This tip doesn’t just apply to when you start to be vegan, it applies throughout your whole vegan life. If you are going to be vegan, then checking labels and ingredients is going to be a part of your entire life.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve bought something and realized that it had something not vegan in it, such as milk. There’s no reason for something like milk to be in there, but they stick it in anyways. I’ve even seen milk as the last ingredient on some things, which tells me it really doesn’t need to there!
As a side thought – I’ve noticed that as time goes on, milk seems to make its way into more and more things. I’m not sure if that is how the milk industry is continuing to make money as fewer people drink dairy or if it is just a coincidence, but it’s something to be aware of.
Sometimes There Are Non-Vegan Ingredients That You Would Never Expect
Who would have thought there would be gelatin in cereal? This is something I would never have thought to look for, but I guess you do need to.
This person bought the cereal – after a quick check for milk, thinking that it was all good. Because who would think to look for something like gelatin in whole grain wheat cereal? Unfortunately, she got it home and figured it out then.
But, it’s not just obvious ingredients like fish sauce, beef ingredients, chicken ingredients, milk, and gelatin that you need to look for. Often times the ingredients will include things that are derived from animals, even though they don’t make that obvious.
For instance, when I first went vegan, L-cysteine was in a lot of the bread I bought, but I didn’t think much of it. It just sounds like a chemical name and I never thought it would be derived from anything animal-related. Turns out I was wrong! It can be derived from animal feathers and hair. Also turns out there is a vegan option, but ingredients don’t usually list whether or not it’s vegan.
Mono and diglycerides also could be vegan or not vegan. I find, though, that a lot more companies are labeling their mono and diglycerides as vegetable-derived if they are not sourced from animals, so that helps. But, if there is no indication that they are vegetarian, then it’s better off just to avoid them.
If you want a full list of ingredients that are derived from animals, you can check out PETA’s list here. They also list the alternatives, which shows that animal-derived products don’t need to be in anything – at all – not one thing.
If I’m unsure about an ingredient, I look up the ingredient on my phone, and if I can’t find an answer I forgo the product. It’s a pain in the ass when you really want something, but too many companies are putting non-vegan ingredients in their products, and I’m not willing to risk it.