Millennials and Gen Z-ers make shopping decisions that largely depend on certifications and labels, a recent survey shows. A survey of more than 23,000 consumers internationally found that 91% prefer products provided with an independent stamp guaranteeing the product is really vegan, without having to read all ingredients list or spend time comparing and looking for alternatives.
While there is no one standard label in use in the US, the various symbols designating a product as vegan can be an aide for shoppers and we have found them to be reliable. We have also found products that don’t have a symbol but merely state “vegan” on the package somewhere, to be reliably vegan. However, there are also many great products that neither have a symbol nor the word vegan on the package. Perhaps these may even be the majority of vegan products, so reading the ingredients label is important. The ingredients on the product label are mandated by law and hence are the most reliable source of product information.
In fact, there is no legal definition of vegan. Our definition of vegan would be food that has no meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs and anything else that came from an animal. Vegan products that are not overly processed carry additional health advantages, so we recommend a whole-food plant-based diet. Packaged foods can be minimally processed and considered a whole food, but it’s important to check the ingredients.
Therefore, we still encourage nutrition and ingredient label reading. It takes only a moment but it’s worth the effort and will help keep you from unnecessarily limiting your purchasing decisions. These labels can also provide extras such as what vitamins and minerals and how much fiber the food contains. It can tell you how much salt, sugar and fat is in the product and a long list of unrecognizable ingredients may indicate that it is overly processed.
Considering how important our food is to our health, the animals and the environment, food shopping is a skill well worth cultivating and we can help! We have a handy take-to-the-grocery-store shopping guide, In Pursuit of Great Food, that includes how to understand the nutrition facts label, some labels to look out for and lists of ingredients to avoid, along with an invaluable description of all the foods you might want to keep in your kitchen so that you can make delicious meals at short notice!