Vegan or allergen-free?
If an item has no animal ingredients in it but the packaging states 'may contain traces of milk/egg…'- this means the item is most likely vegan. Companies who make a variety of foods have to clean the production lines between different batches, eg foods containing nuts, soya, dairy etc. For example, a chocolate manufacturer may make a batch of non-vegan milk chocolate then clean the line and make a batch of vegan dark chocolate!
Although the lines are cleaned scrupulously, there is always the risk of microscopic traces and companies have a legal obligation to warn allergy sufferers about possible cross contamination. From an ethical point of view, most vegan groups agree that this is an acceptable compromise. While it is undoubtedly better to support dedicated vegan companies, it isn’t always practical. Being able to buy items from mainstream companies widens the choice of products available to vegans. However, this compromise may not be suitable for those with severe allergies . As ever, when in doubt, check with the manufacturer.
FFI see the Vegan Society’s useful article
While Viva! does its best to promote independents, the reality is that many towns and cities in the UK have lost many of their small businesses. Supermarkets are major players who deal with most of the UK’s food production and distribution, offering an increasingly wide range of vegan food, seemingly good value and a convenient way to shop. However, www.tescopoly.org offers an alternative point of view.
In addition, you may start to find out more about food manufacturers – eg some vegan products are manufactured by non-vegan companies who are unethical in other areas. But don’t feel you need to do everything at once! Start off simply, have fun and don’t worry – any fine-tuning you want to do can come later.
- We list each supermarket’s own brand where possible but, of course, they sell vegan products from other companies.
- Aldi, Lidl, Netto or Spar are not included, mainly because they hold smaller stock lines and/or lack a vegan list. However, these shops often sell quality products at bargain prices – Lidl’s nuts and wraps spring to mind! Aldi and Lidl label many items vegan also.
- Larger supermarket branches sell a wider range of vegan products – a small local store may not sell everything listed here.
- Free-from and ethnic sections are good places to start looking as well as the more obvious vegetarian and wholefood areas.
- Most of the major supermarkets offer a vegan list online or by email, which is updated regularly (we’ve given a link where possible).
- Companies may delete or replace products and brands without warning so don’t blame us if they no longer sell a product! (but do let us know and we'll amend).
- When in doubt, always read the packet – or ask in-store customer services.
What we DON’T list (intrinsically vegan products)
- cooking oils. Rapeseed, olive, ground nut, sesame, sunflower, plain etc etc
- fresh vegetables and fresh fruit. Most tinned varieties are vegan, as are the frozen varieties
- jam and marmalade
- nuts and seeds
- nut and seed butters (peanut, cashew, almond, pumpkin seed, tahini etc)
- pasta/noodles. These are usually vegan but watch out for egg in fresh varieties or some dried such as tagliatelle or egg noodles
- plant milks, eg soya, nut, oat, rice
- pulses – beans, peas and lentils. Buy them dried, tinned, frozen or in pouches without other ingredients added
- rice and other grains – unless they are part of a dish or packet with other ingredients (eg ready-made risottos usually contain butter, cream etc)
- soya sauce. Tamari is wheat/gluten-free, shoyu isn’t, but both are kitchen wizards
- tea and coffee. Basic types don’t add anything dodgy. A tiny handful of herb teas may have added honey
- Cocoa is always vegan but many (not all) hot chocolate mixes contain added dairy.