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#1 Old 08-31-2008, 07:29 AM
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So it's occurring to me that there are currently no guidelines or requirements of labeling food which is vegetarian, vegan, or other (at least in the US [note, given the .com TLD of this site, I'm going to falsely assume that these forums are American based and ignore the other countries for the purposes of this thread]).



Anyway, there are all sorts of guidelines in place for noting other ingredients such as soy, milk, and egg products in a food item for the purposes of allergies, and there are (admittedly non-governmental) agencies that add logos to food prepared in a Kosher manner.



And I think that we, as veg*ns, deserve to have our food labeled in a uniform and correct manner. I'm tired of having people learn the hard way that random food x actually contains some gelatin, which is animal derived, or that ceasar dressing has anchovies in it. I'm tired of having to take back or throw out things that I thought were safe, but then realize at the last minute that they changed the recipe and added dehydrated chicken powder to the mix. And I'm tired of having to play 20,000 questions with the waitstaff at restaurants, and still not being confident in what they sell.



So I want to start a movement, one in which we make it known that we are tired of having to scour ingredient lists for items that are animal derived, and even then may not be successful due to how they are hidden (ie "enzymes"). I want us to write to our representatives requesting and simple legislation be passed requiring foods containing animal derived ingredients to be clearly marked as such. I want us to write the Department of Agriculture as well. It's time that we make our veg*nism as important as someone's religious and/or allergy status.
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#2 Old 08-31-2008, 07:59 AM
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Why can't you just read the ingredients?

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#3 Old 08-31-2008, 08:00 AM
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You may be shooting yourself in the foot with this one.



Many food producers may just want to avoid the whole issue of possibly getting sued because they've changed their recipe ingredients from time to time and they'd not bother with the qualifications to earn a vegetarian label. Besides, the vegetarian market is tiny. Why should a major food manufacturing company spend money and risk a lawsuit to cater to a tiny demographic with limited revenue potential?



In the US, you already have excellent Kosher markings on most food products. If you understand these labels then it can be a great way to know whats really in the food you buy.
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#4 Old 08-31-2008, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by SonicEarth View Post

Why can't you just read the ingredients?



I can read the ingredients, but sometimes it's hard to always see an offending ingredient when it's buried in the middle of a list of up to hundreds. This is the very reason that companies now have to add in bold letters under the ingredient list what possible allergens are found in the food. Because people can't reasonably be expected to know if something they shouldn't be eating is in the food given the complexity of an ingredients list. And again, often times animal products are hidden in the ingredients list as something that hides what they are (enzymes, gelatin, etc being things that could be from vegetarian sources, but often aren't and are rarely specified).



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Originally Posted by MrFalafel View Post

You may be shooting yourself in the foot with this one.



Many food producers may just want to avoid the whole issue of possibly getting sued because they've changed their recipe ingredients from time to time and they'd not bother with the qualifications to earn a vegetarian label. Besides, the vegetarian market is tiny. Why should a major food manufacturing company spend money and risk a lawsuit to cater to a tiny demographic with limited revenue potential?



In the US, you already have excellent Kosher markings on most food products. If you understand these labels then it can be a great way to know whats really in the food you buy.



I'm not thinking that the food manufacturers should do it voluntarily. For one, there isn't enough profit in doing so any to do it, as you say, and for two this would lead to inconsistencies in labeling that may be even worse than not doing it at all.



The problem with the Kosher markings is that not everything has them. Yes, they are useful when you see them, but the vast majority of items in a store, kosher or otherwise, don't have a marking of any sort. Also, Kosher rules and veg*n rules are often different (in my experience veg*ns don't care if a utensil touched meat before, if it's been washed thoroughly since). In short, it's a mess.
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#5 Old 08-31-2008, 08:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Binary Dragon View Post

I can read the ingredients, but sometimes it's hard to always see an offending ingredient when it's buried in the middle of a list of up to hundreds. This is the very reason that companies now have to add in bold letters under the ingredient list what possible allergens are found in the food. Because people can't reasonably be expected to know if something they shouldn't be eating is in the food given the complexity of an ingredients list. And again, often times animal products are hidden in the ingredients list as something that hides what they are (enzymes, gelatin, etc being things that could be from vegetarian sources, but often aren't and are rarely specified).







I'm not thinking that the food manufacturers should do it voluntarily. For one, there isn't enough profit in doing so any to do it, as you say, and for two this would lead to inconsistencies in labeling that may be even worse than not doing it at all.



The problem with the Kosher markings is that not everything has them. Yes, they are useful when you see them, but the vast majority of items in a store, kosher or otherwise, don't have a marking of any sort. Also, Kosher rules and veg*n rules are often different (in my experience veg*ns don't care if a utensil touched meat before, if it's been washed thoroughly since). In short, it's a mess.



So you want the government to mandate that all food manufacturers cater to tiny fraction of the US population? You do realize that will never fly?



My grandma taught me a great lesson many years ago: You should always know exactly what you are eating. When you buy something, read the ingredients label. If there is something on the label you don't recognize then don't buy it. She had a great saying about food ingredients 'If you can't pronounce it, don't buy it'



Seriously, the kosher laws can be used for vegans, especially, as they cover trace elements of foods. You just need to watch out for a few variations. I would suggest reading up on exactly what the kosher labelling rules mean as it can really help out. I wish we had more kosher labelling in the UK.
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#6 Old 08-31-2008, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by MrFalafel View Post

So you want the government to mandate that all food manufacturers cater to tiny fraction of the US population? You do realize that will never fly?



We aren't that small of a population. I don't have exact numbers, but I can't imagine the number of people with allergies to peanuts, milk, or soy is that much higher than the number of veg*ns (I recall reading something that indicated something on the order of 500,000 vegans in the US, and the number of vegetarians is undoubtedly higher yet).



Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFalafel View Post

Seriously, the kosher laws can be used for vegans, especially, as they cover trace elements of foods. You just need to watch out for a few variations. I would suggest reading up on exactly what the kosher labelling rules mean as it can really help out. I wish we had more kosher labelling in the UK.



Kosher rules aren't perfect. Fish aren't considered meat, and can be present (in trace amounts or substantial quantities) in things marked as pareve. Further, things that most people would consider to be vegetarian may not pass Kosher rules. And this is all if the food is even given a Kosher rating, which while not uncommon, often is not the case. Sure Kosher labels are helpful, but they aren't consistent, and they don't always apply to the needs of veg*ns.
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#7 Old 08-31-2008, 08:36 AM
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We aren't that small of a population. I don't have exact numbers, but I can't imagine the number of people with allergies to peanuts, milk, or soy is that much higher than the number of veg*ns (I recall reading something that indicated something on the order of 500,000 vegans in the US, and the number of vegetarians is undoubtedly higher yet).







Kosher rules aren't perfect. Fish aren't considered meat, and can be present (in trace amounts or substantial quantities) in things marked as pareve. Further, things that most people would consider to be vegetarian may not pass Kosher rules. And this is all if the food is even given a Kosher rating, which while not uncommon, often is not the case. Sure Kosher labels are helpful, but they aren't consistent, and they don't always apply to the needs of veg*ns.



Vegetarians make up only 1 or 2 percent of the US. OK, lets exagerate and say 10% of US is vegetarian. So you want the government to dictate to business rule that only apply to 10% of the population? What about other special interest groups in those low numbers? More laws to cater to their individual needs?



Food allergy labelling is a matter of life and death. These laws got passed because lobbyists showed government officials photos of children who'd died from eating nut traces etc etc. This is a very emotive issue and struck at the heartstrings of lawmakers. A photo of a grouchy vegetarian upset about eating a food product that had an animal product involved in it will not really melt the hearts of government official.



Kosher laws are not perfect but they really help root out those pesky trace ingredients. They are helpful tool for the consumer.



The reality is the label lists whats in the food. If there is any suspicion then you have a choice not to buy it. In fact, if you have reason to question the ingredients of a food item, what the heck are you buying it for anyway? You should buy food items from companies you trust.
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#8 Old 08-31-2008, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Binary Dragon View Post

I can read the ingredients, but sometimes it's hard to always see an offending ingredient when it's buried in the middle of a list of up to hundreds.





I'm thinking that any food with that many ingredients might not be good for you.
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#9 Old 08-31-2008, 04:06 PM
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I'm thinking that any food with that many ingredients might not be good for you.



You're probably right about that. But sometimes the list is only so long due to the large number of things that the flour has been enriched with, as opposed to being from random chemicals. And of course sometimes these things just have to be conceded to for time and/or convenience.



I think a great example of why this is needed is the thread in the Vegan forum right now about whether or not Oreos are vegan. Does the ingredient "chocolate" imply milk or not? Yes, it should be as simple as just reading the ingredients list, but the very fact that these threads exist just show that it's never that simple.



And to MrFalafel about food allergy labeling being life or death, I hardly think that anyone who has a severe enough allergy that they might die if they have that item would be without an EpiPen. Such allergies are thus either unknown (in which case the labeling doesn't help anyway) or known (in which case the allergy is likely to be an inconvenience, though admittedly a large one. My personal take on animal flesh is that it is as disgusting as human flesh in the context of consumption, so accidentally eating some would seem to me as bad as eating something I was allergic to. So why it would make sense to have labels to protect the allergic and not the veg*ns, I can't fathom.
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#10 Old 08-31-2008, 10:38 PM
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You're probably right about that. But sometimes the list is only so long due to the large number of things that the flour has been enriched with, as opposed to being from random chemicals. And of course sometimes these things just have to be conceded to for time and/or convenience.



I think a great example of why this is needed is the thread in the Vegan forum right now about whether or not Oreos are vegan. Does the ingredient "chocolate" imply milk or not? Yes, it should be as simple as just reading the ingredients list, but the very fact that these threads exist just show that it's never that simple.



And to MrFalafel about food allergy labeling being life or death, I hardly think that anyone who has a severe enough allergy that they might die if they have that item would be without an EpiPen. Such allergies are thus either unknown (in which case the labeling doesn't help anyway) or known (in which case the allergy is likely to be an inconvenience, though admittedly a large one. My personal take on animal flesh is that it is as disgusting as human flesh in the context of consumption, so accidentally eating some would seem to me as bad as eating something I was allergic to. So why it would make sense to have labels to protect the allergic and not the veg*ns, I can't fathom.



People choose to be vegetarians whereas people do not choose to have a food allergy. If you choose a lifestyle whereby you need to read labels then thats your problem but those who are afflicted with food allergies need all the help the can get. See the difference?
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#11 Old 08-31-2008, 10:41 PM
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There are companies that do things like this, and they will continue to be more but like he just said, we do this by choice, so make the choice to know what you put in the vessel of yours.
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#12 Old 09-01-2008, 03:41 AM
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An alternative is to write to various food companies and ask them to participate in one of the many 'vegetarian society approved' programmes.
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#13 Old 09-01-2008, 05:24 AM
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This is what I meant. In the US there are companies that will put the 'certified vegan' heart, or like Amy's who will list vegan in bold at the beginning of the ingredient list if said item is vegan.
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