gelatin – derived from collagen sourced by boiling animal body parts (typically those from cows and pigs)
  • Glycerin – Derived from animal fats (although there is a plant-based version of this derived from vegetable oils)
  • Casein – derived from mammal milk

It is also worth noting that some beers – as well as wines and ciders – contain eggs, milk or honey although these are less common.

The most common reason why manufacturers choose to use the above ingredients is aesthetic – to give their beers a clearer appearance.

Which beers are vegan-friendly?


If you are living a vegan lifestyle, you will be happy to know that there are plenty of good beers sold in the UK that do not contain animal-derived ingredients. The following popular beers, sold in the UK (the same brands can differ in ingredients when sold in other countries so watch out for this!) contain no ingredients which required the killing or exploitation of animals to produce:

  • Beck’s and Becks Vier
  • Stella Artois
  • Budweiser
  • Carlsberg and Carlsberg Export
  • Bavaria
  • Grolsch
  • Cobra
  • Heineken
  • Peroni
  • Hoegaarden
  • San Miguel
  • Tennents
  • Guiness
  • Corona

Which popular beers contain animal-derived ingredients?


Sadly, many of the popular beer brands sold in the UK do contain animal-derived ingredients. If you are vegan, it’s important to be aware of this so you can avoid them. Here is a list of some of the most popular beers sold in the UK which are NOT vegan friendly:

  • Carling
  • Amstel
  • Foster’s
  • Coors and Coors Light
  • Kronenbourg 1664
  • Pravha
  • Staropramen

Additional considerations when buying beers…


It is important to note that the same branded beers may be vegan friendly when produced in the UK, but not abroad and vice versa. You should therefore always double check with a quick Google search before drinking a beer abroad which is vegan friendly in the UK. In fact, some beers which are not vegan in the UK are in other countries. An example of this is Kronenbourg 1664 which is not vegan in the UK but is when produced and sold in France.

It is also important to note that manufacturers are at liberty to change their recipes, ingredients and manufacturing processes when they choose. As such, although this list is accurate at time of writing, it should be used as a general guide only. You may wish to double check whether an individual beer is vegan friendly in the UK before buying. This can be done easily with a quick Google search.

Finally, as well as beers, animal derived ingredients can also be found in a whole range of other alcoholic beverages as well as soft drinks so please watch out for this and do your research before buying!