Tag Archives: vegan tips

Surprising Vegan Cookies

Important Note: Aside from Decembers’ product review, and the End of Year post, this is the last article for 2020!

I’m going to be taking the last half of December, and the first half of January off, so I will be back with a short story Jan. 15th, meaning the first post will go up the following Monday. (Jan. 17th)

Keep an eye on my social media for the announcement or if anything changes. (Or if you just want to say ‘hey’)


This article was written 20.06.23, when COVID-19 lock down restrictions were just beginning to ease in Toronto/Canada. Please excuse any joke, comment, etc. that is no longer applicable.


With the end of the year fast approaching, and the holidays coming up, I figured now would be the perfect time to do the next Surprising Vegan post.

Whether you’re hosting a circle-of-10 approved party, or want to eat a box while you sit alone watching holiday movies, the below list of surprising vegan cookies – along with the candy and chocolate collages – you now have the snack trifecta of perfect vegan approved stocking stuffers.

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Starting from the top left corner, and going clockwise:

  •  Original Oreo
  • Golden Oreo
  • Birthday Cake Oreo (Red 40, Yellow 5+6, Blue 1)
  • Chocolate Creme Oreo
  • Dark Chocolate Oreo
  • Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pie Oreo
  • Mint Oreo (Yellow 5, Blue 1)
  • Double Stuffed Original Oreo
  • Double Stuffed Golden Oreo
  • Original Thins Oreo
  • Golden Thins Oreo
  • Oreo Mini Originals
  • Dad’s Original Oatmeal
  • Dad’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip
  • Dad’s Oatmeal Raisin
  • Dad’s Chocolatey Coating Oatmeal
  • Pirate Cookies
  • Fudgee-O Original
  • Christie Maple Leaf Cookies 

I was actually surprised that not more of the Oreo flavours used food dyes. This also isn’t a complete Oreo vegan-friendly list. There were some flavours I found that were only available in the US, and while they technically aren’t vegan in the US (due to bone char being used in sugar processing),  I was also (only midly) surprised that some of the more… fun flavours – like Mega Stuffed and Heads or Tails – were US only.

As always, the following are based on the Canadian ingredients I could find. I was also quite disappointed to learn that Mondelez International owned the Dad’s and Oreo brands, which made finding the ingredients much harder than it needed to be. I ended up having to e-mail them, only to get a generic ‘check the package’ answer.

The way their websites are set up is just not user friendly. Every time I do one of these collages and I see that they’re the parent company of a brand, I just know it’s going to be a headache to deal with. You’d think if they didn’t want to take the time to answer e-mails with ingredient questions, they would put it in part of their FAQ or make it readily available on their website, but alas…

Anyway, due to their less-than-helpful response, I had to rely on grocery store ingredients for the above, instead of the actual companies ingredients. This means that the ingredients I found may be wrong, or may change, and I recommend checking the ingredients each time you buy a product, along with checking for your specific country.


Like this article? Check out the rest of the series here!

Vegan Cheese Alternatives

Disclaimer:

This article contains sensitive/graphic (ish) images depicting what happens to cows in the dairy industry for a process called articifical insemination. Please continue with caution and skip over the pictures if needed.


Ah, cheese.

What can I say about cheese?

There are so many different flavours, aromas and ways of making cheese out there… so why would you choose to eat the cruel cheese?

In case you don’t know, to make cheese, you need milk. And milk comes from cows. But, cows only produce milk only when pregnant, much like humans. They don’t ‘need’ to be milked.

This means that in order to get the milk from a cow, the cow first needs to be pregnant. And let me tell you, if you think farmers just wait for the cows to go get it on, you are sorely mistaken. To keep up with demand (which, I don’t really understand because from my memory milk didn’t even taste good), farmers’ need to artificially inseminate the cow, which is a fancy way of saying they shove their arm up it’s ass and shoot semen into the cows cervix with a giant needle looking thing.

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Seriously, who in their right mind would a) think this is a good idea and b) want to continue to fund this? I mean look at that! You see why this is messed up, right?

Anyway, after they do that, they then steal the baby, and either do the same thing to the baby if it’s a female, or they cart off the male to get butchered and if you’ve ever wondered what veal is, well now you know.

To turn milk into the actual cheese that you eat, they add rennet, which is an enzyme that curdles the milk. Yes, you read that correctly, the milk is curdled to make cheese, because cheese is a mold. Check out more on the whole factory process of milk being turned into cheese here.

This also isn’t even mentioning the fact that cheese is addictive. One of the most common things people who want to go vegan struggle with giving up is cheese, and that’s for good reason! Not only is cheese more crave-able because it’s high in fat, but it’s also addictive because of the high concentration of casein. (A milk protein) When casein is digested, it becomes casomorphin, which is a type of opioid. And I think we all know how that affects the brain.

With that said, you don’t have to fear! You can make cheese out of a lot of different things, not just out of cows’ milk! You can not only use other animal milks (like goat or buffalo), but you can also use tofu or different kinds of nuts. Which brings us to the vegan alternatives for cheese:

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In case you don’t know, here are the brands/kinds of cheese in the collage, listed starting in the top left-hand corner, and moving clockwise:

  • Daiya Medium Cheddar Style Block
  • Daiya Jalapeno Havarti Style Block
  • Daiya Smoked Gouda Style Block
  • Daiya Provolone Style Slices
  • Daiya Swiss Style Slices
  • Earth Island* Mozzarella Style Slices
  • Earth Island Garden Herb Style Slices
  • Earth Island Pepper Jack Style Slices
  • Nuts for Cheese Un-Brie-lievable Wedge
  • Nuts for Cheese Super Blue Wedge
  • Nuts for Cheese Smoky Artichoke and Herb Wedge
  • Violife Just Like Parmesan Wedge
  • Violife Prosociano Wedge
  • Chao Tomato Cayenne Slices
  • Chao Creamy Original Slices
  • Miyoko’s Double Classic Chive Cheese Wheel
  • Miyoko’s Sun-Dried Tomato and Garlic Cheese Wheel

As you can see, there are lots of different types of cheeses out there. These aren’t even all the cheeses these brands make. I tried to showcase some of the different options available, which are tofu, cashew and potato. (Yes, potato!)

I recommend checking out these brands, if you’d like to dip your toes in and see what’s out there, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can try making your own cheese at home!

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(This is a picture of my attempt at homemade cashew cheese. While it didn’t turn out quite as hard as I expected, it still tasted good, and was fun to do!)

Quitting dairy cheese may be hard if you find yourself addicted, but begin by replacing it with some of these alternatives, and in the blink of an eye, you won’t even remember not being able to not eat it.

*Earth Island is called Follow Your Heart in the US.


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(Artificial Insemination photo from here)

Vegan Fast Food: A&W Edition

Just like with the other additions of this series, I’m beginning to notice that while there are more offerings than before, there’s still pretty pitiful amounts of vegan food available at non-vegan fast food places.

Seriously, didn’t these guys get the memo?

Luckily though, it makes it easier to do these types of posts because it takes way less time to research the ingredients than it does for the Surprising Vegan series.

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Starting in the top left corner, going clockwise:

  • Beyond Meat Burger*
  • Beyond Sausage and Egger*
  • Russet Thick Cut Fries
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • Root Beer Lollipops**
  • Root Beer**
  • Coca-Cola**
  • Iced Tea
  • Sprite
  • Apple Juice
  • Orange Juice
  • Lemonade***

*In case you missed it when it was announced, the Beyond Meat burger is not vegan upon ordering. You need to clarify that you would like it with out the mayo or mustard.

The Beyond Sausage and Egger is also (unfortunately) not vegan upon ordering. For the Sausage and Egger, you actually have to ask them to hold the egg and cheese. The margarine they use is actually vegan-friendly! And, you can also always get the Beyond Meat Sausage and Veggie instead. (That one the whole thing is vegan, but it’s listed on the website under the Beyond Sausage and Egger)

**Okay, so this is a bit of a weird thing I discovered. For the Root Beer, it listed ‘Colour (Caramel IV)’ and me being the curious person I am, decided to Google what that was. In my Googling (it was actually pretty much the first thing that popped up) I discovered that this colouring wasn’t vegan, either. (If you don’t feel like clicking through, it was tested on rats and mice to see if it was toxic)

Some of the other names this Caramel IV goes by include:

  • Caramel Colour
  • Ammonia sulfite process caramel
  • Sulfite ammonia caramel
  • Sulfite ammonia process caramel
  • Acid-proof caramel
  • Beverage caramel
  • Soft-drink caramel

I’ll sadly be adding this to the list of other food dyes that are tested on animals and doing my best to avoid it. (Thank God I don’t drink pop!)

*** The Lemonade is vegan, but there was no picture available.

Well there you go!

There’s juuuust enough vegan food available so that you won’t starve if there’s nothing else around. And hey, at least they’ve got a burger option now!


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Vegan Milk Alternatives

… You’re still drinking cows’ milk?

In 2020?!

Why???

There are literally tons of non-cruel alternatives to cows’ milk. Why are you still funding such a cruel and unnecessary industry?

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I made this collage out of alternatives I thought up in about 5 seconds.

Off the top of my head, I came up with:

  • Soy
  • Almond
  • Coconut
  • Pea
  • Oat

There’s obviously way more than just 5 alternatives – since you can make milk out of just about anything – but 5 alternatives for a 5 second brain storm is pretty good.

Some other popular alternatives are:

  • Rice
  • Cashew
  • Hemp
  • Hazelnut (Walnut, Pistachio, Macadamia, and just about any other nut you can think of)
  • Sunflower

So, now you know what’s wrong with dairy, and have at least 10 alternatives to choose from, what are you gonna do with this knowledge? You can no longer claim ignorance, since I’ve just given you all the info you need to make a change.

Wanna know what else I’ve given you?

Zero excuses.


Like this article? Check out more vegan tips here!

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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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:

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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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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.


Like this article? Check out the rest of the Surprising Vegan Series!

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/

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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