Being a proper vegan means eschewing all forms of animal products. Those of us old-skool vegans remember studying our vegan bible and breaking out the magnifying glass on labels just to be lucky enough to scrounge up a few lentils to sustain us. Nowadays though, with the abundance of vegan products available it takes more of a commitment to locate a non-vegan item and raise the alarm. Not only must vegans worry about products containing animal ingredients but there are more obscure ways items could not be vegan. This opens up a frontier to whole new categories of non-vegan products for vegans looking to be a pioneer. Some may disparage these vegans as being the “vegan police” but those people only are trying to justify their own vegan failings. Pay no mind to them, true vegans like Gary Francione will say anything less is not very vegan.
Any vegan who finds a previously unknown vegan item where one was thought to be otherwise can announce proudly: “NOT VEGAN!”. Vegans will adulate you for devotion to the cause by adding to the list of NOT VEGAN ingredients that even the vegan bible may not contain. For the newly vegan or those looking to be vegan here are some areas which you might need to watch out for as exemplified by popular vegan blogs:
Animal ingredients in “vegan items”
Vegan blog QuarryGirl is the elite detective squad of the vegan police. VegNews magazine even went so far as to bestow QuarryGirl with the “Scandal Breakers of the Year” award for their Operation Pancake investigation. In that investigation they tested “vegan” menu items from local restaurants for animal ingredients and many came out positive. With that taste of success they have outed several other restaurants in rich delectable schadenfreudic detail. Score a major vegan victory against restaurants attempting to offer vegan options! Be sure to keep an eye on their NOT VEGAN tag blog updates lest you may find yourself at a NOT VEGAN vegan restaurant. Think you can relax in a vegan restaurant? Oh no! Be sure to analyze each ingredient in the dish even if they claim it’s vegan. Interrogate each server because they’ll each have a different answer. Try to find the inconsistencies in their stories. If you discover something NOT VEGAN, blog the hell out of it and break that scandal so that it becomes part of public record and forever discredits their reputation with little chance of redemption. It’s their fault for trying to pull a fast one on vegans and you will have done your righteous duty.
So most vegans know that items tested on animals like cosmetics are NOT VEGAN already but did you consider things that were tested but not anymore? Give thanks to Your Daily Vegan blog for their pioneering efforts to bring this often-overlooked category to light in their post: Warning: What You Don’t Know About Food Colors. Not only were artificial food colors once tested on animals but they are made up of chemicals! Fear not though because they offer natural alternatives to manufactured synthetic colorants. From art school I remember natural cadmium pigments made great colors. I’d think twice about ingesting those though. In any case, this exposed issue by Your Daily Vegan surrounding synthetic food colors have wiped hundreds of products off the map for vegans. Their animal testing past make them forever NOT VEGAN!
Let’s extend though the animal testing vegan alarm further by looking at how the money you buy from a vegan product goes into the pocket of somebody who then donates to a school who then tests on animals! Ok did you catch all that? Well The Informed Vegan did and exposed this maker of grain foodstuffs in their post: Bob’s Red Mill Funds Animal Testing. Nevermind that Bob’s Red Mill isn’t even a vegan company and that the company isn’t actually donating money(the ex-owners are), and that the donation isn’t even funding animal research. They dared to offer products that were accidentally vegan, getting them on the vegan radar. Once that happens, you’re guaranteed to be subject to their whims of boycott. By this logic we can extrapolate all sorts of ways pristine vegan dollars are eventually funding animal research. The government for example certainly is responsible for much of this so one would think a good vegan should also stop paying taxes. Taxes yup, you guessed it, NOT VEGAN.
Animal molecules rubbing up against vegan molecules
Even though no animal ingredient is actually in a product it could be deemed NOT VEGAN if molecules of it brushed up against another animal molecule. Every good vegan knows to avoid any product that has a warning on the labels that says it was made on the same machinery as animal products but do they know about the non-labeled stuff?
Some sugar companies use bone char to filter their product. Most food items that list “sugar” won’t even say whether it was filtered using animal ingredients! Anytime you buy a product that has “sugar” in it or eat a restaurant that uses sugar or an ingredient containing sugar, be sure to inquire from which sugar processing plant it came from. Some municipal water processing plants will use bone char to filter their water so watch out for tap water. When you travel, be sure to quiz the locals on how their water is processed before hitting the tap or taking a shower. Don’t even think about buying bottled water unless it has the vegan label on it! Oh, before I forget, water has been found to contain copepod crustaceans so just avoid that NOT VEGAN processed BigWater and stick to the natural pure vegan stuff.
Alcoholic beverages like beer and wine are often clarified using isinglass so put down that Guinness! Even though there isn’t any trace of the animal ingredient left behind, this molecule rubbing clause obviously applies. But how then is a vegan able to imbibe? Luckily the Barnivore website is on the case crowd-sourcing and cataloging information. There’s even apps for that so when you belly-up to a bar and the bartender asks your order, be sure to squint into your mobile device and check their selection one by one until you find a confirmed vegan drink. I had to learn this the hard way when my favorite brew at Chicago Diner was taken off the menu because of its NOT VEGAN status. Somebody from Barnivore must have cited them on it. The cage-free eggs they serve however, are somehow more vegan. Anyway, today’s vegans are lucky enough to have this terrific resource of Barnivore to scour any last remaining bit of NOT VEGAN fun from their already diminished vegan lifestyles.
Images of animal products
VegNews magazine was the center of a controversy when ironically, the same people they awarded “Scandal Breakers of the Year” set their sights on VegNews itself and discovered they were using stock imagery of actual animal products and airbrushing them to look vegan! QuarryGirl’s RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues challenged their questionable practices making vegans drool over pictures of food they thought was vegan but actually wasn’t! That is definitely NOT VEGAN. Don’t you dare get caught with a copy of VegNews tucked under your arm you animal exploiter! Some day perhaps vegans will achieve Muslim-like devotion to the cause and make even drawing animal ingredients verboten. Stock photography is a good start. Just be sure it was created using a digital camera and not traditional NOT VEGAN gelatin film.
So I hope those examples have inspired you investigate other tiny nooks and crannies of the complicated world of voting with your dollar and discover more NOT VEGAN products. Other avenues I have yet to see people explore further are third party materials like the inks and dyes on food packages, or the glues that hold on labels or used in shipping boxes. Also, there’s third party services like the people that benefit from selling you vegan products. Are they vegan themselves or will the money they earn go to buy NOT VEGAN items? Are vehicles shipping vegan products made of or powered by non-vegan ingredients? That’s just to start you off, be creative! There’s plenty of NOT VEGAN items out there just waiting to be discovered! Be sure to especially concentrate on any so-called “vegan” products and/or services and needle the hell out of it until you uncover the slightest tenuous NOT VEGAN connection. Businesses might then think twice about extorting hard earned vegan dollars from the pockets of unsuspecting vegans again and you will have gained major vegan cred. That’ll show them. Your work is cut out for you. Now go forth and be the best vegan activist you can be!