Whether it is for health reasons, love for animals, or the environment, the number of people adopting a vegan lifestyle is increasing every day.
A vegan diet is no longer just under the realm of some religious communities, environmentalists, or health experts. People from all walks of life including sports athletes, professionals, and celebrities, young and old have switched to a plant-based lifestyle.
To answer these changing consumer preferences, many companies have started to cash in on the trend. From startups to big multinationals, almost every company, especially in the food & beverage space, is offering vegan products. Going vegan has never been easy.
We know about plant-based meat or mock meat providing a healthy alternative to our non-vegetarian meals, it is interesting to see vegan options in other food and lifestyle products as well.
Let us look at some vegan products that you would not know about.
Wine as we know is made through the fermentation of grapes, which is in itself vegan. If we look further into the process, after fermentation, a group of tiny molecules is formed in the wine. These molecules can naturally go away in due course of time, but to expedite the manufacturing, winemakers add certain fining agents, which are mainly animal-based – gelatin (animal protein), albumin (egg whites), casein (animal milk protein), and isinglass (fish bladder). Though after their tasks, they are removed from the final beverage, some traces are absorbed by the wine, making it non-vegan wine.
In the case of vegan wine, instead of an animal-based agent, they use vegan fining techniques such as bentonite, pea proteins, or activated charcoal.
Vegan Pet Food
Plant-based meat and mock meat has taken space on many kitchen shelves and have gradually entered our food choices. Why should our pets be left behind?
For many vegetarian/vegan pet owners, it is a predicament whether to feed their pets, especially dogs and cats with their own plant-based diet or feed them with meat that is considered to be wholesome. Studies have proved that vegetarian diets for cats and dogs are healthy, however, such diets must be nutritionally complete and reasonably balanced.
To cater to this dietary need for pets, many companies have started vegan pet food. Plant ingredients like vegetables, fruits, cereals, pea protein, seaweed, etc. are used to make vegan pet food.
From shoes to wallets, from jackets to belts, fashion accessories made with animal skins are part of many wardrobes. However, with increasing awareness toward animal welfare and advancement in material science, new sustainable leather alternatives have come to the fore.
Vegan leather is getting made from materials like pineapple leaves, cork, apple peels, and other fruit waste, that can look quite like animal skins. In addition, clothes made of vegan leather also have durability and strength like animal-based leather.
While beer is mostly made using plant ingredients like barley or wheat, yeast, and hops. There are some companies that certain animal-based ingredients to give the beer a distinctive taste.
In addition, there are alcoholic beer-like beverages that are made using animal products, like Mead, which is made by fermenting honey, and Milk Stouts which contains whey or lactose.
Vegan beer makers follow the traditional approach to brewing their beers and don’t mix any animal or dairy ingredients.
Most of us love Chocolate and consume them in a variety of ways. The chocolate made with cocoa beans is vegan, but when it is added to milk and milk products, which most of them do, makes a majority of the chocolate non-vegan.
Vegan chocolate, on the other hand, uses ingredients such as cocoa, dairy-free spread, and non-dairy milk like oats, cashew, etc.
Vegan Protein Powder
Vegans generally think that by not taking meat-based food they are missing out on proteins, and the supplements that are on offer also include animal products like whey and casein, which makes them disillusioned with the lack of choices.
Not anymore, to serve this group, companies have started making vegan protein powder that is derived only from plant-based sources. Vegan protein powder includes ingredients like chickpeas, hemp, pea, pumpkin, rice, and soy and is an ideal supplement for vegans.
Not everything is hunky-dory, there are companies that in the name of plant-based and vegan products, can sell products that do not abide by veganism rules and are also not very environmentally sustainable.
Take the case of vegan leather, in many cases, companies sell garments marketed as vegan leather, which is made from polyurethane (a type of polymer or plastic). While technically the fabric is devoid of animal skin, however using a polymer is not very environmentally friendly.
Hence it is always better for consumers to make a detailed inspection of the materials used in vegan products and not fall for greenwashing and other false claims. If you are not sure, check with the manufacturer before consumption and if doubts still remain, it is better to avoid the product, unless you are willing to compromise on your veganism.