Is Vinegar Really Vegan?

nother vinegar question the other day.

Another vinegar question popped up a few days ago.

Regan wanted to know whether all vinegars were vegan. Regan was concerned that some vinegars were derived from whey and that others were filtered with isinglass.

While we already addressed this question a while back, I realized that we did not discuss the filtering process.

As the original Is It Vegan Vinegar post states:

Vinegar comes in many varieties and is made by fermenting ethanol into aceyic acid.  This starts with a plant base (grapes, apples, barley) which is then fermented or distilled into wine, beer or malt, and then further fermented to yield a vinegar. Vinegars can also be infused with fruits and herbs which enhance their flavor profiles. The only animal based exception I found is honey vinegar, which would not be vegan as honey is used as the flavoring agent. However, honey vinegar is fairly rare, at least here in the US and will likely be labeled specifically.

I have never heard of or subsequently read about any vinegar that comes from whey.

When researching whether or not isinglass is used in filtering, it seems to me that while that is a method that can be used, it is not very popular. I took the liberty of contacting Heinz, a major manufacturer of many vinegars to see if they used isinglass. They did not:

June 28, 2011
Dear Melissa,
Thank you for visiting our web site.
Heinz vinegar is not filtered through isinglass. It is considered suitable for vegetarians.
Thanks again for contacting us.  We appreciate your interest.
Heinz Consumer Resource Center
Heinzconsumeraffairs@us.hjheinz.com

We certainly can’t speak for every vinegar manufacturer out there, but I feel confident with vinegar’s vegan status.

17 thoughts on “Is Vinegar Really Vegan?

  1. The isinglass would be used for clearing the fermented brew of yeast & sugars, not sure if they would use it to clear the vinegar. So it could be used on the precursor to vinegar the beer, wine etc.

    The question to Heinz should be are all their ingredients and processes vegan -i.e. they might be buying in ready made non-vegan beer and using it.

    1. This has to be outlawed. You can sue all the companies for putting stuff in your drink that are not labelled in the content.

  2. My underestanding is that vinegar eels (Turbatrix aceti) grow on pretty much all vinegar, and are killed and filtered out before bottling for commercial distribution. These are not microorganisms, they are visible to the naked eye.

    1. I had never heard of this. From the reading I’ve seen, the bacteria and yeasts are filtered off BEFORE the eels show up, in modern vinegar production.

  3. I know this is a pretty old post, but just adding my two cents. I’m from Germany and the vegan community over here pretty much came to the conclusion (through research and contacting tons of different manufacturers) that most vinegars are in fact non vegan. Except for basic white vinegar, which is made from simple alcohol.Most others are made from wines or beer or fruit juices and thoses are usually cleared up “to please the eye” before being sold or made into vinegar. That can be achieved by either using isinglass, gelatin or a mechanical process, So one really has to ask the manufacturers every single time.

    1. I’m glad someone knows the stoic truth concerning this issue. You Germans are so awesome – thanks for the heads up!

  4. “hi.

    i emailed heinz about apple cider and distilled vinegar. here is the reply:

    May 14, 2015
    Dear Ben,

    Thank you for visiting our website.

    The Heinz Vinegar is not considered vegan.

    Thanks again for contacting us. We appreciate your interest.

    Heinz Consumer Resource Center
    HeinzConsumerAffairs@us.hjheinz.com

    When contacting us, please refer to the following reference number: 004045604A”

    1. B. did you respond asking why? Their response leaves lots of room for interpretation (certified vegan vs …).

      1. yeah.
        i asked them if to explain what makes it not vegan. i asked about isinglass and gelatin filtration.
        they took about 2 months to reply to the 1st email.

        it’s confusing, because i emailed them last year about malt vinegar. they said that it’s vegan.

        i’m a strict vegan. but i don’t think that i will totally avoid vinegar. i eat a lot of salsa, mustard, ketchup, etc.

      2. hi.

        you’re right about certification.
        they didn’t answer the question about isinglass and gelatin though.

        “May 21, 2015
        Dear Ben,

        Thank you for visiting our website.

        Although the Heinz Vinegar is meatless, the products are not considered vegan because they are not certified as such.

        Thanks again for contacting us. We appreciate your interest.”

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