Look out for these ingredients in items in your everyday life.
Keywords: vegan, veganism, vegan friendly, vegan labels, vegan ingredients, animal products, cruelty free, vegan food
When you’re new to the world of veganism, things can seem a little overwhelming. There’s a lot to learn, many old habits to shed, and a list of things to look out for when it comes to things you can eat and products you can buy. Feeling overwhelmed is completely normal, but don’t let it scare you.
At its core, being vegan follows one very simple tenant: avoid consuming products derived from animals in all forms. While it sounds straightforward enough, there are some ingredients included in pre-packed foods and products that are less obvious.
To make it easier for you, we’ve put together a list of ingredients and products that vegans should recognize as vegan friendly and others that aren’t. Here’s how to read labels for vegan ingredients.
There are a few obvious things to seek out when shopping for vegan ingredients—this includes things like milk, butter, dairy, as well as ingredients such as bone char and animal fats. Aside from the obvious no-nos, an easy way to steer clear of animal products is to look for specific labels when sifting through ingredients of pre-packaged foods.
Many vegan food items now feature a label signalling that the product is appropriate for vegans to consume. These may say “vegan-friendly,” “certified vegan,” or “contains no animal ingredients.” Other products may include, for example, a seafood allergen label, which is a clear marker of an item that isn’t vegan friendly. You may also see a PETA logo that certifies the food item as safe to eat for vegans.
There are, of course, products that are a little sneakier. Oftentimes, non-vegan friendly ingredients are used in processed foods. Carmine (used as a colorant), casein (derived from egg whites and used as a supplement), mono- and di-glycerides (derived from animal fats), gelatin (made from skin/tendons/ligaments/bones of animals), and lactose (sugar component of milk) are all animal by-products.
Whey powder is another item that’s common but not animal-free in its production. Whey protein is a mix of proteins isolated from whey, which is the liquid part of milk. Milk consists of 80% casein and 20% whey. This product is often used as a meal replacement or a way to top off protein intake, which means gym enthusiasts and those who are looking to lose weight often use whey powder. Fortunately, there are many fantastic vegan whey powders on the market these days. As well, because whey is a milk product, it is often found in breads and sweets.
If you are a fan of alcoholic beverages, one ingredient to look out for is isinglass. This animal product is a clarifying agent that’s used for making wine and brewing beer and derived from fish bladders. While there is no flavour to isinglass and it may be hard to detect, most breweries and wineries list their ingredients, and isinglass is rarely used nowadays.
Personal care products, cosmetics, and clothing
In addition to steering clear of food that’s made from animals, vegans should also aim to avoid animal products in every facet of their lives. If you use cosmetics, be sure that the items that you use are not tested on animals. Ingredients derived from animals are also often used in cosmetic and self-care products; these include beeswax, lanolin, keratin, musk, pearls, and tallow.
Clothing may feature materials made from animals as well. Fabrics to avoid include leather, fur, silk, wool, cashmere, and angora. Many accessory products, such as handbags and wallets, are also often made from animals, though there are many faux versions of the same items that are equally stylish. These vegan-friendly accessories are usually made from materials like non-animal microfibers, recycled nylon, polyurethane, plants, cotton, and are usually labelled as “animal-free leather,” “vegan leather,” or “cruelty-free fabrics.”
Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle takes a while, but we assure you that with some discipline and patience, you will get there. We recommend that you start with food. When it comes to clothing or personal care products and cosmetics, we would suggest using up whatever you can and not acquire more products that are made from animals, instead of throwing them out.
What ingredients or products did you find easiest to phase out during your journey towards veganism? Let us know in the comments!