Yes, it’s true. Animal byproducts are everywhere. They are even hiding in your Guinness beer…but not for much longer.
Before I became a vegetarian (and dabbled in veganisim), I had no idea that some beer companies use fish bladders in the brewing process. According to The New York Times, Guinness, the dark, bold Irish stout that resides on tap in bars across America, will no longer use isinglass, “a gelatinlike substance derived from the dried swim bladders of fish that is used to separate out unwanted solids like yeast particles from a brew.”
While this news is awesome for vegan and vegetarians drinkers (not surprisingly, the company decided to make the change because it wanted to get the attention of its would-be vegetarian and vegan drinkers), it's also great because this change is reducing the demand for fish parts. Farming fish for their parts contributes to over fishing and can harm the environment. Also: Who wants to drink something that's been put through a fish's bladder? God knows what other toxins are seeping into the beer, too. (While Guinness representatives say that the fish product is removed from the beer after it has served its purpose, trace amounts of the substance still remain in the beer.)
This is quite a big change for the company because Guinness has been using isinglass since the 19th century. (Guinness isn’t the only company that has used this fish product -- other companies throughout the brewing industry use it frequently, too -- so, make sure to do your homework before buying booze.)
To make Guinness a vegan beer, the company has invested in a “state-of-the-art filtration system at its St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin,” the Times reports. The Guinness company has resided at the same location since 1759. The change to Guinness' beer will begin at the end of 2016.
While this change will be a welcome one to vegans and vegetarians all over the world, it’s an especially welcome one to those who reside in Ireland. The Times spoke to Edmund Long, the spokesperson for Vegan Ireland, about the change. Prior to Guinness’ announcement, the group had been “writing letters and signing petitions for as long as he could remember, and they were delighted by the decision.”
“We are always happy to see another product become suitable for vegans, especially because this one is very iconic here in Ireland,” Long says. “It’s one of the products you associate with Ireland; Guinness is usually up there.”
We are pretty excited that feedback from vegan and vegetarian consumers is the "thing" that sparked the change with this traditional company. Let's hope more companies follow Guinness' lead and ditch the fishing industry (and toxins) in the near future.
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Image of Guinness Beer from Shutterstock