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What Non-Vegan Ingredients Are Lurking In Non-Foods?





Warning: This article includes pictures that may be considered graphic/disturbing. If you find any of the below images hard to look at, perhaps you should ask yourself if you’re really okay with continuing to fund the cruel practices that result in the below images.

Yep, it’s true – we humans put animal pieces/bits/by-products in all kinds of things that have nothing to do with food!

If you’re shocked, well don’t feel too bad – it’s not exactly like companies put ‘insect exoskeleton’ or ‘sheep fat’ on the label. They disguise these animal by-products by giving them a different name, so that they can sneak them under the radar.

This is why veganism is so much more than a diet, it truly is a lifestyle change. If you’re committed to reducing your harm to animals, then read through the list below to discover some of the most common animal by-products that are hiding in non-food items.

Unfortunately, the way society is, it’s literally impossible to be 100% animal product free, that’s why there’s no such thing as a truly 100% vegan – it’s just impossible in today’s world. While it can get overwhelming to see just how many everyday things have animal products in them, I don’t want you to freak out – take things slowly. It can be overwhelming, but don’t fret if you’re unable to cut out using all of the things listed below, it’s not feasible for everyone, and that’s okay. As long as you’re aware, and are consciously trying to reduce your harm, you’re doing enough. So try not beat yourself up too bad.

Alright, let’s start with the most obvious:

 

Leather

If you didn’t know, leather is cow skin. (Or snake, alligator, buffalo, sheep and more) Yep, you read that right, leather products are literally skinned animal. Do you really want to walk around like Michael Myers? (Why do you think his nickname is Leatherface?)

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Suede

Pretty much the same as leather, (made out of animal skin), but suede is ‘fuzzy’. Either way, you’re wearing dead animal.

Fur

Fur can be in many things, including: coats, boots, blankets, etc. If it’s not faux, the fur once belonged to an animal, usually mink, foxes, and raccoon dogs. These poor animals are often de-furred alive, often without the use of anaesthetic, or pain pills. Is it really worth torturing an animal and taking its’ only defence against the cold, when we as humans have so many other options?

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This animal was still alive at the time this picture was taken. If you can’t even look at the above image, or find it disturbing, you shouldn’t be wearing fur. Help prevent the above from happening by shopping for faux, or find other alternatives.

 

Wool

Where do we get wool from? Sheep. We shear the wool off the sheep to use for sweaters, blankets, socks, etc. What’s wrong with wool? Well:

  1. Shearing: Let’s start with the practice everyone knows about. Farmers shear sheep to get their wool. But, often shearing is painful for sheep, and is much more than just a haircut. But wait, don’t sheep need to be sheared? Well, no, not at all. Undomesticated sheep only produce the amount of wool they need to survive, which truthfully isn’t that much. Same as we have genetically bred chickens to be too fat for their legs, humans have genetically modified sheep to overproduce wool that now requires the support of the shearing industry. Their bodies have a hard time supporting the weight, and some risk suffocation because they can’t breathe.

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(Those marks are scars from old cuts, not ribs/bone)

Why are they bred to produce so much wool? Because most shearers are paid per sheep, not an hourly wage. Meaning they need to get the most amount of wool possible from a sheep in a quicker time frame. This also results in carelessness by shearers, and sheep often get injured from the quick paced shearing. Anything from nicks, to amputation of their udders, ears and other body parts can happen.

  1. In Australia (where about half the world’s wool comes from) farmers often practice ‘mulesing’ which is a terribly cruel procedure in which farmers use tools resembling garden shears and carve chunks of skin/flesh from lambs’ backsides in an attempt to prevent a parasitic disease called ‘flystrike’. This practice is commonly performed without painkillers. And why does this happen? Because we’ve bred them to produce as much wool as possible, a sheep’s’ skin has wrinkled, and this wrinkled skin accrues excess moisture, which attracts flies. These flies lay eggs in the folds of the skin, resulting in maggots consuming the sheep’s’ skin.

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  1. What happens once the sheep begin to produce less wool? They get shipped off to a slaughterhouse and sold for meat, just like cows, pigs and other animals. Many are killed by having their throats’ slit while still conscious.

 

Silk

Silk comes from worms. (Or spiders) Yes, they count as animals. (If bees count, so do worms)

You may be wondering: Why does it matter if we take their silk?

Silk is the fiber that silkworms make to make their cocoons. (Similar to a caterpillar) For humans to get the silk, manufacturers’/collectors boil the worms alive while they’re in the cocoon. This prevents the worms from transforming to the next stage of their life cycle (the pupal phase), where they make a hole in the cocoon by releasing enzymes, which often cause the silk fibers of the cocoon to break down, and thus make them unviable for harvesting. Boiling the cocoon not only kills the worm by boiling it alive, but also makes the cocoons easier to unravel. Often times, after being boiled, the worms themselves are eaten as well.

Roughly 10 billion cocoons are required to produce the 70 million pounds of raw silk that are needed yearly.

 

Down

Down is the under-feathers from geese, ducks and other birds. Down is used most often for pillows, winter coats, and comforters. The feathers used for down are often taken via live-plucking. (I.e., the bird isn’t dead when the feathers are taken) You know the feeling of needing to tweeze/accidentally getting an arm hair ripped out? Imagine that pain ten fold, all over your body.

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Beeswax

For those who don’t know, beeswax is a natural wax that honey bees produce. It’s formed by the bees into ‘scales’ by eight wax-producing glands in their abdomen. They then ‘discard’ the wax in or at the hive.

To put it in laymen’s terms, beeswax is essentially bee poop.

It would probably be faster to list products that don’t have beeswax, so to save time, I’ll just list a few examples:

  • Natural food wraps
  • Candles
  • Shoe/furniture polish
  • Surfboard Wax
  • Cutler’s Resin (a glue used in the handles of cutlery knives)
  • Tambourines (often used by percussionists on the surface for ‘thumb rolls’)
  • Oil/Body Paint
  • Soaps
  • Lip balm/gloss
  • Egg decoration (such as Easter egg crayons, dye, etc.)
  • Cream/lotion/moisturizers
  • Make-up (eye shadow, blush, eye-liner, etc.)
  • Moustache wax/hair pomades

It is even an ingredient in surgical bone wax, which is used during surgery to control bleeding from bone surfaces.

As you can see, beeswax is in many different products, and isn’t specific to one group of them. This isn’t saying that all of the variations of these products contain beeswax, just that it’s most likely an ingredient. Always read the label on every product to ensure you know what’s in that particular item.




Now, onto the less obvious animal by-product names:

Carmine

Carmine or Red #40 (or Allura Red AC) is the fancy name they decided to give red food colouring/red dye, perhaps because if they called it what it actually is, crushed cochineal beetles, nobody would buy the products.

Speaking of food dyes:

  • Blue #1 (Brilliant Blue FCF)
  • Blue #2 (Idigotine)
  • Green #3 (Fast Green FCF)
  • Red #3 (Erythrosine)
  • Yellow #5 (Tartrazine)
  • Yellow #6 (Sunset Yellow FCF)

All 6 of the dyes listed above are tested on animals. These food dyes are not only used in foods, however – since they’re food-grade safe, they’re often also used in soaps, bath bombs, creams/lotions, and more. Pretty much if a non-food item is dyed a certain colour (and the label doesn’t specifically say it’s vegan), chances are good you’ll find one of the above listed in the ingredients.

If you can’t tell or aren’t sure? Call or e-mail the company to get your answer. In my experience, if a company doesn’t use one of the above, you’ll get a speedy, in-depth reply explaining what they use instead. If they do use one of the above (or other animal ingredients) chances are good they’ll take a while to reply, if at all. If you can’t find the info for the ingredients used on the website, chances are good they’re using an animal-derivative.

My rule since going vegan: if they’re hiding it, they probably shouldn’t be doing it. If I ask a company, and they don’t get back to me, I assume it’s not safe and try to find an alternative.

 

Bone Char

Exactly what it sounds like, the charred/ash remains of animal bones. This stuff is used mainly in the processing of sugar. This is why Oreos (and many other things) aren’t technically vegan in the US, because the sugar used is made with bone char. In Canada, our sugar isn’t processed this way, so Oreos, and other products are vegan. (Check the processing for your own country, as it can vary)

Bone char can also be found in plastic bags.

 

Tallow

Tallow is a rendered for of animal fat, usually from cattle. Tallow and its’ derivatives can be found in all kinds of non-food items, such as: fabric softener, eye makeup, lipsticks, foundations, shampoos, moisturizers, and other skin care products.

 

Castoreum

Does your perfume like vanilla? Then it might contain castoreum, which comes from a beavers’ castor sac – which is a gland between its’ pelvis and the base of it’s tail.

Yep, your sweet, vanilla scented perfumes, lotions and/or candles have the aroma from a beavers’ ass.

 

Polymers

Not all polymers are non-vegan. The polymers used specifically in plastic bags as a ‘slip agent’ (used to reduce friction) is made from animal fats. Companies like Tyson Foods are reportedly experimenting with keratin protein (found in chicken feathers) to be used in new plastic bags, adhesives and non-woven materials.

As if using the remains of animals isn’t bad enough, using plastic bags is also contributing to the destruction of the ocean. Birds and sea turtles often mistake shredded bags for food, and by ingesting these products their stomachs are filled with toxic debris.

It’s also estimated that only about 1% of plastic bags are recycled. This means that for an average family, only 1 in 15 bags are recycled. Couple this with the fact the average amount of plastic bags used a year in Canada is 3 billion (100 billion in the US), and the fact it takes roughly 400 years for plastic bags to break down, you can hopefully start to see the problem.

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Also, while we’re on the subject, just a quick note: most of the pollution found in the ocean is from the fishing industry, specifically, fishing nets.

 

Stearic Acid

Again, not all stearic acid is made from animals. Animal-derived stearic acid is made out of animal fats. This non-vegan stearic acid can be found in many things, but the biggest/most common seems to be tires for bikes, cars, etc. In tires, it’s used to help the rubber hold the shape under friction.

Another uncommon thing animal-derived stearic acid is found in? Fireworks! (This genuinely surprised me.)

It’s used to coat metal powder and is used to prevent oxidation, which allows the fireworks to be stored for longer periods of time.

 

Glycerin

Just like with polymers and stearic acid, glycerine can come from either animal or vegetable fats.

Glycerin is found in many different products, including:

  • Soaps
  • Shampoo and conditioners
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Ointments
  • Cough syrups
  • Perfumes
  • Lotions
  • Shaving cream
  • Inks
  • Glues
  • Anti-freeze and brake fluid

Unless the label on a product specifically lists ‘vegetable glycerin’, it’s best to ask the company, or stay away all together (if that’s an option) if you can’t get a clear idea of the type.

 

Chitin

As explained in my Vegan Sunscreen post, chitin comes from the exoskeletons of crustaceans, insects and arachnids. Protecting yourself from the sun by rubbing a dead spider on you? No thank-you!

 

Elastin

Elastin is a type of protein, found in the artery walls, intestines, lungs and skin of animals. Elastin is most often found in anti-aging products and sunscreens.

 

Animal Glue

Used most often in shoes, handbags and is even sometimes used for fixing wood instruments, ‘animal glue’ is made by boiling animals’ connective tissue or bones.

It’s apparently the ‘best’ for fixing musical instruments made out of wood, like violins or pianos. It’s also one of the most readily available and widely used glue.

I unfortunately could keep going with this list, but in the interest of not making this article too long, I’ll be ending it here. As you can see, there are many different animal-derived ingredients that can be found in non-food items. This is unfortunate for people who are trying their best to avoid exploiting/using animals, but as said at the beginning of this article, it’s impossible in society today to be 100% vegan.

Another thing to keep in mind, is this list is only talking about non-food products that contain animal ingredients – this isn’t even counting the massive amounts of products that are tested on animals, such as: shampoos, lotions/creams, sunscreens, makeup and more.

And, (just to make things more confusing) cruelty-free does not mean a product is vegan. The difference is, cruelty free means the product just isn’t tested on animals – it says absolutely nothing about the ingredients. There can be products out there that are cruelty-free but not vegan. But, on the flip-side, if a product is vegan, that means it’s cruelty free.

Cruelty-free \= vegan (Cruelty Free does not equal vegan)

Vegan = cruelty-free (Vegan always equals cruelty free)

This is why it’s important to read the ingredients and the label of each product. I always do my best to creep the company’s website to see if I can dig up the answers to my questions, (fortunately many companies are now making things like ‘cruelty-free’ and ‘vegan’ selling points for products) but if you can’t find the information you need on the website, always, always be sure to e-mail or call the company. If you ask them directly, they’ll most likely give you an answer (or might give you a generic ‘check out our FAQ page!’).

If you still can’t find the answers you’re looking for, I usually will end up not buying the product, or looking for a vegan company substitute instead. Another thing I’ve recently started doing is to make my own products if I can’t find an alternative.

While the above is nowhere near an exhaustive list, I hope this article has helped you realize that there are animal products in many different non-food items. I also hope that the information in this article will help you be more mindful of what’s in the products you’re buying, and will hopefully allow you to make a more informed, kind choice with the products you buy.


Sources:

Food Colouring Article: http://www.yourdailyvegan.com/2011/10/warning-what-you-dont-know-about-food-colors/

Raccoon Dog Picture taken from: peta2TV Youtube channel, ‘Olivia Munn Exposes Fur Farms!’ video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ab7L8NRRYho

Sheep Facts: https://gentleworld.org/whats-wrong-with-wool/

Tyson Foods plastic bags experiment:

https://www.treehugger.com/green-food/9-everyday-products-you-didnt-know-had-animal-ingredients.html

Stearic Acid Tires: same article as plastic bags (9 everyday products)

Plastic Bags used in Canada/400 years to break down: http://www.mondaq.com/canada/x/678924/Environmental+Law/Will+2018+be+the+Year+of+the+SingleUse+Plastics+Ban

Leather/Cow Being Skinned Photo: https://www.all-creatures.org/aip/nl-20130526-leather.html

Live/Plucked Photo: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/373/242/428/tell-outdoor-gear-companies-to-end-down-plucking-torture-of-live-geese/

Mulesing Photo: https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/wool-industry/mulesing/

Shearing Injury 1: https://www.petaindia.com/features/another-patagonia-approved-wool-producer-exposed-help-sheep-now/

Sea Turtle Eating Plastic Bag Photo: https://www.mcsuk.org/news/turtle-eats-plastic-bag

Silk Info: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombyx_mori

Glycerin info: https://gentleworld.org/hidden-animal-fats/

Gardein Chick’n Patty Review




Chick’N burgers… is there anything greater?

If you’ve been here before, you’ll know that even before going vegan, I was never much of a beef/pork/red meat fan. Chicken was more my jam. I don’t know why, other meats just didn’t taste good to me. (Especially beef)

One of my absolute favourite things ever was having a breaded chicken burger, with some Miracle Whip and lettuce. There’s something just very… I don’t know, satisfying about it. It hits the spot every time.

When I saw these, I was obviously excited to try them.

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I had tried one other chick’n burger brand that was pretty good (I thiiink it might’ve been Yves), but the patty wasn’t breaded. Which, was fine, but I really wanted to find a breaded chick’n burger, so I didn’t have to cross them off my list of favourites. And, I’m so thankful that the vegan movement has come such a long way, and that there are so many different options on the market to choose from, because these looked and tasted just like I remember! (They might even be a bit bigger, too)

Like some of their other products, Gardein only puts 4 in a pack, and I just want to ask: why is the majority of vegan food packaged so small? Are they assuming not whole families are vegan, or that no one will bring their products to get togethers’ for others to try? How do you expect people to share their vegan food with other people (and possibly convince others to go vegan) if you don’t make the food optimal sharing size? You could easily fit at least two more patties in that bag. Honestly the amount in one bag is usually the only thing I don’t like about their products. If they upped their product to bag ratio, they’d be golden.

The inside/chick’n part tastes just like the rest of their other faux chick’n products (I’m pretty sure it’s just tofu), and the breading appears to be just plain old breadcrumbs. Nothing that fancy to write home about for these guys, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not great! Sometimes, all you need/crave is something simple. I understand why vegan companies keep trying to outdo themselves, and go bigger and more flavourful, but sometimes the simplest ingredients/flavours are all you need.

Another great thing about these burgers, is what I’m dubbing The Vegan Advantage: they take virtually no time to cook. 10 minutes on medium heat in a frying pan, or you could throw them in the oven to bake and in almost no time, they’re ready to go.

Put these babies on a whole wheat bun, topped with Hellmann’s’ Carefully Crafted Dressing and Sandwich Spread (vegan Miracle Whip), add some lettuce, and bam! You’ve got yourself a no fuss, filling and flavourful dinner.

Seriously, there’s not even that much more I can say to describe them. If you haven’t tried them already, go out and do it, and watch how fast they become a favourite/summer staple.


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Vegan Fast Food: Cineplex Edition




With the summer months coming up, and school letting out, there’s a good chance that you’ll find yourself at a movie theater sometime in the next few months.

New vegans, fear not! Thanks to this new Surprising Vegan Fast Food series I’m starting, you can still enjoy the fruits of the movie theater labour. Enjoy your movie nights out with no worry as you take a bite out of one of the below foods.

*As always, all the following information is specific to Canada. If you live in a different country, I recommend you check the ingredients yourself for your specific country*

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Concession Stand

Big Screen Snax:

  • Nacho Chips (Plain, Round)
  • Chunky Salsa Regular
  • Jalapeno Slices

Popcorn:

  • Popcorn Topping

The Allergen chart says that the ‘popcorn topping’ is vegan, but the butter topping they use contains milk. I’m assuming the ‘popcorn topping’ is some sort of salt. Good to know you can still enjoy popcorn at the movies! Though I’d recommend perhaps calling ahead, since they would most likely have to make you a brand new batch. (And let’s be honest, that would be pretty annoying to do to the workers without notice, especially if you’re going when it’s busy)

Pop-Topia:

  • Kettle Corn
  • All Dressed

Outtakes:

  • French Fries
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • Onion Rings
  • Pretzels
  • Salt and Cinnamon Sugar
  • Thai Chili Wrap (nix the chicken)Dips:
  • Heinz Plum
  • Honey Mustard (contains honey)
  • Sweet Chili Thai

YoYo’s (Sorbet Flavours)

  • Wicked Watermelon
  • Aloha Pina Colada
  • Blueberry
  • Cherry Bomb
  • Grape Balls of Fire
  • Mango
  • Mango Orange
  • Luscious Limeade
  • Groovy Green Apple
  • Orange Dreamsicle
  • Orange Pineapple
  • Orangey Orange
  • Passion Fruit
  • Peach Passion
  • Tropical Punch
  • Sweet Lemon
  • Punchy Pineapple
  • Pomegranate
  • Puckery Pink Lemonade

I didn’t list them, as they’re not exclusive to Cineplex, but there are a bunch of vegan candies you can usually buy at the concession stands as well.

As you can see, there are many goodies we as vegans can still enjoy at the movies.

Have a movie snack fav I forgot to list? Let me know in the comments!


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Yves Veggie Dog Review




Alright, now that the terrible weather is finally close to being gone, chances are you’ll probably find yourself at a BBQ/summer cook-out of some sort over the next few months. You’ll most likely need to either bring a faux meat with you, or tell the host which brand you’d like. I recommend telling them not to worry, and that I’m fine to bring my own, but if they’re insistent, well Yves is one of the easier faux meat products to find/remember the name of.

I don’t know how, but these things have got a pretty classic ‘hot-dog’ taste. I honestly don’t know what gives real hot-dogs that classic taste – from the recipe’s I’ve seen, most of them say ketchup – but it’s a distinctive flavour nonetheless.

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These taste like hot-dogs, not sausages. You may be wondering if it makes a difference, but trust me, it does. If someone asks you to pick them up sausages, and you grab these, they won’t be thrilled.

I’m not saying these not-dogs (yes I call them not-dogs, cause they’re not dogs! You’re welcome community) are bad, they’re in fact really good – but just know that there’s a difference in taste between sausages and not-dogs. It’s hard to describe if you’ve never had a hot-dog, but they have a universally defined flavour.

I will say, though, I’m thrilled to find a company that makes not-dogs, and not just sausages. I don’t know what it is – maybe they figure hot-dogs are too gross/unhealthy to try to replicate? – but most of the vegan companies I’m aware of only make sausage substitutes. (Or as I like to call them, not-sages)

Not all Yves products are vegan though, so be sure to read the ingredients before buying. So far, I know their Bologne, these not-dogs, their veggie nuggets and faux chick’n burgers are safe. All the ones that are vegan that I’ve tried say ‘vegan’ right on the front. (I’d double check the ingredients anyway, just in case)

So, aside from the classic hot-dog taste, these not-dogs are also really good if you dry-fry them. That is, in a pan with no oil/water. Just plop that sucker on there and roll it around every few minutes. When heated up, they get that classic smoky, BBQ-ed flavour. What I’m assuming is liquid smoke comes out when heated and gives them that awesome flavour.

Also, while heating up, their ‘skin’ begins to blister, and get crispy, which is just like the cherry on top of the smoke-flavoured cake. I don’t know what it is, but I’m a sucker for that blistery, smoky flavour.

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(See those blister-bubbles?)

Another good thing about them is they won’t stand out too much from the rest of the food. They’re a little more rectangular in shape to regular hot-dogs, so you’ll be able to tell them apart, but they’re not so different that people will gawk at them and make fun of you. (If they see the package says ‘vegan’ or question why you’re bringing your own, all bets are off) Also, they look ‘normal’ enough, that some of the other guests may even want to try them.

These are also pretty versatile, just like regular hot-dogs. You can BBQ them plain in a bun like ‘normal’, or cut them up and add them to a pasta salad, or kebabs! (Or mac n cheese, but that’s less summer-y)

Also, you can store them in the freezer without changing their texture, which is always a bonus! You could buy a few packs at a time and keep them in the freezer for when you need them.

All in all, these are a pretty great not-dog option and I definitely recommend you try the plain, and spicy flavoured ones. With these by your side, you won’t have to worry about missing a good old cookout or worry about having to bring your own ‘rabbit food’.


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Vegan Sunscreen





Alright, now that it’s May and we’ve officially left winter behind, what better time to buff up your knowledge of sunscreen before heading out into the sun? (And risking getting terribly sunburnt)

So, you may be asking yourself: ‘wait, sunscreen isn’t vegan?’

Yep, it’s true. It’s not just food that us humans use animals for. We put them (or some part of them) in all kinds of stuff. From plastic bags, to cell phones, to you guessed it – sunscreen.

Now, luckily some companies have seen the light and have begun phasing out the use of animal ingredients. And, while that’s certainly something to celebrate, that’s really only half the battle.

A lot of companies also test sunscreens (and lotions, shampoos, soaps, etc.) on animals! I know, right? And, here’s the kicker: these companies don’t exactly make it easy to find out if they’re testing on animals or not. I mean, why would they readily admit that they’re torturing animals?

So, what’s a newbie vegan (or family member/friend looking for a gift) to do? The below tips should help you out in determining if the product is vegan.

 

  1. Read the Ingredients

I know, I know, you’re not a chemist, I don’t expect you to instantly know every single ingredient listed. I would recommend starting with the list below. These are some of the most common animal-derived ingredients found in sunscreens (and sometimes lotions/creams):

  • Beeswax
  • Chitin (commonly comes from the exoskeletons of crustaceans, insects and even arachnids. It’s essentially ground-up shell)
  • Collagen (a structural protein found in animal connective tissue. Typically from cows, pigs or fish)
  • Elastin (another type of protein. Found in the artery walls, intestines, lungs and skin of animals)
  • Lanolin (Animal fat that’s extracted from sheep’s wool)
  • Stearin/Stearic Acid – derive from the fat of cows, sheep and pigs

If the bottle has a few ingredients you’re not sure about, one of the best things to do is to Google it. Honestly, plugging the name into Google (or whatever search engine you prefer) will usually bring up a short about the product, and usually tell you where it’s derived from. (Sometimes it may tell you an ingredient can be both derived from animals or plants. In that case, I would check the companys’ website to see if they say which one they use)

 

2. Check If It’s Cruelty-Free

This isn’t always as simple as it sounds, unfortunately. While many companies have began using the universal cruelty-free symbol (or some variation of it) on their products, others don’t. It’s not always a simple procedure of a company slapping the logo on their products.

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(These or some variation is usually somewhere on the back of the bottle/product)

Some companies legally can’t put the logo on the bottle, even if it’s cruelty-free in your country, because sometimes, when companies sell to different countries, those countries have different safety laws that require testing on animals.

For example, many companies have taken to adding, ‘(insert company name) doesn’t conduct animal testing of our cosmetic products anywhere in world, except in the rare situation where governments or laws require it.’ to somewhere on their website (usually on a hard to find page that takes some digging).

The biggest example of this, would probably be companies that sell in China. China requires certain products to be tested on animals before being allowed to be sold in their country. So, some companies – while they may be cruelty-free in your country – technically aren’t cruelty-free as a whole, because they sell in China.

Whether you choose to buy from a company that isn’t 100% cruelty-free is your own choice. Some people will swear off buying from that company altogether as a protest, which is great. But that’s not always feasible. Finding vegan products, while improving over the last few years, can still be a hassle. I would say, do your best not to feel guilty if there aren’t any other options around. Remember, veganism is about ‘being as practicable as possible’ – not being 100% all the time.

I would suggest not making a habit out of it (if you feel guilty), and instead try to find one of the vegan sunscreens I’ll list below. (Or try making your own natural sunscreen!)

 

3. Call/E-mail the Company and Ask

If you’ve checked the bottle and didn’t see the above listed ingredients, or the cruelty-free symbol, and you’ve scoured every inch of their website to no avail, the best thing to do is hear it straight from the horses’ mouth. (So to speak)

In my personal experience, it’s usually easier to e-mail the company then call, because sometimes the agent you get won’t know off the top of their head and will likely tell you they need to double check with the correct department and then get back to you. Or, the agent on the phone will give you a very quick yes or no answer and hang up. (Yes, this has happened to me on more then one occasion)

I don’t know why it happens – perhaps they’re busy and need to get to the next customer, perhaps they don’t want to actually check and give you a real answer, or maybe they actually do know that quickly because they get that question all day – whatever the reason, (since you can’t be sure), e-mailing is usually better. It will take longer than a phone call, but a company will usually take the time to explain things in more clarity for you if you e-mail them.

If even after you’ve e-mailed them and they just give you the generic line from their website, I would suggest checking the laws in your own country to see what’s required. You may be happily surprised in your findings.

If all of that seems like way too much work (which honestly, I don’t blame you), and you want something fast and easy, check out one of the below companies/sunscreens. The only research you’d need to do for these, is to see if they’re available in your country:

  • Kiss My Face Organics Mineral SPF30 Air-Powered Spray (their FAQ states most of their products are vegan, with the exception of some containing honey or beeswax)
  • Alba Botanica Cool Sport Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 (their FAQ says all products are vegan, except for those containing beeswax and honey)
  • Pacifica Mineral Sunscreen Coconut Probiotic SPF 30 (the slogan on their website is ‘Pacifica: 100% vegan, cruelty-free’, so I assume all their products are good to use!)
  • Nature’s Gate Mineral Sport Broad Spectrum SPF 20 (not all products are vegan)

These are just a few examples of sunscreens available. I personally haven’t used any of these yet, which brings me to a good point: I’m still finishing off a bottle I have that I received as a gift. I would hope that if you have non-vegan products laying around, that you don’t just throw them away and waste them. If you don’t think you could continue to use them after learning the truth about animal testings (among other things), see if you can donate it to a family member, friend, or even a local charity.

It’s much better to use up the product instead of waste it. It might sound weird, but to me, they already tested the product on the animal/put the animal ingredient into it, so the animal has already suffered/died. I’d much rather use the product then toss it, as if that animals’ suffering doesn’t matter. Some people might not see it that way, which again, is fine. But don’t feel guilty or like you have to trash almost everything you own just because you’re trying to be vegan.

There’s a reason we call it a ‘transition’.


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Tofutti Cuties Original Review




Alright, since we’re getting into the warmer weather now (thank God), I thought what better food to review then an ice-cream sandwich? Might as well help you out with your summer treat shopping before it gets too hot to think.

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This was actually one of the first vegan ice-creams I tried. I remember back before I went vegan and my brother brought these home, excited he found an ice-cream that me and my family could eat, without us being there to help! He was pretty proud of himself, and it wasn’t too long before he started buying the boxes in two’s – and those would maybe last a week. Sometimes, I went to have one, only to discover that there was only one left – and no one else in my family had gotten to them!

Perhaps the best part of that story?  My brother isn’t even vegan – and he devoured them like that for a few summers!

One thing that’s cool about the Tofutti company, is that they make all kinds of different tofu-based products, which makes their cream cheeses, ice-cream and others perfect for people who can’t/won’t eat dairy.

Specifically speaking about these vanilla sandwiches, they come 8 to a box, each individually wrapped in paper and are pretty small. I like that they ran with the small-ness of them and decided to call them Cuties, but practically speaking, if it’s 40C and you need a good cool down snack, you’d need to eat two.

The chocolate cookie is nice and soft, which I like. I’d take soft cookies over hard any day – but one sort of con about their softness, is that sometimes when you unwrap the sandwich, bits of the cookie sticks to the wrapper. It’s no problem to lick the extra off when you’re at home, but if you were to bring these to a summer BBQ or get together, it’d be sad to see it go to waste.

The ice-cream itself is actually pretty surprising when you remember that it’s made out of tofu. It doesn’t taste like you’re eating tofu, it just tastes like ice-cream. (I was equally amazed when my friend Blair made chocolate ice-cream out of sweet potato!) It’s not overly vanilla-y and is pretty ‘plain’ as far as ice-cream flavours though – you won’t find any crazy chunks or chips in this. It’s simple, yet satisfying.

There’s not really too much else to say about it – I’d love to rave about how amazing it is, but that would be lying. It’s great if you want a simple ice-cream treat that you don’t need to scoop into a bowl – and I’m betting it would pack nicely in a lunch bag – but I can’t give it a glowing review.

It’s good for what it is, but I’ve had other ice-cream flavours that I like better, simply because they aren’t as simple. I still definitely eat them, but I would say these are like giving nooch a glowing review. It’s good for what it is, and it’s great to have on hand, but you can’t exactly praise it. It just kind of… is.

I would dare even say they’re a summer staple. Great to have, but doesn’t pack as much punch as say, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. I recommend you try them, since you won’t be disappointed, but you won’t exactly be jumping for joy, either.


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Where Do Vegans Get Their Calcium?




This is the second entry in my new Vegan Nutrient collage series, (check out the first post here), and I figured the simplest way to go about this series would be in order of the most asked questions new vegans get, (and most asked questions new vegans are bound to have).

That’s why this entry, is focusing on calcium.

We definitely have no need to consume cow’s milk (or sheep, or goat), and with all the terrible side effects, why would you want to?

Not to mention, it’s an unnecessary and cruel industry. Seriously, why would you willingly fund such horrors?

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Starting from the top left corner, going clockwise:

  •  Tahini 325mg
  •  Fortified Non-Dairy Milk 200-300mg (depending on which kind)
  •  Seasame Seeds 280mg
  •  Tempeh 215mg
  •  Almonds 200mg
  •  Tofu 150mg
  •  Seitan 142mg
  •  Figs 120mg
  •  Oranges 50-60mg (depending on size)
  •  Blackberries 40mg
  •  Black Beans 294mg
  •  Kidney Beans 263mg
  •  Chickpeas 210mg
  •  Soy White Beans 175mg
  •  Romano Beans 160mg
  •  Navy Beans 125mg
  • Collard Greens 350mg
  • Turnip Greens 250mg
  • Spinach 230mg
  • Kale 180mg
  • Bok Choy 158mg
  • Broccoli 95mg

These are in no way the only plant based sources of calcium, but they are the Top 22 that have the most calcium in them (per 1 cup).

With only needing 1,000mg/day of calcium, you can see how easy it is to meet your daily requirements with plant foods.

I hope you found this collage helpful, whether you’re a new vegan or veg-curious.

Next month, I’ll be talking about vegan sunscreens.


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Yves Veggie Bologna Review




The first time I saw this product, I thought I was going to hate it. I have very un-fond memories of eating a warm, margarine, Kraft single and bologna sandwich while in elementary school. Let me tell you that that is not an easy taste you forget.

Fortunately, this doesn’t taste like vomit, so that’s a win!

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Now, I don’t know if it’s just because real bologne is made kind of like hotdogs, being just a big mismatch of all the leftover meat parts that other (better) products didn’t want, but real bologne is just nasty to me. Maybe it’s tied in with those terrible, terrible sandwiches, or maybe it was just a stigma that my family had passed down to me, but you couldn’t get me to go near real bologne with a ten-foot pole.

This bodes really well for this product, because it doesn’t taste anything like what I remember bologne tasting like. I actually like these deli slices better then their faux chicken and faux ham – I think this one tastes the best! The other two products just don’t taste anything close to the original in my eyes – the faux chicken is too smoky and the faux ham is just… they’re not my favourite options.

I guess it’s easier to make a good tasting faux version of something if the original tastes bad? Perhaps faux spam could be a big hit, who knows?

Another thing I like about this product, is that it’s versatile – you can make a cold-cut (faux-cut? Eeeh?) sandwich with it, heat it up in a wrap, or even cut it into strips and make faux bologne bacon – it tastes good either way. Hell, you could even roll it up and put a toothpick through it as an easy app, it totally works to be eaten by itself.

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(Not the best picture, but this wrap had: Yves Bologna slices, cucumber, Wee Bit Spicy Cheesy Rice and Daiya Mozz Shreds, all wrapped up in a Whole Wheat wrap)

Also, it’s one of the easiest findable pre-made vegan products. Metro, Loblaws, Sobey’s – even No Frills carries it! That’s definitely a plus when out shopping. It’s not the most exciting product, but if you’re in a pinch and need some quick products to throw together a sandwich, or a wrap this product is perfect.

One of the other perks, is you can freeze it without sacrificing its quality or taste. (On their FAQ page, they state that products can be frozen for 1-3 months.) So, you could buy a pack and throw it in the freezer for those times when maybe you’re not close to a store, or for time when you don’t want to run out to a store for only one or two items.

The only downside I think there is about this product, is that each pack only comes with 10 slices, so it goes pretty fast.

All in all, this product is about as great as regular lunch meat. It gets the job done, is pretty versatile, and can be easily found. I’d recommend you try it if you haven’t already.

*Not all of Yves Veggie Cuisine products are vegan. If you’re going to try some of their products, be sure to read the label! (Usually, their vegan products are labelled as such)


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Where Do Vegans Get Their Protein?




This might just be the oldest question in the book there is pertaining to veganism. Even before going vegan, I knew protein wasn’t just in meat – it honestly baffle’s me that some people think that.

However, if you are genuinely wondering, yes, plants have protein, sometimes even more so then animal products!

This new Vegan Nutrient series will be focusing on just that – vegan sources of nutrients. This series is for any new vegans, the veg curious, and any/all family members/friends, etc. who are concerned for the well-being of the vegan they know.

I decided to start with protein, as this is still the #1 question most vegans get asked about. Next to calcium, iron and B12 (which I’ll also be covering)

So, to put your minds at ease, and to give you a nice easy to read poster (perhaps you can print it out and tape it somewhere for ease of access?) here are the top 23 sources of protein for vegans: (per 1 Cup)

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Starting from the top left corner, going clockwise:

  • Seitan 62g
  • Tempeh 41g
  • Tofu 11g
  • Peanuts 56g
  • Almonds 48g
  • Pistachios 48
  • Cashews 40g
  • Brazil Nuts 32g
  • Walnuts 32g
  • Soy/White Beans 29g
  • Black 15g
  • Kidney 13g
  • Pinto 12g
  • Garbonzo Beans 12g
  • Buckwheat 24g
  • Lentils 18g
  • Quinoa 9g
  • Peanut Butter 50g
  • Peas 9g
  • Spinach 5g
  • Raisins 5g
  • Sunflower 40g
  • Pumpkin 64g

As you can see, and will hopefully continue to see throughout this series, there are many different plant sources of protein, and all the other essential nutrients needed to survive. Also, with people only needing roughly 40-60g of protein per day, there shouldn’t be any problems in getting enough.

Hopefully these collages will help put your mind at ease that a vegan diet has all the nutrients you need – minus the cruelty! (This is just one video about what happens to chickens, don’t worry – there’s videos for cows and pigs, too.)

Also, in case you were wondering: ‘Humane’ slaughter is a lie.


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Daiya Supreme Pizza Review




Ah, pizza. One of my favourite foods on the planet. It’s hard to go wrong when you’re giving me pizza. Perfectly acceptable to eat for every meal – it has all the food groups, y’know.

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Frozen pizza is good, but it’s more of what you settle for when you can’t get to the real thing. It usually does the job and fills/satisfies, but is nothing compared to it’s freshly prepared counterpart.

Or at least, that’s what I hear non-vegans describe it as. I don’t know if maybe it’s the novelty of being able to buy a frozen pizza instead of making my own at home (which I still do) or perhaps Daiya just has a stronger frozen pizza game, but I’ve never had that ‘this is gross’ feeling when eating a frozen pizza. All the frozen pizzas (which, to be fair isn’t that many) I’ve tried have been pretty good. This one is my favourite that Daiya makes.

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It was also the first way I tried Beyond Meat and I gotta say, even frozen and mixed with other toppings, I loved it. Since tasting it at A&W in burger form, I’m definitely a fan. While I don’t want to say the Beyond Sausage is the one reason it’s my favourite Daiya pizza, I’m not gonna lie – it definitely helped.

The pizza minus the Beyond Sausage is pretty uneventful – it’s Daiya cheese with veggies. If you like Daiya cheese and veggies, you’ll like it. Although, for some odd reason many vegans don’t like Daiya cheese, so I guess don’t buy their pizzas then?

I would personally like there to be more crust, but even still, it’s one of my favourite thin crust pizzas. It’s not so thin where it flops under the weight of the toppings and doesn’t even rip when you bite it (looking at you Pizza Nova), but it’s definitely not a thick crust.

Another thing I would say they could improve on, is that the toppings go all the way to the edges of the pizza – there’s no crust handle! How am I supposed to hold the thing? Underneath like a madman? No. Give us that edge to hold onto – it would definitely make dipping it in say, HotforFoods’ Ranch dip easier.

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(This picture isn’t the supreme pizza)

All in all, this pizza is pretty good, not overly floppy, has a decent amount of toppings and it’s a good size for being a ‘one person’ pizza. I usually cut it into 8 slices and eat half now and save half for later. (Or sometimes I just eat it all) It’s definitely my favourite out of the pizzas I’ve tried from Daiya. I would recommend you try it if you haven’t already.


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