Tag Archives: the veg life

Vegan Fast Food: PizzaPizza Edition

Here’s the next installment of the Vegan Fast Food series.

I know, I know, another vegan series? Well yes, because apparently there is still surprisingly little information out there that’s quick access to help vegans, so I’ve taken it upon myself to put in the work for future generations. (You’re welcome)

I honestly don’t know why, but I’ve heard a lot of people bag on PizzaPizza. Personally, they’re my favourite pizza place! They actually allow you to have thick crust, have quality ingredients, their squishy fries are amazing and have some of the best vegan options! (For a non-vegan place)

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Starting in the top left corner, going across:

  • Classic Crust
  • Whole Grain Crust
  • Cauliflower Crust
  • Home-style Tomato Sauce (This is the same as the Italian Marinara dipping sauce)
  • Dairy-Free Cheeze (Violife)
  • Artichokes
  • Cilantro
  • Caramelized Onion
  • Hot Banana Peppers
  • Grilled Zucchini
  • Spinach
  • Sundried Tomato
  • Fire Roasted Red Peppers
  • Pineapple
  • Red Onion
  • Mushrooms
  • Black Olives
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Roma Tomatoes
  • Roasted Garlic
  • Green Pepper
  • Green Olives
  • Broccoli
  • Plant Based Pepperoni
  • Plant Based Chorizo
  • Hot Sauce
  • Sweet Chili
  • Bruschetta
  • Zesty Italian Salad Dressing
  • Balsamic Vinegrette
  • Potato Wedges
  • Regular Fries
  • Onion Rings
  • Sweet Potato Fries

Lays Classic, Ruffle’s All Dressed and most of their drinks are some other vegan offerings that aren’t listed in the picture.

The Veggie Quesadilla unfortunately won’t let you switch to dairy-free cheeze, but both the Calzones and Panzerottis can be customized to be vegan. The Italiano Blend, Sweet Garlic and Pepper and Chili Flakes are also vegan, if you wish to add those to your pizzas as well. (They’re listed under ‘free toppings’)

The Garden Salad is also vegan, but beware the croutons: they have whey in them.

The Honey Garlic dipping sauce is also fine, if you’re a vegan who eats honey, but the Honey Mustard dip contains eggs.

And, as always: These ingredients are for Canada only. I recommend you look up the ingredients for your own country.


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Daiya Monterey Jack Style Block Review

Since I did a chocolate review last year, I thought cheese would be a perfect pairing for this years’ Valentine’s Day.

Because let’s face it: everyone wants to try fondue at least once in their life, because it just seems pretty darn romantic! And what better day than to show off your romantic side than Valentine’s? (Daiya even has a dairy-free fondue recipe on their website!)

I want to start by saying this is my absolute favourite cheese, vegan or otherwise.

I honestly don’t know why Daiya gets such a bad wrap in the vegan community, yes it can be a little…. stronger than other cheeses, but that doesn’t make it bad!

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This was the first vegan cheese I ever tried, and – after years of eating nothing but goat cheese – this was a very welcome break from that game-y taste. (If you’ve ever had goat cheese, you know what I’m talking about)

I also like the texture of the block – they’re perfect for cutting up into slices and eating cold! You could of course still shred them up and use them on pasta, hot sandwiches, or whatever else you put melted cheese on. My favourite way to eat any of the blocks though is by itself in cold sliced form. (Sometimes with crackers)

Speaking of the texture, I have noticed it’s changed. It’s almost the same, but I’ve noticed the last few times I’ve bought them, when I went to cut slices off the block, they’ve been sticking more to the knife, and seem more almost-melty. Like they used to get if you carried them home from the store in the summer and they got a bit melted but were still firm. I’m not sure if they changed the recipe, or if there was just a less stable batch or something that went out, but I have to say, I don’t like the new texture as much. I don’t want to have to peel off pieces of broken slices from my knife.

Now, I don’t know what ‘real’ Monterey Jack cheese tastes like, but this one has a pretty mild taste. I used to think Mozzarella was the ‘plainest’ cheese taste, but this beats it by a landslide. Mozzarella has a bit of a like, twang-y taste to it (yes I know ‘twang isn’t a flavour), that I don’t like too much. This one is the plainest of cheeses I’ve tasted – it’s a pretty neutral taste, which is why I think it’s the perfect flavour.

I don’t know all those typical cheese descriptions – nutty, earthy, etc. I don’t know what any of those mean, so the best description I can give it would be it’s like the water of cheese flavours: you can pair it with anything and it won’t be weird. (Unless you pair it with like, mints or something)

One thing I can say I definitely don’t like about this, and all the other blocks: They’re $5.99 each! With how small the blocks are, (I can usually finish a whole block in one day and a half [or less]) you’d think they wouldn’t be so expensive.

At one point, I was buying them in 4’s just so I’d have enough for 1 week – that’s $20 on cheese alone! Who has that kind of money?

I complain about this in a lot of my reviews of vegan products, but I’m gonna continue to complain until something changes. Either lower the price (even 4.99 would be better), or make the products bigger. How can we expect more people to go vegan when the ‘transition’ products are so anti-family sized and expensive? (Like the Beyond Burgers – 2 in a giant plastic container that could easily fit 4-6 for $20 – and that’s the raw ones!)

And I know, I know, I don’t know how much it takes to produce the blocks, and that may be as low of a price as they can make them for the company to make a profit, but guess what? If you drop the price, more people will buy them, because they’ll be actually affordable and it will (most likely) even out. I know I’d definitely buy way more of them if the price was lower (or they were bigger). Especially because you can put them in the freezer! You could go on a stock up trip and throw them in the freezer to keep on hand.

If you do put the blocks in the freezer though, I recommend you only use them to be melted or in a hot dish. Once they go in the freezer, the texture gets ‘snowy’ and they don’t work as well as cold slices for a snack. Once heated, they retain the flavour and melt-y/stretchy texture.

That’s pretty much all I think I can say about this block. It’s my favourite, even though it’s a bit on the expensive side and small. (But all the blocks are the same size/price)

If you haven’t tried it yet, I definitely recommend it, and I recommend trying it cold first before you throw it into a dish. Just so you get an untainted flavour of the cheese. If you don’t know what it tastes like by itself, how will you know what to put it in?


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4th Year Veganversary

I don’t want to start each of these with ‘isn’t it crazy’ but…

It is crazy! Being 4 years vegan feels awesome to say!

And as cliché as it is, it really feels like I’ve been vegan forever. For almost two decades of my life, I was contributing to such atrocities and I didn’t realize what I was doing. How someone could see the proof of what’s happening and remain uncaring is such a foreign concept to me, my brain seriously doesn’t compute it. Why would anyone willingly choose to be cruel?

I’ll admit, I was taught in school that beef comes from cows, pork from pigs, etc., but for some reason, as a child, it didn’t click to me that those meats were the flesh from the animals. It’s not exactly like they tell a bunch of kids that in health class. It’s not an excuse by any means – the info was always there to be learned, and I am ashamed it took me so long to begin to look into things – but as soon as I started to research I was so sickened by what was happening, I vowed to stop contributing to that right then and there.

While on the subject of the horrors that happen, if you haven’t checked out Earthlings yet, I highly recommend it. It’s pretty graphic, but if you can’t stomach what’s happening to the animals, maybe you shouldn’t be paying other people to do that on your behalf.

I also think it’s kind of funny that the year I went vegan was the same year I put out my first three novellas. I’m not saying it’s at all related, but well… three in 1 year is a lot.

Last year, I focused more on the food aspect of being vegan, so this year I think I’m gonna focus on all the good you can do for the planet.

 

Exhibit A:

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegan Tips - 4th Year Veganversary - Vegan anniversary, vegan food, animals saved, veganism

Look at those stats! I’ve saved 1.6 million gallons of water, 43,800 square footage of forest, reduced my CO2 emissions and saved 1,460 animals lives – all by just changing my diet!

Now, veganism is much more than just a diet, but even just by changing what you eat, look at all the good you can do!

To put these into perspective for you:

The average 8 min shower takes 17.2G of water. Saving 1.6 million gallons is the equivalent of 93,023 showers – this is about triple the amount the average person will take in their lifetime! (The average person will take 28,000 showers)

For baths – which use 70G of water per bath – this is the equivalent of 22,857 baths.

The average person eats 300lbs of grain per year. 58,400 lbs of grain is enough to feed 1 person for 194.6 years. (or 2 people for an entire lifetime [provided they die at 80])

Would you rather not shower/bath or eat for literally your entire life (and then some), or just give up animal products for 4 years???

Exactly.

If you’re interested in learning how to go vegan, to save not only animals, but the planet you live on, I recommend checking out my Vegan Tips page. I have everything from where to start to the answers to some of the most common misconceptions.

Before I went vegan, I consumed roughly 7,300 animals. That means I still have 5,840 animals to save – or 4 more years being vegan until my scale is balanced. While it’s sad for me to think about all the animals I carelessly consumed before I knew better, it helps to know that I’ve since stopped that and am working hard to not continue the cycle of horror.

Since going vegan, it’s made me much more cautious of not only what I put in my body, but to also be wary of what others tell me. I try not to take anything at face value, and I recommend you do the same. Don’t just trust some stranger-on-the-internets’ opinion – do your own research and come to your own conclusions. You may learn something about yourself, like I did.

I learned that while I liked to think of myself as a good, compassion person, I really wasn’t living that way. So I decided to do something about it. That’s the great thing about life! If you don’t like something about yourself, you can take steps to change it!

One of the biggest values I have is being self-sufficient. Should shit hit the fan, and a global disaster happens (let’s face it, we’re not very far from something happening), I think it’s important to be able to rely on yourself, and know that you have the skills to survive without relying on ‘society’ – especially because ‘society’ as a whole isn’t the best.

Let’s be honest, living in a way ‘society’ deems ‘unworthy’ or ‘weird’ usually just means you think for yourself. Why would you want to be part of a culture, city, etc. that frowns upon making your own opinions?

I hope to one day be able to live in a way where I’m doing the least amount of harm as I can. This means using less single-use plastics, growing most (if not all) of my own food, finding reusable resources for everything I can, and using renewable energy.

And, (not that I planned that), that actually brings me into a great segway into introducing my new article series: No. Mad.

It’s a new section of the website I’ll be making to chronicle my upcoming adventures of travelling around the world, learning about solar panels, and living as naturally as I can. You guys will come along with the ride and will get articles and a great inside look into the world I’ve been slowly working toward.

The No. Mad. Intro will be published March 3rd, so be sure to keep an eye out for that!

Aaand I think that is the perfect place to wrap up this article.

I can’t wait until next year when I get to say I’ve been vegan for 5 years, 10 years, etc.!

Oh, and, I still haven’t died from nutrient deficiency. 😉


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Daiya Deluxe Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac Review

*IMPORTANT*

This is the last product review of 2019! (It’s also the last post)

Right now, my plan is to come back on January 17th (with the first Throw Away Fic of 2020) in which case the next product review won’t be until Feb. 13th and then continue on the pattern of the 13th of every month.

I hope you all have an awesome holiday season, get presents you actually want, and I’ll see you all in the New Year.

AI


Ah, Daiya. You’ve yet to disappoint me (with the exception of yogurt, but that isn’t your fault, I hate the consistency) and I’m so happy I get to finally review the mac n cheese you have!

Nothing was really stopping me before, I just try to pick the products I review so they go somewhat with the seasons – hence the burgers in the summer, and the soups and heartier foods in the winter. This particular product was hard to decide on though, since you can eat it any time. It’s kind of like Kraft Dinner, you can eat it at any time.

Technically, mac n cheese is a hearty food, so that’s why I decided to do the review in the winter.

Aaand that’s enough babbling – onto the review!

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Product Reviews - Daiya Cheddar Mac Review - vegan food, vegan food review, food reviewer, vegan mac n cheese, vegan cheese, vegan cheddar

I can’t say taste-wise if it tastes like real cheese, but I can say it tastes like Daiya cheese. Which many people find to be… a bit strong. (To put it mildly) Let’s just say: if you like how powerful Daiya tastes, you’ll like this.

The box claims it makes 3 servings, but who are we kidding? 1 box = 1 bowl. It is very filling, the way mac n cheese should be. You know after you eat a bunch of food and then you’re ‘gross full’? It’s on the cusp of that and when you eat a bunch of vegetables where you feel full but not like you could vomit. (Maybe that’s why they say to eat it in multiple sittings?)

It also says on the box to just dump the cheese packet over the cooked pasta and mix. That is the gist of mac n cheese making, but if you follow those directions, it comes out very thick. What I like to do, is cook the pasta, drain it and then add it back into the pot/sauce pan and melt some butter and a bit of dairy-free milk and then add the sauce packet. I find this helps thin it out a bit and lessens the Daiya taste a smidge, too.

Overall, the dish is pretty basic – noodles + cheese pack – but I’m a fan of not over-complicated foods. It’s mac n cheese in a box, what do you expect?

If you want to jazz it up, you can add some salt and pepper, and (if you’re feeling even more adventurous) you can add some No Name Bacon Bits. Or, they have other versions of the mac n cheese, one I think comes with bacon bits, and the other comes with vegetable bits. (I don’t like the vegetable piece one as much as the others)

1 box is usually around $6, and in keeping with the vegan food prices? That’s not that bad at all. I definitely try to keep some of these on hand for a lazy meal – they’re super easy to throw together too! Maybe 10 minutes to cook and mix everything, and they’re filling.

This is one of the best vegan ‘convenience’ foods I’ve tried. I definitely recommend trying it out, especially for the long winter ahead. Time to stock up now!


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Surprising Vegan Crackers




Last year, I did Surprising Vegan Soups, and since it’s starting to get cold again, I figured what better compliment than to do a crackers addition? We wouldn’t want your soup to get lonely, would we?

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Listed from the top-left corner going clockwise:

  • Triscuits Original
  • Triscuits Hint of Salt
  • Triscuits Reduced Fat
  • Triscuits Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  • Triscuits Roasted Red Pepper
  • Triscuits Rosemary and Olive Oil
  • Triscuits Wasabi and Soy Sauce
  • Triscuits Organic Original
  • Triscuits Cranberry and Sage
  • Triscuits Sriracha
  • Triscuits Fire Roasted Tomato and Olive Oil
  • Triscuits Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil
  • Triscuits Dill, Sea Salt and Olive Oil
  • Triscuits Olive
  • Triscuits Garden Herb
  • Triscuits Balsamic Vinegar and Basil
  • Triscuits Ginger and Lemongrass
  • Triscuits Thin Crisps Cinnamon
  • Vegetable Thins
  • Premium Plus Unsalted Tops
  • Premium Plus Salted Tops
  • Premium Plus Whole Wheat
  • Crispers All Dressed
  • Crispers BBQ
  • Crispers Salt and Vinegar
  • Ritz Original
  • Ritz Whole Wheat

There were a few cracker brands I never heard back from in regards to certain ambiguous ingredients (a favourite seemed to be ‘flavour’ with no further explanation) so I obviously didn’t include those as I wasn’t 100% certain.

You may be surprised to see Crispers listed here, and I would’ve been too. When I was doing the Surprising Vegan Chips collage, I was going to add them, but I found out their official definition was: Crispers crackers are packed with intense flavour and a satisfying crunch! They’re baked, not fried, making Crispers a great snack alternative. (Also, apparently they’re only available in Canada)

As always, these are all vegan as of Canadian ingredients – if you’re in a different country, please do your own research and check the ingredients for your own region as sometimes they change.


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Gardein Stuffed Turk’y w/ Gravy Review




I know, I know, I missed Canadian Thanksgiving. But, I figured most of the people reading this are in the US, so I’m not late. (Technically)

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I want to start off by saying I haven’t tried the other ‘holiday loafs’ that are out, so I can’t really do a comparison.

That said though, this one is good. The ‘stuffed turkeys’ were a lot smaller than I thought they’d be (they were only about the size of my palm), and for only having 2 per package, if you were planning on sharing, that kinda goes out the window.

Honestly, why do vegan companies insist on doing this? You want more people to go vegan? Make some family sized products! Then at least you have enough for people to try without them eating 50% of the only food you can eat at the get-together. Seriously, it’s getting ridiculous.

Okay, sorry about that, getting back on track, you probably won’t want to share these, because they’re so good. I mean, it could be better (without the breading, it just tastes like tofu) but it’s pretty good for what it is. I wouldn’t say ‘this will fool a meat eater’ or anything because it won’t. You 1,000,000% can tell it’s tofu with breadcrumbs and stuffing. But that’s okay! Not every vegan substitute needs to taste exactly like meat! I personally am fine with eating a mushroom burger that tastes like mushrooms. I’m one of those people who actually likes the taste of veggies, so for me, this tastes good.

If you’re someone who was hoping to find a holiday roast or something to fool a meat-eater, or like the closer-to-meat tasting substitutes, then this product isn’t for you. For that, I’d recommend Beyond Meat. Their beef burger tastes so much like beef I actually don’t like it as much. (Too weird for me)

I do wish that the stuffing didn’t come inside the turk’y as well. I don’t know if it’s how I grew up or whatever, but we never left the stuffing inside the meat. It would get cooked in there, and then served separate in it’s own bowl as a side dish. Also, I feel like by adding the stuffing it’s a biiit of a rip off, because you’re getting less ‘meat’. And again, for how tiny they are to begin with, you’d think they wouldn’t be that stingy. I’m also not too much a fan of the cranberries, but that’s just personal taste.

The breading holds up pretty well (as long as you oil the pan/use non-stick) and it isn’t too soft to cut through, either. I think they should’ve seasoned the ‘meat’/tofu itself though, just to give it a better flavour. If the breading comes off and you eat the stuffing separate, the ‘meat’ is pretty bland.

Also, for the gravy: You should give two packs of gravy, or make the pack of gravy resealable. That way, if you only want to make one of the little stuffed turk’y things, you can save some of the gravy for the second. As it is, you either have to eat both at the same time, or, eat one dry and one with gravy. And, while I’m complaining, put more gravy! The one pack is barely enough to cover one of the stuffed turk’ies. Remember, after you pour gravy over something with breading, the breading will soak up the gravy, thus making it ‘dry’ again. Hence, you need more!

All in all, for being a frozen meal, it’s pretty good. If you wanted to bring it for Thanksgiving dinner though, I’d recommend buying two packs. That way you’ll have enough should people get curious enough to try it, and you’ll have leftovers. (And, let’s face it, isn’t that the best part of Thanksgiving anyway?)


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Surprising Vegan Chips




In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d put out the next Surprising Vegan article. I know that you can eat chips all year round, but since I already did a Halloween candy post, and chocolate one, with the addition of chips, you can have the most rockin’ Halloween party snacks around.

No more sitting in the corner crying because there’s ‘no vegan food’ – with this series, carnists have zero excuses.

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In order starting from the top left corner, clockwise:

  • Neal Brothers Easy Rounders
  • Neal Brothers New Classics
  • Neal Brothers Pure Pink
  • Neal Brothers Pure Pink and Vinegar
  • Neal Brothers Sweet and Smoky BBQ
  • Neal Brothers Maple Bacon Forever
  • Neal Brothers Srirachup
  • Neal Brothers Deep Blue
  • Neal Brothers Deep Blue Flax
  • Sun Chips Original
  • Late July Resturant Sea Salt
  • Late July Resturant Lime
  • Late July Purple Corn
  • Late July Chia and Quinoa
  • Late July Cantina Dippers Blue Corn
  • Late July Cantina Dippers White Corn
  • Late July Sweet Potato
  • Late July Sea Salt
  • Late July Red Hot Mojo
  • Late July Sublime
  • Late July Bacon Habenero
  • Late July Jalapeno Lime
  • Late July Sriracha Fresca
  • Late July Blues
  • Late July Crispy Yellow Corn
  • Lays Oven Baked Original
  • Lays Salt and Vinegar (Blue Bag)
  • Lays Classic*
  • Doritos Ketchup
  • Doritos Sweet Chili Heat
  • Old Dutch Ketchup
  • Old Dutch Original
  • Ruffles All Dressed
  • Ruffles Original
  • Tostitos Multigrain
  • Tostitos Restaurant Style
  • Tostitos Scoops
  • Tostitos Rounds
  • Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Veggie Chips
  • Pringles Ketchup
  • Pringles Original

*Lays Classic is made with pork enzymes in the US, making them not vegan. However, in Canada they don’t, so they’re safe to consume. Check out the US list here (at the time of writing, I’ve only been able to find a Canadian and US list, I’d suggest contacting the company for other specific countries)

This list (as well as this series) is always for Canadian ingredients – ingredients may differ (and therefore products may or may not be vegan) in differing countries. Please do your own research and look up the ingredients for specified foods for your own country.

This list also doesn’t mention all the marketed-as-vegan chips (like the Que Pasa Nacho chips – I recommend these btw, they’re so good!) as this is the Surprising Vegan series. If you Google ‘vegan ____’ tons of different options come up, but the point of this series is to find non-vegan-marketed foods that are safe for vegans to eat.

There are many instances where known vegan food might not be available, so it’s always great to have a list of foods that you know you can eat that may be easier/cheaper to find.

Daiya Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Pizza Review





Ah, Daiya. I don’t understand why so many people hate this company. I’ve had nothing but pleasant experiences with them. The only ‘issue’ I’ve ever had was one time I bought a block of their cheese from a store and it was mold-y. But, I sent them pictures, and they sent me coupons for compensation. How nice is that?

That said, this isn’t my favourite pizza from them. My favourite is the Supreme pizza, and I have a suspicion I would like their Meatless Lovers’ too, but I’ve yet to find it. Every store I’ve been to that sells their pizzas are either sold out of the Meatless Lovers’, or they just don’t carry that kind. I have no idea why, but it’s actually getting a little annoying. (Same as the Monterey Jack Blocks are getting harder and harder to find – they’re my favourite ones! I had to start buying them in 4’s!)

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Most of the Daiya frozen pizzas taste the same, which makes sense because it’s the same company. It’s the same crust, sauce and cheese, they just change the toppings. The garlic bits on the pizza are a little much for my taste. I don’t really understand why they put bits of real garlic on the pizza, so you actually bite into hunks of garlic. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t find that part appetizing.

The rest of the pizza is not really overwhelming. It’s watery mushrooms on top of a frozen pizza crust. Not really something to write home about, but I have also had worse. It hits the spot, and isn’t as hard to find as the other kinds, but it’s also not their best.

As said before, there’s no real ‘wow!’ factor to it, it’s just… good. Will do in a pinch, and gets the job done of satisfying your hunger.

I know that’s not really an exciting review, especially after the in depth one of the Vegan Food and Drink Festival from last month, but there’s just not really too much to say about this pizza.

It’s good, but it’s not their best. If you haven’t tried any of them, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this one, but if there is nothing else, it’ll get the job done.


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Where Do Vegans Get Their Iron?





I do apologize that this article was a day late. As we all know, life got in the way and prevented me from finishing on top (also why there is no Throw Away Fic this week).

Better late than never though, right? Especially when it comes to learning about nutrition. This is the third installment of my Vegan Nutrient Collage series.

It’s not as common to get questions about iron, but it’s still good to bust myths. Most people know iron is in blood, so I understand the logic of ‘animals have blood, I should eat them to get iron’, but luckily for us, iron isn’t only found in blood. It’s in all kinds of plants, too!

Take a look for yourself:

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegan Nutrient Collage Series - Where Do Vegans Get Their Iron?

Starting in the top left corner, going clockwise:

  • Lentils 6.6mg
  • Soy Beans (29.2mg)
  • Chickpeas (12.5mg)
  • Red Kidney Beans (15.1mg)
  • Oatmeal 29.9mg
  • Fortified Cereal 18mg
  • Quinoa 6.3mg
  • Brown Rice  .8mg
  • Spinach 6.5mg
  • Swiss Chard 4mg
  • Kale 1mg
  • Swiss Chard .2mg
  • Sesame Seeds 21mg
  • Sunflower 7.4mg
  • Cashews 6.7mg
  • Peanuts 6.7mg
  • Pistachio 4.8mg
  • Pumpkin Seeds 2.1mg
  • Tofu 13.2mg

With only needing 16-18mg (a bit more if you’re a menstruating woman) it’s really not that hard to get all the iron you need. As long as you eat a balanced diet, you shouldn’t have trouble getting any of the essential nutrients you need to survive.

This will be the last entry of the Nutrient Collage series for this year – but don’t worry, I’ll continue the lesson into the new year!

Next month is Halloween – the spookiest time of the year! Not to worry vegans – there’s plenty of Halloween treats we can still enjoy! Next month I’ll give you Surprising Vegan Chips so you can get your snack on. Until then, check out my Surprising Vegan Halloween Candy collage and start stocking up!


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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/