Following a plant-based diet? Look out for these in food labels.
Our food habits in India, specially if you are a vegetarian are primarily plant based – vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and so on. If you are following a vegan and plant-based diet and believes in eating home-made food, it’s easier to track and maintain a plant-based diet. However, if you are a consumer of processed food items, its a task. You need to carefully look at the labels. Its not only your usual dairy and dairy derived ingredients that you need to watch out for but several other ingredients that may not qualify a plant based diet.
Next time while shopping for your groceries, some of the ingredients you need to watch out for in the product label are –
- Dairy and dairy derived products - Whey, casein, lactose and regular dairy products like milk, cheese, butter, ghee, etc. Some wafers and chips may also contain milk and milk solids based on the flavors they use.
- Gelatin – It is commonly used in chewy or gummy products like candies and gummies. Gelatin is made by boiling animal skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones in water.
- Vitamin D3 claim - Vitamin D3 is animal derived, mainly found in fishes like salmon, sardines, egg yolks, etc. You need to check the labels of fortified foods and multi-vitamins. However, Vitamin D2 can be plant derived. For example, mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D2. Mushrooms can synthesize Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.
- Egg whites, casein and gelatin is sometimes used in winemaking for the fining (clarification) process. However, its not declared on the label.
- Food colours and flavouring agents are sometimes derived from animal sources. Don’t get confused even if it says natural food colours and flavourings as natural does not equate to plant based. It could be derived from animal sources.