Is Tequila Vegan? Ah, Tequila – that liquid you put in a small glass, then lick some salt off your hand, drink from the aforementioned small glass, and then suck on a wedge of lime. It is a rite of passage for anyone aged under 30. But there is so much more to Tequila than just drinking shots. From Margaritas to Bloody Marias (no you didn’t read that wrong – “Bloody Marys” are with Vodka) to just enjoying it one sip at a time, Tequila is a big thing. And it is not just limited to us. Celebrities are firm aboard the Tequila bandwagon with everyone from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, to AC/DC, back to Nick Jonas, and finally Justin Timberlake all having their own tequila brands. For some celebrities, like George Clooney and his partner Rande Gerber, it has been super big business (they sold their Tequila brand Casamigos to Diageo for a whopping $1 billion). Having recently moved to California I have found myself more and more drawn to Tequila-based drinks (California is the largest drinker of Tequila in the USA by a long shot – see what I did there). This naturally got me thinking about what is Tequila? How is it made? What is the difference between Tequila and Mezcal? Does Tequila really contain worms? And, most importantly – Is Tequila Vegan?
Is Tequila Vegan?
As a general rule, most Tequilas are vegan. Contrary to popular belief, Tequila does not contain worms. The only non-vegan Tequila to watch out for are cream tequilas which contain cream, as well as the occasional brand such as Tres Agaves which states their Tequilas are not vegan.
SPOILER ALERT – Tequila has been by far the most vegan-friendly liquor I have come across – bar the worms (but we will get to that). In fact, a rough and ready calculation of the vegan vs non-vegan tequilas on Barnivore shows just 4% of tequilas as not vegan vs 96% of tequilas as vegan. Happy dance. Now let’s celebrate with a marg!
What about other Liquor?
Want to know if your favorite Gin or Vodka is vegan? Or how about an easy-to-find complete guide to everything a vegan must know about liquor? If yes, then check out my other articles below:
- Is Liquor Vegan? The Complete Guide To All Major Liquors
- Is Vodka Vegan? Hidden Surprises To Know About in Vodka
- Is Gin Vegan? How To Really Tell Vegan Gins Apart
What is Tequila?
Tequila is a Mexican alcoholic distilled alcoholic beverage made from the Blue Agave plant (also known as Agave Tequilana). Real Tequila does not contain worms (that is it’s brother Mezcal which we will talk about separately) and it must be made from at least 51% Blue Weber Agave and bottled at or above 40 percent ABV to be called Tequila.
In addition, in the US the ATF defines “Tequila” as “a distinctive product of Mexico. Tequila must be made in Mexico, in compliance with the laws and regulations of Mexico governing the manufacture of Tequila for consumption in that country”. If it isn’t made in Mexico, to Mexican standards, it isn’t Tequila.
The higher the percentage of Blue Agave used in Tequila the more expensive it tends to be.
How is Tequila Made?
Tequila is made by baking agave core (known as piña). This baking process extracts the fermentable sugars from the piña. The baked piña is then shredded and crushed to extract the fermentable juice from inside the plant (which is called mosto). The mosto is then mixed with yeast and water and left to ferment to start the process of converting the sugar from the Agave into alcohol.
Once the fermentation is completed the mixture is distilled to extract, purify, and concentrate the alcohol from the fermented mixture. Tequila will typically undergo two distillations to produce a clear Tequila.
In the final stage, the Tequila is aged. All Tequila must be aged for a minimum of 14 to 21 days. This aging process produces different types of Tequila. Aging usually takes place in oak barrels which can give aged Tequila a golden-brown color.
Types of Tequila
- Silver or blanco tequila is aged for the least amount of time.
- Reposado is aged for two months to two years.
- Añejo is aged for one to three years.
- Extra Añejo is aged for over three years.
- Joven or Ovo is Silver Tequila mixed with Reposado Tequila
So, What Is Mezcal?
If you are walking down the Tequila aisle you may also come across something called Mezcal. A close relative of Tequila, Mezcal differs in that it can be made from any type of Agave plant in blends or by itself. Most often it is made from a blend of different Agave plants. Remember, Tequila must be made from at least 51% Blue Agave.
To put this into context there are around 200 species of agave of which 40 to 50 can be used in Mezcal. The result is a much more diverse and varied flavored drink. Some Mezcals can even contain over 40 different types of agaves.
Where Does The Worm Come In?
We have covered Tequila, we have covered Mezcal – now let’s talk about worms, but not any worms, “Tequila Worms”.
One of the most popular Google searches when it comes to Tequila is the question “Is Tequila vegan worm”. Let’s dig to the bottom of this (see what I did there).
Real Tequila does not contain any worms in the bottle. However, Mezcal can have worms. The good news is that not all Mezcals will contain worms. You see the worm is not actually a worm, but a larva from two types of moths that live on the agave plant. The worms are called gusano and bottles of Mezcal that contain them are called con gusano.
Is Mezcal Vegan?
If a Mezcal says CON GUSANO avoid it – it is not vegan as it contains worms.
The oddest thing is that no one really knows why the worm is added. Some say it changes the flavor, others say it shows the quality of the alcohol to be able to pickle and preserve the larva – some people even believe it gives you magic powers. It is mostly just a marketing tactic.
Is Tequila Vegan – Brand Breakdown
For ease of reference, I have put together a table summarizing the vegan status of some of the main tequila brands as well as some of the non-vegan tequila to watch out for. I will then separately go through each of the main Tequila brands.
|Vegan Tequila Brands||Non-Vegan Tequila Brands|
|Casamigos Tequila||Tequila Rose (contains cream)|
|1800 Tequila||Tres Agaves (although not known why)|
|Sierra Tequila (although the glue used to stick the labels is not vegan)|
|Patron Tequila (but not the XO Cafe Coffee Liquor which contains sugar)|
Is Casamigos Tequila Vegan?
Unless you have been living under a rock you will have heard about Casamigos tequila which was co-founded by George Clooney.
Yes, all varieties of Casamigos Tequila, including Blanco, Reposado, and Anejo are vegan. The Casamigos Mezcal is also vegan and does not contain a worm in the bottle. You can find Casamigos Blanco tequila on Instacart here.
Is Tequila Rose Vegan?
Tequila Rose Strawberry Cream is not vegan as it contains dairy cream.
Is Sierra Tequila Vegan?
Sierra Tequila does not contain any animal ingredients and the tequila itself is vegan. Although it is worth mentioning that the glue used to stick the labels is not vegan – this may be an issue for strict vegans.
Is Espolon Tequila Vegan?
Espolon Tequila is vegan.
When I was reading the tasting notes of Espolon’s Resposado, Anejo, and Anejo X tequilas I noticed tasting notes of honey and caramel, which obviously made me question if these varieties were vegan. Looking into their production process, which is described in detail on their website, it looks like the honey-tasting notes come from the piñas themselves (the heart of the agave plant). The caramel-tasting notes come from pressure-cooking the piñas to caramelize them as well as the column still distillation. Pretty cool to know that caramel and honey taste doesn’t always need to come from animal sources. You can treat yourself to a bottle of Espolon tequila from Amazon here.
Is Patron Tequila Vegan?
One of the most well-known and popular Tequila brands, Patron is Vegan (despite having a bee for a logo).
The only thing to note is that their XO Café, a tequila-based coffee liquor, contains sugar. Presumably, Patron can’t be sure that the sugar used is vegan and that is why they highlighted the presence of sugar in Barnivore. Sugar in the US can be processed with bone char. There is often no way of knowing if sugar has been processed with bone char or not unless it is beet sugar or unless it is labeled as raw or organic.
Patron tequilas are also additive-free. Here is a description of what additive-free means from their website –
“Patrón is verified additive-free, which means that we do not add anything to our tequila that alters the taste, smell, or color. No ingredients, such as glycerin, food coloring, synthetic agave, or oak extracts are added to enhance flavor or appearance.
Patrón received the additive-free distinction from Tequila Matchmaker.”
Glycerin and food colorings can be non-vegan so this is great to know. You can treat yourself to a bottle of Silver Patron from Instacart here.
Is 1800 Tequila Vegan?
1800 Tequila is vegan including its Silver, Coconut, Anejo, Reposado, Christalino, Milenio, and Coleccion varieties. You can treat yourself to the Silver on Instacart here.
Also, if you are a fan of Coconut flavored drinks then 1800 Tequila’s Coconut Tequila is vegan. This is particularly interesting as often similar Coconut Vodkas are not vegan. If you want to learn why or just more about Vegan Vodka check out my piece: Is Vodka Vegan? Hidden Surprises To Know About In Vodka.
Is Teremana Tequila Vegan?
Can you smell what The Rock is brewing (okay, I was a wrestling fan as a kid)? Enter Teremana, the Tequila Brand made by Dwayne Johnson. And yes, Teremana Tequila is vegan – you can treat yourself to a bottle from Amazon here.
Is Tres Agaves Tequila Vegan?
Tres Agaves Tequila is NOT vegan. This is according to a product list they sent Barnivore listing vegan and non-vegan product lines. The Tres Agaves Anejo, Blanco, and Reposado tequilas are all not vegan, although it is not clear why not.
Is Tequila Vegan – Margarita Time
It’s five o’clock somewhere, right, and that means it is Margarita time. The Margarita is the signature cocktail for Tequila (it is what an Old Fashioned is to Whiskey, the Gin & Tonic to Gin, or the Mojito is to Rum). But, what is a Margarita, and is it vegan?
What Is a Margarita?
A Margareta is a cocktail made of three main ingredients –
It is often served with salt on the rim of the glass (normally a glass like this which you can find on Amazon by clicking here).
Are Margarita Ingredients Vegan?
Let’s look at the typical Margarita ingredients and see if they are vegan or not:
See above. Almost always vegan (with a few exceptions).
The most used orange liquor is Cointreau which is vegan – you can find it on Instacart here. Grand Marnier is often used instead which is also vegan (it is available on Instacart here). Or alternatively, Triple Sec (an orange flavor liquor) is used which is almost always vegan.
Vegan if it is freshly squeezed lime juice because whether you can believe this not all juices are. This is something I learned while writing my article Is Orange Juice Vegan? Revealing Why you Need To Know. Limes can be found on Amazon here.
Are Margaritas Vegan? If it is properly made using fresh ingredients, then yes it will be vegan. If ordering in a bar it is always worth double-checking the ingredients (some fancy margaritas could have a dash of honey added for example).
Are Margaritas Vegan – Things to Look Out For?
The main thing to look out for when having a Margarita is the use of pre-made margarita mixes. Here are the main non-vegan ingredients to watch out for in pre-made margarita mixes.
Milk in Powdered Margareta Mixes
I was surprised to discover that some powdered margarita mixes contain dry milk such as Fee Brothers Margarita Mix. Be extra wary of any powdered packet Margarita mixes.
Depending on how strict a vegan you are, sugar in a margarita could be an issue for you. Although traditional Margaritas do not contain sugar many bottled Margarita mixes do. As explained above sugar can be processed with bone char here in the US. If you are buying a bottle of pre-made margarita mix, then just double-check the sweetener used on the ingredient list. If it is high fructose corn syrup (often it is), organic sugar, beet sugar, or raw sugar you can be confident it is vegan.
Yellow 5 is another potential ingredient that could be an issue for strict vegans. Yellow 5 artificial coloring is vegan in terms of what it is made of, but it is routinely tested on animals. Yellow 5 is often added to bottled margarita mixes to give them a yellow color. It tends to be present in cheaper mixes. The more expensive the margarita mix, the less likely the presence of Yellow 5. This obviously isn’t an issue for Margaritas ordered at a bar
Vegan Pre-Made Margarita Mixes
While pre-made Margarita mixes can present the most non-vegan issues, let’s face it they are the most convenient way of making a quick Margarita at home. To help make your life as easy as possible here are three vegan pre-made margarita mixes for you:
- Tres Agaves Tequila Mix – Okay, the irony, right?! Even though Tres Agaves Tequila isn’t vegan their organic Margarita mixes are vegan (they are all organic, have no added sugar, and no artificial colors). You can buy some or check them out on Amazon by clicking here. Just pair it with one of the other vegan tequilas out there.
- LAVA Premium Spicy Jalapeno Margarita Mix – slightly different this spicy jalapeno margarita mix is vegan and perfect for adding a kick to your Margarita. You can buy some or check them out on Amazon by clicking here.
- Powell & Mahoney Craft Cocktail Mixers – Skinny Margarita – Want a skinny margarita then this is the mixer for you from Powell & Mahoney made using cane sugar and just under 50 calories. You can buy some or check them out on Amazon by clicking here. Just pair it with one of the other vegan tequilas out there. Even their Bloody Mary mix is vegan (made with vegan Worcestershire sauce).
Is Tequila Vegan – The Final Sip
Is Tequila Vegan? There is so much more to Tequila than just sticking it in a shot and sucking up some salt and lime. And that’s not even the best news. You see in all my research to date Tequila is one of the most vegan-friendly liquors I have come across. Yes, most Tequila is vegan. And no, you don’t have to worry about finding a worm in any Tequila (just remember that is one type of Mezcal – con gusano – avoid). You can even experiment and try Mezcal for a wider depth and range of flavors that you cannot find in Tequila. Most importantly if you do drink Tequila stop taking it in shots and enjoy it like the locals in Mexico, sipping over ice, or even in a classic Margarita. It will last longer, and you will enjoy it more. I promise.
- You can double-check the vegan status of tequilas in the Barnivore link in the references below.
…now you know.
Beverage makers may change ingredients and/or manufacturing processes. Always double-check ingredients before purchasing any beverages.
Please Drink Responsibly.
Like What You Are Reading
Want to know if your favorite liquor is vegan? How about your favorite Gin or Vodka? Or just beer or wine – think they are vegan? Explore further and check out some of my other alcoholic drink articles:
- Is Vodka Vegan? Hidden Surprises To Know About In Vodka
- Is Gin Vegan? How To Really Tell Vegan Gins Apart
- Is Liquor Vegan? How To Actually Pick Vegan Liquor
- Is Alcohol Vegan? How To Know The Truth
- Why is Wine Not Vegan – How To Know The Truth
- Is Beer Vegan – Introducing The Secrets To Finding Out
- Is Ginger Ale Vegan? Everything You Need To Know
- Is Hard Seltzer Vegan? How To Really Tell
- Is Cider Vegan? How To Know The Pressing Truth
- 10 Vegan Wines At Trader Joe’s You Need To Try
- Is Champagne Vegan? Revealing The Truth Behind The Bubbles
- Vegan Baileys – The Truth About This Surprising Drink
Vegan vs non-vegan tequilas on Barnivore (as at 30 December 2021)