Is it Vegan?

More people than ever are adopting a vegan or plant-based diet, and even cosmetics companies are progressively being vegan and cruelty-free. The number of people who went vegans has quadrupled between 2014 and 2018, with 1.16 percent of the population now following a plant-based diet compared to 0.25 percent in 2014; something is obviously changing.

However, you might still be curious about what this eating pattern involves, such as what you can and can’t eat on a vegan diet and which products are vegan-friendly. This article will address all of your questions concerning the vegan lifestyle.

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What is Veganism?

The term “vegan” was coined in 1944 by a small group of vegetarians who formed the Vegan Society after breaking away from the Leicester Vegetarian Society in England. According to the Vegan Society, Veganism is the practice of reducing animal suffering by avoiding animal products such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, gelatin, lanolin, wool, fur, silk, suede, and leather. It is a way of life founded on moral principles. It’s not only about the heinous ways in which humans treat animals; it’s also about the notion of exploiting and murdering animals for human benefit when it’s completely viable to live without the use of animal parts.

What do Vegans Eat?

This is perhaps the most often asked question regarding Veganism. A vegan diet includes all grains, beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and the nearly endless variety of foods formed by mixing them. Vegans can also enjoy vegan hot dogs, ice cream, cheese, non-dairy yogurt, and vegan mayonnaise, in addition to the more familiar veggie burgers and other meat substitutes products like vegan chicken dishes. To be vegan, you don’t have to like tofu, and you can have any of these meals without a worry.

Vegans eat many of the same conventional foods as everyone else, including green salads, spaghetti, peanut butter sandwiches, cornbread, chips, and salsa. Vegan cuisine includes items like a vegetarian burrito without cheese or sour cream. A vegetarian Thai curry prepared with coconut milk is vegan. Egg-free pasta served with tomato sauce or similar non-meat, non-dairy sauce is vegan. Most bread is vegan as well.

There are plenty of delicious vegan foods available, and you might be surprised at how many there are! Below we have listed a few more examples of foods that vegans eat:

  • Fruits and Vegetables: oranges, broccoli, cauliflower, watermelon, muskmelon, kale, and more
  • Nuts and Seeds: almonds, chia seeds, chestnuts, macadamia, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, and more
  • Beans and Legumes: chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, lentils, soybeans, and more
  • Non-dairy products: soy milk, coconut milk, rice milk, cashew milk, oat milk, and more
  • Chocolates: vegan chocolates made using non-dairy milk products like coconut, cashew, or oat milk.
  • Junk foods: fried tofu, chips, vegan Mac N Cheese, blueberry pancakes, and more
  • Dairy alternatives: varieties of icecream and yogurt made of coconut and almond milk, vegan butter and cheese, and more
  • Meat substitute: tofu and tempeh burgers, vegan chicken sandwiches, tempeh sausages and bacon, and more.

What Makes Things Non-Vegan?

A vegan diet rules out all kind of animal products like meat, poultry, dairy, honey, and any of their by-products.

Vegans follow a lifestyle that excludes all kinds of animal products in their everyday lives and their diet. Some of the examples include:

  • Products that are tested on animals
  • Fabrics like wool and silk that are animal-derived
  • Products derived from the skin of animals such as leather and suede
  • Personal care products having animal-derived substances such as keratin, stearic acid, tallow, and more
  • Animals used for entertainment of the people in places like circuses, races, and more

How to tell if Food is Vegan?

Going vegan takes a bit of will and a lot of research. If you’re curious about how vegans go grocery shopping and ordering at restaurants, ensuring what they choose is not animal-derived in any way. Let’s have a look at some of the pointers that you need to keep in mind:

  • Looking for a label that reads ‘Suitable For Vegans’ or a ‘Certified Vegan’ logo is the easiest way to tell if a product is vegan.
  • Scanning the ‘Allergen Information’ is another simple method. If the product contains dairy, eggs, or shellfish, the allergy ingredients list will mention it. Look for the Green Dot to see whether it’s vegetarian.
  • Make your way into the ‘Ingredients List’ if the first two methods don’t work. It would be best if you looked for non-vegan ingredients and substances here. It seems an intimidating step at first, but it’s actually not that difficult. Once you’ve become used to it, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can read food labels and determine whether or not they’re vegan. Non-vegan substances become obvious since your brain has been trained to look for them.
  • If you don’t want to learn how to read ingredient lists, you can look for applications that will assist you in scanning products. However, if you’re going to stay a vegan for the long haul, we recommend learning this essential skill. You never know when an app is going to let you down.

What are the Hidden Non-Vegan Ingredients?

Although the prevalence of vegan products is soaring, animal ingredients could still be found in the most innocent places, such as slices of bread to candy and confectioneries. So next time you go shopping or dine out at a non-vegan restaurant, scan through this list so hidden animal ingredients won’t blindside you.

  • Albumen/Albumin – A protein found in egg whites. It is used as a food binder and a fining agent in wine and cider and found in cakes, biscuits, and sweets.
  • Ambergris – A solid, waxy substance produced in the intestines of sperm whales. It is used as a fixative in making perfumes and flavoring in some foods and cocktails.
  • Aspic – A clear jelly made from meat or fish juices and used as a mold for cold meats or vegetables.
  • Bonemeal – It is a crushed or ground animal bone found in some health supplements and vitamins.
  • Bone char – It is an animal bone ash used to make bone china crockery and handles for cutlery.
  • Carmine/cochineal – It is a red food colorant made from crushed insects. It is found in red soft drinks, biscuits, yogurts, sweets, desserts, and sauces.
  • Chitosan – It is produced by treating the chitin shells found in crabs and shrimps and used in making personal care products like deodorants, mouthwash, cosmetics, and more.
  • Gelatine – It is a colorless and translucent protein produced by boiling animal tissues of cows and pigs. This protein is further used as a gelling binder in multiple desserts, jellies, and icecreams.
  • Isinglass – It is a type of gelatine derived from the bladders of fish and used widely by brewers as a fining agent for beers and purify wine.
  • Lactose – It is produced from milk and used as a sweetener and a carrier for flavoring agents.
  • Lard – It is fat from a pig’s abdomen found in shaving creams, soaps, cosmetics, and baked goods.
  • Lanolin – It is a product obtained from the oil glands of sheep and extracted from their wool, often used as an emollient in skincare products, cosmetics, medicines, and more.
  • Lecithin is a fatty substance that is naturally present in eggs and animal milk. It is used as an emulsifier in low-fat spreads, chocolates, food dressings, and multiple bakery products. It is also labeled as E322.
  • L-cysteine – Also known as E920 on food labels, is an essential amino acid derived from proteins and used as a dough conditioner and strengthener to create stretchier doughs, especially for burger buns and pizza bases.
  • Oleic acid – is a fatty acid obtained from vegetable or animal fats and used in soaps and cosmetics.
  • Shellac – It’s a substance secreted by female lac bugs, used as a glazing agent in confectioneries, and secures moistures in fruit. It is also labeled as E904.
  • Stearic acid – is found as natural fat in cows and pigs, which makes chewing gums, medicines, and cosmetics. It is also labeled as E570.
  • Tallow – It is rendered animal fat, similar to lard, usually derived from cows or sheep. It is used in traditional candle making and, in the form of sodium tallowate, in soap production.
  • Taurine is an amino acid most commonly created synthetically using chemicals, though it can be animal-derived. They are used as an ingredient in energy drinks.
  • Vitamin D3 – It is derived from the lanolin from sheep wool.

How to tell if Cosmetics are Vegan?

Some of the commonly found animal components in beauty products consist of collagen, carmine, stearic acid, keratin, elastin, and many more. However, using PETA’s database is the easiest way to avoid the headache of combing through ingredient lists seeking hidden animal products. Nevertheless, simply going through the ingredient lists won’t suffice. For many people, the label “vegan” also signifies that a product is free of any animal testing. Because the term is not regulated as such, Items that have been tested on animals can be labeled “vegan.” This is an important distinction since a vegan product does not always imply that it is cruelty-free.

There are a number of cosmetic brands out there that provide cruelty-free vegan products. These businesses are usually more than willing to tell you which items and shades are vegan. However, if they cannot provide you with a clear answer, it is recommended to avoid such company’s products.

Closing thoughts

It’s important to realize that avoiding all animal products is nearly impossible; according to the International Vegetarian Union’s definition of Veganism, “Veganism may be defined as a way of life that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.” So Veganism isn’t about the label. It is about your belief in making this world animal cruelty-free.

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