It’s not only foods that are or are not vegan, but alcohol too.
Some alcohols are made with honey or have milk in them – Bailey’s Irish Cream, Kahlua, and milk stouts for example – but the less obvious non-vegan drinks also use animal products during the filtering process.
Beers and wine use ingredients like gelatin (made from animal bones and other tissues) to remove sedimentation that can cause the drink to look cloudy. There are alternatives, such as silica, that do the job just as well and are vegan-friendly.
Here is a short guide of alcoholic (vegan) beverages available in Rwanda:
All Bralirwa beers: Heineken, Primus, Mützig, Amstel
Guinness (Original and Foreign Extra Stout)
(Skol did not get back to me by time of publication, so I cannot confirm if their products Skol and Virunga are vegan or not)
Unfortunately, the most popular wine available in Rwanda, Drostdy-Hof, is not vegan. They use gelatine and egg albumin (proteins) in their refining process. Nederburg wines are not vegan.
I could not find information about most of the other popular wines, like Cellar Cask,
Speaking to a friend of mine in the wine business, he suggests that if the bottle isn’t specifically labeled as vegan, you should assume that it’s not.
However, I spoke to the Kigali Wine Club and they have imported some vegan wines that you can purchase.
But when it comes to wine, err on the side of caution.
Almost all spirits – aside from the ones that obviously have animal products in them as mentioned above), are vegan. I’ve named just a few of the most common products below.
Smirnoff (most varieties)
Stoli (most varieties)
J&B is vegan
Bols (most varieties)
I used Barnivore and vegansa websites to do my research. Barnivore is easy to use to see if that drink you’re eyeing is vegan or not but be warned, many brands (particularly wine) available in Rwanda have not yet made it to the site.
For more information and inspiration, follow me on Instagram @vegan_in_rwanda