For Consumers

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Food manufacture has become highly complex. Many ingredients are used in seemingly simply food products that are not suitable for vegetarians or vegans. For example, gelatin, an ingredient often used in many products including candies or yogurts is usually made from the remnants of cattle, pigs or horses.

Tallow, which is often used as a lubricant, is a rendered form of beef or mutton fat. Cheese contains rennet which is essentially pieces of the stomach lining of certain animals, that are used as a coagulant. Even carmine/cochineal which is used as a dye, is actually crushed up beetles (yes you read that correctly).

Simply reading the list of ingredients on food packaging does not always ensure that a particular product is free from animal ingredients for three main reasons:

1. Certain ingredients that are very commonly used in the food manufacture process such as “glycerine,” a common stabilizer, can be animal based or vegetable based, and a consumer would have almost no way of knowing by reading the product’s label.

2. If an ingredient contained in a product is used in a small proportion, governments may not require that they be listed on the package. Thus, a consumer could unknowingly be consuming an animal based ingredient even if she or he read the product’s ingredients carefully.

 3. The machinery is often shared between production runs and unless it is thoroughly cleaned between these runs, there could be cross contamination from animal based food items produced on the same machinery.

With so many details, it might make a vegetarian or vegan swear off store bought food forever. Fortunately, consumers don’t have to feel overwhelmed because VegeCert has taken much of the guesswork out of shopping at the grocery store. If you see the VegeCert Logo, rest assured, that product is in line with your vegan or vegetarian standards.