As we do not currently live in a vegan world, many vegan food products other than fruit, vegetables and beans/lentils still aren’t common in Irish supermarkets. However, even in the most rural areas, a big brand supermarket like Tesco usually has a section dedicated to ‘Free From’ products.
There you can find both vegetarian and vegan products, like Linda McCartney, Quorn and own brand options. Sometimes products are clearly marked ‘Vegan’ and sometimes they’re not, but just because they’re not doesn’t mean they’re not suitable for you to eat. You just have to dig a little deeper.
What is an ‘Accidentally Vegan’ product?
There are quite a few accidentally vegan products hiding in the aisles that you may walk straight past. A product is “accidentally vegan” if it does not contain animal derivatives and was not tested on animals, even though it isn’t officially marked Vegan by the company that makes it. It may in fact be marked Vegetarian and a quick glance of the ingredients list will tell you if it contains eggs/dairy.
For instance, many packets of own brand Bourbon biscuits are marked as vegetarian and do not include milk or egg or any other animal ingredient. So they are suitable for vegans to eat even though the packaging doesn’t specifically state that it is vegan.
Veganism in Ireland is still so new that many companies don’t think to mark the packaging of their products and cash in on a new consumer base! To make sure you don’t miss out, follow the Accidentally Vegan Instagram account.
What if the product says ‘May contain milk/eggs’ on the back?
In the vast majority of cases, you can disregard this warning. If there are no ingredients of animal origin on the ingredients list and the product is labelled Vegetarian, then the product is likely still suitable for vegans. The ‘May contain milk’ warning is only something that should concern you if you are allergic to milk. Same goes for eggs and so on. It’s really just a way for a company to watch their own back.
If something is marked ‘Dairy Free’ does that mean it’s vegan?
This is something to watch out for. Just because a food is marked ‘dairy free’ does not mean it’s suitable for vegans, as non-vegan ingredients can be lurking in it. For example, some dairy free ice creams we’ve come across contained honey (and, rarely, egg). Always read the ingredients list!
Some drinks aren’t suitable for vegans and it’s best to be armed with information before walking into a bar and having no idea what to choose. The people behind the bar probably aren’t going to know what’s vegan and what’s not, so it’s up to you to check. You can do this at Barnivore.com, an excellent resource that tells you if a drink is vegan-friendly or not.
For a quick reference, check out our Vegan Alcohol list.
Why is some alcohol not considered vegan?
Alcohol does not usually contain typical animal ingredients like milk or cream (other than luxury brands like Baileys), but it’s not always the ingredients you have to watch out for. Isinglass is a substance obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish and it is used to filter beers and wines. As this process is done using something derived from an animal, it is not vegan, and so beverages filtered in this way are not vegan either.
What about non-alcoholic drinks?
For other drinks, such as hot chocolate powder, you can treat it as a food product and look at the ingredients list. If it’s marked vegetarian and doesn’t contain animal ingredients then it’s suitable for vegans. Cadbury’s drinking chocolate powder is a common accidentally vegan product.
Do you have any questions? Contact us!