16th of March 2017
Vegans are often misunderstood. It’s not just a case of cutting out meat, fish and milk– it’s about avoiding all products linked to animals. But since coffee comes from a plant, there’s no problem – right?
Obviously the first step in making your coffee vegan is avoiding animal milk and luckily there are dozens of alternative sources these days including soya, rice, oats, almonds, cashews and coconuts. That’s easy enough to achieve whether you’re at home or drinking in a coffee shop.
And what about the impact on flavour?
Non-vegans might be surprised by the flavour of these milk alternatives and how well they blend with coffee. I recently had a rice-milk macchiato and it was creamy but at the same time beautifully light. I also tried a coffee with cashew milk – too sweet for me but it would definitely suit a different palate.
The problem is this – many seemingly vegan foods contain hidden ingredients that can be sourced to animals. For example, cow bones are often used to bleach and filter cane sugar. That’s a definite no-go zone for strict vegans. Syrups and non-dairy creamers may also contain hidden animal products.
And what about the coffee beans?
While the plant itself is totally vegan-friendly, the production methods may not meet the standards of strict vegans. They look at the wider picture, acknowledging the fact that some methods of coffee production cause significant damage to animal and plant life. Vegans should look out for certificates which prove the coffee has been grown in a responsible, environmentally-friendly manner. Key words to look out for are Certified Organic, Rainforest Alliance, Bird-friendly certified and shade-grown.
The same goes for disposable capsules, paper filters and cups, all of which create an enormous volume of waste which harms the environment and therefore has an impact on the animal world. By avoiding the use of single-use products, vegans actively reduce the negative impact of the coffee culture on animals and the natural world. Vegan or not, we could all take a leaf out of their book.