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.

This is really nice work. (click to embiggen)

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).

The meat background may gross you out, but oh, well. (click to enlarge)

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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