The importance of vegan branding in the context of beer, wine, and spirits

The topic might seem bemusing, as one would probably not anticipate animal products to be used in beers, wine, and spirits, whether as ingredients or processing agents. Despite their widespread use, the wider alcohol industry has seen a slower uptake in the introduction of vegan product labels or supply-chain certifications. This could be explained in part by the findings of a 2018 European study which suggests that consumers show a low level of knowledge of wine’s nutritional properties and, consequentially, its ingredients.

However, the market of vegan alcohol represents a growing segment as the vegan certification on certain products, as well as vegan visual aids in-store, and filtering options on online platforms, is increasing the awareness of shoppers who might have not considered such products to contain animal derivatives.

Labeling of vegan products in an Australian liquor store


While many alcoholic beverages are vegan by default, animal products are often used as ingredients in beer, wine, and spirits. Dairy products such as milk or cream are sometimes added to beer and liqueurs for texture or flavouring in products such as Baileys, while whey, casein, and lactose can be used as ingredients in the brewing of milk stouts. Honey is also used as a sweetener, or fermented to obtain meads. Colouring of tinted beers and red liquors or cordials can include carmine (also known as cochineal), a red dye extracted from the dried bodies of certain female scale insects native to tropical and subtropical America. Campari, the Italian aperitif, amended some of its production in 2006 to an alternative colouring, but the dye is resurging in artisanal spirits.

Fining and processing

Fining in alcohol production is the process of filtering impurities and improving clarity resulting from sediments or ingredients suspended in the liquid giving it a cloudy appearance. Examples of products needing fining include certain cask ales and pasteurized beers due to suspended yeast, and wines with tannins. Commonly used animal derivatives used as clarifying agents at this stage include albumin (egg white protein), isinglass obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish, gelatine sourced from cow or pig collagen (skin, bones, cartilage), and skim cow’s milk.

Vegan alternatives exist and include bentonite clay, silica gel, or proteins derived from wheat, corn, legumes, potatoes, or other plants, and processes including centrifuging and filtering through paper. Château Dauzac, a domaine in the Bordeaux region of France, is the only Grand Cru producer with a vegan certification.

Growth in dairy-free liqueur

Dairy Free Vegan Licor 43, aihiki dairy free, and Baileys Almande dairy free

As this trend takes hold, products are being developed including established brands offering a vegan labeled alternative to a traditional offering. What is interesting in the branding of the Baileys Almande and liqor 43 Horchata is the embrace of the vegan label on the products and, in the case of Baileys, throughout their messaging. The Baileys promotional website includes words like “Why should non-vegans have all the fun?” and “Vegan Baileys. Yes, we know. Vegan. Baileys. A joyous blend of sweet almond oil, cane sugar and a touch of real vanilla. Creamy as anything, but with zero dairy…”, openly targeting the vegan segment with this alternative product, while Aihiki’s messaging is purposefully built on its promise of a vegan, dairy-free, and plant-based product. Amarula is also in the process of launching a plant-based, vegan-certified version of its liqueur which traditionally contains dairy products.

Regulations and certifications

While the European Commission is proposing to introduce the mandatory labeling of ingredients and nutrition declaration on alcoholic beverages, current requirements are not required for products with above 1% of alcohol content. In the United States, statements on carmine or cochineal extract are required, while the governance of product labeling makes it voluntary to list ingredients on most alcoholic beverages, and processing agents (used for fining or filtering), which do not remain in the product, are unlikely to be included. As such, it is through direct communication with brands, or voluntary product labeling, that individuals wanting to purchase products devoid of animal involvement can find information. However, resources have been consumer-created in order to support the purchase of vegan products.

Consumer-developed community resources

It has become common for groups of consumers to create helpful resources for their community. The vegan community makes use of the application HappyCow to crowdsource global information on the availability of vegan food outlets, and it is therefore unsurprising that information on the alcohol industry is supported by mobile applications and websites such as Barnivore and BeVeg, which also has a certification program.

On a personal note

I am personally very excited when I discover a new vegan alternative to a traditionally non-vegan product, or when I see a vegan section within my local liquor store or find a vegan label on a product. It will, for me, always result in a purchase, and often on purchases for friends and family members.

There’s a lot more where that came from! If you want to work with me, feel free to get in touch here.

Vegan investing – insights into this growing trend

As the market continues to tumble, with the ASX and Wall Street facing some of their worst days since the early 2020 dip, discussions of bear markets and a potential recession are leading to a mass share sell-off. Despite over 400 000 new retail investors entering the market since March 2020, discussions are being had on the rise of ethical consumption, and how this affects investor behaviour. An important note to consider here is that I am neither an expert in the share market nor a financial advisor. As such, this post is meant to illuminate how the finance industry and broader economic context are creating investment opportunities for ethical and vegan investing.

The rise in retail investors

If Australia reported a rise in new retail investors, so did the United States which saw over 15% of its trades placed by first-time investors in 2020. Discussing this new investor segment, Accenture’s Wealth Management Lead Managing Director Scott Reddel recommended using “approaches and channels that align with their behaviors and preferences”.

Supported by the development of new technology and advances in accessible trading platforms like Sharesies and Robinhood as well as increasingly digestible market information, Reddel suggests that portfolio managers and businesses should attempt to align with the causes that consumers care about, citing a recent survey finding that “84% of [North American] investors indicated they plan on purchasing ESG products in the next year”.

A logical development as major climate-change-led events are being experienced on a regular basis in all parts of the globe, portfolio managers are also modifying their investment behaviours. The findings of a 2022 report by asset management company Robeco, which surveyed 300 of the world’s largest institutional and wholesale investors, show that climate change plays a significant role in investment decisions, with 24% of respondents positioning climate change at the centre of their investment policy and 51% situating it is a ‘significant’ factor. But how does this relate to veganism?

Veganism and ethical investing

In an article published last year by The Guardian, Claire Smith, the chief executive of vegan investment platform Beyond Investing, considers that individuals who consider their consumption choices through an ethical decision-making process are “likely to be concerned about where their money is going”. With the impact of animal agriculture on the environment well documented, and I recommend readers to engage with information on this, linking veganism and ethical investing is coherent with current consumer movements. If one was to define vegan investing, it would be representative of investments in companies that have no link to animal agriculture industries.

However, the line gets blurry when other industries, such as mining, can still be involved in environmental destruction and habitat clearing, despite important mining being undertaken for alternative energy sources. Some companies are therefore making environmentally relevant claims while supporting industries that are themselves destructive.

‘Ethical’ investing and content generation

To educate consumers, mainstream platforms are running content specific to what they call ‘ethical’ investing. In Australia, this includes The Australian’s Money café and NABTrade’s Your Wealth (amongst others) which have both offered special episodes targeted toward ethical investing. However, definitions of ethics continue to be situated on a cultural spectrum, and as such vegan investors need to sieve through this advice and read the policies of ASX or internationally listed companies when choosing their investments, a marketing tool that is being used in the development of both banking and superannuation funds.

Superannuation funds and banking

Superannuation funds are responding to the growth in demand in ethical investing. Closely tied to the use of animals as resources as well as environmental causes, Australian Ethical Super states that members can be confident in their policies that steer clear of “investments that unnecessarily pollute, destroy, harm or exploit, like fossil fuels, weapons and animal cruelty”. This growing awareness of the topic has seen other superfunds offering their members the option to elect into environmental or ‘green’ portfolios. However, members remain at the mercy of the fund’s managers and their decision-making guidelines that lead to portfolio inclusion.

The banking sector has also responded to growing discontent surrounding animal agriculture and live export.

A relevant example is Bank Australia which has made one of its pillars its refusal to “lend to organisations that use intensive animal farming systems like battery caged hens and sow stalls, or organisations that export live animals”, a statement it has also used in its print and video advertising.

It will be interesting to see how the current financial and climate instability will impact consumer decisions and investments in the future.

On a personal note

I was recently interviewed by Simone Fox Koob from Australian newspaper The Age on the start of my investing journey in locked-down Melbourne. I encourage you to read the article which touches more specifically on the growth of young women in retail investing.

There’s a lot more where that came from! If you want to work with me, feel free to get in touch here.

Vegan baking – the new frontier of food luxury

Coined as one of the most rapidly growing areas of the food and drink industry, plant-based (vegan) food sales have been consistently rising and have been projected to reach upwards of $US162 billion by 2030, accounting for increased awareness surrounding the environmental and ethical problems associated with animal agriculture. As such, a recently released report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declares that “diets high in plant protein and low in meat and dairy are associated with lower greenhouse gas emissions”.

While there are many brands worldwide attempting to perfect meat replacements (like Impossible foods which I discussed in another post) and fighting the far-reaching influence of animal agriculture lobby groups on governments and labeling policies, an area still in its infancy and positioned for growth is baked goods and pastries. A Dupont market trend analysis mentioned that ‘tomorrow’s hit products will go far beyond imitating meat and dairy’. With accessibility growing for vegan cakes and cookies in many retailers, there is a small revolution happening in the world of upscale or luxury baking: plant-based pastry shops and bakeries. Culturally, fascination with baking has resulted in countless cookbooks and tv show competitions, from the most grotesque demonstration of the difficulties of baking to gravity-defying artistry, and some well-known names in pastry have embraced vegan baking to demonstrate their capacity for novelty and innovation while offering refined products for this consumer segment.

Laduree Plant-Based

Laduree’s Beverly Hills location

Analogous to Tiffany’s blue box, Ladurée’s pale green bag and boxes have been synonymous with the refinement and internationalisation of French pastries. The company (or Maison, which demonstrates the brand’s clear link between pastries and luxury fashion) was launched in 1872 by Louis Ernest Ladurée and now operates over 100 stores, restaurants, or stands in more than 20 countries.

In 2019, the brand announced a collaboration with prolific plant-based chef Matthew Kenney in making its Beverly Hills location completely vegan. Kenney stated that this represents an exercise in the reinterpretation of the essence of Laduree through plant-based ingredients. Transforming products traditionally made with egg whites and butter by using almond buttermilk and coconut oil, the brand’s classical macarons as well as croissants and pain-au-chocolat are part of the available offering while some of the products developed can be found in some of Laduree’s locations in Paris, New York, and Luxembourg.

Laduree’s vegan macarons

Known for international restaurant locations such as Plant food + wine, and his partnership with Four Seasons hotel under the Folia restaurant brand which can be found in the hotel’s Bahrain, Kuwait, Dubai, and Los Angeles locations, Kenney’s success demonstrates this definite inkling of luxury brands to cater to this demand.  


Harrods building in London

One of the world’s largest and most famous department stores, Harrods was opened in its current London location by Charles Henry Harrod in 1849. Modeled after the ‘Cathedral of Retail’ of the mid-19th century, Harrods is a multi-floor retail behemoth offering a variety of services which include different restaurants and food offerings. Australian-born Phil Khoury was recently profiled by the Sydney Morning Herald highlighting his position as Head Pastry Chef of the institution.

Branded as a plant-based pastry specialist, Khoury discussed that his focus on taste is the key to the bakery’s success, stating that he would “never say it is vegan beforehand because it needs to meet all our expectations and deliver on taste. That it’s vegan or plant-based is just a huge bonus.” Hinting that a cookbook is in the works, his appointment and self-branding highlight the rise in interest in vegan pastry from a commercial perspective.

Baccarat Hotel New York

While not associated with a celebrity chef, the Baccarat Hotel in New York, where one can experience a traditional British High tea, offers a vegan menu, the Queen Isabella II of Spain, for patrons who are so inclined and includes mushroom tartlettes; artichoke toast with arugula and fig; bergamotte choux and chocolate almond cookie amongst others.

Baccarat Hotel, New York

VG Patisserie

A pioneer within the vegan patisserie, VG Patisserie was opened in 2016 on Boulevard Voltaire in Paris by Bérénice Leconte, who authored two books; Pâtisserie Vegan in 2017, and a second tome dedicated to vegan choux pastry. In 2019, the brand launched a YouTube channel where it shares tips and techniques to recreate its products. The shop offers all traditional french pastries and baked goods including Madeleines, Paris-Brest, and Apollos.

VG Patisserie tartelettes


While the growth in vegan pastries and baking is apparent, the interest to invest in the development of this segment also takes into consideration allergies to eggs and dairy, which are growing globally. Bon Appetit, Conde Nast’s online cooking magazine, released a complete guide to vegan baking, with detailed information on the use of plant-based ingredients to replicate traditionally non-vegan recipes, another sign of the mainstreaming of this trend.

On a personal note

Years ago, I was gifted the VG Patisserie cookbook, which is beautifully presented and offers extensive and varied pastry recipes. However, pastry is a delicate process, better left to the experts! By offering these new products and the means to replicate them, I can foresee the segment growing, and for such products to become a part of high-end bakeries globally.

There’s a lot more where that came from! If you want to work with me, feel free to get in touch here.

The rise of vegan travel – how are airlines responding?

While the travel industry faces ongoing disruptions due to rising fuel costs and lack of staff following pandemic cuts, a surge in traveler confidence as many countries abandon pre-flight testing is leading to a perfect storm of supply and demand spawning higher prices. As a service business that often includes the provision of food, aviation is also needing to meet the increasing demand for plant-based products from its travelers.

Earlier this year, the New York Times published an article on the phenomenon of vegan travel, citing growth in “plant-centric hotels, restaurants, festivals and tours as veganism becomes increasingly associated with sustainable travel”. From the consumer side, online groups dedicated to sharing the vegan offerings of airlines and hotels have tens of thousands of members where travel knowledge is crowdsourced and the options, when provided, rated. Airlines that do not offer such options are shamed, a warning to others about individual experiences.


In January 2022, Emirates released a statement on their vegan meals being one of the most requested special meals onboard its flights, and noted an increase of 10% in vegan meals requests which it attributed to Veganuary, an international yearly movement that encourages individuals to adopt a plant-based diet during the month of January. The airline also offers a dedicated plant-based menu in its lounges in Dubai.

Vegan Mediterranean Salad offered at Emirates Premium Lounge in Dubai

United Airlines x Impossible Foods

Impossible Meatball Bowl, available exclusively to United Airlines customers

Another example is the recently announced partnership between United Airlines and Impossible foods, with the airline launching an exclusive Meatball Bowl available to first-class customers on the entirety of their domestic flights, while select Polaris lounges at Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, Newark, and San Francisco offer Impossible Sausages as part of their breakfast menu. The in-flight menu has been discussed by United Managing Director of Hospitality and Planning Aaron McMillan as a “really important part of the customer experience”, with travelers able to pre-order the Impossible Meatball Bowl before their flight.

Citing a September 2021 Nielsen report finding that more than half of U.S. consumers are increasing their plant-based food consumption while plant-based meats continue to gain market shares, United stated wanting their “food offerings to evolve and change along with people’s preferences”.

WestJet x Matt&Nat

Another example of vegan-inclusive collaboration within the travel space includes a partnership between Canadian brands WestJet and Matt & Nat where the latter is the provider of an exclusively designed range of amenity kits offered to business cabin passengers on transatlantic flights. As the first vegan-labeled accessories brand, Matt & Nat is renowned for pioneering the use of recycled plastic bottles within the lining of its products.

Matt & Nat amenity kits for WestJet business

On a personal note

While in pre-covid Australia, Jetstar, the budget arm of national airline Qantas, had introduced vegan options to its a-la-carte in-flight menu, I can say from personal experience that it was much harder to source a vegan item aboard a recent international flight despite having purchased a ticket that included a meal. However, the in-flight staff was extremely helpful with the provision of instant noodles and boiling water. As the price of travel rises, I personally wonder if the in-flight plant-based food offering is more of a bonus add-on than an actual selling point as inflation would push travelers to seek the more affordable flights, but I am definitely excited to see more airlines offering inclusive meals for their guests.

There’s a lot more where that came from! If you want to work with me, feel free to get in touch here.