Over the years I have spent a good amount of time in grocery store aisles reading the back labels of products and asking myself “vegan or not vegan?”. As I familiarized myself with products, ingredients, and brands I was able to significantly reduce my time spent in grocery stores. I do, however, remember how frustrating and sometimes lost I felt among those hard to pronounce ingredients and for anyone new to the diet I hope this list helps answer the ‘vegan or not vegan’ question.
Is Sugar Vegan?
This is the most commonly asked question I get when I post a recipe that contains sugar. While some sugars use bone char in the processing and bleaching of sugars, this is not a practice all brands accept. Vegan sugar, my friends, is not hard to find! If a sugar is labeled organic, then you can rest assured that is has not been filtered with bone char as that is not a certified USDA practice.
Is Wine Vegan?
Not all beer and wine is vegan, which was a big shocker to me years back but a good one to learn early on. How is it not vegan? Well some wines use animal-derived substances, such as gelatin, casein, and bone marrow during the filtering process. Yuck!But don’t worry!
While many breweries and wineries use non-vegan practices in their brewing process there are still plenty of drinks to choose from. Have you heard of Dry Farm Wines? Dry Farm Wines is a wine club that will deliver monthly or bi-monthly clean, natural, sugar-free wine to your door each month! It’s a great way to try out new wines and you can get the first one for just $0.1 if you follow this link! Do make sure to check it out.
Is Bread Vegan?
Water, flour, yeast, and salt, right? Unfortunately, no. The ingredients in some bread might shock you. The back of the plastic wrapped bread is filled with ingredients that have no place in your loaf of bread. If you are going to buy your bread at a grocery store, find a brand you trust and stick with it. Here in the Northwest we have Dave’s Killer Bread, an all natural, no preservatives, always vegan wholesale bakery with the best tasting sandwich bread.
Is Maragine Vegan?
While margarine is not dairy-based, many brands contain whey or milk solids. When you really want to use margarine or vegan “butter” make sure to check the label. Your best option is Earth Balance which is derived from healthy oils, is non-hydrogenated, and always vegan.
Jellies and Sugar Candies
Have a sweet tooth craving for candy? I know, it happens. Check out VegNews’ “Official Guide to Vegan Halloween Candy” for a full list of sugary, vegan sweets. On the other hand many candies you might assume are vegan may not be. Gelatin, Carmine, and Beeswax are just a few non-vegan ingredients that sneak their way into popular candy.
Is Chocolate Vegan?
Just because it’s not milk chocolate doesn’t mean there is no milk in your dark chocolate. Typically cheaper chocolate uses milk solids to finish the flavor where as fine chocolate relies on the quality of the cacao. Ghiradelli’s is a great brand of chocolate chips: quality chocolate and easier to find than vegan-marketed chocolate chips.
Are Mock Meats Vegan
– When I was pregnant I started eating mock meats for the first time. Although the cravings for these have waned, I now understand why this product exists and learned a few things over nine months. Sadly and unwisely both MorningStar and Quorn have chosen to limit their markets to vegetarians with their uses of eggs. But there are many options, with more being created all the time. Check out the brands Gardein, Field Roast, Tofurky, and Boca (not all of Boca is vegan but their vegan variety is clearly labeled) to get your mock meat fix.
Non-Dairy Milks and Creamer–
Some people might find it odd that most non-dairy creamers do, in fact, contain milk derivatives (most often casein). Weird right? Silk has been making a vegan soy and coconut creamer for awhile, which I do not personally like, and have for years just drank regular soy milk in my coffee. Until last week when I discovered Wildwood’s Soymilk Creamer. Wow! Look for vegan creamers in the refrigerated area (usually in the dairy or health food sections) of your grocery store.