Finding our way in a non-vegan world can be quite daunting. Products you have used all your life will suddenly reveal themselves in a different light. Choosing healthy, simple whole foods and products, that are made from ingredients you trust and know, will make your life a whole lot easier.
Things can get very complex when you are taking into account organic, non-GMO and fair trade products.
Elated uses this simple definition:
a vegan product contains no animal products or by-products.
Here is a little more information about products that can be grey areas in a vegan lifestyle. The approval ratings are a guide to what is the general rule of thumb for the brands you can find in South Africa.
√ Yes, it is vegan
x No, it is not vegan
? Could be either
? Alcoholic Spirits – the basic ingredients of spirits are vegan (other than those containing dairy and honey). However, the refining processes differ. Portuguese ports are not vegan as they are required by law to use gelatine. Vodka is vegan as it is routinely refined using birchwood charcoal. Take care of coloured drinks eg Campari which uses E120 red dye (cochineal). Visit Barnivore for more brand info.
x Beeswax – not vegan, for the same reasons as honey. The wax is produced in order to store their honey.
√ Bread – the pure definition of bread is flour, yeast, salt and water. But some breads do add milk and eggs.
√ Beer – made from barley, hops and yeast which are vegan, but they may use animal products to filter the beer. Good news: all SAB beers are vegan-friendly!
x Camera film – not vegan as it uses gelatine.
√ Candles – most candle makers in South Africa use paraffin wax and petroleum products. In the past, tallow (animal fat and animal derived stearic acid) was used consistently, but this practice seems to have been discontinued here. The more expensive versions sometimes add beeswax, but this will appear in the ingredients list.
? Chewing gum – not always. The gum base can contain animal products in the form of lanolin, stearic acid, glycerine, resin as well as the flavouring disodium inosinate
√ Chocolate – white and dark cocoa and cocoa butter are vegan. By definition, ‘dark’ chocolate should be vegan and ‘milk’ chocolate contains milk. However, many companies, unethically, add cow’s butter and/or milk to their dark chocolate.
√ Chutney – is vegan. Uses pectin to thicken, which is from ripe fruit.
√ Coffee – it is vegan.
x Crepe paper – uses gelatine to hold the crease.
? Crisps – are made with potatoes or maize deep fried in oil, so the basic recipe is vegan. But you will need to check the ingredients as many brands use animal products as flavourings.
x Fabric Softener – most brands contain tallow (animal fat).
√ Glue – most household glues (eg Pritt) do not contain animal products. Glue on stamps and envelopes are also animal product-free.
x Golf Balls – contain gelatine.
x Honey – not vegan. It involves the exploitation and death of bees. We enslave them, then steal the results of their labour. The honey, is their property, not ours and they are entitled to autonomy over their lives.
? Juice, Fruit – not always. Check the added vitamins: calcium caseinate, calcium stearate and Vit D will make it a no-no. Anything red is suspicious as it probably contains E120 red dye (cochineal). Many processed orange juices are not, as they could contain fish gelatine. Grape juice and grapetizer are most often not vegan due to using the same filtering process as wine.
√ Jam – is vegan. Uses pectin as a thickener, which is derived from ripe fruit.
x Keratin – a fibrous structural protein found in animal hair, feathers, hooves, claws and horns.
? Margarine – many margarines have added Vitamin D which is derived from lanolin, therefore not vegan. There are vegan brands.
√ Marmite – is vegan. Made from yeast.
x Matches – gelatine is used in the match head to bind the incendiary chemicals.
√ Mineral Oil – is vegan. Non-vegetable sourced white oil, liquid paraffin and liquid petroleum.
? Organic – refers to avoiding ingredients and practices that are harmful to the environment and does not have anything to do with being vegan. There are organic animal products.
x Oysters – are animals, not plants. Vegans do not eat oysters.
x Paint brushes – the majority are made from animal hair. Synthetic brushes are available, although harder to find.
√ Palm Oil – although palm oil is harvested unethically in some instances, by definition it is vegan and when used in vegan products is on the whole obtained from ethical sources.
? Paper – some paper contains gelatine to improve the life and glossiness of the paper.
√ Pasta – simple definition of pasta is flour, salt and water. But some pastas add egg, eg egg noodles.
x Rennet – is not vegan. It is calf stomach lining.
√ Rice – is vegan.
? Rice milk – not all rice milks are vegan. May contain calcium caseinate from dairy milk.
x Royal jelly – not vegan, for the same reasons as honey. Royal jelly is essential for the queen bee, in order to breed.
x Sandpaper – contains gelatine to hold the abrasive particles in place.
x Silk – not vegan. To protect the silk, the silk worms are boiled alive in their cocoons.
x Soap – commonly made with animal fat, otherwise known as tallow, stearic acid or glycerin. Hypo-allergenic soaps can be obtained from chemists that are made from petroleum based products. Vegetable glycerin-based or vegetable oil-based soaps can be obtained from health shops.
? Soft drinks – yes Coke is vegan. But Fanta and many processed orange juices are not, as they could contain fish gelatine. Anything red is suspicious as it probably contains E120 red dye (cochineal)
? Soya milk – not all soya milks are vegan. May contain calcium caseinate from dairy milk.
? Soya mince – not all soya minces are vegan. Check for animal products in the flavouring.
? Soya yoghurt – not all soya yoghurts are vegan. Check if cow’s yoghurt was used in the culture process.
√ Soya Sauce – is vegan.
√ Sugar – mostly yes. In the past the sugar was refined using bone char. Most modern day sugar producers in South Africa, including Tongaat Huletts and Selati, use resin, making them vegan.
√ Talcum powder – is vegan. Talc is a mineral.
√ TBHQ – is vegan. Antioxidant t-butyl-hydroxyquinone E319.
? Thai food – mostly not vegan. Almost all Thai dishes contain fish sauce and oyster sauce. The curry pastes contain shrimp paste. There are vegan brands available, read the labels.
√ Tomato sauce – is vegan.
? Vinegar – may be subjected to the same filtering process as wine, which would mean that it is not vegan.
√ Wax Paper – is usually vegan. Most wax papers are coated with paraffin, a petroleum based wax, or ceresin made from the mineral ozokerite. However, most wax suppliers manufacture both paraffin waxes and tallow based products.
? Wine – the grape lees are filtered through either egg albumen; casein, gelatin; or isinglass (sturgeon bladder) and therefore many wines are not vegan. Organic wines are filtered through beclate clay, which is vegan.
x Wool – not vegan. Requires the exploitation and death of sheep.
? Worcester Sauce – the more expensive brands use anchovy paste, but the cheaper brands don’t.
You can also visit VeganSA.com for extensive listings of vegan products in South Africa.
Do you have any questions or suggestions? Contact me.