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Reading Labels for Animal Ingredients

by Kelsey Fuller
(Alexandria, IN, U.S)

How do you know if some of the ingredients on the nutrition facts label contain animal fat, or any animal products for that matter? Some of the words are extremely long and I don't know what they contain. How you you decipher their meanings?


Great question! It can indeed be difficult to decipher the labels and figure out what is actually vegan. The most common animal ingredients you will find on labels will be: eggs, milk, butter, whey, honey, casein, gelatin, and lactose or lactic acid. If you can remember those and keep track of them, you can avoid most of the animal products in processed foods. There are certainly tons of trickier, more hidden ingredients. You can find a full list here: http://www.happycow.net/health-animal-ingredients.html.

Another thing to keep in mind is the health perspective. In general, I advise eating foods in their most "whole" form that you can. For instance, the further a piece of food is from its original shape, be it an apple or grain of wheat, the less healthful it is. When you eat mostly whole foods, you will have less trouble with labels having unreadable words on them. A good guideline to keep in mind is "if you can't pronounce it, don't eat it."

Hope that helps!

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