Planet

Certified Vegan Label Lowdown

Food labels aren’t always easy to decipher, but these certifications make grocery shopping a cinch.

Wondering if your whole-wheat tortillas are vegan? If the ingredients list contains words you can’t pronounce, one easy way to make sure animal-derived substances aren’t sneaking into your snacking is to familiarize yourself with this handy list of food certifications.

Vegan
There are several organizations that offer credible, comprehensive lists of vegan certified companies and products. Vegan Action is a nonprofit organization that has, for the last 10 years, compiled a comprehensive list of vegan certified products through their Vegan Certification Campaign. Their simple logo, a circle with a heart, reads “Certified Vegan.” Vegan Action has also appealed to humane organizations to go vegan with their Humane Outreach Campaign. The American Vegetarian Association (AVA) logo is another great resource for uncertain consumers. While AVA don’t offer a list of certified vegan companies or products, the AVA logo on any product is one of the most trusted verifiers around. In order for a company to slap AVA’s orange triangle logo on their product, they must first submit a package of information for advisory board approval to insure legitimacy. It’s a good idea to look closely at the logo though, as the AVA do distinguish between vegetarian and vegan food items. Then there is UK-based organization The Vegan Society. Founded in 1944, The Vegan Society has been offering information, support, and a community for vegans for over fifty years. Their website offers a list of vegan certified companies they’ve approved, and is the most trusted certifier of vegan products worldwide. Their classic logo, with its flower stemming from the letter “V” is a standard and easy to locate (and trust!) on any grocery shelf item.

Pareve
A less familiar logo on many food items comes in the form of either a large letter “P” or “U” and usually indicates that a product is pareve certified. A Jewish dietary law separate from kosher foods, pareve indicates that a product contains no meat or milk. Pareve products can still include, among other things, fish, eggs, fruit, vegetables and non-organic foods. So while some pareve products may be unintentionally vegan, the pareve logo is no guarantee.

Cruelty-Free
Both Vegan Action and The Vegan Society maintain that in order to certify a product or company as vegan that they must also adhere to cruelty-free practices. If there’s no logo on a product, there’s a solution for those curious whether a non-food item is cruelty-free. Caring Consumer, a project by PETA, offers consumers an easy-to-navigate search engine of companies and products that do not test on animals. Broken down into categories such as skin care or household items, this search engine is the perfect outlet for ensuring that compassionate living extends beyond food choice for a truly cruelty-free way of life.

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