Jane Land from Veganuary highlights the foods that happen to be vegan without even realising it!
The biggest concern for people contemplating a vegan diet is almost always: what will I eat? There is a notion that there are specialist vegan products only found on dusty shelves in out-of-the-way shops, and that all the old favourites must be relinquished. This is very far from the truth.
Take a look inside any omnivore’s kitchen and you’ll find a great number of everyday store-cupboard products that are already vegan. They weren’t designed for vegans, but they contain no animal products at all, and include items we eat regularly, and couldn’t imagine living without.
They include peanut butter, Marmite, jams and marmalades, baked beans, dried pasta, rice, almost all bread, many types of gravy granules, vegetable stock cubes, chopped tomatoes, oven chips, coconut milk, lots of curry pastes, many breakfast cereals (be sure to make sure they are fortified with vegan-friendly vitamin D as some is derived from sheep’s wool), herbs, spices, tomato ketchup and HP sauce, mustard and pickles, sugars and sweeteners, olive oil and vegetable oils, soy sauce, fruit juice, fizzy drinks, tea and coffee, lots of biscuits, crackers, crispbreads and crisps, and of course fruit and vegetables – fresh, dried, tinned and frozen.
Now, that’s not a bad start, is it?
Having so many everyday products already free from animal parts means that we can make small, almost unnoticeable changes to our existing diet that will transform it from an omnivorous one to a vegan one. We can ease ourselves into veganism with beans on toast (only need to change the margarine) or a bangers and mash (just choose veggie sausages and vegetable gravy), and it won’t seem like the world has shifted beneath our feet. The meal is essentially the same; it’s just a different brand of the same product.
And there are thousands more ‘accidentally vegan’ products out there. Take Jus-Rol, for example. This company produces bake-at-home croissant, pain au chocolat and cinnamon swirls, which can be found inside almost every supermarket. All vegan. All delicious. Now, didn’t your Sunday mornings just get significantly better?
For the biscuit-dunkers who fear they will have to learn to bake their own, there is no need to worry. Hobnobs, rich tea, ginger nuts and bourbons are all vegan and you’ll find those everywhere. Admittedly, in terms of biscuit rankings, they might be considered just a bit low-league when what you really want is icing and chocolate and artificial colourings, right?
So, load up your basket with pink wafers (please note that as of January 2018 thw ‘Pink Panther’ brand of pink wafers are no longer vegan), Fox’s Party Rings, choc chip Hobnobs and Fox’s Dark Chocolate Chunkie Cookies instead. And our own personal recommendations? The biscuits that demand we eat the entire packet before hiding the wrapper in the bin and denying all knowledge? That would be the twin temptresses of Lotus Biscoff caramelised biscuits and Oreos.
There are plenty of other everyday sweet-treat products that are accidentally vegan, including Mr Kipling’s Treacle Tarts and Apple & Blackcurrant Pies, and the Co-op’s doughnuts, both the jam and custard ones. The frozen strudels sold in most stores are vegan, too. Apologies if the myth of the wholesome, my-body-is-a-temple vegan just went out the window!
If you’re more salty than sweet, you’ll find that many of your favourite snack products are also already vegan. Let’s start with Walker’s crisps. Choose from Ready Salted, Worcester Sauce and Marmite flavours, but if you’re a lover of Old Skool potato-based snacks you’ll be delighted to know that Skips, Crispy Bacon Wheat Crunchies and Walkers Salt & Vinegar Squares are all vegan, too. You can take a look at Walker’s full range of vegan crisps here.
Pringles labels which of its flavours meet the animal-free ethical benchmark. Currently, they are Original, Texas BBQ, Paprika, Tortilla BBQ and the highly-addictive Smokey Bacon. But if you want something posher than a Pringle, try the three vegan Kettle Chips flavours or the Tyrrells’ Sweet Chilli & Red Pepper, Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper, English Barbecue and Red White & Blue flavours, as well as their Mixed Root Vegetable Crisps.
Although all these products and many more are vegan, labels often don’t explicitly state the fact, which means some vegans are missing out. But here’s a little trick to help you find out whether your favourite crisp – or any other product – is vegan: if it says ‘vegetarian’, contains no honey or beeswax, and there are no dairy or egg allergens listed in bold in the ingredients list, it’s vegan. C’est si simple!
Vegan? That’s crackers!
In order to reduce your eye-straining, label-reading time, though, here are a few more everyday snack foods that just happen to be vegan: Ritz crackers, Hovis Extra Wheatgerm Crackers, Jacob’s Flatbreads (Salt & Cracked Black Pepper, Mixed Seed) and, counter-intuitively, cream crackers. Pile up your savoury biscuits with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, Peppadew peppers and artichokes as these are vegan, too – the lactic acid some are preserved in comes from a vegetable source, not milk, as you might assume. Just watch out for olives sneakily stuffed with anchovies or Peppadews covertly crammed with cheese.
What about a little weekend tipple, something to wash down your snacks and sweets? There are everyday companies that don’t use fish bladders and other horrors to fine their beers and ciders. Try Corona, Budweiser and Peroni, Merrydown, Thatcher’s and Weston’s. As for wines, Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Marks & Spencer all clearly label the vegan wines in their selections, and other supermarkets have lists available so you may find your favourite is on there. Companies generally have been a bit slow to label bottles, with one exception being Oxford Landing, and you’ll find their accidentally vegan wines in just about every wine-selling establishment.
Of course, there are loads of amazing companies that are exclusively and deliberately vegan, and we recommend you look out for their products, too. Fry’s, for example, make the best faux meat nuggets, strips, sausages and pies, while Tideford Organics are your guys for all things soup, sauce and pesto. If you’re missing cheese and onion crisps (oh, and chicken crisps and fancy popcorns too), look no further than Ten Acre, while for protein-boosting healthy snack bars, including the delicious Orange Choc Chip, we recommend Pulsin.
Being vegan doesn’t have to mean a whole new way of life. In most cases, it’s simply a question of knowing which brands are vegan and choosing those. And often, the brand you’ve been buying all along was vegan anyway – you just didn’t know it!
For more accidentally vegan products, visit veganfoodandliving.com/accidentally-vegan-products-you-can-find-in-supermarkets/