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While not an absolute must for a vegan, this book is very useful. Yes, the information in yet can all be gathered elsewhere, but it really is very useful to have it all in one place, and especially when that one place is a book you can fit in your pocket.
Published by the Vegan Society, this bright yellow (the book pictured is not the current edition), cheap little book contains a surprising amount of information, all very neatly categorised. Everything listed in the book is vegan - no animal products, no animal testing. The categories include food, drink, toiletries & cosmetics and footwear & clothing, among others, and within these categories, everything is very neatly categorised - you can view all the vegan lip balms in one place, or all the vegan shower gels. There is aso a section for each of the major supermarkets, telling you which of their own brand products are vegan.
The book also contains, among other things, a glossary of animal substances (very useful for checking ingredients lists!), and a list of suggested reading.
It is very well organised, and a handy little addition to your shopping bag. I think it would be especially useful to a new vegan who is finding it difficult to know where to start.
As a new vegan this book was kindly recommended to me by someone on a vegan forum. Now that I have it, I couldn't be without it, and not just because of the food listings. Veganism is not about food, it's about not using or supporting the use of animal products in any walk of life.
Published by The Vegan Society and now in it's 8th edition, this little book is invaluable as a guide to knowing what is in your food. It measure 5.75" x 4.25" and is almost .75" thick, making it easily carried in a backpack or handbag (or my coat pocket!) Of course, to vegans, we want to know that our produce and consumables are animal product free, but actually, anyone with an interest in what they are eating should have a look at it. My own partner has had a complete rethink about what he buys as a result of seeing this book.
So what's in it? The book itself is divided into sections. There is a chapter called "A Little Bit About The Vegan Society" which kind of speaks for itself, followed by an explanation of The Vegan Society Trademark and who is allowed to use it to endorse their products. But after that is the "Why Animal Free" section, which covers the production of animal products in this country. From the production of chicken, pork, lamb and beef to eggs, dairy and honey, the book explains why vegans refuse to be a part of those industries. For example, in two short paragraphs you learn that the glaze that goes on fruit in the supermarkets to make it look shiny is "shellac", and 300 000 lac insects are killed to produce 1 kg of it. Global production of Shellac is currently 20 000 tonnes per year. Although a synthetic version is available (yuk) production is on the rise as a result of the demand for all things natural.
Once the explanations are over, there is a section on additives, and those additives which are specifically derived from animals, such as bone char, used in refining sugar.
There are then lots of listings for animal welfare organizations, vegan business, vegan clothing and shoes, cookbooks, websites etc before the listings for foods. These are done by type of food, in alphabetical order - so biscuits, bread, breakfast foods, etc. If a food is there, it's vegan. However, it is very important to remember to check the ingredients on the item as they do change. The book is updated and the website has more up to date information to double check. There is no substitute for looking and checking yourself, but the book is a handy guide.
After listing by food, there is a listing by supermarket and this includes the supermarkets' own brands. Morrison's is not there at all, as they have declined to give a list of their vegan products, and as they are my local store, I can fully understand why, as I have real trouble finding anything with their own label on that could be called vegan. Even their fresh carrot and coriander soup doesn't qualify! However I did learn that The Co-op has an extensive range of vegan foods, so that was very useful.
There is a llong list of food manufacturers in the back of the book. This is a great resource for anyone who needs to know what they consume, making it easy to contact any food supplier. Everyone form Budweiser to Red Bull, Asda to Waitrose is listed there.
With listings for everything from bread to wine, and toothpaste to copier paper, the book does a great job of steering you in the right direction to find vegan products, and makes being a 21st century vegan quite easy.
Would I recommend this book to other vegans? Absolutely.
Would I recommend this book to everyone else? Absolutely.
Available at Amazon for £4.93!
Animal Free Shopper is the most comprehensive guide to shopping for vegan products that I can find. If you want to shop ethically and with the wellbeing of animals in mind then this book is a real help.
As a vegan, or anyone with strict dietary requirements, it can be very difficult to shop. Products are not always labelled clearly, things like "flavourings" give you no idea of what's actually in them, and supermarket bakery products are often left unlabelled. Whilst you can search out bakery staff to question who then look at you strangely and have to search for ingredients lists; and you can write to companies for product information; you end up giving up and buying the same few products all the time. This book saves time, opens up new foods and products that you would had to avoid out of doubt, and puts a wealth of information about products and companies at your fingertips.
For products to qualify to be included in the book they must, as far as is possible and practical, be entirely free from animal involvement. This means: No animal ingredients in the manufacture and/or development of the product, and where applicable its ingredients, must not involve, or have involved, the use of any animal product, by-product or derivative. There must also be no animal testing in the development and/or manufacture of the product, and where applicable its ingredients, must not involve, or have involved, testing of any sort on animals conducted at the initiative of the manufacturer or on its behalf, or by parties over whom the manufacturer has effective control.
Covering vegan products ranging from food, cosmetics, drink to home and gardening and everything in between, this really is an essential guide for the vegan shopper.
It also contains comprehensive supermarket own brand listings, E numbers to watch out for; and even has veggie/vegan group contact details, and company contact details.
The book is clearly divided up into contents section, each of which is sub-divided, and it the index is also there for finding specific products.
The book is especially useful in regards to whole-food shops, and supermarkets, especially now (in its 6th edition) that it has a separate section on supermarkets. I find this really useful for supermarket bakery products, as these rarely have ingredients listed on them. It helps in increasing the amount of products I can get as before I would simply avoid anything I was unsure of.
There is a clear key to help you identify the suitability of products and companies. The key identifies whether companies test on animals or not, have a vegan proprietor, whether the product holds the vegan trademark, and whether all their products are vegan. This helps not only with knowing what products are suitable for use, but identifies which ethical companies that you want to look out for.
This handy pocket-sized guide is ideal for use when out shopping (especially with so many products being so inadequately labelled) and is the easiest way to get started on an animal-free lifestyle. It's downfall is that in being simple to use and pocket sized it can only contain so much information, and as companies change product recipes it is in constant need of updating.
I recommend it to anyone new to the world of shopping ethically and with animal welfare in mind.
As a vegan you learn that you need to check the labels on prodcuts. One of the most common ingrediants you will see is "flavourings". Ooh isn't that useful. It pretty much covers anything you can imagine, and probably quite a lot you can't too. You could write to the company asking whether the questionable product is suitable but by the times you've done that and receieved a reply the shop will have closed for the night, been renovated and charging by the euro. The alternative is to buy the "Animal Free Shopper" which is published by the Vegan society and sold in near;y all the places which sell vegan, ethical, organic and cruelty free products. It lists everything that is known, at the time of publication, to be suitable for vegans or anyone else who does not use animal derived products for any reason. The Vegan Society contact companies to ask what products are suitable and this is then compiled into the book. And if you are concerned about companies telling the truth, if there is reason to belive they are lying they will not be included. This is one of the places where the book falls down and fails to be as comphrensive as would be liked. With so many small companies not everyone will get included. Also not every company provides information. Boots being notable for their absence, is it because they didn't supply information or because nothing is suitable? All the major supermarkets and brands are included though. Because the book only lists suitable products there is doubt as to whether things which haven't been included are actually unsuitable or whether they just didn't have the information at the time. Quite often there are products which you think should be suitable but are not in the book. Also as companies constantly change ingrediants whenever they find a way to save money, or improve the product - make your own mind up which, the book can become wrong. For this reason
the Vegan Society publish an amendments list on their web site which is usually updated monthly. It should therefore be pointed out that the book should not replace reading ingrediant lists, just help you know which products to look at. It's not only food which is covered in the book but also drinks, soft and alocholic, toiletries and cosmetics, clothes, household products (washing liquids etc.) and there is even an home & office section! There is alsoa large contact section for companies and local groups etc. plus a listing of all ingrediants which are, or may be, animal derived. Quick interesting fact - Walkers Beef & Onion crisps are vegan, Salt and Vinegar are not. I would never have guessed that without the book, in fact you would expect Salt and Vingear to be one of the few flavours which are suitable. Physically the book is rather small, probably about 5" by 4", which is convenient for carrying around. You don't need this book but it is hard to live in this world (otherwise called the UK as that's all it covers) without it.
Published by the Vegan Society