It’s clear to most conscientious consumers why we should eat less meat. But even the production of milk, eggs, and leather contributes to the suffering of millions of animals. For this reason, vegans reject every product and ingredient derived from animal sources. Such decisions don’t have to be all or nothing, however.
Every choice that brings us a little bit closer to veganism is still an important contribution to decreasing both animal suffering and our environmental impact. It all adds up.
Dark, Not Milk
Milk chocolate, as its name suggests, has a relatively high milk content and is therefore naturally not vegan. If it’s not organic chocolate, consumers must assume that the milk is produced via factory farming. Dark or bitter chocolates, however, include no or only very little milk. There is also milk-free chocolate, typically marked as vegan. Also consider purchasing fair trade chocolate whenever possible.
Before a food additive is introduced, it undergoes safety and toxicology testing. These tests are performed primarily on animals. Organic production allows the introduction of fewer additives than conventionally-produced food, but even tests performed on organic additives are not exclusively cruelty-free. Those attempting to reduce the impact of their consumption on animals should avoid preservatives, flavor enhancers, thickening agents, and other food additives by reading labels carefully. Just another argument for cooking for yourself!
Drink Natural Juices
Juice and wine are naturally cloudy drinks, though most of us are used to drinking filtered or clarified varieties. Filtration typically requires gelatin, a food product sourced from animal skin and bones. Because gelatin is “only” used as a production aid, it isn’t listed on the ingredients label.
Natural juices are cloudy and do not generally contain gelatin. Even organic producers rarely use gelatin to clarify juice; most clearly label their vegan products as such.
No Bones About Eating Candy
Gummy bears and other chewy candies almost always include gelatin sourced from animal skin and bones. Reducing your consumption of animal products requires looking a bit more closely at your candy’s ingredients list – luckily there are now lots of entirely plant-based alternatives on the market. Alternatively, dark chocolate contains virtually no milk or other animal products. You can check PETA’s website for a full list of vegan sweets.
Margarine, Not Butter
Even if there’s no replacement for hot buttered popcorn or rum, buy yourself a tub of the yellow stuff and get your “I can’t believe it’s not butter!” expression ready. It’s easy enough to smear plant-based spreads on your breakfast toast or your sandwiches without missing the flavor much, but do pay attention that whatever margarine you buy contains no palm oil. Alternatively, consider any number of other vegan spreads. Check out our simple vegan spread recipes here and here!