Shifting to a vegan lifestyle can be eye-opening. It's surprising to discover how many things we humans consume daily that are influenced by animals. While some food and beverages consume animal products or by-products, others influence the environment in such a way that's concerning.
One commonly asked question for new vegans is, "Is coffee vegan?" Here's everything you need to know about drinking this favored beverage in a way that fits your lifestyle.
Is Coffee Vegan?
In a black-and-white world, yes, coffee beans are vegan. In other words, the beans themselves have no animal products or by-products as an ingredient or used in processing. However, there are a few considerations that vegans need to be aware of when drinking coffee.
First and foremost, if you drink black coffee, congratulations! Your journey will be easier in this regard because coffee has tons of proven health benefits. However, if you're a Starbucks loving, creamer drinking coffee lover, you'll have to make some changes.
Another consideration is eco-friendly harvesting practices. If your ultimate goal as a vegan is to mitigate your impact on the environment, there are a few tweaks you can make to your coffee routine to make it more vegan-friendly.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind.
Vegan-Friendly Brewing Methods
If your goal is to be more environmentally friendly and mitigate the impact your experience has on our animal friends, consider your coffee brewing methods. Thankfully, drip machines use very little electricity in the grand scheme of things. However, those paper coffee filters add up over time. Consider swapping these out for a reusable filter.
According to the experts at Owly Choice, here are a lot of ways to make coffee without a traditional coffee maker. The most vegan-friendly and convenient way is to use a French Press.
Regardless of how you go about making your coffee, avoid Keurigs at all costs. The refuse from these single-use machines causes irreparable damage to the environment.
Using Organic Coffee Beans
Using organic coffee beans is a great way to take your vegan consumption to the next level. Organic coffee beans haven't been treated with harmful pesticides or herbicides that can harm animals that share the ecosystem where it's harvested.
Shade-Grown Coffee Beans
Coffee beans naturally grow in shaded canopies in tropical areas. However, farmers have discovered that they can grow beans faster in sunny areas by wiping out the natural surroundings and treating the beans. In other words, ecosystems are disrupted in the name of profit.
Buy brands that promote shade-grown coffee beans to mitigate your impact on the natural world.
Finding Dairy Alternatives
Finding dairy alternatives can be tricky as a vegan. Fortunately, there are simple fixes like almond or hemp milk. However, if you like lattes and frothy, fancy drinks, you'll need to read the fine print.
Some dairy-free creamers use animal-based stabilizers. Casein, for example, is derived from milk. Ironically, this is a common ingredient in dairy alternatives.
While you can make many coffee beverages with vegan products, such as soy lattes, some of your favorites may be completely off-limits. Fear not though, you can always make whipped cream at home with coconut.
Finding Sweetener Alternatives
While many of the flavored syrups you know and love are off-limits (here's looking at you pumpkin spice), there are plenty of options available. When you use sugar, read the fine print to ensure that no non-vegan processing additives were used. While honey may be out, agave syrup is a great alternative.
The Cup Situation
If you really want to make a difference and save the animals, stop using disposable cups. The world uses 16 billion disposable coffee cups each year. If you're not using a reusable cup most of the time, then you're contributing to the issue.
As you can see, there are levels of complexity to consider when determining if coffee is vegan. To make the biggest positive impact, do your best to change your coffee consumption process as a whole, rather than just focusing on ingredients.