What should you look for when you’re shopping for vegan-friendly options? How do you tell a vegan-friendly product from one that isn’t? The issue is complicated because there’s currently very little legal oversight in labeling products as truly vegan-friendly. Nevertheless, this article will endeavor to give you a few points on how to check for those characteristics you want to see in an authentic vegan product.
Check for a label that denotes it as such. A label like this will say “suitable for vegans” or “certified vegan”. If you don’t see one, you can check the allergen information, as many products that contain seafood, dairy or eggs must state this under their list of potentially allergy-causing ingredients.
Regulations have changed recently to state that a product cannot have a dairy-free, soy-free, wheat-free or corn-free certification on any product if it was manufactured in a facility that also manufactures any such product.
You should also check the ingredients section itself and scan it for meat or dairy based products.
Check for a vegan symbol somewhere on your product. Many companies will prominently feature a symbol, such as a leaf, somewhere on their packaging to let you know that their product is a vegetarian or vegan-friendly option, but beware! Before you do this, you should do an online search for well-established, reputable certifiers and look for their logos.
Here are a few certifications that can communicate the quality and sourcing of a product, and brief descriptions of each. This should not be taken as exhaustive by any means, but rather a useful guideline of what to expect with food or cosmetic labeling:
A Certified Vegan logo communicates that a product is not sourced from any animal, should contain no animal products in it, and should not have exploited any animal during any step in the creation of the product. This logo will be pictorially shown as a V inside of a heart inside of a circle.
A product can be Certified Gluten-Free provided it never contains any product that might contain gluten. The Certified Gluten-Free logo is depicted visually as a GF inside of a circle. A gluten free product may also be certified as such provided that it does not meet a given threshold of gluten containing products.
Familiarize yourself with these logos and what they look like, because fake certifications abound. This deceitful practice sadly has not yet been outlawed, which allows scurrilous companies to design their own variation of a certification that allows the company to attempt to pass a product off as, say, vegan-friendly, when in fact it is not. Check your logos closely!