Is That Vegan? How To Read Labels

A simple guide to understanding vegan food labels

Vegan Dinner

Reading Food Labels:

The hardest part of starting out as a vegan is understanding what foods are vegan and what foods aren't. Sure, cheese, milk, and meats are obvious but what about those keywords that you may not have noticed before going vegan?

When first starting out as vegan it can be incredibly daunting to figure out if a given food is actually vegan. I remember reading and re-reading labels to see if food was okay or not to eat. I would see ingredients like lactic acid and think "what the hell is that" and "can I eat it". A quick google search showed me that lactic acid is actually vegan but there are a bunch of ingredients that sound questionable. That is what this post is about. How to educate yourself on certain keywords that will give away if food is not vegan!

Vegan Meal

Not vegan:

Whey: Whey comes from dairy and is not vegan

Casein: Is another dairy

Gelatin: Made from animal bones, skin and other disgusting animal parts. One of the truly grouse items on this list! Barf!

Collagen: Is made from animal parts just like Gelatin.

Lard: Animal fat.

Aspic: Cheaper and more disgusting version of Gelatin.

Butter fat and Butter milk: Is from dairy

lactose: Dairy

Confectioners glaze: Made from Shellac which is derived from bugs. Yuck!

Albumnin: Is from eggs

For personal care and cosmetics:

Beeswax, lanolin, keratin, musk, pearls, tallow


Leather, fur, silk, wool, cashmere, angor

May Contain:

The may contain dairy or eggs that can be very confusing to newly vegans. Does that mean someone put in dairy randomly or that they have no idea what's in the product? No this, usually means that in the manufacturing plant dairy items are also present. Personally, I still consume foods that say may contain dairy or eggs.

Food Labels:

Food labels are getting easier to read for vegans. Many labels will say vegan or have a V for vegan. But, looking for these keywords when shopping. The most common words will be whey, casein, gelatin, and lactose. Just carefully read the labels and you'll be fine. If all else fails just google the product and check!

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Cameron Ralg is an avid member of the vegan community for about a decade. He has recently discovered his passion for travel and loves to offer tips and suggestions from his experiences.  


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