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I want to follow a plant based -whole grain diet, no meat, chicken, fish, eggs or dairy. I switched to this way of eating for better health and longevity. Not sure what all to look for in some of the food labels or if there is hidden items of the foods I listed that I am no longer eating. Any help would be appreciated
 

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Well if you really want to maximize your chances for health and longevity, you shouldn't be eating foods with ingredient labels on them. With the possible exception of things like tofu or tempeh. That simplifies things enormously, when all you eat are whole, unprocessed plant based foods. But if you want stuff like breads or tortillas or crackers, etc. look for things that have very small ingredient lists, like flour, salt, yeast. There should be no hidden ingredients in manufactured foods. To not disclose what is in a food product is illegal.
 

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Here's a good list of ingrediants, where they come from, and why they're used:
http://www.veganwolf.com/animal_ingredients.htm

That should be an eye opener!

Big things-gelatin, whey, undefined lactose (could be soy or dairy), albumin, egg whites

Try and keep it simple and stick to items you know are vegan before expanding your menu. Read books, and cookbooks. Google everything vegan...

Welcome!
 

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As to how to classify yourself, here are some options: healthy eater, plant eater, herbivore, vegetarian, strict vegetarian, plant strong, vegan in progress (VIP), semi-vegan, dietary vegan, veganish, careful consumer, etc...

About hidden ingredients: if your motivation is purely health then most hidden ingredients shouldn't be a big deal to you. Like SomebodyElse said, focus on unprocessed foods and then you don't have to worry about hidden ingredients plus it's healthier. But if you have other motivations then there are a number of ways to find truly vegan food, the easiest way is to look for a label that says the item is vegan.
 
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