Animal ingredient guides

One of the problems I constantly face when grocery shopping is to figure out what those mystery ingredients on the product labels are. Who besides a chemist would know what “Isopropyl Palmitate” or “Polysorbates” are, much less if they’re vegan or not?

Fortunately, information is a lot easier to come by these days. Here are two free options that will make your grocery shopping a little easier.

Animal Ingredient Guide, a free pocket guide

by Kaycee Bassett from

This is a handy little pocket-size guide that Kaycee put together. She will lovingly print, hand-assemble and send you one (or more) for free, all you have to do is ask. It lists a whole bunch of animal and possibly animal ingredients in alphabetical order, is very compact and easy to keep in a pocket or purse.

Animal-Free, a free app for iPhone

by Symbiotic Software

If you have a smart phone you’re connected to the internet pretty much all the time, and what I had been doing for a while was to simply Google the ingredient’s name and read about it. But now I use a nice (and free) app on my iPhone called Animal-Free.

You can switch between animal and vegan ingredient lists, view detailed explanations about an ingredient, search for ingredients or actual product names (if you have an iPhone 4 you can scan the bar codes). The lists have different backgrounds (red for animal products, green for vegan).

I have a few comments on this app regarding ingredients that are sometimes animal-based, sometimes plant-based. I should mention that to me those are not necessarily problems, since I avoid products that use those ingredients anyway, unless it’s clear that they’re of the plant-based variety. I just think the information could be displayed in a clearer way.

  1. those products are listed on the animal ingredients list, but you have to look in the details page to realize that they could be plant-based (they’re marked with an asterisk and a note on the description, see the image above).
  2. the space under the description always contains the same image, a barcode and price, that have nothing to do with the ingredient. I think that space could be used a little better, maybe to indicate when an ingredient can come from both animal and plant sources in a more obvious manner.
  3. The ingredient list should have the asterisk to mark those dual-source ingredients so you don’t have to open the details page.

All in all, it’s a great app and you can’t beat the free price tag. Highly recommended.

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