Shared with kind permission of Angel Flinn, Director of Outreach at Gentle World (A vegan intentional community).
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Excerpt from “Why Vegans Read Labels”
Here are tips for new label-readers:
• Don’t let it stress you out: It won’t take hours to do, and it becomes much quicker over time. Besides, the time it takes to scan a product label is time well-spent, and every time you do so you’re reinforcing your commitment to making informed and ethical purchases.
• Get an ingredients App: If you have a smartphone, there are now apps you can download to help you learn where ingredients come from and whether they are vegan or not. If you don’t have a portable electronic device, you can always use one of the many ingredient directories online to look them up from home or a library.
• Look for “vegan” labels: Many companies are starting to become vegan certified or mark their products as “vegan” on the package so you don’t necessarily have to scan the entire ingredients list. I still give the label a quick skim to make sure there isn’t anything else in it that I don’t want to be eating or using, but the “vegan” label can help reassure you that the product you’re buying is or has stayed vegan, as some companies change their ingredients over time.
Additional note : There have been a few instances where a few products which have claimed to be vegan turned out not to be, so it’s best to directly contact suppliers to make sure they are what they say they are.
• Start with the nutrition panel: If the product isn’t clearly marked as vegan, a good place to start is the cholesterol percentage listed in the nutritional panel. If there is cholesterol in the product you are looking at then there is an animal derived ingredient in it, as all plant-based food is 100% cholesterol free. If there is cholesterol in the item, then I put it back on the shelf and move on. If there is no cholesterol in the product, I continue to read the label to see if there are any potentially suspect ingredients.
• Don’t be afraid to call companies: Some ingredients can come from both animal and plant origins, such as glycerin for instance. When you find one of these ingredients listed on a label, it’s a good opportunity to call the company and find out where they source their ingredients from.
Be proud to be an informed label reader! View it as an opportunity to educate yourself about the products you’re purchasing and the ethics of the companies that are providing those products.”
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