You’re at the grocery store, shopping for your vegan family when you see an exciting new product, but scanning the label it says “may contain: milk, eggs, dairy etc.”. Does that mean it’s still okay to eat, or should you return it to the shelf and avoid these foods?
First and foremost, it’s best to remember that we should be getting almost all of our groceries from the outside perimeter of the supermarket, if not the farmer’s market. Foods found in this area are whole foods, fresh organic fruits and veggies, breads, and the like. The foods within the aisles tend to be the most unhealthy, snacks, cookies, and simple carbohydrate filled items can be found there. The exception for this rule would be plant milks, nut butters, granola, and oatmeal, which can all typically be found within the center aisles of your local supermarket.
The tricky part comes when looking at prepared foods, nut based cheeses, frozen foods, and similar packaged items. Manufacturers that also produce dairy and other non-vegan items must declare a risk of cross contamination on their packages, for allergen purposes. Even if something is trademarked as vegan on the package, it’s best to check the ingredient list to see if there is a possibility of the product containing an animal derivative.
As you know, there are what seem to be different levels of vegans. There are those that only eat a vegan diet and do not practice a completely cruelty free lifestyle, some that visit zoo’s and circuses but won’t wear leather or fur. Being vegan is more than just a diet, it’s a lifestyle, but the choice is yours on how far you want to take it and what you feel comfortable with. If a product states that it may contain an animal derived ingredient, and you want to eat it anyway, that is your choice. Typically these products are not the healthiest, and come wrapped in plastic that will not even decompose until after your great-grandchildren have passed.
You always have a choice and make your own decisions on what you choose to do with your body. There is, however, almost always a healthier alternative, so when you see these labels, set it down, take a minute, walk around the periphery of the grocery store, and I’m willing to bet you will find a better, safer option for yourself and your family.