How to Check if Ingredients are Vegan: A Quick Guide & List

How to Check if Ingredients are Vegan

Choosing vegan products can sometimes feel daunting, especially when confronted with a long list of ingredients on the back of a package. You might be wondering, “Is this really vegan? How can I tell for sure?” Fret not, dear reader, because, in this article, we will simplify the process for you.

In just a few easy steps, you’ll learn how to navigate through ingredient lists confidently, identify vegan-friendly symbols, and spot potential non-vegan ingredients. Besides saving you time and stress over label reading, understanding these techniques can help deepen your commitment to living a compassionate and environmentally-conscious lifestyle.

So, let’s dive in and unlock the secrets to confidently identifying vegan ingredients, making your shopping experience a breeze, and ensuring you live your best plant-based life.

How To Check If Ingredients Contain Animal Products?

Interpreting Ingredient Lists

When evaluating a food product, start by reading the ingredients list carefully. While some labels will explicitly state “vegan,” it’s always a good idea to double-check for any potential animal ingredient that isn’t vegan. Common non-vegan ingredients to look out for include:

  • Meat: beef, chicken, ham, lamb, shellfish, etc.
  • Dairy: milk, cheese, butter, whey powder, etc.
  • Additives: gelatin, L-cysteine, cochineal, casein, etc.
  • Sweeteners: sugar processed with bone char, etc.

In addition to familiar ingredients, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with less-known non-vegan ingredients that may appear in a product. You can refer to resources such as the Double Check Vegan, or I Love Vegan websites for a detailed guide on vegan-friendly ingredients.

We will discuss all the ingredients in detail later when we separate them into food, cosmetics, and clothing groups.

Finding Allergen Information

Next, look for allergen warnings on the label. Many products will mention if they contain common allergens, such as milk or eggs. While this information is intended for individuals with allergies, it can help identify non-vegan ingredients too.

Keep in mind that allergen warnings won’t cover all non-vegan ingredients. It’s crucial to carefully read the labels for hidden animal-based ingredients.

In addition to food products, many cosmetics and household items may contain animal-based ingredients or have been tested on animals. Look for cruelty-free and vegan labels on these products, and be cautious of unverified claims. By following these steps and building your knowledge of vegan ingredients, you can confidently navigate the world of veganism and make informed choices about the products you consume and use.

Food Products Animal Ingredients List

Navigating the world of food can be challenging, especially when hunting for a truly vegan meal. With so many products on the shelves, how can you be sure your food is vegan? Knowing how to spot animal ingredients is essential in ensuring your shopping cart doesn’t inadvertently contain animal products. This list will guide you through common animal-based ingredients.

Animal-Based Foods

As somebody on a plant-based diet, you should know the primary sources of plant-based substances. Animal-based foods include:

  • Meat: beef, chicken, pork, turkey, lamb, etc.
  • Seafood: salmon, tuna, shrimp, etc.
  • Dairy: milk, cheese, cream, yogurt, whipped cream, butter, etc.
  • Eggs
  • Honey: produced by bees

Not all non-vegan ingredients are apparent. Why not make a list of these obvious animal products to avoid when you’re shopping?

Non-vegan Food Ingredients

Some ingredients that you might not expect to be animal-based, but are, include:

  • E120 (Carmine/Coachingal): A red dye from crushed cochineal insects.
  • E322 (Lecithin): Can be derived from plants (soybeans) or animals (egg yolk). Always check the source.
  • E441 (Gelatin):Derived from the collagen in animal bones and skin.
  • Albumen/Albumin: Derived from egg whites and used in baking and some wine-making processes.
  • Anchovies: Used in Worcestershire sauce, Caesar salads, and pizzas.
  • Animal Shortening:Used in baked goods.
  • Bone Char: Sometimes used to process sugar, giving it a white appearance.
  • Casein: A type of protein found in milk. Used in many “non-dairy” products.
  • E542 (Edible Bone Phosphate):Extracted from animal bones.
  • E631 (Disodium Inosinate): Generally derived from animals and fish.
  • E901 (Beeswax):Produced by bees.
  • E904 (Shellac): A resin secreted by the female lac bug.
  • E966 (Lactitol):Derived from lactose, a sugar from milk.
  • E1105 (Lysozyme):An enzyme found in egg whites.
  • Fish Sauce: Common in many Asian cuisines.
  • Isinglass: A substance obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish, often used in beer and wine-making.
  • Lactose: A sugar derived from milk.
  • Lard/Tallow: Fat from pigs or cows used in cooking and baking.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Often sourced from fish.
  • Pepsin: An enzyme found in the stomachs of pigs. Used in some cheeses and vitamins.
  • Propolis: Resin-like substance bees use in their hives, found in some food and cosmetics.
  • Rennet: An enzyme traditionally sourced from the stomach lining of calves. Used in the production of cheese.
  • Royal Jelly: Substance produced by worker bees for the queen bee.
  • Suet: Hard white fat from the kidneys and loins of animals.
  • Vitamin D3: Can be derived from animal sources like lanolin from sheep’s wool.
  • Whey: A by-product of cheese making. Often used in bread, crackers, and many processed foods.

Knowing these lesser-known ingredients can help you avoid accidentally consuming animal products. Look out for them in ingredient lists and do your best to choose plant-based options.

Remember, always double-check when you’re uncertain about an ingredient. Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the easier it will be to enjoy a vegan lifestyle.

Personal Care Items and Cosmetics Animal Ingredients List

Regarding cosmetics and personal care items, knowing the difference between cruelty-free and vegan is essential. Cruelty-free typically means that the product has not been tested on animals, while vegan implies that it contains no animal ingredients, such as beeswax, keratin, or musk. Ideally, it would be best if you looked for products that are both cruelty-free and vegan, ensuring you are supporting ethical and animal-friendly practices.

Cosmetics: How to Check if Ingredients are Vegan

So, what should you consider when checking the ingredients list? Key ingredients to be cautious of include:

  • Ambergris: derived from the intestines of whales, used in making perfume
  • Chitin: derived from the shells of crabs, lobsters, and other marine animals
  • Collagen: similar to gelatin, derived from animal connective tissue
  • E322 (Lecithin): Can be derived from plants (soybeans) or animals (egg yolk). Always check the source.
  • E441 (Gelatin): Derived from the collagen in animal bones and skin.
  • E901 (Beeswax): Produced by bees.
  • E913 (Lanolin): A waxy substance produced by sheep’s sebaceous glands.
  • E904 (Shellac): A resin secreted by the female lac bug.
  • Elastin: derived from the neck ligaments and aortas of cows
  • Guanine: derived from fish scales and used to give a shimmering effect in products
  • Honey: Produced by bees.
  • Keratin: extracted from feathers, horns, and wool of various animals
  • Lard/Tallow: Fat from pigs or cows used in soaps and cosmetics
  • Propolis: Resin-like substance bees use in their hives, found in some food and cosmetics.
  • Royal Jelly: Substance produced by worker bees for the queen bee.
  • Squalene: traditionally derived from shark liver oil, used in moisturizers and cosmetics
  • Vitamin D3: Can be derived from animal sources like lanolin from sheep’s wool.

Please note that many of these ingredients have plant-based or synthetic alternatives used in vegan products. Always check the labels and, when in doubt, contact the manufacturer to determine if a product is vegan.

Routinely checking ingredient lists can seem daunting, but it quickly becomes second nature. Remember, you’re making a difference in the world whenever you support cruelty-free and vegan manufacturers!

Certified Vegan Logos

Some organizations have created certification programs with accompanying logos to make it easier for consumers to recognize whether a  product is vegan. Two of the most credible symbols come from PETA’s “Beauty Without Bunnies” program and the Leaping Bunny logo from the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC).

Peta approved - cruelty-free and vegan logo
Leaping Bunny cruelty-free logo

The PETA logo signifies that the product is both cruelty-free and vegan. In contrast, the Leaping Bunny logo indicates that the product is cruelty-free but may contain animal ingredients. If you see one of these logos on a product’s label, you can have greater confidence that you’re making a wise, ethical choice.

In summary, making conscious and informed decisions about beauty items requires familiarity with the differences between cruelty-free and vegan and recognizing respected certification logos. Keep an eye out for animal ingredients and look for certification symbols to ensure you’re supporting ethical, animal-friendly products.

Clothing and Accessories Animal-derived Ingredients List

When it comes to veganism, your choices go beyond just food. Clothing and accessories can also contain non-vegan ingredients or materials. In this section, we’ll help you navigate the world of vegan fashion by providing tips and guidance on what materials to look for and which to avoid.

Avoiding Non-Vegan Fabrics

Now that you know which materials are vegan-friendly, what should you watch out for? Here’s a list of common non-vegan fabrics and materials that you should avoid:

  • Leather: Often used for jackets, shoes, and belts, it is made from animal hides.
  • Fur: Obtained by skinning animals, commonly used for coats and winter accessories.
  • Wool: Derived from sheep, goats, or other animals, used in sweaters and warm clothing.
  • Silk: Produced by silkworms, typically found in luxury garments and accessories.
  • Suede: A type of leather with a soft, velvety finish used in shoes and bags.
  • Down: Feathers collected from birds like ducks and geese, used for insulation in jackets and bedding.
  • Cashmere and Angora: Wool from goats or rabbits, used in luxury clothing and accessories.

In addition to these materials, watch out for non-vegan ingredients like bone char, shellac, vitamin D3, lanolin, and pearls in clothing and apparel. Remember that achieving a fully vegan wardrobe can sometimes be challenging, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t always avoid these non-vegan fabrics. Instead, focus on making informed choices and supporting brands prioritizing ethical and sustainable practices.

Vegan-Friendly Materials

When shopping for clothing and accessories, there are several materials that are vegan and cruelty-free. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • Cotton: A natural, plant-based fabric that is sustainable and comfortable.
  • Linen: Made from flax plants, linen is a lightweight, breathable fabric.
  • Synthetic fabrics: Materials like polyester, acrylic, and nylon are animal-free and widely available.
  • Vegan leather: Also known as faux leather or pleather, this material is made from alternatives like Polyurethane (PU) or PVC and can be used for jackets, shoes, and bags.
  • Bamboo: Soft and eco-friendly, bamboo is often found in activewear and undergarments.

These materials are just some vegan alternatives that allow you to keep up with the latest fashion trends.

By familiarizing yourself with vegan materials and avoiding those of animal origin, you can make conscious decisions when shopping for clothing and accessories. Enjoy exploring the world of vegan fashion and the endless possibilities it brings!


Determining whether a product is vegan involves more than a glance at the packaging. From food items to cosmetics and clothing, animal ingredients can appear where we least expect them. Ingredients usually obtained from animals can be hidden under unassuming names, making it all the more important to familiarize yourself with the common culprits.

When it comes to cosmetics items, remember, if you can’t tell if personal care items are vegan, consider the ingredients list and the company’s stance on animal testing.

If you’re ever unsure whether a product is vegan, don’t hesitate to contact the manufacturer to ensure your food items and cosmetics are cruelty-free and vegan. Many companies are more than willing to provide information about their ingredients and sourcing. In the quest to check whether items are free from animal ingredients, remember that knowledge is power.

So keep this guide close at hand; you’ll soon be a pro at telling if that product on the shelf aligns with your vegan lifestyle. Or you can use any handy vegan ingredient checker apps like Vegaholic, Is It Vegan?, Vegan Check, Vegan Pocket, and Bunny Free to scan the barcode on a product.

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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.