Behind the Labels: How to Check if Something Is Vegan

How to Check if Something Is Vegan

Navigating the world of veganism can sometimes be tricky, especially when it comes to determining whether a product is truly vegan. You may find yourself scanning ingredient lists and searching for any indicators of a product’s vegan status. Don’t worry – this article is here to help you gain the confidence and knowledge needed to identify vegan products quickly and accurately.

Throughout this article, you will learn about essential tips and tricks for determining if a product is vegan, from looking for labels and certification logos to understanding common non-vegan ingredients. Understanding these methods will not only simplify your shopping experience but also ensure that you are making informed decisions that align with your vegan lifestyle. So, let’s dive in and discover the best ways to check if something is truly vegan!

How to Check if Something Is Vegan

To check if something is vegan, start by inspecting the product label for any non-vegan ingredients. Some products have a certified vegan logo, which makes things easier. If you’re still unsure, don’t hesitate to contact the manufacturer for confirmation.

Reading Food Labels

When checking if something is vegan, start by reading the food labels. Look for allergen warnings for milk, eggs, or shellfish since these are common non-vegan ingredients. It’s important to read the entire ingredients list, as some non-vegan items may be hidden further down in the list.

Looking for Vegan Logos

Another quick way to determine if a product is vegan is by looking for vegan logos on the packaging. These may include the official “Certified Vegan” symbol or a “Suitable for Vegans” label. Keep in mind that not all vegan products will have such logos, but it’s a helpful starting point.

Understanding Ingredients

Finally, understanding ingredients can greatly improve your ability to identify vegan products. Familiarize yourself with common non-vegan ingredients like gelatin, casein, and whey, as well as ingredients that may be derived from animals, such as certain food colorings and additives. By being knowledgeable about these ingredients, you’ll be better equipped to confidently determine if a product is vegan.

Is There an App to Check if Something is Vegan?

Several apps, like “Is it Vegan?” and “VegaXpress,” can help you determine if a product is vegan. Just scan the barcode, and voila! Checking vegan products has never been easier.

  • VeganXpress: This app helps you find vegan options at popular restaurants in the US. With VeganXpress, you can easily determine which menu items are safe for vegans to enjoy.
  • Vegaholic: If you’re interested in checking if your alcoholic beverages are vegan, Vegaholic is the app for you. It works offline and contains data from over 24,054 beers, 13,303 wines, and 2,648 spirits.
  • Is It Vegan?: This app allows you to scan product barcodes and check if an item is vegan or not. Perfect for when you’re out grocery shopping and need some clarification on products.
  • Vegan Check: With this app, you can easily scan the barcode of a product while shopping and check whether it is vegan or not. Vegan Check also allows you to search for vegan-friendly products and services in your area, making it easy to find what you need.
  • Vegan Pocket: It’s easy to use and provides clear information on whether a product is vegan or not. You can search for products by name or scan the barcode, and Vegan Pocket will give you a simple answer.
  • Bunny Free: This app is perfect for anyone who wants to make sure that the products they use are cruelty-free. Bunny Free lets you search for products by company name or product type, and it gives you a clear answer on whether the product is tested on animals or not.
  • Happy Cow: Whether you’re traveling or just looking for vegan-friendly restaurants and cafes in your area, Happy Cow is the app for you. This app has a database of over 100,000 vegan and vegetarian restaurants around the world, so you’ll never be stuck for options.
  • Vanilla Bean: If you’re looking for vegan-friendly restaurants and cafes in your area, Vanilla Bean is the app for you. It has a database of over 20,000 vegan and vegetarian restaurants in 30 countries, so you’ll always be able to find a place to eat. Plus, you can filter your search by location, cuisine, and dietary requirements.

Reliable Online Resources

  • As a source of information for apps like Vegaholic, is a helpful website for checking if alcoholic beverages are vegan-friendly. Their comprehensive database has a wealth of information about beers, wines, and spirits.
  • Vegan Foundry: For a complete guide on distinguishing vegan from non-vegan products, including food ingredients, cosmetics, clothing, shoes, and related industries, visit Vegan Foundry. They provide valuable insight, tips, and tricks to help you navigate the vegan world.

Remember, when browsing mobile apps or online resources, it’s essential to choose trustworthy sources. Stay informed and make confident choices in your vegan lifestyle.

How to Check if Something Is Vegan

Tips for Dining Out

Asking Restaurant Staff

When you’re dining out, don’t hesitate to ask the restaurant staff for assistance in identifying vegan options. Most servers are trained to accommodate dietary preferences, and they can help guide you toward vegan-friendly dishes or customize a dish to make it vegan. Be polite and clear about your dietary needs, and you’ll usually find that staff are happy to assist you.

Checking Restaurant Menus and Websites

Before going to a restaurant, check their menu and website to see if they offer vegan options. Many menus now feature symbols (such as a “V” or a leaf) to indicate vegetarian or vegan dishes. You can also look for salads that are already vegan or can easily be made vegan by removing certain ingredients like cheese or bacon.

In addition, you can do some research before dining out by:

  • Browsing the restaurant’s website for their menu and any vegan icons.
  • Searching online for reviews and comments from other vegans who have dined at the establishment.

By taking these steps, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect and can confidently navigate the menu when you arrive. Remember that dining out as a vegan becomes easier with time and practice. Stay proactive, and you’ll continue to discover enjoyable and satisfying vegan dining experiences.

Avoiding Common Non-Vegan Ingredients

Animal-Derived Ingredients

When checking if a product is vegan, it’s important to look out for ingredients that are clearly derived from animals. Some common animal-derived ingredients to avoid include:

  • Lard: Animal fat, often from pigs.
  • Tallow: Another word for animal fat, typically from cows or sheep. Commonly used in soaps.
  • Collagen: Made from the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals like cows, chickens, pigs, and fish.
  • Elastin: Found in the neck ligaments and aorta of bovine, similar to collagen.
  • Keratin: A protein found in the hair, nails, and horns of animals.

Hidden Non-Vegan Ingredients

There are also some less obvious ingredients that may not be vegan. These can be hidden in processed foods and may not be immediately recognizable as animal-derived. Keep an eye out for the following:

  • Lactose, milk powder, and other dairy products: Found in many processed foods, these ingredients are derived from cow’s milk. Check labels for terms like skim milk powder, whey powder, milk protein, and hydrolyzed milk protein.
  • Glycerol/Glycerine: This ingredient can be plant-based or animal-derived. If the product doesn’t specify if it’s vegan, it’s best to avoid it.
  • Guanine: Also known as pearl essence, it’s derived from various animal sources, including bird excrement. Commonly found in personal care and beauty products.

Remember, your best bet for ensuring a product is vegan is to look for labels like “Suitable for Vegans” or the “Certified Vegan” logo. Additionally, checking allergen information can help you identify if a product contains dairy or other non-vegan ingredients. Stay vigilant and always read ingredient lists carefully to make sure you’re making vegan-friendly choices.


In conclusion, drawing from our experience and extensive research on vegan lifestyles, we have discovered that discerning if something is vegan doesn’t have to be a chore. It’s a process that can be embraced as a delightful exploration and learning journey, which gets easier with time and practice. The insights we shared in this article, based on our firsthand experience, aim to empower you to navigate your way around labels, ingredients, and products with confidence.

Through our practical knowledge, we also highlighted the importance of patience and persistence, especially when faced with unexpected challenges. Remember, every step you take towards a vegan lifestyle is a triumph for our environment and animal welfare.

We hope that our practical advice will assist you in your quest to adopt and maintain a vegan lifestyle. We believe that with these tools in your vegan toolkit, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions, keeping your dietary choices aligned with your values.

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Gregory Knox
Gregory Knox

A certified nutritionist, father, and animal lover combines 13 years of veganism with his expertise in food and nutrition, offering readers a wealth of knowledge on plant-based diets and cooking.