When Vegans Go Too Far

I’ve got nothing against vegans.  Sure, their diet is unnatural and contrary to the laws of natural selection that made homo sapiens the most successful omnivores in the history of the world — but I’m a big believer in live and let live.  So long as their curious diet of bulk greenery and other assorted odds and ends doesn’t interfere with my lifestyle, I’m perfectly content to share the planet with the vegans.

But when vegans start messing with the important stuff — like the centuries-old recipe for Guinness as brewed in its home brewery since 1759 — that’s where I draw the line.

Since before the American Revolution, Guinness has been brewed using a substance caused isinglass.  What’s isinglass, you say?  It’s a gelatinous byproduct of fish bladders that provides a particularly effective means of filtering yeast particles.  It sounds disgusting, frankly, but you can’t argue with the results:  Guinness is an excellent, instantly recognizable brew, known and loved the world over.  For all we know, isinglass is the substance that allows Guinness to have that especially foamy head that you can write your name in, or it is isinglass that gives Guinness its indescribably rich texture.  But isinglass has a problem — because it is derived from fish, it’s not in conformity with a strict vegan diet.

So pushy vegans have been pestering Guinness, for years, to eliminate isinglass from the recipe, because it is inconsistent with their effete, prim dietary regimens.  Well, lah de dah!  How many vegans even drink Guinness regularly, anyway?  They seem like more of the white wine crowd, don’t they?  Unfortunately, Guinness has apparently caved to the relentless vegan pressure and has announced that it will use a new filtration plant and change the beer recipe used in its flagship brewery in Ireland.  And while the whiny vegans undoubtedly will celebrate yet another triumph for political correctness, the beer lovers among us will simply shake our heads in dismay.

As for the folks at Guinness who caved, I have only two words for you:  New Coke.


Kish and I try to be environmentally sensitive people.  We recycle religiously, we walk rather than drive if possible, and we generally try to do whatever we can to reduce our carbon footprint.  That includes buying products that purport to be protective of the environment.

Sometimes, though, the environmentally sensitive products have . . . issues.

IMG_6422Recently Kish picked up compressed hardwood firewood for our outdoor fire pit.  The product looks like a kind of blond, fibrous brick, so it’s not exactly as attractive as old-fashioned logs.  It’s considered “environmentally responsible” because it’s made from leftover wood, so it is a recycled product of a sort, there are no additives, and it purports to burn hotter and produce less smoke, ash, and creosote.   We’ve found that it’s perfectly serviceable in the burning department, although it lacks that natural wood snap and crackle.

So, what’s the problem?  The packaging for these wooden blocks says they should be stored in a dry place — which is perhaps the greatest commercial understatement since the Coca-Cola Company admitted that New Coke was off to a rocky start.  What the package should say, in huge letters, is:  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU STORE THIS PRODUCT OUTSIDE OR EVER LET IT GET WET!!!  Because, as we discovered to our chagrin, if you do expose the product to moisture, the “compression” element of the product goes poof, and you end up with split shrink-wrap packages from which mounds of sawdust, wood chips, and tiny splinters have erupted and spilled everywhere.  And good luck cleaning up the dust and miniature toothpicks that somehow immediately find their way into every nook and cranny!

I guess it’s a small price to pay for less creosote.