So, you have decided to become an ethical vegan!. I welcome you to veganism and wish you wonderful, uplifting experiences on the compassionate journey you are about to take.
It may seem at first that there is a long list of things you cannot eat, wear, or use in your home but in reality the world is your universe and you find the door opens with possibilities. Your culinary skills will no doubt expand and your quest for knowledge of nutritional requirements and well-being becomes exciting, you will feel healthier and you will find that your lifestyle now matches your beliefs and saying ‘I love animals’ comes from deep within you.
You might come across feelings of bewilderment when begining your veganism when standing in the aisle of a supermarket, and you might feel a bit alone when faced with questions, or alone at a dinner table with non-vegans, but there is help and support out there. I recommend you join a group if there is one available. You might have a vegetarian group or society that could well have alot of vegans or a chat group online or you might like to talk to animal rights societies.
Before getting onto the lists and tables that I hope you find helpful, here are a few tips:
- Learn to be a fastidious label reader.
- Avoid products not properly labelled unless you know that they are suitable for vegans.
- Buy products from companies who make their stance against animal products and testing known.
- Look out for ethically vegan companies and support them when possible.
Learn to ‘read between the lines’. Think of the little things that could slip past your ‘vegan antenna’, like:
- Check that organic fruit and vegetables are not grown in ground that has blood and bone dug into it. And if possible check what fertilisers have been used for the fruit and vegetables you buy.
- Overseas they use shellac (resin produced from insects) to get that nice shiny glaze on apples, I have found no reference to shellac being used in New Zealand – but you never know!
- Consider environmental issues, e.g. some maple syrup from Canada might be vegan in the ingredients but not environmental as it requires a great deal of boiling the sap and many trees are cut down for the firewood, depriving large animals, small woodland animals, and insects of their habitat – destruction and eminent death of an ecological system. A large amount of sap is required for a small amount of syrup.
- Check that dried fruit bought in the bulk bins of your supermarket are not coated in honey, i.e. dried banana.
- Bread – does the baker grease the tins with animal fat?
- Palm oil – well I probably do not need to tell you about this! Just don’t purchase anything with it in the ingredients list.
These are just some of the little things that are not on labels.
And remember to not berate yourself if you are led to believe something is vegan and it isn’t – the principle of veganism is to avoid exploiting animals and that is what you are doing ‘avoiding exploiting animals’ – in your choice of becoming vegan. There will be something down the line that you find is not vegan; get it out of your life, tell others, learn from it and carry on.
I am currently working on some lists, they need a bit more work before posting, but when complete they will be:
- Ingredients you might find on labels that are animal derived.
- Additives a.k.a. ‘E’ numbers on labels.
- Things that you should include in your new vegan diet.
- A replacement guide.
- What is in a vegan pantry.
And for my final word, remember that for every choice you make you are reducing suffering and saving lives.