Learn How to Read Labels as a Vegan
Step 0: What does vegan mean to you?
Step 1: Does it say it's vegan?
Step 2: Does it say it's vegetarian?
Step 3: Does it have any allergy warnings?
Step 4: Does it have any non-vegan ingredients?
- albumen/albumin (typically derived from eggs)
- artificial butter flavor
- aspic (similar to gelatine)
- bacterial cultures/lactic acid starter cultures
- butter acid
- butter fat/oil
- casein (milk protein)
- casein hydrolysate (milk protein)
- collagen (made of skin, bones and connective tissue of animals)
- curds (dairy product)
- custard (milk and egg mixture)
- egg whites
- elastin (similar to collagen)
- gelatine/gelatin (made from ground up animal bone and skin, can be found in jams and marshmallows)
- ghee (made from butter)
- honey (food made by bees for bees)
- isinglass (dried swim bladder of fish, used to clarify wine, fruit juice and beer)
- keratin (made of skin, bones and connective tissue of animals)
- lactose (milk sugar)
- lard/tallow (animal fat)
- lysozyme (animal enzyme)
- meringue (whipped egg whites)
- meringue powder
- milk protein
- ovalbumin (egg protein)
- pepsin (made from stomach of pigs)
- propolis (used by bees for construction of hives)
- recaldent (found in toothpaste)
- shellac (made from the bodies of the female scale insect Tachardia lacca)
- tagatose (sweetener)
- vitamin D3 (sometimes derived from fish liver oil)
- whey powder (milk protein)
Non-vegan ingredients in clothing
- leather (animal skin)
- silk (fiber that silkworms weave to make cocoons)
- cashmere (wool from cashmere goats)
- angora (wool from angora rabbit)
- calcium lactate
- cocoa butter
- cream of tartar
- lactic acid from plants
- sodium lactate
Step 5: Was it produced in a cruelty-free way?
Bonus Tips on How to Read Labels as a Vegan
- May contain: This means a product was made in the same factory as other animal products. Businesses have to state that in order to protect themselves from lawsuits in case of allergic reactions caused by cross-contamination. It does not mean it is not vegan. This depends on your personal definition of veganism. Even if a product does not contain animal products, you might not want to support a brand that produces animal products as well.
- Dairy-free/lactose-free: This does not mean it is vegan as it can still contain milk (in case of lactose-free) or other animal products.
- E numbers: Food additives must be marked on the ingredient list with an E number. Some of them are not vegan: E120 (carmine), E441 (gelatine), E542 (bone phosphate), E901 (beeswax), E904 (shellac), E910/E920/E921 (L-cysteine), E913 (lanolin), E966 (lactitol).
- Sugar: Sugar cane may be processed with bone char from cows. It's best to look up the brand online or choose organic/beet sugar.
- Formulas can change over time. Even if you know a product and have used it for a while, it is better to still check the labels for any formula changes.
- Stick to the foods with no ingredient lists! Unprocessed plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans are vegan.