WHAT MAKES A FOOD OR PRODUCT SUITABLE FOR VEGANS?
It must not contain animal products or by-products, and it must not be tested on animals. Any unprocessed plant food is vegan, this includes fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes.
HOW TO TELL IF A PACKAGED FOOD IS VEGAN:
Start by reading the product’s label and packaging. Due to the rise of veganism in recent years more and more products are being labeled as vegan. Look for products that say “Suitable for Vegans” or have the “Certified Vegan” logo.
Find the allergy information of a product by looking near the very bottom of its ingredient list. If the product contains milk ingredients, eggs, nuts, or shellfish it will plainly say, “Contains milk, eggs, nuts, shellfish”. This doesn’t work so well for products containing meat, but it will quickly tell you whether or not it’s worth reading the whole ingredients list or not.
READ THE INGREDIENTS
There are many by-products derived from animals which can cause some confusion at first, for example; whey powder, casein, and modified milk ingredients are all dairy products. Alarming I know, but you’ll be amazed at how quickly you will learn what ingredients to stay away from, so it’s nothing to worry about, you’ll know them all in no time!
DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL CARE ITEMS AND COSMETICS, ARE THEY CRUELTY-FREE AND VEGAN?
VEGAN LABELING & INGREDIENT LISTS
Again, begin by closely reading the product’s label and packaging (yes, you might need those reading glasses!) Look for products that have the “Certified Vegan” logo. If the product is simply labeled “vegan” or “contains no animal ingredients” do not take that as a guarantee, you will still need to read the full ingredient list and determine this for yourself. Review vegan/cruelty-free product lists that are posted online, it’s much easier to do your research at home first, than feeling pressured to buy something, but you’re still not sure about some of the unregulated terms used in packaging. PETA has a good resource for finding vegan personal care products.
The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) has a leaping bunny logo or PETA’s cruelty-free bunny logo. Look for their logo on the items you’re interested in.
The terms “Cruelty-Free” or “Not tested on animals” are labeled on some items, but these terms have not been regulated yet. It’s recommended to utilize the shopping guides provided by the CCIC and PETA for products that state they guarantee no animal testing. Remember, some products that state they aren’t tested on animals and some vegan products as well, are not necessarily exclusive – for example, some cosmetics may be “cruelty-free” (in other words, not tested on animals) but still may contain animal derived ingredients.
COMMON ANIMAL DERIVED INGREDIENTS
There are many comprehensive lists of animal by-products and their many different names online, a quick internet search will pull up a quite a number of them (PETA has a very complete list of animal derived ingredients) These lists can be overwhelming for someone new to veganism, but here are some of the more common ingredients to watch out for (not including the obvious such as “eggs”, “milk”, “beef fat”, etc.)
Albumen, bone char, butterfat, carmine, casein, gelatin, lactose, lard, l-cysteine, mono and diglycerides, shellac, vitamin D3, whey powder.
PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS AND COSMETICS
Beeswax, lanolin, keratin, musk, pearls, tallow.
APPAREL AND TEXTILES
Leather, fur, silk, wool, cashmere, angora
To add to the confusion there are many ingredients that can be plant based or animal based. For those ingredients you’ll often have to contact the manufacturer directly to find out where they source the ingredient from or check online, someone else may have already found the answer.
If you’re interested in learning how to shop and prepare vegan meals, below are just a few cookbook suggestions.