Vegan Shopping: It doesn’t have to be a guessing game


You are in the store and want to make sure you are only buying vegan products. You have lots of info in your brain about which ones to buy or avoid but then you find something on sale that looks promising. You just aren’t sure whether some of the unfamiliar ingredients are vegan. Should you buy it anyway?

More often than not, I opt out. But it is aggravating to miss out on a good deal just because you don’t have the information at hand.

So my search for a solution has begun.

For those of you with iPhones, the search is short and very sweet. The following 3 FREE apps can make your shopping life easier:

A full-featured guide for common and hidden animal ingredients. The ingredients listed can be viewed by those that are always animal derived and those that are sometimes animal derived. Additionally, it features a list of commonly misunderstood or unfamiliar vegan ingredients that will help aspiring or new vegans. Download here.

The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ Leaping Bunny Program has created this shopping guide that lists over 200 U.S. and Canadian companies that do not test ingredients, formulation, or finished products on animals. You can search and browse companies alphabetically or by categories like cosmetics, personal care, and household products. Download here.

VegScan is a community driven tool. When you point your iPhone’s camera at an items barcode, VegScan will read the bar code and let you know if the product is vegetarian or vegan. You can earn points, rank and achievement badges for adding and voting on items that other people have added. Download here.

Have you tried these or any other vegan apps? I would love to hear your comments on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter.


The 9 Easiest and Eco-friendly Gifts for Wannabe Vegans

You may think that it will be difficult to find an appropriate gift for anyone on your list that is a wannabe vegan. Luckily, for you, I have come up with a brilliant plan that is easy and eco-friendly; eBooks can be downloaded, sent as a gift and read on an electronic device like a Kindle, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Android, Blackberry, PC or Mac.

Here are my top picks for the Wannabe Vegan in your life. They cover my three favorite topics of health, spirit and environment:

Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry
by Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
Kindle (compatible with iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, PC and Mac)

This is a gripping, personal book by a recovered cosmetics addict with a great factual range on the impact of an unregulated group of companies, which have chemicalized the commercialization of beauty. This book should be read by women and men who have trusted, for too long, the companies whose products get inside their bodies and their minds, to the detriment of their health. Governments should require pre-market testing for safety. Ms. Malkan provides them with the evidence to finally act on behalf of consumers. – Ralph Nader

World Peace Diet
by Will Tuttle, PhD, speaker, educator, author, and musician
Kindle (compatible with iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, PC and Mac)

Food is our most intimate and telling connection both with the living natural order and our cultural heritage. By eating the plants and animals of our earth, we literally incorporate them. The World Peace Diet presents the outlines of a more empowering understanding of our world, based on a comprehension of the far-reaching implications of our food choices and the worldview those choices reflect and mandate. The author offers a set of universal principles for all people of conscience, from any religious tradition, that they can follow to reconnect with what we are eating, what was required to get it on our plate, and what happens after it leaves our plates.

Animal Factory
by David Kirby, Journalist
Kindle (compatible with iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, PC and Mac)

In this thoroughly researched book, Kirby follows three families and communities whose lives are utterly changed by immense neighboring animal farms. These facilities, known as “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations,” or CAFOs, confine thousands of pigs, dairy cattle, and poultry in small spaces, often under stressful conditions, and generate enormous volumes of fecal and biological waste as well as other toxins. Animal Factory is an important book about our American food system gone terribly wrong—and the people who are fighting to restore sustainable farming practices and safe natural resources.

The China Study
by Thomas M. Kimble
Kindle (compatible with iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, PC and Mac)

Referred to as the “Grand Prix of epidemiology” by The New York Times, this study examines more than 350 variables of health and nutrition with surveys from 6,500 adults in more than 2,500 counties across China and Taiwan, and conclusively demonstrates the link between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. While revealing that proper nutrition can have a dramatic effect on reducing and reversing these ailments as well as curbing obesity, this text calls into question the practices of many of the current dietary programs, such as the Atkins diet, that are widely popular in the West. The politics of nutrition and the impact of special interest groups in the creation and dissemination of public information are also discussed.

Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism
by Melanie Joy, PhD
Kindle (compatible with iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, PC and Mac)

One of the most thought-provoking books in decades. The realization that we’ve been conditioned throughout our entire lives to think and act a certain way toward animals, and that we’ve been so disconnected from ourselves and our fellow beings, gives us a chance to make our choices freely. – Heather Mills

Institutionalized, socially sanctioned violence on an unprecedented scale causes the needless suffering of billions of animals every year. In her groundbreaking book, Melanie Joy shakes up the completely arbitrary thinking that enables people to, at the same time, treat some animals as friends and look the other way while others are ruthlessly exploited as commodities. – Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary

From the Farm to the Table: What All Americans Need to Know about Agriculture
by Gary Holthaus
Kindle (compatible with iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, PC and Mac)

Gary Holthaus demonstrates how outside economic, governmental, legal, and business developments play an increasingly influential, if not controlling, role in every farmer’s life. The swift approval of genetically modified crops by the federal government, the formation of huge agricultural conglomerates, and the devastating environmental effects of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides are just a few issues buffeting family farms. From the Farm to the Table explores farmers’ experiences to offer a deeper understanding of how we can create sustainable and vibrant land-based communities by adhering to fundamental agrarian values.

Never Be Sick Again: Health is a Choice, Learn How to Choose It
by Raymond Francis
Kindle (compatible with iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, PC and Mac)

Health doesn’t happen by chance, but by choice, and you can take steps now to ensure that you will live free of the diseases that plague our society. A life-threatening medical condition led Ray Francis, a chemist and graduate of MIT, to formulate a revolutionary theory of health and disease: there is only one disease, only two causes of disease, and six pathways to health and disease. His findings and astounding recovery supported his conclusion that almost all diseases can be both prevented and reversed. This remarkable book is health in one lesson. It cuts through the confusion, demystifies disease and gives you answers to these questions: What is health? What is disease? Why do people get sick? How can disease be prevented? How can it be reversed? Through provocative case studies and cutting-edge scientific research, you will learn an entirely new way to look at health and disease. It is an approach that is easy to understand, yet so powerful that you may, indeed, never have to be sick again.

The Animal Manifesto: Six Reason for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint
by Marc Bekoff, PhD
Kindle (compatible with iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, PC and Mac)

Following the premises that animals both feel and convey emotion, are capable of actions that are motivated by compassion, and exhibit attitudes of kindness and empathy, preeminent ethologist and prolific author Bekoff comprehensively posits that the time has come for humans to return the favor. Just as environmental activists advocate reducing one’s carbon footprint in order to live more responsibly, Bekoff argues that expanding one’s compassion footprint, that is, treating animals more humanely, can have equally beneficial consequences. Supporting current scientific research with a wide range of anecdotal evidence, Bekoff outlines six guiding principles designed to increase awareness of the deplorable conditions animals experience across a broad spectrum of activities. From food production to circus acts, drug testing to wildlife encroachment, animals have long been considered objects to be manipulated for the express pleasure and benefit of humans. Unabashedly speaking on their behalf, Bekoff presents impassioned reasons why, and explicit ways in which, such destructive behaviors should stop. – Carol Haggas

The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter
by Peter Singer and Jim Mason
Kindle (compatible with iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, PC and Mac)

Less concerned with what people choose to eat per se, Singer and Mason make a case for how people’s everyday food choices affect others’ lives. They describe in vivid detail how applying industrial processing principles to animal husbandry has led to cheap foods whose cost savings occur at the expense of animals raised for profit and for product. Using Wal-Mart as an example, they lay out how huge retailers wield enormous power over prices and compel those far up the chain of food production and distribution to make unhelpful decisions. They hold up for admiration a Kansas family that has turned vegan so as not to participate in this particular destructive cycle of animal and human exploitation. They also thoughtfully and critically examine the ethical pros and cons of eating meat in any form. Urban dwellers far removed from the source of the foods they eat will find Singer and Mason’s descriptions of food production more disturbing and violent than the quiet, attractive, plastic-wrapped displays in the local supermarket’s pristine meat case. – Mark Knoblauch

Do you have any thoughts and/or suggestions for Wannabe Vegan gifts this season? I would love to hear from you in the comments section below, on facebook or via twitter.