One of the hardest things I found when I first became a vegan was understanding food labels. There are so many different names for animal-derived ingredients. I was so afraid that what I was buying and consuming could possibly contain non-vegan ingredients.
Maybe before your transition into veganism, you have never taken much notice of ingredient labels on food packaging. Being coeliac and vegetarian I have been reading food labels for years but I was totally in the dark when it came to some of the less known hidden animal-based ingredients.
A starting point
The easiest way is obviously the well-known vegan logo. Once these were found on foods bought in health food shops, now more mainstream supermarkets such as Lidl, Tesco and Sainsbury’s are now using the vegan logo.
Another clue is if they marked with the vegetarian logo instead, then you need to check whether they contain ingredients such as eggs, dairy, honey. If the product is vegetarian and does not contain any animal derivatives then normally it is then safe to say that the product is vegan and safe to eat. Sometimes a product will say that it may contain a product not listed in the ingredients, such as some pasta may contain eggs. This is possible because there is a risk of cross-contamination from an item not listed in the ingredients.
This has to be put on the package because of people who have food allergies where a small amount of this item could cause harm or even a fatality. It is then down to personal preference whether as a vegan you wish to eat that food. Often that non-vegan item is not in the product at all and is 100% vegan. Obviously, if you have an allergy to the item it may contain you would just avoid it.
Occasionally you will come across an ingredient in which you are really unsure whether or not it is vegan. Below are a few that you may come across.
I hope this helps a little. It really is a minefield when at first you begin your journey into veganism. I think the big thing is to your research before you start. I am nearly 2 1/2 years now a vegan as well as being a vegetarian for most of my adult life. I feel I am still learning.
|Gelatine||Usually from cow or pigs and obtained|
by boiling up bones, skin, tendons
|Lactose||A milk sugar|
|Elastine||similar to collagen and found in|
the aorta and neck ligaments of cows
|Casein||a milk protein|
|E966||a sweetener derived from lactose in milk|
|E120||Carmine, a food colouring is also known|
as cochineal from crushed beetles
|Aspic||gelatine alternative made from clarified|
meat, fish or vegetable stocks
|Lard or Tallow||Made from animal fat|
|Shellac||Used in nail products and obtained|
from the bodies of the female scale insect
|Honey||made by bees for their food|
|Isinglass||Used for the clarification of wine and|
beer it is a substance obtained dried
bladders of fish.
|Vitamin D3||from sheep’s wool or fish liver oil|
|E542||used to keep food moist it is made from|
ground-up animal bone and skin, often
found in confectionary
|Cod liver oil||Found in lotions, supplements and|
|Whey||a milk by-product|
|Royal jelly||Often found in beauty products and |
obtained from the throat gland of the
|Albumen||from egg white|
|Propolis||found in products to help in the|
healing of wounds which the bees use in
their hive construction
|E901||Beeswax, a wax made by bees|
|E904||Glazing agent from the lac bug|
|E910, E920, E921||Made from animal hair and feathers|
and often used as a proving agent in
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